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More Tales from Vegas ( read ‘Tales from Vegas’ for the first installment)

#Vegas

After a few drinks with my friend we plan to meet for breakfast and we head back to our respective hotels. We  were doing this on the cheap, although his hotel was more respectable than mine the quality of his room made up for it . Mine had no inkling of respectability and it didn’t seem to apologize for it.

When I  had checked into my room earlier I noticed the clientele seemed to be a little more grittier than  the last time I was in Vegas. That was a different hotel and evidently had higher standards.

This hotel claimed it was owned by Bugsy back in the day. I though , well it had something going for it , back in the day.  How do I know it’s the same Bugsy that started this whole thing. How did they know it was the same Bugsy.

I walk to my hotel, enter the room and get ready for bed. I notice the marbled tile in the bathroom contained a pattern of brownish red swirls . Perfect for hiding blood stains across the ages. Convenient for covering up the past transgressions of a guy named  Bugsy, I thought.

I take one last glimpse of Vegas from my room before hitting the sack. Gazing out my window I noticed a check cashing business across the street.  It was not immediately recognizable as such. It took me a few moments to make out the business sign. It had been installed upside down.  I wonder what the story behind that is, I thought.

I go to bed excited for tomorrow. Dawn does not come until all of my thoughts have escaped my brain and have been reinterpreted into dreams.

I awake outside my window and interestingly enough I am able to read the check cashing sign with no difficulty.  I am clueless however as to what the signs on the surrounding businesses spell out. The need for me to grab my glasses before they fall off my face is a big clue as to my predicament.

Two men of New York persuasion wearing fedoras are holding on to my ankles as I dangle outside my hotel room. They are either performing an experiment with gravity or they need something from me. I am concluding the latter. They don’t seem to be the scientist type.

“Bugsy, we know yous got the dough. Your joint seems to be quite, um, what’s the word I’m looking for?”

“Prosperous, “ I offer. Definitely not scientists.

“Yea , that’s it prosperous.”

“Dough, what dough? “I managed to croak out as the blood rushes to my head.

“Don’t kid us. The dough you borrowed from Mr Lansky.  He is starting to believe that perhaps your not paying your entire tribute towards your debt.”

Mr. Lansky? Tribute? what in the name of J Edgar Hoover were they talking about?

“Listen, um,  Gentlemen. I have no idea what you are talking about?  Are you sure you have the right guy?

“Is you Bugsy and do you own a casino?”

“Well yea but the whole Bugsy thing is fairly new. I thought it would be a swell nickname . You know something the dames would like.”

“Cute story but Mr Lansky wants his money.  You seem to share two important ,um , qualities, yea thats it, with the man who owes it to him.  Your name is Bugsy and you own a Casino. That’s good enough for us.”

“Yea , I can see where you’re going with this. How much does this Bugsy character owe?,” I ask with the hope it is not too much cash to scrounge up in a minutes notice.

“A cool twenty grand would get you on the right side of Mr. Lansky for a while.”

Twenty grand, what a coincidence, I thought. I had a cheque for just that amount  that was destined for the bank . It covered the receipts for the week.

“ I don’t suppose you would take a cheque for that amount would you?”

The fit of laughter the two mooks had just about caused them to drop me. I made a mental note not to bring it up again.

With the blood pooling in my head it was really tough to see let alone concentrate but I managed to remember the check cashing joint across the street. The one with the sign easy to read by persons in my particular predicament. Convenient, I thought.

I convince the mooks I have the dough but need to cash a cheque across the street. The location gives them a warm and fuzzy, however fuzzy a mook can get, that I won’t be able to get away with anything.

At the cheque cashing joint I give the dough to the mooks. One of them smacks me on the back , smiles, and apologizes for interrupting my sleep. They both exit to the street and  leave me at the counter to collect my wits and allow my blood to resume it’s normal route.

“I gather those gentlemen just collected on debt you owe?” asked the proprietor.

“Yes I say, I guess the color of my blood filled face gave me away.”

“Yea, that and I have seen a lot of that kind of thing running this place. “

“Yes, well I owe my life to your flawed sign hanging skills”

“Flawed? I did that on purpose. That sign can be read my many a man  in the same situation you found yourself in.  It has directed a lot of business my way. I am glad  I could help but I can’t say that I will miss it. “

“Miss it?”

“Yes I am retiring”.

