6080282815_b2a08c072c_b Vegas Strip by Samantha Celera

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Excerpt from a side story that I am writing occasionally. It’s different from my usual style but I like the way it reads.

Days 61 through 63 Owen spent in Las Vegas. Vegas was supposed to be the place to go for a man with a broken heart. He wore a dark suit and a dark jacket with a red power tie – he thought maybe Jane had mentioned that blue ties were more in fashion today – but he didn’t care, he wanted red. Glancing at himself in the mirror, he knew it was right; he looked the part.

He withdrew enough cash to look like a high roller, not a tourist, and then locked his real credit cards into his suitcase. He was down the first day, then caught up at the tables on day 62. He was making friends as easily as he used to. He told a lot of exaggerated stories about sailing and judging and made people laugh, even when they lost to him. He bought drinks for himself and those around him. People were drawn to his energy.

On day 63 he was joined by a cute blonde in her late twenties with blue eyes and nice ankles. She didn’t seem to want to place many bets of her own, just wanted to stand in his shadow and reflect him, and that felt good. He felt more like a man than he had in two months, stronger than he had since the first heart attack.

When he decided he was going to take a late lunch break, she followed him. Standing in line to eat with him, she tugged on his tie, pulling his face down to her level, grinning up at him and whispered something, not quite explicit, but definitely promising. He felt himself grow rigid and hot at her words and made a joke, something self-deprecating, the kind of joke that from a man in his position, just meant ‘don’t stop.’

She touched his arm and laughed encouragingly, a light, musical laugh, but when she did he saw how empty, endless and blue her eyes were. They were missing the warmth and the brownness and the sweet spirit that he loved. He dismissed himself suddenly, as quickly as he could without hurting her. He took her number on a napkin and did not promise to call.

He fled to his room, tossed the napkin in the hotel trashcan, stuffed everything in his large suitcase, and checked out without bothering to cash out. He hunted for his car in the vast parking garage – it took him an extra fifteen minutes of wandering around between seemingly-identical silver Civics because his brain wouldn’t focus – then floored it across the desert. It took only one rushed hour to get from that lunch line to the open highway. He never bothered eating lunch at all that day; he just drove.

He checked into a sleazy motel in Palmdale, not sure where he really wanted to go next. He ordered pizza, watched a stupid old comedy and fell asleep with the TV still on. That night, the girl was there in his dreams again, crystal blue eyes, loose blonde hair, tugging at his tie, pulling his face down to hers. But then the fever broke. Blue eyes were replaced with warm brown ones and in his dream it was Jane who was loosening his tie and throwing it in the trashcan on top of a crushed napkin, unbuttoning his steel grey shirt, tracing the outline of his scar with her mouth, with her tongue.

He woke at four-thirty the next morning from a deep, violent sleep. He stripped the bed in disgust and balled up the sheets, piling them into the corner to spare the motel staff from having to deal with it.

Later, over black coffee, he pondered where to go. He had a friend with a beach house in Dana Point. Far enough south that he wouldn’t feel the need to run home. A quick phone call and only a few awkward questions later, he had the address, the location of the key, and the welcome to stay for as long as he liked.

At least by the ocean he would be able to breathe again.


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