More Bad Vegas

An “Only in Las Vegas” sign portends the Big Mayberry should enjoy a substantial rebound in 2023.

Although an anecdotal yardstick, more escorts appear to be enhancing the city’s allure. Not that there any sure-fire methods of determining whether a woman is a courtesan or not, but just noticing recent additions to local gyms female grunters and stretchers.

Pre-Covid it was a useful and somewhat accurate indicator of future carnal diversions and amusements of the visiting expense account set.

The new presences are decided upswings from most resident women toning themselves. At best, women residing in Las Vegas aspire to be good looking. While the city hosts no shortage of beauties, too few of them actually reside here. Even in exercise attire, “working girls” are attractive. Not only do they draw the eye, they keep orbs transfixed.

Hence the discernment at the gym which raises hopes about 2023.

The above aside, no one should think Covid put a severe crimp in the volume of Las Vegas’ horizontal talent. Covid only affected the quality of pulchritude. Which goes to reason because again without expense account conventioneers and visitors possessing sizable amounts of “make it rain” money, top tier pleasure women won’t lower accustomed standards and settle for lesser clientele.

That’s what hookers are for.

Frankly I prefer the now antiquated terms “bar girl” or “b-girl” rather than hooker. And while “hooker” may have American Civil War etymology behind it, the other two labels are evocative of Americans’ nature regarding vice. Such shady ladies titillate as well as infringe on straitlaced notions of outdated proper womanhood.

Besides, “bar girls” and “b-girls” harken and recall a lot of noir movies whose settings misshaped mid-20th century views on sexual desire and morality. Much as good women are lauded, bad girls thrill.

The Las Vegas landscape is ever-shifting. To keep the tourist lures fresh construction and demolition remain constant conditions. Stay away too long and the place doesn’t match one’s last memories. Same goes with people. Especially now that Covid is abating.

Transient as the city is, I managed to cobble together an irregular association of “friends” until Covid dispersed us. Or at least we knew each other enough to do more than nod. While we never chased great adventures together, we did socialize. Has science and medicine done enough in the field of socialization? Aren’t there health benefits through contact, conversation with other human beings? Some might say the same results can be gained by having pets. But if Lassie or Mr. Ed start replying verbally let me suggest psychiatric help for their owners.

Covid blasted to bits the human mosaic which had made me that less singular in Las Vegas. Most, if not all, of the people with whom I consorted either worked in the hotel/casino industry or its adjuncts. Goes to reason I’d gravitate to them socially rather than retail clerks or warehouse personnel.

The epidemic scattered them all. When the industry convulsed, crushing employment for lengthy periods, those adrift either found other positions here or left the city for different career paths elsewhere. It also hastened departures when the industry saw a marvelous chance to lower costs and erase obligations. Citing “circumstances,” Covid became the perfect springboard to boot rafts of experienced, high salaried employees. Corporate management sees such maneuvering as bloodless. The loss of one’s livelihood through neat bookkeeping is a calculation that inflicts pain as well as pleases shareholders.

“Employer benevolence,” a perpetual oxymoron.

Since Covid’s inception I’ve rarely run across any old faces. When I do, it never fails to amaze how they pop into the mind’s forefront after so many years of memory dormancy.

Like Lola.

On a summer day last year, I was leaving a book after collecting several horseracing overnights. Those sheets provide information about the next day’s racing cards. Some books are more thorough with information than others. The cheaper ones’ overnights just offer the barest information, these only giving horse odds and jockey weights. In essence that makes bettors buy then consult that day’s Racing Form. Less greedy books will make available overnights generous with stats and figures.

Having situated herself in one of the hotel’s unobstructed bars, the kind conveniently splitting the middle of a heavily trafficked walkway, Lola had propped herself on a stool. There, she played video poker. Beside the screen a long-diluted nursed cocktail. During prospective business hours she drank sparingly. One could’ve considered whatever her glasses held as props not libations.

No pack of cigarettes nearby either. Lola didn’t smoke. A fair complexioned woman, hers a terrific choice. Mojave sun assaulted skin enough. Smoking would’ve wizened her into a crone, especially around her mouth.

How many years since I’d last seen her? Certainly not after Covid’s onslaught. She’d changed obviously. We all have these last several years. But hers were more in the more flattering hairstyle direction rather than realization of mortality creeping closer manner. This being Las Vegas, I naturally felt presumptuous enough to sit beside her.

Lola was still a fox. Maybe a less slit-eyed, sharp-eared one, but sly nonetheless. Only an instant passed before she recognized me. Her surprise was minor.

