Worlds & Time

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lex and Lia: The Strip

Alex had never been a morning person, but he woke up before the sun rose the next morning. Lia had pulled the sheets and blankets on the bed loose again, and was curled up in them like they were a cocoon, still asleep.

The two hundred dollars that Lenny had given him was still in his pocket, and he was hungry so he walked down the street to the diner.

Dana, the waitress that had suggested he try to get a job with Eli, was already gone for the day by the time that Alex arrived. If she had still been there, he’d considered waiting until she left. He didn’t want to think about what happened the night before.

The morning waitress was Gabe. She was only a few years older than Alex, relatively pretty and didn’t speak English very well but when she smiled at him it made him smile back. She brought him his order to go, but didn’t charge him for the coffee and slipped him a little bag of sugar cookies.

“Feliz Navidad,” she said, and Alex realized that it was Christmas.

He left Gabe a good tip, bought a paper from a machine and then walked back to the apartment.

Alex had ordered a variety of things. He didn’t really know what Celia liked yet, and decided it was better to be safe that sorry. He’d ordered an extra breakfast burrito for himself, and his coffee. He’d bought an orange juice for Celia, and they’d put the entire order into one of those cardboard caddies.

It was a Sunday paper, and there was an entire employment section, but most of the jobs were in casinos on the strip. Each one had a huge list of jobs from dealers to security, but Alex knew that if you worked at someplace big and nice, they would ask for two forms of ID, references, and they might even run background checks. Alex didn’t have a real ID or references, and if they ran a background check on him they’d never hire him.

There wasn’t much else that he was qualified for. He circled a few places, mostly the smallest ads or the ones that gave the vaguest descriptions of the work. He needed a job that wouldn’t ask too many questions.

He’d gone through most of the section when Lia woke up, and came into the room yawning.

Alex tossed her the bag of sugar cookies. “Merry Christmas.”

She smiled. “Thanks Lex!” She tore open the little bag and bit into one of the cookies.

“There’s real food too,” he said, pointing to the bag.

Lia offered him a cookie, but Alex refused and she quickly finished him off and then moved onto the bag of food. She didn’t seem choosy, and she finished off the remainder of the food like a vacuum.

When she was done, she looked at him. “What are we going to do today?”

“What do you mean?”

“I want you to take me to go see all the big hotels and casinos. I haven’t been out at all, and you haven’t seen them either. Besides, you can’t go look for a job today, it’s a Sunday.”

Alex shrugged. She was probably right about finding a job on a Sunday, and he hadn’t seen the hotels and the casinos yet.

Las Vegas warmed up during the day, but that wasn’t the largest change. They got off the bus between the MGM Grand and the Tropicana, and it was almost like stepping into another world. All of the buildings were so different and strange. Lia said she’d never seen so many people before. There were people everywhere, walking around in garish clothes taking pictures of everything even though it was Christmas. Alex guessed that this was probably a light day, considering the time of the year, but if it got much busier the sidewalks would have been nearly wall to wall people.

Lia was most impressed by the architecture. She wanted to go inside all the buildings, and look at everything. They visited the talking fountain in Caesar’s Palace, saw the huge fountain outside the Bellagio and walked over the moat in front of the Excalibur. They went inside the pyramid of the Luxor, saw the gardens inside the Mirage, and saw the Emerald City replica inside the lion of the MGM Grand.

It was warmer during the day, and around lunchtime Alex was able to take his windbreaker off. Lia had found out that the MGM had its own amusement park, and because she was so excited Alex bought them admission.

The amusement park wasn’t nearly as busy as the street. In fact, compared to the trip that Alex had taken to Six Flags back when he was in middle school it was positively dead. Alex could see where the park employees would have set up truncheons to accommodate huge lines, but for most of the rides there were only ten to fifteen waits or less.

Lia had never ridden a roller coaster before, and she was so excited about it that the ride attendant let them ride it twice in a row and then they they’d waited through the lines twice more.

The park finally closed around five. For the last half hour what little crowd there had been seemed to melt away. Alex and Lia rode a water ride, which Lia had decided was her favorite because the boat that you rode twisted every which way in the water and the scenery was so detailed there was always some new skull or monster in the water that you hadn’t seen before.

Lia couldn’t stop talking about everything on the bus ride back home, and the other people on the bus smiled at her as she spoke. All the enthusiasm made her seem younger than she was, and even Alex couldn’t help but smile when she described the magicians on the third floor of the Excalibur castle.

They got back to their apartment, and Alex went out for dinner. There was a real Italian restaurant, or at least a better restaurant than the diner a few blocks further on, and Alex decided to bring dinner home from there.

The hostess took his order, and as Alex sat on a bench around the corner from the entrance as he waited for it. At some point another guy came in and Alex peeked around the corner. The newcomer was wearing jeans, and a light coat and a headband of all things. The hostess seemed to recognize him.

“Hey Phil, are you working tonight?”

“Of course,” he said with a voice that was older than he looked, as though he smoked all the time. “You’d think that everyone would be angels on tonight of all nights, but I guess all the guys get so stressed with their families during the day that they need some fun at night. Last year I made four hundred in a couple of hours.”

Alex’s ears pricked up.

“How are the others?”

Phil shrugged. “The same as always. Indy and Chris were picked up the other night by that new pig, but they only had to spend the night. They almost got Mickey too, and if they’d caught him it would have been his three strikes.”

“That new officer’s been in here with his wife,” the hostess told him. “He seemed nice enough, but then again he ain’t got nothing on me.”

“It’s going to suck for a while, until they transfer him or he starts taking tricks.”

“He came in with his wife,” the hostess said again, and this time she stressed the wife part. There was a pause, and then both of them cracked up at once. “Do you want me to try to slip something into his food if they come in again?”

“Eh, if he really is honest, he won’t be around for long anyway.”

“Ah, there it is,” said the hostess. “Your usual is up. Take care, Phil.”

Phil exited out the door, and Alex watched which way he walked.

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1 Comments:

  • They're so great. I love how he indulges her and you're not sure if it's out of guilt or not. IS HE GOING TO BECOME A HOOKER?! OMG. So mysterious! I can't wait to read more.

    By Blogger Ashley, at 2:38 PM  

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