Tuesday, 14 July 2009

End of level boss (day nineteen and twenty)

There are 4 levels to this game- preferred, high roller, big shot and ultimate. The only way to pass is to gamble. The end of level boss is the pit boss, a hard edged crone, a discrete glider, hands crossed behind. Your lives are determined by your credit limit. Vacant stares at the slot machines, repetitive strain injuries from pulling the arm, betting one credit, pulling the arm, betting one credit, pulling the arm...

Slots light up and faces follow, a pristine bar code voucher turns green. These secret doors hide a CCTV screen complex. No one escapes in the timeless society. Only the emptying of accounts under this bulb lit gloom, and the slow fade out of the sun, mark the passage of time, umbilically linked machine and player feeding the casino. Topless vampires and a cowboy stumbled in from 1958, his dusty stetson a mottled brown synecdoche. Frank has a smoker's voice. He'd love to travel, but his country won't let him. He did time, did some bad shit. Won't say what, won't say when. Married today, remarried today. We are his celebration and we must drink martinis. The waitress isn't so jolly in her scarce arse covering and red plastic leather effect jerkin. We've been overenjoying ourselves, throwing shoes, making merry. There are limits even for Vegas.

All silent in the bar, lost in our own dear incapacitation. Staring out at the carpets, those endless patterned carpets. Do they make you feel at home? The floors of this maze. The flaws of this maze. So 1970s. This glamour, once gilded, is gone. The restaurant at the end of the universe slowly revolves, diners with their dinners staring on a sea of lights in their ornamented rows. Las Vegas at its most romantic they say. My personalised glittered blue loyalty card reward scheme begs to differ. There is no romance here. Only sin.

And then...

Queasy like Sunday morning. That cheap liquor. $20 all you can drink. A mistake. The taste of martini soaked olive makes me feel nauseous from memory alone. Conversing with another time zone is a struggle. Two bathroom gurgles punctuate the talk, before i'm lying on the cold and lonely tiles, stranded. I am a sailor at sea.

Spongebob is trying to make us feel better but our hangovers are staying fast. Staggering to elevator, down floors, over to Starbucks, cookie and a smoothie, up floors, staggering to room, collapseflop into bed. My stomach stays quiet. It's all fading away- the memories, the illness. It only stays in Vegas because you can't remember it.

Free entry to the top of the tower is our prize for gambling. The Las Vegas grid system spreads out before us. There is the ever changing strip. If it gets old, build a bigger one with a more ostentatious gimmick. Mad people come up here to dangle off the edge. A fool and his money... 10pm and it's still to hot out. Circus Circus is a long 2 blocks away, but we watch the Flying Palomas swing, twirl and arms spread- catch above our craning necks. The Venetian and Paris are condensed, glitzed, remodelled, better (?) versions of their counterparts. There is something both aspirational and horrible about them. We are flagging and cranky in this heat, but the sexy sirens of TI are dancing for us beneath fireworks. I believe it is based on a true pirate story. The longest bus journey ever takes us back from the hordes to our king sized beds- exhausted. You can keep your Vegas, I'd rather have desert.

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