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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Naked City

Day 13 - continued

Some people say "I go to Vegas to 'find myself'." What happens to me is, I find myself in the fairly degenerate position of not having enough money on me for bus fare.

It's not that there aren't resources at my disposal, but I could in all good conscience start asking I.S.G.s for spare transportation change.

Three bucks is enough for the WAX (which costs two) but not enough for other lines, as I recall.

Before I head to Binions, I once again use some points to download credits to a machine, play them, don't win, and cash out enough to have bus fare. Lucky me.

I'm doing okay enough on the trip in terms of win/loss, but I am running out of liquid cash due to other uses of the long green, such as tips.

I check in with the cavalry, just sending up a trial balloon.

I walk to Binions and the night is alive, but I'm not feeling it. I just want to get this day done.

The bus stop signage is unintelligible. And the street is blocked off with orange fences and traffic cones. There's a sign saying 'road closed'. The bus kiosk tells me all the times that the WAX appears from morning until... about mid-afternoon.

Then it says some mumbo jumbo about later in the day being able to catch it a block and a half north, somewhere I'm not keen to go on a dark Vegas night.

But I even take a few steps in that direction to try to see the stop - and then walk back. I'm a fussing, tired tumbleweed of indecision.

I clarify with 'the guy' that the road is only closed for the Fremont Street Experience light show, and the buses will still be stopping here. Okay. I will simply take whatever bus comes - Deuce, SDX, WAX, other... doesn't matter.

Thinking I'll get my ticket now, I check out the kiosk, which explains the 19 different combinations of bus route, bus type, length of time, and how much it costs. I stand with my sad, wrinkled dollar bills, trying to make sense of it all.

There's an easy solution - an SDX express bus arrives before I've inserted a single dollar bill into the ticket machine.  I know you are supposed to have your ticket ahead and get on the SDX through any open door.

There is no way I even feel like trying to panic-buy a ticket before the bus leaves.

After the day I've had, it doesn't take much to summon the "fuck it" genie - I stuff my dollars back in my pocket and get aboard without a ticket. Fuck it, fuck them, fuck the bus, and fuck whatever may happen. I'm getting on this bitch.

I find a seat, and a black guy with a big backpack, looking kinda squirmy, sits down next to me. He looks like he could be peddling street drugs somewhere, and has a bad, juicy cough. I huddle up next to the window as hard as I can, head turned away.

The bus whines away from the stop and I'm on my way home. The SDX isn't too bad to get to the Tropicana - it has a limited number of stops and avoids a lot of the strip congestion, but stops right outside Excalibur.

We turn left off of the strip, just on the edge of the Naked City. A younger black guy gets on and takes a seat a few rows from me, a sideways seat in the joint of the articulated bus. A minute later, he recognizes my seat-mate (who is asleep), and wakes him up. My seat-mate waves him off.

The young guy wants something. He keeps bothering my seat buddy, who keeps shaking his head no. Young guy wants him to move up where he is. He holds up his hand for a split second, rubbing his fingers together. Waved off. He does it three or more times. Waved off each time.

Finally, to my relief, my travel pal takes his big backpack and moves up a three rows. I take a deep breath, wondering what flavors of tuberculosis I probably have. He sits facing forward on an aisle seat, and his new friend is just in front of him, in a seat on the side, facing sideways. They huddle up and I don't pay a lot of attention. A few minutes later, the bus stops. The little black guy takes off through the side doors like a bat out of hell. At the next stop, a skeezy looking guy and his girlfriend, with long dirty-blonde hair, probably 101 pounds, get on. They sit across the aisle from me, one row up.

We drive through a dark no-mans land with no landmarks I can recognize. I just want to get back to my room.

The boyfriend guy recognizes the backpack guy. He steps one foot into the aisle and leans way up, one foot anchored back at his seat, as if he's only temporarily talking, but really, he's staying in his seat.

He sits again, fishes, and leans forward again. This time I see it clearly, right in the aisle. The money goes one way, and the drugs go the other - a little foil packet. Boyfriend is giddy but trying to contain himself.

I think that this is really blatant and obvious, for a drug deal. But what happens next leaves me shaking my head.

Boyfriend does his one foot lean thing and talks to the backpack guy again, who rummages in his pack and comes up with an entire kitchen roll of aluminum foil. He tears off about two feet of the stuff and hands it to the boyfriend, who studiously folds it into - I don't know - an origami swan probably?

Boyfriend and dirty blonde are off at the next stop.

Backpack guy is keeping himself busy. He's taking little strips of foil, and taking stuff out of a ziploc bag, and folding up the foil.

And this is when I suddenly realize that I shouldn't just be watching this like a TV show. If there is money and drugs in that big backpack, there is probably other things in there too. Backpack guy is wasted, and if something goes wrong, he could pull out a gat and start spraying lead everywhere.

I think about what I would do, what I should do, where exits are. I think the danger is slight - but lots of people have thought that and ended up in a bloodbath.

I've almost decided to get off the bus when backpack takes care of it for me - we hit the strip and he leaves.

It's not far to my corner, and I sit and ponder all that has happened in the last 24 hours. Soon enough, I struggle to my feet, I'm out of that hole and back up on the street.

Thinking back on it, and how fate can be, it weirds me out. I was going back to the Trop to sleep, even though I was double booked, with another room at the Cal. I had a drug dealer sitting next to me on the bus, and probably a gun a few inches from me. I saw two deals go down. I have drug dealer TB.

I imagine a different start to the bus ride that goes like this.

I find a seat, and a black guy with a big backpack, looking kind of anxious, sits down next to me. But I try not to judge. Reaching out for a handshake, I introduce myself.

"Hi! My name's Royal! I'm from Canada. Are you double-booked at your hotels too?"

VP Day: -$200
Trip: -$395

    1 comment:

    1. We rode the express bus once from the strip to DT. There were service workers, casino workers, gang members, homeless, and most of all, at least two persons not even close to being in their right minds. The bus dropped us off about three blocks from Freemont and my wife said like the Raven, "nevermore" and we cabbed it back. Now, in my job, I'm used to those kind of folks but my wife was not.


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