I can't remember if it was before or after I pissed on the side of the Grand Canyon, but there was a man standing along the road holding a camera and the car in front of me swerved to avoid hitting a skunk and ran over the man taking pictures of the sun setting behind the canyon. I did nothing until I got to Las Vegas where I stopped at a Del Taco for a spicy chicken burrito then at the car wash to scrub the dried blood off the side of my car.
The Del Taco register girl was Mexican and her nose was pierced and she was wearing a blue shirt with the top two buttons unbuttoned. She rubbed her hand against her chest to wipe off the sweat then did the same to her forehead which would have been sexy if she wasn't touching my food with her dirty hands.
It only took forty-eight seconds for the burrito to work its magic and there were muddy boot prints and random puddles of pissy water all over the floor in the bathroom stall, so I took my shorts and boxers off and set them in a dry spot on the floor before I sat down. The toilet was grimy and sat too close to the wall and flushed automatically every time I wiggled. It made my ass all wet and toilet paper doesn't work on wet ass. I hobbled out of the stall to get some paper towel from the dispenser. I tore a piece off and ran it between my ass cheeks and the door opened up and a middle-aged man came in holding his toddler's hand. He nodded his head then apologized, then walked back out the door. I stopped wiping and left a ripped off piece stuck between my cheeks, picked my pants up off the floor, put them back on, and headed out the door without washing my hands. I couldn't find the man and his son so I had no chance to offer them a soda or invite them to lunch, so I bought another burrito from the sweaty register girl and made sure I touched her hand and wrist when I gave her the money because payback's a bitch.
The handle was hot when I opened the car door and I put all the windows down. "Tiny Dancer" was playing on the radio and I saw the middle-aged man and his son walking out of the restaurant next door, so I honked the horn and waved before pulling away. I drove past Binion's, past Fremont St., past the wedding chapels, bail bonds, buffet specials, three for ten dollars t-shirt stands, and divorce attorneys. I drove right through town, where you're better off walking or taking a bus and everybody smells different, except the locals who smell dead; past the homeless sitting along the sidewalk walls holding cardboard signs, past the street rappers hustling cd's and the migrant workers handing out business cards for call girls. I kept driving through the strip, past the M&M store, past the Statue of Liberty, past all the signs promising a free fifty dollars in slot play if you sign up for a players card, past the largest bronze statue in the western hemisphere, towards my hotel on Paradise.
The outside pool was empty and there was a Korean woman at the front desk demanding a partial refund because of it. It was a Friday night and the line behind her was long and the restaurant was closed but the bar was open and the hotel manager checked the woman out of her room and sent someone to remove her things. I walked into the bar, set my backpack down beside my stool, looked at the daily specials sign hanging on the door of the restaurant and wished they would open back up to make me a cheese steak hoagie. The bartender tapped me on the arm, handed me a half-eaten container of sweet and sour chicken with rice, and I started eating with my fingers before she had time to tell me there were no clean forks.
"It's over there beside the register."
"Can I use it?"
"I already did, you want me to spray it off?"
"Why, do you have some funky mouth disease?"
"You never know, my mouth has been everywhere."
"I'll take my chances, just hand it here, you don't violate my rule."
"I won't eat after anyone I wouldn't put my mouth on."
"Are you sure about that?"
I wanted to think for a few seconds before I answered but a tall, skinny, teenage girl with long red hair and emerald green nail polish asked to swap her dollar for quarters to play the jukebox. The bartender asked to see her I.D. and the teenage girl told her to go fuck herself because she only wanted quarters not a shot of fucking Jack Daniels. The bartender wouldn't give her dollar back, she threw it in her tip jar and the red head snatched the jar off the counter and ran for the back door but the bartender caught her, pulled her hair, and shoved her face into a Wheel of Fortune penny slot machine. There was blood coming out of Little Red's nose. The guy she was with came around the corner and kicked the bartender in her stomach and she fell to the ground. He went over to the counter, took all four tip jars, helped the teenage girl to her feet and they left out the back door. I walked to the other side of the bar, grabbed two longnecks from the cooler and headed back to my room.
I turned the air conditioner on low and turned on TNT to catch the last few minutes of Detroit's embarrassing loss to LeBron's Cavaliers. After the game I turned to local news. There was a brown haired woman with glasses asking anyone if they had any information about a hit and run that happened earlier that morning in northern Nevada, eight miles from the Arizona border. She told viewers to be on the lookout for a red Pontiac with the Michigan license plate number ZK1-FU4. I watched my license plate number flash across the bottom of the tv screen and I couldn't breathe. I sat on the edge of the bed, then got up, walked over to the sink, splashed cold water on the top of my head and my face and my arms, looked in the mirror, opened my eyes really wide and blinked a few times really fast, then walked back to the bed and sat down again. I looked on the floor for my backpack and there was a knock at the door. The hotel manager asked me to come to the front desk to answer questions. I wanted to slam the door in his face or knee him in the nuts and run away, or pull him in to the room and pretend the toilet didn't flush then get behind him and snap his neck ninja style and leave him in the bathtub and hope nobody found him until I got out of Nevada, but I slipped my sandals on and followed him into a little room behind the front check-in counter. There was a police officer in the room waiting to ask me questions.
"What do you know about this incident?"
"What incident, I don't even know why I'm here."
"How long have you been in town?"
"I don't remember?"
"What time did you come into the bar?"
"Look, it wasn't me, alright."