She gave me a requisite “you look good” platitude. Then she remembered I wasn’t a prospective “date.” That closed her “deal” book. From thereon we could again converse like acquaintances.

The bartender saw me. Whatever drink I would’ve ordered, Lola caught. Forget about feeding the machine cash. Her afternoon had been prosperous. Winnings had included a royal flush. Had she imbibed then, she would’ve been drinking on the casino’s dime. She slid that dime over to me.

Few mutual contacts had crossed either of our paths. Those who remained in Las Vegas found other “Vegas jobs” with different “Vegas schedules.” Presumably those absent had lighted out for distant territories. We joked people who’d escaped Albuquerque for the Big Mayberry’s neon had returned there to open food trucks.

Probably not farfetched.

Covid had been rough on Lola. Not physically. In the business sense. Fewer horny guys with their inhibitions loosened always meant lower income. Through the depths of Covid no horndogs in town at all threatened her savings. A steady 12-15 bucks notwithstanding, Lola didn’t consider hers the temperament that would find any contentment in filling some role as an “essential worker” in a grocery or convenience store or fast-food outlet.

Her skills were a lot more expansive.

Instead, after some research she became a web cam girl. Though earning less than pre-Covid, it yielded way more than working behind a counter. Now that Las Vegas visitation rose, she didn’t pursue the tech angle with the same frequency. There was never any fervor on her part in that regard.

Although she did offer one trenchant observation about “deviants.” About such adherents, she said, “Guys aren’t very original.”

No need to have disputed that.

Knowing who I am, occasionally remembering I post what interests me, Lola told me a story. One I might’ve found … provocative. One that I’d write.

One weekday night during the past summer when Lola wished she’d instead set up her camera and trawled for “deviants,” uh, viewers, Las Vegas disappointed her by being deader than hell. As on the day we met again, that night she killed time sitting at a hotel bar playing video poker. Those results were far less lucrative.

In walks a traveler to break her monotony. Under any circumstances he was a hunk. Unsurprisingly given her avocation, Lola can distinguish and appreciate men who are wheat from those who are chaff.

Blond, tall, buff, she quickly discovered him a Californian. A man who in his heyday had been a beach boy. There’s stereotyping, then there’s fitting the profile. He gravitated towards her and a sat a seat away.

Overserved as he already had been, Mister Sand & Surf ordered what other drunks might’ve regarded as another fatal glass of beer. Hops and barley sipped, he launched into a soliloquy. Perfection dissatisfied him. He had an ideal wife, a fulfilling profession, and resided in an address that sounded to Lola’s ears like a lot of money.

Naturally she wondered why he rattled on. I suggested it stemmed from his having so much affluence made him feel guilty. She asked me to explain guilt.

Mister Sand & Surf never finished his beer. He’d expunged whatever needed release. He lumbered upright then announced his evening completed. Lola saw opportunity though she couldn’t yet figure her payout. When Mister Sand & Surf stood so did Lola. She followed him on his wobble to the hotel elevator bank. Along the stroll she engaged him in prattle, a maneuver which further lowered his quite diminished guard.

Inside the lift, he pressed the button. Remarkably that was her floor as well. Aren’t there coincidences in life?

Upstairs he went one way, she feinted going the opposite way. Not too hard on his heels, she trailed him to his room door. Mister Sand & Surf never bothered looking behind him. He carded open his door. Before closing it, Lola slipped a plastic shim where the latch bolt ought had shot through the plate hole. Had Mister Sand & Surf presence enough to further secure his door by turning the deadbolt, her jig would’ve been up.

No click. She waited about half an hour.

Confidence finally overcoming apprehension, Lola entered his room. She walked into a quiet and slighted space. Mister Sand & Surf had given himself completely over to Nod. On the way to bed he’d let his garments pile where they landed. He lay asleep gloriously naked. Lola’s mercenary impulses took a momentary backseat to her womanly instincts.

Fine as Mister Sand & Surf looked togged in expensive designer labels, he was gorgeous in the flesh. She lingered. No, she lingered appraising him. Having made tradeoffs with an unduly number of frogs, deeply burying her disgust beneath conpensation realized, before her then stretched a prince she would’ve indulged gratis.

Lola agreed with me. Life was unfair.

Nonetheless business called. She found his wallet, searched the folds. A symbol of his generation, he carried no folding green. He possessed personal and corporate credit cards. The latter she left unmolested. Fewer potential problems that way. She absconded with just one of the former. Only a streetwalker would’ve swiped them all.

Suspecting Mister Sand & Surf would’ve checked out his wallet after such a blurry night, so much missing plastic ought have set off his alarm gongs. He likely might’ve overlooked one vanished. And that lag should’ve extended eventual detection.

