June 13, 2007

June 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 6

June 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 6

Happy birthday, Truckin'! We're celebrating our fifth anniversary with one of the best issues to date.

1. Donuts with Baby & Winky by Paul McGuire
Baby sat on the edge of the coffee table and poured out an ashtray that overflowed with butts. She picked out three or four and lit one up. She took three drags and put it out before she lit up another used one. Then another... More

2. Three Men Leaving by Brad "Otis" Willis
he cash register hummed underneath the buzz of the overhead fluorescents. Together, the noises almost masked the sounds of the crickets. Their little love song sang through the open door and it was getting on Little Liza's nerves... More

3. Desperados by Joe Speaker
The start time was pragmatic. We didn't want to be traversing the Mexican desert in mid-day, especially in our unreliable cars. This way, we'd arrive shortly after dawn, being treated to a spectacular sunrise the last hundred miles or so. There are always trade-offs, though, and our schedule dictated we'd drive through the border town of Mexicali in the dead of night... More

4. Five Dollars for the Colonel by Dr. Tim Lavalli
Across the alley are these two trailers, the back one is Annie's and she'll give you head for twenty bucks, only the Colonel don't like her doing that, so you give him $5 and he goes to get his bottle of muscatel but he doesn't like the folks at Abe's Liquor so he goes down the street to the Chinaman's and then you go to see Annie while he is getting his wine... More

5. Leaving the City by Sigge S. Amdal
All of this mud, all of this poison pumping from my pitch black heart, through my veins and out the razor sharp tip of the pen is nothing but unclean blood for you to leech on. As I see the city disappear, minute-by-minute, I become much more a man... More

6. Rose by Doog
Rose's heart pounded with anticipation, a strange mix of exhilaration and fear of the unknown coursing through her veins. Keeper opened the door and stepped through into the world outside... More

7. Las Vegas Car Battery by Dingo
I suppose because of my accent I seem to attract a weird and wide selection of sheilas and broads. I am quite okay looking, or so people tell me, so picking up sheilas has never been a problem. Mine all just seem to be total whack jobs... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the birthday issue of Truckin'. I'm blown away to think that this little corner of the internet has been around for five years! We've come a long way since my original vision of sharing travel stories with friends. Since then we've published over fifty writers from all over the world. There were moments when I wanted to quit, but thanks to the encouragement of some special people, I kept it going. And now, we get to celebrate Truckin's 5th birthday. Thanks to everyone involved in the last five years and especially the last twelve months. Super thanks goes out to Maudie for the site re-design and to Jessica for her thankless work as assitant editor.

I ask that if you like these stories, then please do me and the rest of the writers a huge favor: Tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. I certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world and wrote for free. I'm lucky that you were willing to take that leap of faith with me. Thanks for inspiring me.

Thanks again to you the readers for wasting your precious time with Truckin'. Until next time.


"This is the artist, then, life's hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty's miser, glory's slave." - Tom Wolfe

Three Men Leaving

By Brad "Otis" Willis © 2007


"It's one of those nights," she said. She was lighting a menthol off the end of a smoking butt. The cash register hummed underneath the buzz of the overhead fluorescents. Together, the noises almost masked the sounds of the crickets. Their little love song sang through the open door and it was getting on Little Liza's nerves.

"Crickets again, huh?" That was Randy. He never offered much in the way of conversation, but he certainly knew what the midnight crickets sounded like and he certainly knew how Little Liza felt about it.

"It's like they forgot to start coming on to each other when the sun went down," she said through a cloud of spearmint gum and Menthol smoke, "and now they're waking up all horny."

Daddy didn't call her "princess" for nothing.

His tired mind had somehow conjured up a picture of a cricket with morning wood and he wanted to laugh. Still, he knew if he opened his mouth, the picture would spill out in words and he would be embarrassed as only a 34 year-old married man can be.

Teresa, Randy's wife, didn't know that her husband's first stop on his way to work was the Hot Spot on Highway 29. She knew he had to buy coffee somewhere, but she never asked where and she never asked who he bought it from. She thought pretty highly of her trusting nature. She considered it a virtue above most others. And if some little slut came on to Randy, well, he certainly knew better than to come back on. He was married, after all.

"I figure it this way..." Randy could hear the girl continuing as he walked to the coffee machine. Past the frappa-whatever, past the latte, past the frothy-milky-whatizt and straight to the tarry stuff on the far right.

Liza’s voice carried over the potato chips. "The big lights at the diner go on about the time the sun goes down. Then the diner closes at eleven. Hank shuts off the lights. By the time midnight rolls around, they feel like they've missed half their night, and they're screaming for some lovin'."

"The crickets or the people at the diner?" That was the best Randy could do as he put the lid on his coffee.

"What do you think, Smarty?" Little Liza had laid her cigarette in an ashtray by the register and turned to the wall of smokes behind her. "Need them tonight?"

Did he ever. The wife had sucked out his breath tonight as he was getting ready for work and Randy couldn’t think of anything better than smoke to fill his lungs

"I stopped by the Hot Spot this morning," she had said. "That Liza Gamble was there."

Randy continued brushing his teeth and grunted in time with the flush of the toilet. Teresa walked out of the bathroom, talking as she went. "I don't think she's a very nice girl."

Teresa opened the daycare in Boone five days a week. She went in around 6 am, a few hours before Randy got off, and about the time Liza Gamble was getting ready to go home.

Randy was spitting in the sink when Teresa poked her head back in the bathroom, "You know who she is, don't you?"

"Um...no, I don't think I do." As he wiped his mouth, he looked around a room for a razor to cut his throat. Damned mouth spoke before he could think. What the hell did his mouth know, anyway?

"Little girl, about 5'3" or so? Smokes those menthols and puts her elbows on the counter like a little girl?"

Think, goddammit.

"Jesus, honey. It's almost midnight." Randy rushed past her and out of the house into the driveway.

As he shoved the key into the ignition, he would've sworn he heard his wife call out from the porch, "I think she's a slut!"

That had been ten minutes ago and Randy still couldn't breathe.

"Hard pack right?" Liza Gamble looked over her shoulder with her hand on the row of Camels. "One or two?"

"Two." Randy fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a ten.

"So, you figure they like to get it on or it's just a nature sound? Six ninety." She barely looked at her fingers as they punched in the prices.

"What do you think?" Randy laid his ten on the counter and watched her take a drag off the cigarette.

"I figure it's a little of both. Three ten's your change." Exhale, menthol smoke slipping under Randy's hat and into his hair. He'd smell it there two hours later and be forced to take one of the three smoke breaks he was permitted during his shift.

"I guess you're probably right," he said taking the three singles and dime from the counter. He stood one half-second longer then he'd planned to, then turned on his boot heels and walked for the open door.

"Your wife stopped in."

Randy tried not to stop like a cartoon character, boots squeaking and coffee leaking out from underneath the lid. He was not very successful. How casual could he possibly be?

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah, acted sort of strange. Said she thought her husband came in here every once in a while. Asked if I knew you." The menthol was almost out.

"Oh, yeah?" Randy could think of no more to say. He almost made a joke about cricket morning wood just to change the subject.

"Yeah. I told her I didn't think I'd ever seen you. Maybe you stopped at Elliot's Exxon or something."

"That right?" Randy was trying to hear the crickets over the breath in his chest.

"Yeah." Little Liza lit another menthol off the butt of the one she was smoking. "See you tomorrow night."

