November 2, 2028
With the car slowing to accommodate the slower traffic of the Vegas outskirts, Bridge woke from an uncomfortable sleep. He poked his head above the windowsill to see the towering casinos in the distance glittering through the sandy desert haze. “Vegas already?” he asked, sniffling and stretching and straightening his mussed up tie. He checked the clock on his internal HUD. Despite a stiff back, the few hours sleep had helped. “We gonna stop to toss a coin in the slots?”
“I do not believe that would be wise,” Aristotle replied. “It occurs to me you’d be a terrible gambler.”
“Gambling is for suckers and rubes. Dropping two bits into a random number generator is flirting with the universe.”
“We’ll stop on the other side of town for a piss break and some lunch,” the Mexican said. “I do not want mi cara showing up on some Strip casino’s security cameras. CLED has a partnership with NVCED and they’re still after me for that warehouse thing. Don’t matter where we go, even the churches got slots.”
“I’m surprised you never worked Vegas, Bridge,” commented Aristotle.
Bridge shrugged. “What can I say, I’m an LA boy. Vegas really ain’t my scene.” He noticed the questioning look on Aristotle’s face. “Look, everybody’s a liar. LA, Vegas, New York, Istanbul, wherever, everybody lies. Nobody expects sincerity in Los Angeles. They expect everybody and everything to be fake as starlet boobs. But they do expect to have their dreams fulfilled, so even though your client knows you’re lying to them, they still believe you’ll get them whatever they want. It’s all fantasy land out there, and I’m Mr. Fucking Roarke.” Aristotle appeared confused by the reference. “Old TV show. I mean, REALLY old. Anyway, Vegas ain’t like that.”
“How do you mean?”
“You ever been to Vegas?” The bodyguard shook his head. “Vegas is all glitz and glamour. It’s big shows and huge productions, but deep down, underneath all that put on is the con. Only it’s a different brand of con then LA. See, Vegas is where dreams go to get bought and sold and lost. Everybody in Vegas isn’t just lying to you, they are lying to you to steal every single thing you got and you know they are and they know you know. There’s liars, and there’s criminals, and there’s thieving lying criminals and Vegas is full of those. You work Vegas you expect every motherfucker you work with is angling to get at your back to stick in the knife. If LA is a fantasy, Vegas is a straight-up heist.”
The Strip had come into sight now, coalescing out of the hazy morning into nightmarish unreality. Even with the blistering sun baking the desert with blinding illumination, the carnival lights of the Strip’s daily put-on was evident, every twinkler twinkling, every barker shouting, every promised lie and lying promise on display to draw in the unwary. And on every corner, on every sidewalk, in every doorway, the crowds gathered, rushing from imagined payday to crushing disaster with wide-eyed insatiable zeal.
“I spent a month here one week. Vegas and me don’t get along,” Bridge mumbled as the Strip began to fade behind him. The dusky shimmering curtain of the desert heat shrouded the city’s shiny rotten heart.
Go to Chapter 6.5
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
November 2, 2028