I woke up in a cold sweat in fear of mooks from New York. It took me a few moments to calm down and realize it was just a dream.  Before meeting my friend for breakfast my curiosity caused a detour in my route and I stopped by the cheque cashing  business.

An old man at the counter greeted me and introduced himself as Lawrence, “but you can call me Larry.” I asked him about a guy name Bugsy that used to own the casino across the street.

“Well I have heard things,” he replied with a twinkle in his eyes.  “I heard that he almost met a tragic ending due to a nickname mix up. He gave up the business and the nickname .”

“You don’t say,” I replied. “What was the man’s real name?”

“I believe it was Lawrence,” he replied.

I smiled, “You don’t say.”

Tales From Vegas

I am on my way to the airport and my stereo system , not finding the artist I commanded it to play,  chooses on it’s own.

Fresh beats hit the speakers and the sounds of  a dance number titled  “Breakfast in Vegas” by Praga Khan are reverberating around the panels of my Fiesta. That’s right , it’s a party on the road. I am a few hamsters shy of having a car commercial on my hands.

Since I am on my way to Vegas I find this whole scenario interesting but not worth much thought. Vegas as a force can put gravity to shame.  The origins of Vegas is a well known story but it is hard to believe that a group of writers were not involved. The collection of characters that inhabit this city should insure that no writer  ever passing through suffer from writers block.

From the neon signs that have been abandoned by their host buildings to the upside down check cashing sign and the house that Bugsy built there are tales clamoring to be told. Every corner turned and every hotel safe opened reveals a bit about the night or the decade before.

Checking into my room I inspect the functionality of the hotel safe. My laptop is old but it contains hundreds of stories and the thousands of hours spent crafting them. Once assured of it’s security I place my computer into it but discover an empty packet for some kind of endurance product named Rhino something or other. Wow,this person took their gambling serious, I thought.  I flipped over the other side of the packet and read the fine print.  A revelation popped into my head, oh that’s what they took seriously. I guess it was in the safe for extreme emergencies and I guess he had one.

Having locked up my dreams* for the night, I headed down to the street to join the characters that would inhabit my world for the next few days. I am in the downtown section of Vegas where things tend to be grittier. It has more of a state fair atmosphere than the strip. Less than a block from the hotel I discover a little bar that has a section exposed to the street complete with barstools outside so you can enjoy your drink and people watch at the same time.  I make a note of it and decide to check out what is happening further downtown. I am meeting up with one of my oldest friends tonight and by oldest I mean he has been a good friend for a long time. He also just happens to be older than me.** His flight puts him in Vegas a few hours from now so I have some time to burn.

I head down to one of the stage areas where free concerts are always going on. Tonight it’s Elvis. I am now officially in Vegas. Truth be told, I could have done better but there was not a keg of beer and a karaoke machine in site. After a while I move past Elvis and make my way down the block to the next stage complete with band. I didn’t catch their name but they seem to be a hair band tribute. Which hair band? Apparently all of them. After listening to their version of Bon Jovi’s version of  the Thin Lizzie song “The Boys Are Back In Town”, I decide that this is my cue to go back to my newfound bar because surely the boys are back in town

Getting back to the bar I  sit down at the outside section . It’s the kind of a place where they may not know your name but are friendly enough to make one up for you.

I pick up a drink menu. It announces  the name of this place as “The Park”. Strange, not a tree or blade of grass in sight, I thought. Glancing around I notice the only business sign attached to the building, a small unassuming neon job with an arrow pointing to the bar and the words “Park”.  That seals the deal. With the sign and the excellent beers on the menu I decide this place is now my favorite bar in Vegas***. I have officially found my orbit in the gravitational field of Vegas.  I obey the sign and stay for a while. I text my friend my location and settle in with a fine brew.

I people watch and continue to consume brews and time passes quickly. You know how it is when you are minding someone else’s business. I soon hear the familiar greeting of my friend and I welcome him to my new favorite bar. Seeing the “Park” sign he approves of my choice. We toast the visit and both agree that this will be a good time, tales will be told and new ones generated. Writers block should not be an issue for a while.

*Hey it’s a metaphor, I am trying to be literary here.

**Yes, its a smart ass shout out to my friend James.

*** When I am in a new town I feel that I have not officially visited unless I have found a favorite bar. It usually does not take long even in a large city. It gives me a home base for the current and perhaps subsequent visits.

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