The air outside was warm and made his coffee cup seem warmer. Randy's truck engine was still ticking when he got back to his parking space. Inside, Liza put her elbows on the counter and looked out the window toward him.

Like she did every night the crickets sang their midnight song.

* * * * *


"You usually don't sit and eat."

The waitress was the kind who had a story all her own, but she wouldn't tell it while standing at the counter. If she told the story again, the three old men watching the old TV would complain. They were watching the Braves get shelled again. They certainly had heard her story before—a shuffled bit of fiction and reality TV fodder that would never be the great American novel or a one-hour special on FOX. She didn't mind telling how she ended up working the counter at Nick's, but the old men had heard it all before. As I usually didn't sit to eat, I had never listened to the story before. I almost wanted to hear it, but I wouldn't.

"I'm usually supposed to be somewhere," I said. It was hoping it would serve as an explanation, but it came off sounding like I was trying to be mysterious. The pile of green beans on my plate had been cooked down to slightly less than a ham-flavored, dark green mass. I loved them that way, but poked at them nonetheless. Grandma cooked them for me a long time ago and miles from this little place. I remember when I left her town, too.

"Not tonight?" the waitress asked. It was a question thrown over her shoulder as she poured another cup of coffee for the last guy at the counter. He was in the middle of a long diatribe about endorsement contracts and those damned Cubans. I gathered he wasn't talking about cigars.

"Not tonight."

I didn't feel like offering much more. If she cared—and I caught a look in her eye that indicated she just might—she probably didn't want to hear the whole story anyway. At any rate, she wouldn't believe it.

"It's the Dominicans you're talking about." Old guy number two was snuffing out his third cigarette since I sat down. He stressed the "min" on "Dominicans" harder than I thought most people of the Caribbean would find appropriate. The sun setting through the plate glass windows caught the cigarette smoke and made the old guy look like he belonged in Hollywood.

My truck—the new red one that sat out near the road—probably hadn't cooled off yet, but the sure tick of the still-hot engine might as well have been a stopwatch. Even the diner on the edge of town wasn't quite far enough away.

"New truck out there." The waitress was on her elbows a couple of feet down from my near-finished plate. She was small-town pretty and her elbow-balance made her more so. The unspoken question mark in her tone made me wonder if she wanted to ride shotgun. Made me wonder if she cared that the only destination was Away. Made me wonder how she would react when I left her, too.

"Don't ask if it's got a Hemi. It doesn't."

I was trying to be funny, but realized the joke was four years old and would've been lost on her anyway. Old "Cuban" Guy looked over his shoulder in the direction of the truck, but didn't say anything.

In six or seven bites I would be on my way out to the truck, having neglected to ask the waitress if she could get off early, having neglected to explain to the old guys what was really wrong with American sport, and having forgotten to tell anybody I knew in the whole damned town that I was never coming back.

I ate slowly before tipping the woman enough to thank her for letting me go so easy.

* * * * *


Cope didn't say much. If we asked him a question, he'd answer, always with a "yessir" or a "nossir." Beyond that, he sat silent in the back seat, staring out the window and wiping runners of sweat from his neck.

"Okay back there, Cope?" I asked. My hands were wet on the steering wheel. If the car had been going any faster than three miles per hour, I would've been worried about holding on. As it was, there was a greater chance I'd dehydrate and die before I ran the car into one of the pine trees on the side of the interstate.

"Yessir," the kid said. "One-one-one."

Papa had been quiet, too, but Cope's unusual elaboration pulled the old man out of his daydream. "What's that, son?"

"One-one-one," Cope repeated, pointing at the mile marker sign. It was faded green with white letters, bent on the top right corner, and tilting slightly toward the grove of trees on the east side of the road.

Papa nodded. "That's right son. Took us half an hour to get from one-one-zero to one-one-one."

"Twenty-eight minutes," Cope said and turned back to the window.

Cope was no more Papa's son than Papa was my father. Papa was actually PawPaw, my grandfather. Ten years ago I changed the way I said it--not the way I thought it, though.

I watched the thermometer on the dash as it teased the red line on the far right. I figured we didn't have much longer before the old Monte Carlo would give up. At the speed limit, the breeze--even at 90 degrees outside--cooled the engine block. At a standstill, we could've grilled our peanut butter sandwiches on the manifold.

"We're going nowhere fast," I said, if only to see if I could pull Cope back into conversation. He'd been with us for about eleven months. He was polite, helpful, and never lazy. He helped clean, he always folded his sleeping blankets on the couch in the morning, and he only cried at night when he thought I was asleep.

"Rollin' down the road, goin' nowhere," Papa hummed. His voice was deep, smooth, and darkened by 40 years of Camels.

It was a game we'd been playing since I was old enough to talk. I'd say something and Papa would sing it. He always kept his head turned when he sang the first line. He waited for me to give him something else to sing. This day, I was hot, worried, and not much in the mood.

"Cope, you put the guitar in the trunk, yeah?"

"Yessir," he said, a little brighter this time. Cope loved when I played. He'd tap his foot and clap quietly with the beat. "One-one-two."

I looked to the roadside. That mile had gone a little faster, but now traffic had stopped. I could feel the engine's heat trying to push through the dashboard.

"Rollin' down the road, going nowhere, guitar packed in the trunk," Papa sang. Cope leaned up and put his chin on the back of the seat.

The last time traffic had been like this had been the last time Cope had seen his mother. It was the last time a lot of kids had seen their mothers, in fact. The guys on TV had called it a Cat 5. Papa just called it, "The Big One."

I craned my head out the window and saw nothing but stopped cars. Thousands of them shimmering in the heat, half of them with heads looking out the window to see why we weren't moving. Five more minutes and I knew the Monte Carlo would be dead. I killed the engine and prayed it would start again. As the idle went silent, people started to get out of their cars. Some looked at the sun, some looked their cars, but none of them looked back South.

Last time, a lot of people tried to stay home. No one--not Papa, not me, and certainly not Cope's mama--believed the Big One. Now, the TV men were talking about a Cat 2. It wasn't the Big One, but the people on the road were acting just as scared.

"Will you play, Jimmy?" Two weeks before, we had cut Cope's hair down to nearly nothing with some clippers Papa kept in the bathroom. Now, I could see the sweat beads on shimmering against Cope's brown scalp. Would I play?

"Cope, now's not the best time."

"Rollin' down the road, goin' nowhere," Papa hummed.

He was right. Something had happened up the road and the line of cars was stopped, ten thousand cars long, and nature chasing us all away. It's hard to be chased when you're facing a wall, though.

There was a young family in an SUV in front of us. Dad had turned off his engine and was pulling Sprites out of a cooler. I was getting a little worried about Cope and Papa. It was Mississippi July hot.

The roadside climbed up on our right to a square patch of pine tree shade.

"Cope, you think you could carry my guitar up that hill?"

Instead of answering, he held out his hand and waited for me to give him the keys. I looked at Papa who merely sang, "guitar packed in the trunk."

I had a jug of tepid water in the back floorboard. I helped Papa with one hand and held the jug in the other as Cope ran over the pine needles and up into the shade. Above, a television news helicopter hovered, its hemispherical camera shifting from right to left, panning the immobile cars.

Papa and I weren't planning on leaving. It was sheer luck our little house survived the Big One. Together, over a cold beer on the front porch, we had decided if the structure could make it through a Cat 5, it would scare the hell out of a Cat 2.

