David S. Grant is posting his latest fiction “The Devil Wears Black Leather” while he works on his latest book, the fourth and final installment that follows: Bliss | Bleach | Blackout. The working title is of course, Bleak. Why is he doing this? Because he loves you! (Note: Also, may be drunk, hence the third person intro.) For more information (or purchase/download) David’s books check out his Goodreads (Bleach 4.6 rating; Bleach | Blackout 4.8 rating) or Amazon page.
The television is still on when I wake up. I feel lonely, slightly suicidal, and I’m still wearing my shoes. Staring at a commercial about lawn care I remember falling asleep to a show on how to be famous. The guy was standing on a yacht and had several beautiful women in bikinis surrounding him. I think there were three blondes and two brunettes. I shave and realize that my loneliness is not because I miss Jolie, but rather wanting to see Lucy. I turn off the television in the bedroom and walk into the living room and turn on the television. A special news report says the Python is headed to Pittsburgh. People are being interviewed as if they are expecting the Pope. Two men with beards are waving “Terrible” towels.
I start my morning ‘detox’ of multi-grain toast, peanut butter, and Acai Berry capsules. The suicidal thoughts leave temporarily and then I hear something about Frank Sinatra on the television and flash backs from the night before come racing back. I check the blazer I wore to see if I bought any cigarettes. There are none and I’m not sure if I’m happy about this or not. I shut off the television. I am breaking into a cold sweat as I recollect my prior night. My anxiety peaks when I open my computer and see that last night I Googled times to buy alcohol. I think about my pin-striped blazer. I rush to my closet. No cigarettes. I come back to laptop and check my email: two rejections, a possible acceptance for a short story titled MONEY SHOT and a job inquiry for a new escort service in Las Vegas. They want me to come out to the desert for a meeting.
Allow me to tear down the fourth wall here and explain my job. Three years ago I started a company titled 8Ball Writing, eventually shortened to 8Ball. The expectation was that individuals and companies would rather approach a company versus one individual. My first job was writing flyers, or “porn cards” for a Las Vegas escort agency named Legs, Inc. It paid well and afforded me time to work on my first novel titled “The Downtown Diaries”, with hopes of dropping the freelance work and pursuing my job as a novelist. After the release of “TDD” I soon realized that novels are whores that take and take and give very little. My first month of royalties paid my cable bill, the second month a graphic T-shirt with an ironic mustache, and then finally a pack of cigarettes. I would smoke down the pack knowing that my novel had afforded me the pleasure. Of course now I don’t even have this. What I have is a freelance business that is dependent on the escort companies in Las Vegas. Not what most people call prime job security. I have it down to a science: HOT YOUNG GORGEOUS FULL SERVICE AT-YOUR-DOOR heading with a colorful background, and a portfolio of naked women (I keep a library similar to Microsoft Word clip art). Sometimes web pages and T-shirts, but mostly flyers with big tits as the centerpiece. These companies like to stay in touch with their public. The guys standing on each corner handing out these flyers? There’s a good chance I created them. You’re Welcome. Next time you are handed one of these flyers, look for the 8-ball in the bottom right corner.
I try not to think about last night, instead focusing on my new novel. I write a full chapter then go to the gym and run for two miles the whole time thinking why would the main character in my book go back to the same strip club two nights in a row? When I get back to my laptop I delete the chapter and notice that the air conditioner is once again not working and the heat is rising in my apartment. Out of the left corner of my eye I think I see a cockroach, but once I turn nothing. The suicidal thoughts return.
I’m walking on William Street to Jagger’s apartment, stepping on cockroaches on the side walk that died the night before, when my iPhone alerts me of my motto of the day: LET IT PASS. When I arrive at Jagger’s on Fulton Street I notice the beads of sweat on my arms and the little bugs that are sticking to them. I go up to the third floor; his door is unlocked so I walk in. Jagger has a concerned look on his face and is holding up his Android phone. The text is from Izzy and it reads: THE NIGHT IS ETERNAL. I shake my head and Jagger asks what we are going to do about this. “Vampire intervention?” I ask and then Jagger points to his new lamps, but it’s hard to concentrate on anything because of the heat. Jagger senses my discomfort and tells me that his air conditioner also just broke. “It’s cool though, sweating is the body’s art!” Jagger leaves into his bedroom so I put on the television. It’s when I click on the DVR button I notice that Jagger records every episode of Law and Order; all of the reruns, SVU, Criminal Intent, and even the cancelled Los Angeles series. An overwhelming sense of concern and also embarrassment comes over me. As Jagger approaches I quickly turn off the television, words are not spoken, but we both know what just happened. On our way out the door I receive a text from Izzy. I hold up my iPhone for Jagger to see: I’VE LIVED 5000 YEARS and EXPECT TO LIVE 5000 MORE.