What she intended was a shopping spree. She hoped the card pinched had a high limit. She believed her recent shortfall demanded extreme retail therapy.

Before sighing farewell, mischief overtook Lola. She found his phone. If Mister Sand & Surf a PIN guy, she was SOL. His device had a biometric fingerprint aperture. She hoped he was the kind. He was. His index finger unlocked his handheld.

Let’s imagine she grinned during much of what happened next. Fortunately for Lola, or unfortunately for him, Mister Sand & Surf slept on his back. Therefore, selfies of her fellating him. Since Lola’s avocation requires certain exigencies, her dessous often remains folded in a drawer at home. So after hiking up her dress hem waist-high, selfies of her riding him cowgirl and reverse cowgirl. And finally, their one-way intimacy climaxed with him apparently orally pleasuring her.

Here is how photography can manipulate what’s perceived: what appeared mutual sexual gratification isn’t once the viewer understands he’s unconscious. His eyes were closed. But as composed the composition drags eyeballs elsewhere.

Notice there was no thought of “consent” while reading that passage. However, if the genders had been switched and the same actions involved …

To the pictures I can attest because Lola let me gander at what she’d produced between them. Let’s be clear: shame in Las Vegas should be regarded as a fluid concept.

Briefly Lola contemplated scrolling through Mister Sand & Surf’s contacts. Had she been malicious, his spouse and others would’ve received some awkward candids to discuss. But again, only a streetwalker could’ve exceeded that boundary. Instead, she uploaded those images to herself, to her own device. Then from his she deleted these ever having been shared. Yes, she left them in his gallery.

Once she straightened out herself and having wiped down what she’d handled – the inorganic items she’d touched – Lola recovered her shim. All in all, she left Mister Sand & Surf only relatively lightly unburdened.
About the photos, I asked what she intended with them. Besides her own personal satisfaction, Lola thought they might somehow be used to enhance her web cam site.

Now, the difference between a b-girl and streetwalker.

An autumn afternoon in another book. The next day’s overnights looked upon as auguries. Hoping for revelations before making decisive plunges toward any strategic investments. What results can either be rewarding or an onset of Tourette’s.

The horses were taking their equine time to reveal themselves. A couple of bets at the sports book awarded me three comp drink tickets. I’d already used one when I heard my name called. Looking up I saw Stir Fry, an irregular acquaintance of my Las Vegas past.

I invited him to sit at my table then burned another comp drink card on his behalf. Outwardly he looked the same as we’d last met. But then how closely had I regarded any of the figures with whom I’d previously socialized?

We caught up. He was a cook. Covid cost him his position of 20 years. Well, actually, his former workplace saw a marvelous opportunity to shed a high salary, what it probably considered outsized benefits, and a union member’s seniority. Covid allowed the entity to “restructure.” Which is just a bloodless way of clawing back. Management did allow him to reapply for his old post at a lower salary and reduction of perks.

Insulting as the offer was, it was easy to refuse. That decision begat nearly two years of unemployment. Stir Fry remarked that anytime he heard some moron claim “nobody wants to work anymore,” he struggled not to kick his ass. Usually, he heard such from dummies who knew nothing about pride, integrity, or self-worth.

Or as we saw them, Fox News Republicans.

But find a better landing spot Stir Fry did. Better pay, more generous benefits than what his old employer sought forcing on him.

Like me, Stir Fry hadn’t seen many of our former bunch. Maybe three or four over the years Covid disrupted our lives. I mentioned my encounter with Lola. Seeing her, not what she’d done. Stir Fry laughed derisively. In the offing, I expected a comment about her industry weathering conditions because of its primal necessity. Instead, he remarked “at least if you hire her, she delivers.”

His was an odd response I let wash over my back. Seeing me ill-informed, stir Fry clarified.

“I was raped.”

He spoke with matter-of-factness. So much so I thought he just heaped further scorn onto his old employer. No. Stir Fry set me straight.

His was a mournful tale. A progress full of avoidance, foolhardiness, warnings unheeded. In the end, he did it to himself. That’s not tragedy. It’s a lesson.

The sole redemption? He’d accrued time, had amassed shifts which narrowed knowledge of incident.

After working 30 straight shifts through his twelfth month of employment, Stir Fry attained the award of one year’s service. Better than having endured his probationary period, he gained two weeks vacation, full health benefits, sick days. Even personal days. Anyone who works knows these are seen as treasure. Up there with gold. That cannot be overemphasized.

Emerging from arduous Covid conditions, Stir Fry saw himself as entitled to idleness. His 30 days of yeoman service as well as the week selected, a nothing week between two big conventions, greased his approval for absence. He’d intended doing nothing other than pampering himself.