The next morning, though, we found Cope in front of the TV watching a storm swirling off the south Florida coast. His shaking hands and empty eyes meant Papa and I didn't have to talk about it anymore. We were leaving.

Papa and I never discussed how Cope came to live with us. We never talked about whether it was a good idea, about how it might look for two white men to be living with a little black boy. We didn't talk about how my mama was gone or how Papa had lost his only child. No, we didn't talk about that either.

At the top of the hill, I handed the jug of water to Papa. He took a pull and handed the jug back.

"You thirsty, Cope?" I asked.

A small black hand pushed the guitar into mine and reached for the bottle. Cope took a sip and looked at me over the top of the water.

"Take a seat," I said to no one in particular and planted my behind on the pine needles. "How did that go, Papa?"

Papa's mouth curled into a smile. "Rollin' down the road, goin' nowhere, guitar packed in the trunk."

My fingertips were sweating, even in the shade. They slid across the steel strings, tinny, bluesy. I could hear the song in my head. "Sing it again."

"Rollin' down the road, goin' nowhere, guitar packed in the trunk." Papa was patting his knee with the beat. Cope's hands were clapping silently. The line hit me in time with the music.

"Somewhere around mile marker one-twelve," I sang, "Papa started humming the funk."

The SUV family, all with Sprites in their hand, had walked to the side of the road. They stood listening as Papa and I sang, trading lines, and driving Cope to make more noise with his hands.

The cars still weren't moving and the far-away whipping of the new helicopter suggested nobody was going anywhere for a while. It seemed many drivers had come to the same conclusion. Engines went silent and faces appeared through the heat. Families, old and young, and come in search of the shade we'd found. Some sat, some stood, but they all were listening.

Papa and I had run out of spontaneous lines and had taken to humming along with the steady blues beat. I watched the faces. A captive audience, I thought, but kept playing.

Papa told me once that he had played guitar for my mama. He said she smiled and pretended to play an imaginary guitar on her lap. He said she had loved me more than he could ever say. Papa hadn't said much after that.

"Take me home."

The "o" on "home" was drawn out, a note across eight beats. It was a high voice, perfectly in tune. "Take me ho, oh, oh, home."

Cope was still clapping quietly, but now his lips were in a circle, as he sang it again, the chorus to a song none of us had ever heard. "Take me ho-oh-oh-home."

A 12-year-old SUV kid was next. His voice sounded like it was about to change and it made for a roadside harmony that I couldn't help but enjoy. "Take me ho-oh-oh-home."

I played two more bars before half the assembled audience was singing along with Cope and the SUV kid, 20-part harmony at mile marker 112.

It was over before I had a chance to paint the memory picture in my head, but I can still hear the sound. I can still hear Cope's voice.

[Note: The final vignette is based on the Marc Broussard song, "Home."]

Brad "Otis" Willis is a writer from G-Vegas, South Carolina.

Donuts with Baby and Winky

By Paul McGuire © 2007

Winky looked in the mirror for thirty-seconds longer than he should have. He noticed the pink hue that invaded his eyeballs. Instead of eggshell white, pink and red splotches dotted his eyes.

"How long have I've been up? Tuesday. Today's Tuesday. Right?" he muttered to himself.

He leaned in closer to get a better inspection of his Dalmatian-spotted eyes and screamed, "Baby! What day is it?"

She couldn't hear him with the water running in the bathroom. Winky forgot. He looked down at the dried blood as Jackson Pollock type splashes dotted the porcelain sink. He scrubbed the sink for two minutes until most of the blood was gone. He slid his hands underneath the faucet and cupped the water up to his face. He repeated the process three times before he shut off the water and walked out of the bathroom.

A real estate infomercial ran on the TV with the sound on mute while Iggy Pop's Zombie Birdhouse played for the forty-fifth time in a row. Baby's CD player (that she stole from somewhere but wouldn't tell Winky where she got it) had broken and they couldn't figure out how to open up the disc tray. They were forced to listen to crappy morning radio or Zombie Birdhouse.

A body slumped on the couch and another one lay motionless near the coffee table. Both of Baby's work friends from McDonalds were passed out after two straight days of partying. Once they ran out of cocaine five hours into their binge, they popped Winky's expired Vicodin and drank a jug of cheap wine. When that cheap buzz wore off, one of Baby's friends resorted to drinking cough medicine. The half-Goth half-punk hybrid suburban malcontent who was seven weeks pregnant locked herself in the bathroom and tried to slit one of her wrists, except she was so wasted that she cut her forearm instead. That was ten hours earlier.

Baby scrambled around furiously looking for a cigarette.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm outta smokes," she said.

Baby sat on the edge of the coffee table and poured out an ashtray that overflowed with butts. She picked out three or four and lit one up. She took three drags and put it out before she lit up another used one. Then another.

"So fuckin' white trash of you. Why don't you go down to the B&P and buy some?" snapped Winky.

"Cause we don't have any money. Assface!" she screamed and flicked one of the half-lit butts towards Winky. "My stupid ass boyfriend was the only person in the entire city of Seattle to give the biggest loser on the planet his car and all of our money so he can get us some coke so we can make some money selling it to those meathead rich college jocks down the street. But we can't make any money and we can't get high because you're so fuckin' stooooopid that you let the dumbest loser on the planet pull a fast one over you. Fuck you! Go get our money and car back!"

After two small time coke deals, Baby thought she was the head of the International Cocaine Conglomerate. At best, she was an ambitious junkie who shoved more of the product up her nose than she sold. Even though Winky had figured out the exact amount they needed to sell to turn a nifty profit, Baby managed to fuck things up. She often snorted all of their inventory before they had a chance to sell it. Or she decided to cut the coke three or four more times as the product got so diluted that it wasn't worth the price that Winky asked for it. She wasn't helping out at all.

Winky knew he never should have trusted Crackhead Stu but the deal was too good to pass up. The only catch was that he had to lend Crackhead Stu his car and give him the money up front. That was on Sunday afternoon, two days earlier. Crackhead Stu assured him that he'd be home before the Sunday night football game started. That came and went. As did Monday night football. Winky was pissed and Baby was simply out of control as she rummaged through her friend's purse for any money or cigarettes. She found $1.25 and a couple of diet pills. She popped both pills and lit up another used cigarette butt.

"So fuckin' pathetic," said Winky.

"If you had any balls, you'd go find Crackhead Stu and get our car and money back."

"Impossible," sighed Winky.

He knew better. By that point, Crackhead Stu had sold his car and used all of his money to buy a couple of grams of China White from the Vietnamese kid who lived above the donut shop across the street from the Neptune Theater. Crackhead Stu already owed Thoi two grand in previous narcotic purchases. Crackhead Stu worked off his debt by driving his father's delivery truck for him after picking up cargo outside of Oroville near the Canadian border. Winky knew that if he wanted to find his car, he'd have to confront Thoi.

A subtle rain fell as Winky briskly walked over to the donut shop. By the time he arrived five minutes later, his hat was soaked and he shook it twice to get the excess water off. The donut shop was empty like always. Winky had long suspected that it was a front for the Vietnamese mafia that ran some sort of human smuggling ring. He accidentally discovered their dark secret because one of Thoi's uncles was drunk one night and told him about the brothel he ran near the navy base out in Bremerton.