We walk down Fulton, through South Street Seaport to Front Street, ending up at the Cowgirl Sea Horse. I ask Jagger if he wants to go to Vegas, pointing out the free flight and expenses and he doesn’t answer, looking away as if I said something awful. When he looks back he tells me I was wrong to check his DVR queue and I agree because I don’t know what to say. We sit at the bar and order frozen Margaritas from a bartender wearing a sailor cap and a sign behind him reads WE LIVE WHERE YOU VACATION.
My iPhone vibrates and I’m hesitant to look, expecting more vampire messages, instead it is a text from Lucy asking if I want to go with her to an anniversary party for one of her friends. I read it out loud, and Jagger gargles, “Sounds terrible” and then “I can’t think of anything worse!” Lucy sends another message that says we should meet at Applebees. Jagger chokes on his Margarita, “Okay, that’s worse!” I continue reading: …the one in Times Square. Jagger asks the bartender if he has a gun so he can shoot me in the head immediately. Up to this point my day has consisted of Vampires, Law and Order reruns, and now Applebees is on the horizon. I grab one of Jagger’s cigarettes and head outside. When I come back Jagger has a strange grin on his face and says “I’m in” and that’s when I recognize this face, it’s the Vegas grin.
The Vegas Diaries – My First Time
Everyone remembers different aspects of Vegas during their first time. Unfortunately you only get one. I remember the heat; it was the first time I was really exposed to the desert and the dry air that comes with Cacti and strippers. Hot air that hits you in the face as you step out of the airport. Far away from reality, and into the taxi line where everyone is waiting. The line was at least 100 people long, but that’s not what amazed me. It was all of the different walks of life: race, gender, sexuality, and age all with the same look, the same glisten in their eyes. They all had hope, they all knew they were going to have the time of their lives, or at least, a moment as they go for it. I know I had it. I could tell this was going to be a different experience when our plane descended in and I looked out and saw the strip. My leg began involuntarily shaking, a tear formed in my eye.
I check in at Bally’s and then I headed right for the Black Jack table. Technically I was there for work, but it was only for a conference and I didn’t plan on going and SPOILER ALERT: never went. Anyway, what do they expect sending a twenty-one year old kid out to Vegas? I guess that’s why they asked me if I’d been before and wisely I lied and said yes, twice. When they asked me if I gamble I scrunched my face as if it was worse than touching a child.
Back to the table, in no time I was playing Black Jack and already down fifty dollars, but with free drinks on the way and beautiful women ever two feet I quickly fell in love with Las Vegas.
After the first night I was down one thousand dollars, half of my life savings, but it was okay. I still had two more nights and now I knew Black Jack wasn’t my game. The next night I would play roulette, but first, I would play the horses. I had a system. Despite only sleeping four hours I felt reenergized. I went down to the sports book, but since the horses hadn’t started yet went to play roulette. I purchased $100 worth of chips and placed half of them on the numbers five and eight. Systems are made to be adjusted. Next spin was eight. I collected my winnings (over $700) and put $300 on black. The ball rolled forever till it landed on Black 5. I collected my money and went to eat a nice big breakfast. I was back to even and the horses were going to start in one hour.
Three hours later I started drinking heavy. I walked to the bar located in the center of the casino because the “freebie” drinks were just not coming fast enough. Again, I was down one-thousand dollars. I went back to roulette and lost another five hundred before going back to the bar and drinking until I passed out.
I slept most of my last day and then it was my final night. My last chance to win my money back. Maybe even win a couple of dollars. After all, I had come to Vegas to win, not lose.
By 6pm I was broke, I went to the ATM and maxed out my one credit card and then lost that as well. I went to the bar to spend my last few dollars. This is where I met Sheila, who was also known as Trikki. She was an escort that worked the Bally’s casino high rollers and on slow nights the strip. She listened to my story and I guess was saddened, but also very wise. She mentioned my expense account and that I could still party and given it was my last night in Vegas – it was my duty to party. You have to trust me that this all made perfect sense at the time. She asked me to take her to my room where we spent the night dancing under the covers and ordering room service. It wasn’t until the morning that I thought about how I was going to explain the five bottles of champagne in one night on my expense report, but then again it didn’t really matter. I was coming off one of the best nights of my life. It was my first time in Las Vegas. The next morning I was dead broke, probably losing my job and riding shotgun while Sheila drove me to the airport. Despite my bleak outlook I was sporting the Vegas grin.