On his first day dedicated to himself, he decided a sumptuous meal for himself in order. Checking his pantry, Stir Fry noticed he had committed a cook’s cardinal sin. He was short a few necessary ingredients.

So, off to the neighborhood mercado. There on a late morning hour, he added what his kitchen missed to his basket. In the aisles the peripheral awareness of a woman gradually edged into importance. Decent in the face, her figure had shape not sloth. The stranger’s presence wasn’t insistent, but reflecting on everything, she did reel him in.

Some time had passed since he’d last wet his weasel. The new job kept him focused and away from every diversion or amusement Las Vegas offered. But now that he’d crossed the line, denied, deferred, delayed urges demanded answering. The woman seen in the market, well, instinct told him what she might provide.

He determined, correctly, she was an “around the way girl.”

Stir Fry struck up bullshit conversion with her. Intuiting what he was about, what he wanted, she eased his progress. Her name was Lissome. Or at least that’s what she called herself. To himself, Stir Fry thought “Lissome” was a better “ho’ name” than “Unique” or “Cherish.”

His items gathered, he invited Lissome to his place. He offered vagueness. These she deduced then accepted.

Back at his place, Stir Fry didn’t rush events. He told her to get comfortable while he put away his purchases. While she sat in his living room, he stocked his larder for later. They made halting conversation. He told her his profession. She, well, whatever story she revealed about herself he immediately forgot.

Attempting to transform what both knew an imminent transactional matter into a less bald situation, he asked Lissome if she was thirsty. Stir Fry wasn’t thirsty but his mouth was dry.

Lissome would have a beer, though only if he also drank one. Stir Fry’s mistake wasn’t trying to perfume this get-together. Not did he accede to her request, but he also pulled out glasses in which to pour the suds. No, his mistake was not keeping an eye on his company and their beverages.

Poor fellow turned his back on both.

Ales imbibed, whatever small talk there had been quickly exhausted, the next steps led to his bedroom. Noonday sun brightly flooded the chamber. Unclothed, Lissome’s body lacked the almost expected stretchmarks or scars of an “around the way girl.” Although worn, Stir Fry liked what aroused him hadn’t been spoiled.

After proffering cash, Stir Fry stuck his wallet and keys into his closet safe. A man who invited a lot of “strange” into his bed, the prudence behind the safe blunted worries about theft.

From what Stir Fry remembered their sex started off well enough. At least for him. Hours later, face down on sheets he barely awoke.

A low sun darkened his bedroom. Dirt seemingly clogged Stir Fry’s mouth. Both his head and ass ached horribly. His ass hurt worse. Able to roll over he was then unable to sit on the bedside. Pain from his rear was excruciating. He struggled to stand, to balance upright. Stir Fry stumbled to a dresser, leaned upon it. Reaching behind him, he felt moisture as well as crust.

He wondered how the hell had he shit on himself. An agony walk into the bathroom showed his problem worse than leaky bowels. Blood covering his hand panicked him.

Stir Fry cried. He gathered enough of himself to survey his address. No Lissome. He knew her so long gone it was comparable to being from yesterday into tomorrow. After that realization, events cleared for Stir Fry. He’d been roofied. And more.

Nothing could be done about either. Anger aside, he needed attending. His injury required more than aspirin and a good night’s sleep.

A moment of misplaced levity, though. Inspecting his place, Stir Fry gazed into his kitchen. Lissome had cooked herself a meal. She’d left the sink full of dirty dishes.

Somehow Stir Fry dressed himself. Somehow he got himself to an emergency room. Good legal drugs numbed then rendered him unconscious.

Awakened sometime later, a physician gave Stir Fry diagnosis and prognosis. The patient had been assaulted through use of an “implement.” Some surgery had been required to repair tears. His full recovery was foreseen.

During his convalescence, Stir Fry wondered why Lissome had attacked him. Was it because his prudence prevented her from stealing portables of value? Was she one of those harpies who sought to avenge her sex on male patrimony? Or some kind of whack feminist shit like that?

Perhaps it was the simplest answer of all. Such was just in her nature.

Stir Fry was released three days later. That happened months before we met again. He said he’d accustomed himself to those moments of inexplicable discomfort, physically and mentally.

What to say? I let Stir Fry speak. His plight so unexpected what words did I have to comfort him? Strange. If he’d been a woman in the same straits, wouldn’t I have known what to have said?

Do our gender roles hamstring or just constrict us?

In the end, Stir Fry rendered the sort of appreciation anyone who works will understand: he was grateful his insurance covered the hospital bills.