The donut shop was a front to launder all of the money Thoi's uncle made from being a pimp. The girls owed him $20,000 each for smuggling them through Canada into the United States. They had to work as prostitutes for around two years before they paid off their debts. Sometimes Thoi's uncle tacked on ridiculous surcharges like rent for them to stay in his house or to use the bathroom or for rides to and from the brothel. Sometimes the girls would run away and Thoi would hunt them down and give them the pistol whipping of their lives before putting them back to work.

Thoi never spoke about his uncle or why no one ever bought the donuts in his family's empty donut shop. A quiet guy in his early 20s, Thoi had extremely short hair and several tattoos that encircled his biceps and wrists. He always wore a black Oakland Raiders hat because he thought it made him look tough. Thoi was 95 pounds at the most and got all of his confidence from the M1911A1 pistol that he constantly kept in his waistband.

"What do you want?" asked Thoi as Winky dripped all over the floor.

"I want a donut."

"Fuck you, Winky. No one ever wants just a donut."

"I do. That chocolate sprinkled one over there. And a coffee," as he pointed. "Oh and I'd like my fuckin' car back."

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.


By Joe Speaker © 2007

Per tradition, we always left Los Angeles at midnight. My friends and I took a yearly trip to San Felipe, Mexico, a once-sleepy fishing village on the eastern shore of Baja California that, toward the end, was blossoming with the trappings of tourism.

The start time was pragmatic. We didn't want to be traversing the Mexican desert in mid-day, especially in our unreliable cars. This way, we'd arrive shortly after dawn, being treated to a spectacular sunrise the last hundred miles or so. There are always trade-offs, though, and our schedule dictated we'd drive through the border town of Mexicali in the dead of night.

We were stopped by the federalis one year. Four gringos with a big bag of weed stashed under a rear speaker. Alone with a snarling puto on a dark and deserted street. Unaccountably, he let us go. Free of charge. That was a long five minutes, though.

Another time, we'd not even gotten out of The Valley before Enza got pulled over. The CHP officer was even less friendly than his Mexican counterpart, but he let her - and us in two other cars - go just the same, as Enza's explanation for her erratic driving was convincing: she'd dropped a muffin on the floor board and was reaching for it, causing her to swerve.

It's about a seven-hour trip, south to San Diego, east through the Cleveland National Forest and south again into the desert heart of desolate Baja. Nothing but burned out cars and lizards between Mexicali and San Felipe. In fact, the road literally ends at the village's downtown, a square block of bars and taco stands.

Not surprisingly, owing to the large college-aged clientele that converges most spring weekends, the beer stores are open early. That's the first stop and major calculations are done. Will a case apiece be enough for today? How long do you think the ice will hold? A case, only 20 beers, not 24, runs about ten bucks, three of which you get back if you return the bottles, a crucial injection of funds at the end of the weekend. It was a cheap weekend, perfect for our unimpressive wallets.

Stocked, we'd head to the campground, which abuts the beach, as does the entire city. The cost is $25 per vehicle. For the whole weekend. We never pay anyway. The "gate" is nothing but a rope that is pulled taut when the guardhouse is occupied. At that early hour, it never was. More pragmatic strategy. The only problem was getting out on Sunday.

We'd pitch our tents directly on the sand and the early arrival gives us a pick of the litter. It was already hot at that hour, not even a whiff of a breeze, and once camp is set up, we'd settle into our chairs for breakfast: oranges, beef jerky and beer.

And that's mostly what San Felipe was all about. You sit on the beach and drink. During the morning and afternoon, the sun coats you in rays as you stare eastward at the Sea of Cortez. When it passed overhead, the tide would draw away from the shore, revealing scattered sand bars, rounded islands we'd conquer with coolers and beach chairs, turning to face the sun as it traveled west. In the meantime, the beers flowed like water, the music reflected the wide range of tastes and we'd try to ward off the sales pitches en espanol from kids hawking jewelry and Mexican blankets.

We'd watch people arrive in droves and battle lines get drawn. San Felipe draws an equal mix of Spring Breakers and Weekend Warriors, with the latter infringing on peaceful and quiet alcohol consumption. A 60-foot sand dune encloses the west end of the campground and by mid-afternoon it would be peppered with quads and motorcycles and red-necked whoops of adrenaline. The goddamn RV set, folks who eschew beach livin' for reserved campsites and water hook-ups. The smell of gas and roar of engines drifted to the water's edge and the volume button would go up on the boom boxes in vain attempts to muffle the sound. By nightfall, the destruction of the hill would be exchanged for fireworks, legal south of the border, completely unsafe and insane, adding an element of danger to the serenity of the moonlit sand bars. Because the bottle rockets were aimed right at us. Salk likes to tell of the year I emerged from the shore, shrouded in the smoke of the fireworks, appearing like a Messiah, which I sorta was considering I was bringing beer.

"Don't kill Ed!" he shouted, as flaming projectiles landed all about me.

Somewhere in there we'd eat, though that act was often an afterthought. Two fish tacos for a dollar, the pescado pulled from the local waters only hours earlier. The price and delicacy forcing cries of "Dos mas!" up and down the boulevard.

In the beginning, aka 1986, the only watering hole in town was the infamous Club Bar Miramar, a spare den with all the luxury of an airplane hanger. Red naugahyde booths, a linoleum floor littered with fallen shards of Pacifico bottles. By our final year, it stood largely empty most nights, with the two multi-storied discotecas erected nearby, tacky testaments to garishness and American investment dollars. We couldn't stand to hang in those for too long, though the DJ and his broken English provided some hilarity, like his admonition when a mosh pit broke out.

"Don't slamming!" he cried.

Some nights, we never even made it into town, forgoing the mile or so trek for quiet reflection. By which I mean hallucinogens. 'Shrooms one year and the perfection of a pitch black night broken only by the moon sparkling on the water. LSD another, where we engaged in a surprisingly high-level whiffle ball game complete with diving catches and a wandering outfielder named Donny who basically left his post every time a bikini came within 15 feet of him.

By Sunday, we'd all be ready to leave, burnt by the sun and the last drops of water wrung from our dehydrated bodies. There was an excitement in leaving, for a Double Whopper and coke at the Burger King just across the border, for the long, hot shower back in L.A. But we had to get out first.

Every year but one, we had no trouble. Evading the cost of the campground was not just easy, but also some twisted badge of honor, thumbing our noses at El Hombre. But that last year, they cracked down. The rope was up and attended by menacing faces. We were asked about our pass. I said we must have lost it. Not good enough and the cost was up to $40 now since we'd flouted the fee. We didn't have the cash. On the ruse of going back to find the pass (nice bluff), we u-turned and tried to find a gap in the fence, hoping to overland it to freedom. No such luck, though I made a valiant effort to bulldoze a rickety-looking fence post with my Nissan Stanza, nearly stalling the car in the deepening sand. Left with no alternative but to suck it up beg for mercy, we chose to make a run for it anyway. We caught them unawares and darted from the campground at 45 mph, giving them no time to impede our exit. I saw them in the rearview shouting and gesticulating, then running into the guardhouse to likely phone the federalis.

The idea of a chase gave us energy we didn't know we had and I sped out of town at breakneck speed. Almost. First we had to stop and return our bottles.

We needed money for Double Whoopers.

Joe Speaker is a writer from Southern California.

Leaving the City

Leaving the City

by Sigge S. Amdal © 2007

I hate train stations. Not in general, but when you've got five minutes to find your platform and every step of customer service has been left to over-sized, touch screen calculators and buff security guards, the latter outwitted by the former, hell is present in every aspect of it. When you've reached the unrestful state of worry and indifference, meaning you'll board the next train on this platform whether it takes you there or not, you smoke like a dried-out alcoholic on the Twelve steps.

Then the train arrives.

Now there are teenagers pushing forward, life-long commuters with cell phones and Japanese tourists taking advantage of your misfortune status quo.

I hate waiting in line when what's at the end of it is breathing normally again.

I have heard that junkies suffer from the same condition; they can't deal with queues, formal greetings, crying babies and the projected expectations of the universe in general. I've never been on the mud for that particular reason.
And where am I going?

Nowhere important. I'm actually going just nowhere, to the middle of it, to check out the convent who captured my sister. I can't believe I am going. Why am I going? To make up for past appointments I missed, no doubt, but women turn on your bad conscience with the switch of a flip. Even if it's your crazy sister. And what am I expecting? That she'll leave me alone to get some work done?

The old granny next to me is staring as if she's just met a teenage idol like Roger Whittaker, the juicy piece of pineapple in her generation. No, I will not be your perfect son-in-law. How come everyone thinks an author will marry her daughter? How exciting. It’s not. My life's composed of idle art in desperate procrastination. Why do you need to live through me, granny? And I've never even seen your daughter. Fuck her.

I look up to see a blond farm girl watching me writing. "What is he writing?" Not anything you'd want to read, baby. I give her Hitler's propaganda stare that usually does the trick. I shift view to the passing farmland raging outside my window like a sideways storm of half-decent cottage art. And what am I expecting? Bizarre, lesbian rites around midnight, I suppose. That is why I brought the digital cam. I easily subscribe to the unfounded clichés of horny, hairy nuns. Of course they want some. When God created the universe he did it to impress someone. Probably himself, naturally, but still. When you're all-powerful and ever present, you just jerk off in front of a mirror until you've created something like the universe. Peeping Tom. But I guess nothing can impress Him as much as Himself.

As the novelty of a performing genius in the cart wears off, people seem to juxtapose themselves at the opposite point of observation. "Who does he think he is? What a loser." I admit that Jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam, but despite my obnoxious physical appearance and dreadful manners, I am still better than you. All of you.

Granted that I am a loser; you have no reason to breathe, your family no reason to feed you; your father could just as well have sprayed your material in any other bodily orifice than the fish-smelling cunt of your mother. He must have been drunk. Or weak. Or maybe you are the product of a freak mutation in your mother's filthy womb. Who knows what’s been up there. Your fetus was certainly infected. Or maybe you are the infection. God placed his face in his hands and went "oh God, we need another flood," on the date of your birth, granted that I am a loser.

But my hopes aren't high that this entire weekend will be worth as much as the hours of my priceless life that I wasted to buy these tickets.

The train slows down to a halt to let more people off. Good.

A farmer standing next to his tractor in the middle of a sunny field looks up at the slowing train with a mixture of wonder and disgust. I respect that man more than anyone else on the planet. When a man's hard living is turning the soil, he has in so doing, already left the futility of modern civilization and become what he was to be. Only the cultivating man is cultivated, while the rest of us are mere ghosts in a hallway hallucination of similar others. We are the sheep in this equation. And when the next leader runs out on over the hill, we will unhesitatingly follow the plunge into the salt seas of oblivion. No one will remember us, for we have done nothing. We are an embarrassment, face it, God's satirical irony is self-explanatory. But the man who takes matters and matter into his own two hands, tills the soil, has turned the joke back on the good Lord with a vengeance.

All of this mud, all of this poison pumping from my pitch black heart, through my veins and out the razor sharp tip of the pen is nothing but unclean blood for you to leech on. As I see the city disappear, minute-by-minute, I become much more a man and much less a queer. Suck my soul clean, little ones! Papa's coming back refreshed anew.

The untouched rocks and the daring young birch trees bring me back to living: lo! I stand erect among you; primitive, alive and dangerous! Suck me, suck more, leeches, and suck me clean. But dare not bite; 'cause the untamed man doesn't bite to tease, he bites to kill.

Ah! The smell of virgin grass, pussy dew, the sweat from manual labor and the stink of the earth seep through my bones to the marrow where true character resides.

I swap trains at a non-existing place. Halfway there, halfway there.

My feet start kicking as the train engines pull the load of a thousand tons like five hundred horses. A young couple sits down in front of me. She has good hips and he is already defeated. Out up here where the air's fresh, clean, and sheep farming has double meaning, any man dulled to boredom and obedience is stirred to conquer and fight, to lay down and plough a new field, a new road, a new maid every passing night.

My eyes sharpen like that of a hawk and no obstacle dare stop me.

As the train horn bellows like a horny whale, grasping her buttocks with firm, I come inside the newly wed girl and she staggers fulfilled out the toilet.

This might not be pretty, but nature needs to have it its way.

I'm leaving the city.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

Five Dollars for the Colonel

Five Dollars for the Colonel

by Dr. Tim Lavalli © 2007

Above the Abe's Liquor Emporium, between the Sands Driving School and Magic Molly's Beauty Palace sits the International Gaming Dealers Academy. About the only thing international was the student body, a United Nations mixture of your tired, weary, seeking for a better life, future student loan defaulters. The academy entrance was a dark tangle of plastic ivy and several strings of dingy yellow holiday lights. The long and narrow former storefront held several high blackjack tables along the right wall and a multi-purpose Let It Ride, Pai Gow and Caribbean Stud table with changeable felts. Down the left side were four poker tables. On this Thursday afternoon, one Oriental lady of thirty or forty or fifty years was practicing her pitch to an empty blackjack table while two young men were seated at one of the poker tables arguing about how to calculate the five percent rake from a thirteen dollar pot.

I walked to the rear of the long, dimly lit room to find the office and Jimmy, who was my introduction to this fine educational facility. He was parked on the greasy sofa discussing the "dealer audition" he'd had that morning at Green Valley Ranch. The conversation broke off when I filled the doorway of the cool, dark office. I would guess not a lot of middle-aged white men in a suit show up at the International Dealers Gaming Academy. Jimmy was the half-son of one of my poker buddy's wives; we had met the last time the poker boyz were in town and I got his number, like all good writers do when they meet anyone who runs in an interesting circle of society, usually an interesting lower, stranger or more dangerous circle.

Jimmy hopped up and introduced me first to Andy. Andy was the wiry and wired assistant director of the IGDA, who was going to run the poker table simulation starting at five. The simulation was the reason I had come by, research for an article on poker dealers and dealer schools. The simulation was basically a single table satellite with eleven dealer wannabes, one in the box and ten playing the simulated poker game. Actually, I was going to get a seat tonight and had been asked as my price of admission to this poker inner sanctum to "fuck with the dealers." It seems that dealers-in-training, who rotate in and out of the box in these simulations, are reluctant to mess with their buddies, lest they too shall be messed with. So I have been asked to shoot every angle, string every bet, question every decision and basically be the player/prick from hell that every dealer hates to see sitting down at their table. Andy would then lie in wait and pounce on any dealer who didn't catch my moves.

The other figure in the slightly damp office was Little Joe. Joe was the boss or more correctly the director of instructional operations. Little Joe was not, of course, little and also not the owner of the Academy. The owner was the dragon lady, Mrs. Nguyen but she was seldom around and never this late in the day. Joe was fortyish with a Binions t-shirt, circa Benny not Becky, and wore a pair of those soft blue flip-flops that I really didn't think they made in adult sizes. Joe was lounging behind the WWII army surplus desk and keeping one eye on some anime cartoon show on the 12' Sony. Was that actually a coat hanger stuck to the broken rabbit ears? Could there be yet another cliche alert this early in the day?

Joe and Andy both were more than willing to discuss anything and everything under the sun about IGDA, its operations and delivery of services. Their description painted an amazing picture of a highly accredited educational system with a stellar curriculum populated by a motivated staff and dedicated students. Unfortunately, we were all sitting in the nerve center of the International Gaming Dealer's Academy and well phrases like: "Fucking for Virginity" and "Fighting for Peace" kept coming to mind. What's the line? "Show me someone who doesn't need at least one big rationalization to get through the day."

The International Gaming Dealer's Academy was a dark, dank, fly by night operation that had been in business for nearly eight years. Must be gold in them thar dealer buttons. But I did not intend to write my article about the "high end" dealers' schools, if I could even find one. Training to be a dealer in Vegas may be the second oldest profession here and I am not so sure you will be bragging to mom about either of those jobs.

I was scribbling a few notes when I caught the end of an Andy to Joe exchange - "It's not a twenty dollar blowjob, you gotta give the Colonel five bucks."

"There's a five dollar pimp named the Colonel?" I asked.

"No, well not exactly..."

"Hell yes, I guess the Colonel is Annie's pimp or her watch dog," Andy laughed.

"Hey, don't be ragging on Annie, she's OK," Little Joe snapped.

Joe hefted his pear shaped body out of his recliner desk chair and herded Jimmy with him to "set up the table" for the poker simulation game. And, of course, I just had to ask Andy about Annie and her $5 protector.

"Well all these stores and schools are sorta like one big family. Only a lot of the folks don't like each other all that much. Hmmm, I guess that is exactly like a family. Anyway, if you go down the back steps to the alley you are going to see the Colonel, he wanders around out there all day in some old army uniform, well part of one and one of those American Legion hats. There's a red arrow on the hat, whatever you do don't ask him to tell you what that means. So across the alley are these two trailers, the back one is Annie's and she'll give you head for twenty bucks, only the Colonel don't like her doing that, so you give him $5 and he goes to get his bottle of muscatel but he doesn't like the folks at Abe's Liquor so he goes down the street to the Chinaman's and then you go to see Annie while he is getting his wine."

I go back to my notes and when I rise to go out to the main room, Andy adds: "Don't ask Annie for anything but a hummer, she don't do sex." I had not considered asking Annie for anything, hummer or otherwise, but I did want to meet the Colonel. The students were slowly filtering in for the poker training session but Jimmy said it would be another "half'en hour" before the game got going, so I headed for the backstairs and the military presence in the alley.

Again, I think a white guy in a business suit appearing on the backstairs drew some immediate attention and sure enough it was the ageless and aging Colonel who moved to greet me as I descended the wooden staircase. He may not have been clear of eye but was direct:

"You got five dollars for my wine?"

Now I really wanted to chat with the Colonel but somehow I was sure he would be more open to a meaningful conversation if he were a bit fortified. I gave him ten and said:

"How about getting an extra bottle and meeting me back here, Colonel."

He gave me a quick smile and smartly answered:

"Glad to son, be back in ten minutes."

"Take your time," I said. "I'm waiting on a game upstairs."

The Colonel shuffled off down the alley and I crossed the cracked and potted mackam and went down the dirt path to the second trailer. Annie had to be an interesting conversation, too. Writers are whores; we will talk to anyone who is anything but straight and normal. I announced myself using the redwood woodpecker door knocker and a young brown-eyed girl came to the screen door.

"You looking for Annie? She is at the dentist, won't be back for an hour or so."

"Thanks," I said and turned to leave.

"You got twenty?" she asked to my back.

As I turned she continued: "Or do you like yours older?"

My hesitation in finding any illusive response gave her the space she needed to go on:

"I ain't like Annie, I do sex, no blowjobs, you gave the Colonel this five right?"

And so it came to pass that on a non-descript late Thursday afternoon of some meaningless month in Las Vegas, I found myself 'doing sex' with a smooth, firm girl of an age I would rather not know. It was soon apparent that she was 'doing sex' less for the twenty bucks than for the multiple orgasms she was having, more on her own than anything I might have been doing but she was more than willing to stay the course through the stroking and pounding; the licking and the flicking until the old guy with the suit hanging over the plastic lawn chair worked himself up to a short, sharp climax. Let's be clear, she took the twenty dollars and asked: "...you come to that dealer school a lot?"

I told her this would probably be my only visit; the answer affected her not at all.
As I walked back out into the alley, the Colonel was seated on the second step, he offered me the half empty bottle; I paused half way to my lips and asked:

"Hey Colonel, tell me about the Red Arrow Division."

Writers are whores.

Dr. Tim Lavalii is a shrink living in Las Vegas, NV.


By Doog © 2007

The sun peeked through the tinted, slightly misty windows of the house as the door opened in the far wall of the large room. Rose composed herself, and stood up straight in amongst her sisters as Keeper approached carrying a large plastic container. Keeper gently gathered Rose and all of her sisters into the container, securing them snugly. Rose was pleased that there was plenty of water for everyone to drink.

With a slight jostle, the container was lifted and carried toward the door. Rose's heart pounded with anticipation, a strange mix of exhilaration and fear of the unknown coursing through her veins. Keeper opened the door and stepped through into the world outside.

Wow! It sure is bright, Rose thought. And hot, too. Rose took a quick drink of water to slake her thirst, and turned to look at the soft orange hues of the sun rising over the distant desert mountains. The visual spectacle of her first actual sunrise overwhelmed her; along with her sisters, she stood speechless gazing at the beauty of the vista as Keeper carried the container to a small wheeled house, opened the rear door, and gently placed the container inside. The door was closed, and Rose and her sisters breathlessly chatted amongst themselves about that awe-inspiring glimpse of the sunrise. They all wondered what other surprises the day held in store.

A low hum sounded and the wheeled house began vibrating. With a lurch, the house began moving, first slowly, then more quickly, Rose and her sisters jostling in their container. After an period of time, the jostling slowed, and then finally stopped. The door leading to the outside was opened by Keeper, and Rose and her sisters were carried towards a completely different house. Rose again sipped some water, and turned to stare wide-eyed at this new house.

It was huge. It had to have been the biggest house in the world. The towers of the house were etched against the morning sky, the stone exterior bathed in the soft morning light, with long shadows from the pointed tower across the street cast across the courtyard. There was a huge lake in front of the house with water fountains dancing in unison to an unseen rhythm. Rose craned her head to see the rotunda at the upper levels of the house, and saw the name of the house proudly displayed there. She squinted a little to make out the letters – Bellagio. That's a very pretty name, Rose thought.

With a swoosh, Keeper carried Rose and her sisters through an automatic revolving door and into an exquisitely decorated room. It was a very large room, with highly polished floor and well-crafted decorations adorning the walls and ceiling. There was a long counter on one side of the room across which people were chatting, conducting business of some sort. To the other side of the room was an opening to a huge cavern filled with more people than Rose had ever seen intermingled with countless blinking, beeping machines. In the center of the entry room, beneath a breathtaking artistic sculpture suspended from the ceiling, stood a huge display case. Keeper carried Rose and her sisters toward the case and gently placed each of them in their designated place. Again, Rose was pleased to find that there was plenty of water for everyone to drink. All of this excitement had made her thirsty, so she took yet another sip. She saw Keeper sign his name to a piece of paper and turn and walk back out the turning door. Rose was a bit unnerved – surely Keeper would not leave them, would he? He'd never do that, Rose thought to herself. He's always taken care of us – he'll be back in a bit to take us back to our house, I'm sure of it.

Rose turned her attention to her surroundings, particularly the people walking by. Right away she noticed the differences in demeanor of the people walking in opposite directions. Those entering through the turning doors, dragging their wheeled containers behind them, walked with an excited bounce in their step and a gleam in their eye. They impatiently waited in the line to speak with the uniformed people on the other side of the long counter, and when they were done, they rushed off to a hallway labeled Elevators – whatever that meant. However, the people who were walking in the opposite direction with their wheeled containers walked much more slowly, their gazes fixed upon the burnished granite floor as they shuffled toward the rotating exit. This must be a fabulous place, thought Rose, if people are so excited to come here and so sad to leave. What is it about this Bellagio house that so excites the people?

Rose thought that question over for a while, then she though that perhaps the answer lay in the huge hall with all the machines. She began to closely watch the machines and how the people interacted with them. The first thing she noticed were the smiles – all of the people looked so happy! But the closer she looked, the more unnerved she became by the smiles. They just didn't look real! They were fixed in place, as if they had been painted onto each face. Rose began to look closely at the people's eyes. Almost all were fixed in their gaze, almost glassy-eyed, yet deep within their expressions, hidden very deep, Rose glimpsed a manic desperation. It was as if each of them were being inexorably pushed toward the edge of an unseen cliff by an irresistible, invisible hand, but they could not bring themselves to step away from that hand, instead allowing themselves to be pushed over the edge inch by inch, smiling the whole way, pretending to be happy. A new thought struck Rose. Are the departing people sad because they are leaving, or are they sad because they came in the first place?

As she contemplated that question, Rose looked around the display case. Wait a minute, she thought. There were more of us a minute ago. Where did my sisters go? As she set out to search for them, she saw a chilling sight; a person walked up to the display case, seized one of Rose's sisters, and walked away! Worse yet, none of the people were concerned, or doing anything about the kidnapping!

At that moment, the awful truth hit Rose. Keeper wasn't coming back. Rose and her sisters, beautiful as they were, were simply ornamental decoration for this room, and also gifts to any of the people who wanted to take possession. Rose began to watch the passersby much more closely, wondering if there was some way that she could try to escape this fate, hoping that if her destiny was to have a new Keeper that at least it would be a nice Keeper like the last one was.

One person walked up to the case, and Rose shrunk back – he smelled strongly of a mélange of perfume and cigarette smoke and had way too much jewelry on. She didn't think he would be a good keeper. Thankfully, he didn't select Rose, though she felt sorry for the sister that was picked. Another passerby seized one of Rose's sisters, and again Rose was glad that she was not the one picked. That woman made strange, incomprehensible sounds with her mouth. What does 'estas flores son hermosas' mean, anyways? thought Rose.

Suddenly, Rose felt a strong, yet gentle hand seize her and lift her from the case. She was frightened, since she hadn't even seen this person approach – she had no idea what kind of person it was! She peeked behind her and saw a pleasant-looking man with a relaxed expression on his kind face, and she immediately felt better. Not that you can tell just by looking at a face, but somehow she instinctively knew that this was going to be a good Keeper, and that she would be happy. He approached a woman and Rose was passed from His hand to Hers. She was a beautiful woman, her earth-toned clothing accentuating her smooth, dark skin. It was clear that Rose was to be a gift from Him to Her; this pleased Rose very much. She felt the love between her new Keepers, and she was proud to be a part of that love.

Excitedly, Rose looked forward to the next adventure in this already monumental day. Rose's new Keepers meandered through the cavern with all of the machines, though They did not sit down and interact with any of them. This allowed Rose a more detailed examination of the people sitting in front of the machines, and examination which only served to reinforce her earlier impression. These machines had power over these people. Most of the people looked like they wanted to stand up and walk away, to escape from the control of the machines, but just when they most wanted to get up and walk away, their will crumbled and they reached into their pockets for more green paper to feed into the machines. Rose was glad that her Keepers were not slaves of the machines.

As Rose was gently carried through the cavern, He told Her that He wanted to visit a place called the Poker Room. Rose did not know what that meant, but she was excited to find out. They walked to a quiet place in the back of the cavern where people were clustered around tables absently fondling clay discs while another person distributed laminated pieces of paper to each person, and methodically laid more of the laminated pieces of paper on the felt table surface. Rose was not sure what was happening, but she noticed that both He and She were entranced by the proceedings. Every now and then the quiet hum of the area would be broken by a loud exclamation, either of triumph or disgust, usually accompanied by a large pile of clay discs being pushed towards one person. At last, Rose realized that it was a game of some sort, though by looking at the people's faces it was hard to tell if anyone was having any fun. In a few of the eyes she saw the same manic gleam as in the machine-slaves. These people tended to have the fewest of the discs in front of them. Rose wondered if that was a coincidence.

After a while, They left with Rose. Rose could tell that He really wanted to play the game, and so did She to a lesser extent. But He mentioned something about a show, and also something called an anniversary, which Rose assumed to mean that they would not be playing the game right then. Rose wasn't saddened by that, since she wanted to explore more of this marvelous Bellagio house anyways.

As They walked back through the cavern and down a meandering avenue with stores and boutiques on either side, She periodically held Rose to Her face and inhaled deeply, smelling Rose's sweet fragrance. Rose tried hard to open herself to allow Her to smell her sweetness, figuring that it would be best to try to please her new Keepers as much as possible. Her Keeper seemed to appreciate Rose's efforts, so much so that She occasionally caressed Her neck and face with Rose's soft, velvety petals. This Keeper's skin was so very soft, and pleasant to the touch, Rose thought. Rose was very pleased that She seemed to enjoy the feel of Rose on Her skin as well. Rose was getting a bit thirsty though. I wonder when They will give me some water to drink? Rose wondered.

Before long They stepped through a door to the outside. Rose was a bit startled that They would be leaving that marvelous Bellagio house, but by now she trusted her Keepers enough to believe that They would not place her in harm's way. In fact, Rose got excited to think about all of the wonderful new sights and sounds she was sure to experience in all of the other wonderful houses that she saw around.

And see them she did. Rose was carried through several wonderful houses. One was named Paris after a city far away, and another was named Venetian after another distant city where people rode in boats and sang loudly in a strange language. Rose accompanied her Keepers to see a spectacle called Le Rêve, whatever that meant, in a house called Wynn, whatever that meant. The show was enjoyable, featuring all kinds of marvelous sights and sounds, but the whole time Rose was getting thirstier and thirstier. Her Keepers procured something to drink for Themselves; it looked somewhat like water but was a different color and had some ice floating in it and smelled funny. Rose was tempted to taste that liquid, not because she was curious (it really smelled bad) but more due to her increasing thirst. However, They never offered any to Rose, not even a taste. Rose began to feel a little bit tired and worn – surely her Keepers would notice that and get her something to drink. Surely right after the conclusion of the show They would get her some water. Right?

Rose began to worry when, at the conclusion of the show, They immediately headed for the exit of the Wynn house. Why couldn't They just get her some water? It was getting hard to hold her head up high, as her original Keeper had taught her was the most beautiful. Rose wanted so badly to please her new Keepers, but it was proving to be very difficult, as thirsty as she was.

The Keepers left the Wynn house and waited in a line for a small rolling house called a taxi. They got into their taxi house, and Rose became excited when she realized that They were taking her to Their own house. While they were in the taxi, though, Rose was a bit unnerved when She put Rose down on the seat while They commenced touching Their mouths together and clutching Their bodies close together. Rose felt a little bit left out, but she figured that this was a personal ritual between her new Keepers and left it at that. Rose did notice that the driver of the taxi house spent more time looking in the mirror that he did at the path upon which he was directing the taxi, and Rose felt a little bit unsafe. Thankfully the taxi house arrived at Their house without incident.

Rose noticed that this house was not as nice as the Bellagio house or the Venetian house or the Paris house. It was quite a bit smaller, and it was not located directly on the primary thoroughfare where all the rest of the huge houses were. With a supreme effort, Rose fought through her dehydration to lift her head and see the name of the house. At the top of the house in flashing orange lights was the name of the house: Hooters. That's an odd name for a house, Rose thought. I wonder if it's a city somewhere, too?

The cavern of the Hooters house was much smaller than the other caverns, but it too was filled with the same machines and the same slaves sitting in front of the machines with the same resigned yet desperate look in their eyes. To be honest, most of the cavern was a blur, since Rose could only focus on her thirst. All she needed was some water – couldn't her Keepers see that?

Rose was carried to the hallway labeled elevators, where some doors opened to a small room that began to rise when the doors closed. So that's an elevator, Rose thought through her thirst. Rose was certain that when They got to Their room in this house and saw how thirsty Rose was They would give her something to drink right away, and then she would be just fine. Rose was dimly aware of her Keepers again touching mouths and pressing close against each other in the elevator, and she hoped that her Keepers weren't too distracted to remember to give her something to drink.

The elevator room stopped, and the doors opened. Rose was carried down a long corridor lined with numbered doors, and then her Keepers stopped at one of the doors. He put a plastic card into a slot in the door, and after a beep and a flash of a green light They stepped into the room. It was very dim; the only illumination was the outside light that entered the room around the edges of the curtain.

Rose desperately looked around the room for the water, but was shocked when she was dropped onto a table. Her Keepers quickly removed their clothing and climbed into the bed, while Rose's thirst overcame her. Rose's head drooped off the edge of the table, and the room seemed to grow even dimmer as she heard the sounds of rustling sheets and animal moans from the direction of the bed. Rose's petals, usually so lush and velvety, felt dried and withered; Rose gasped in shock as an outer petal detached and fluttered to the floor. Slowly, one by one, more petals fell to the floor like tears, as Rose suffered in thirsty torment.

So this is what it's like, Rose thought. This day started with such promise, such hope. And it almost looked as if I would actually be happy. As if something good would happen to me. Now here I lay, used and discarded, weeping sad tears, lamenting what could have been, what should have been. Now I see that I'm just like them – just like the slaves of the machines. I have no control; I'm powerless over my own destiny. I thought I had a chance with these Keepers, but they're just like all the rest. Just like everybody else in this place – this city called Las Vegas.

Rose wept into the night, and by morning she was no more.

Doog lives in California, is married with two young children, is a complete donk of a poker player while being a kick-ass poker blogger. He's also the most modest, humble person you'll ever meet, should you have the esteemed privilege.

Las Vegas Car Battery

By Dingo © 2007

As a bi-coastal Aussie living between Las Vegas and New York for the last four years, I suppose because of my accent I seem to attract a weird and wide selection of sheilas and broads. I am quite okay looking, or so people tell me, so picking up sheilas has never been a problem. Mine all just seem to be total whack jobs.

In my time in Vegas I have had numerous humorous and not so happy run-ins with hookers, strippers, pushers, pimps and other assorted hustlers.

One night I was at my usual haunt for sheila-preying at the Mandalay Bay's Island Bar, a well-known haunt for all of the newer hookers in Vegas (most of the old crowd have been 86'd, so no longer tempt their fate there). So in late 2004, I am at the bar playing video poker and doing my drinks arbitrage, basically playing quarters whilst drinking $14 martinis and wine and whatever other swill my mate the barman Rob would let me get away with. I used to tip him $40-50 a night and play fuckall but drink volume.

The band The Limit had just finished their 2nd set at around 11 PM when two average-looking 30-something broads/betties approach me and start giving me a line. I initially think they are Midwest tourists looking for free booze and a good time but the taller of the two, a 5 ft 10in "cruel black Irish" looking tart sticks her hands straight down my pants onto the little fella and her friend proceeds to suck on my ear. Despite nearly 12 hard drinks my little fella is getting hot and horny so I decide to accept their invitation to go back to their suite at the Venetian.

We race out of Mandalay and into a cab and after a stop off at the Hard Rock, they want to try some fancy schmancy drink at Mr. Lucky's (hardly my favorite drinking spot in Vegas). After guzzling the $18 concoction, we headed to the Venetian.

We get to the Venetian and the betties tell me it would normally cost me $1,000 for the two of them but as they were new in town they would do me for free (yeah right).

Anyway, by this time I am frazzled, drunk as a legless lizard and horny and go up to the suite with these two sheilas. They tell me they are from Chicago and like fucking together. We get to the suite and the smaller lady, Kimberley, takes me into the bedroom and we get naked. She has a very nice body with large natural boobs but the most enormous scars on her lower belly and shoulder and burn marks around her thighs.

We are bonking when her friend Kitty comes in and decides I need to be tied up. Well this is kind of a first for me so I accept.

STUPID mistake.

She ties my hands to the posts with two Hermes scarves and my feet to a brace they have attached to the bed. She takes off her clothes and sits straight on my face while Kimberley licks my crotch. Kimberley starts to bite my legs and feet (bloody hard) and Kitty is rocking on my poor face. She nearly breaks my frickin' nose. I am thinking, what the fuck am I doing here? Kitty is getting very violent as she half drowns/half suffocates me as she comes.

I then notice Kimberley coming into the bedroom with what looks like an old car battery, gulp, oh fuck! I ask them what's going on and they proceed to tell me in detail how I am going to be tortured. Not fricking good. I am ripping at my arms trying to free my worthless sorry ass while Kimberley attaches some leads to the battery and zaps me on my feet (I still have a scar two years later).

SHIT, this is where the other bitch got her burn marks from. I almost pass out from the agony. Man, in my life, I have had broken arms and legs, impaled myself in a tree, had chemo and nasty dog bites but nothing compares to being electrocuted with a car battery and prod.

For 40 minutes while I beg and plead to be let go (yes, shut up, you whining Australian pussy) they hit me, burn me, zap me and bring me to the strangest orgasms and depths of ecstasy and pain. Kitty mixes up some concoction and pours it down my throat knocking me out in about ten minutes.

I wake up the next morning alone in the suite, my watch and all of my money gone and have the most searing agony in my crotch. The bitches shaved my balls and carved their initials in my legs.

I could not walk properly for three days or have sex for a month and still have some scars from the experience, the weirdest being a mark on my left hand where they sliced me with a chisel.

Dingo is a forty-something lawyer who's originally from Australia and currently living in New York City.