"I know it wasn't you, I just want to find out what you saw."
"If you know it wasn't me, why is my license plate number all over the news?"
"What the hell are you talking about son? I just need to know what that guy looked like who knocked out the bartender earlier, you were here weren't you?"
"Yeah, right, the guy who knocked out the bartender. He was kind of tall, short brown hair. I think he was wearing a UNLV jersey. His eyebrow was pierced and he had a wizard tattoo on his arm."
"What about the girl? Did you see the girl?"
"Yeah, she was a red head, that's all I remember."
"Now, what about your license plate, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Nothing, some guy was throwing shit at my car and I filed a report. I thought you may have heard something."
"Why would that be on the news? How much have you had to drink son?"
"Maybe a little too much, I'm just tired, I need to get to bed."
"You go get some sleep and if I need anything else, I'll be back."
I walked back to the room, turned the news on and waited for updates. I thought about turning myself in to the police, explaining the situation. Maybe they would check my car and see there were no dents, no scratches, no broken glass, no blood or hair or teeth. No, I've watched Gil too many times on CSI, they would spray my car down with blue stuff and look at it under special black lights and find traces of blood I tried scrubbing away at the car wash after I ate my spicy chicken burrito. Maybe I could have my car painted. Maybe I could sell it to one of those ghetto body shops for a few hundred dollars over in North Vegas. I looked on the stand beside the bed but couldn't find a phone book. It was in the bottom dresser drawer and I searched the yellow pages for body shops and called the first one.
"You guys buy cars?"
"What kind of car?"
"A red four-door. Grand Am."
"What's wrong with it?"
"Nothing, I just don't want it anymore."
"Bullshit, is it hot?"
"No, it's not stolen man, I just don't want it."
"Are you some fucking junkie? Spent all your money at the casino?"
"Yeah, I blew it all shooting craps. The car runs fine man, I just need the money. Do you want it or not?"
"I'll take a look, where you at?"
I was waiting in the parking lot in front of the car when two Indians pulled up in a red, white, and blue tow truck.
"Is this the car? I can only give you four hundred for it."
"Yeah that's fine, here's the keys. I need to get all the papers out of the glove box and take off the license plate before you get going."
"What about the title?"
"It's in Michigan."
"So, how's three hundred looking?"
"Fine, just get it out of here."
I got in the room and turned the air conditioner back off. I took my clothes off, sat on the edge of the bed and turned the news station off, then turned the air conditioner back on and bit my thumbnails down until they bled. I made a pot of coffee and dumped it out because the package said decaf, then filled the bathtub up, sat on the edge of the tub and soaked my feet, then dried them off and put my clothes back on. I put the insurance papers and registration in the sink, set them on fire with matches, and rinsed the ashes down the drain. I put the license plate in the little trash can under the bathroom sink, took the bag out, and walked it to the dumpster at the far end of the parking lot, past the empty pool, past the laundry room and ice machine, and lifted two bags out of the dumpster, then threw my little bag in, put the other two garbage bags back on top, and closed the lid before walking away. There was a guy standing on the third floor balcony watching me, but he was wearing his headphones and drinking a 22 oz. Corona. I bought a bootleg City Boyz cd off him before I checked into my room and he didn't look like the kind of guy to dig through dumpsters or wonder why somebody else would, so I nodded to him and told him the cd he sold me was hard as hell and I went back into my room.
I looked on the floor for my backpack then remembered I left it beside the stool. I went back over to the bar. The beat-up bartender was gone and so was my bag, but there was a dollar special on domestic drafts so I decided to stay. A little after three a.m. I was shooting pool with the new lady serving drinks, a chubby Mexican girl with perfectly straight, white teeth and one arm four inches shorter than the other. She moved to Vegas from Albuquerque to be with her husband who's now in prison for strong armed robbery, his second offense. There were three other people in the bar, an older woman and her husband splitting two for one Jack and Coke drink specials and their son losing twenty after twenty in the video poker machine. I drank about thirteen drafts before I started playing and at least six more at the table.
A little after four a.m. I was lying on my back in an unmade bed with my shorts around my ankles negotiating prices with a forty-year-old hooker with dirty blonde hair and Hell's Angel's wings tattooed across her tits and she kept them pressed against my dick while we negotiated. She started at eighty. I started at ten.
"Come on sixty dollars, I gotta pay my rent."
"Alright, thirty-two, but that's for head, you can't fuck me for less than sixty bucks."
"I can't even play with it?"
"No, but if your hands are clean you can rub on my titties."
She smelled like pineapples and her body was soft, not dry and bumpy like you'd expect a whore's to be. I was drunk and the root beer flavored condom was a brand I didn't recognize and I was finished in less than three minutes. She got out of bed before I did, slipped her panties on, and turned on the light. I went into the bathroom and took the condom off. There were already four of them, used, floating around in the toilet so I dropped mine in and pissed all over them and all over the seat and a little on the floor and left the bathroom without flushing. There were at least a dozen pairs of shoes scattered across the room, most of them heels and I tripped over one before finding the door. She walked back to the bar and I walked back to my room, left the lights off, and fell on top of the bed without getting undressed or taking off my shoes or pulling the covers back.
I woke up around noon and had a late breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I had the Denver omelet with diced ham, bacon, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and shredded colby jack and a side of fried potatoes and wheat toast and all the food tasted like it should. I asked for a refill on my orange juice and checked the lobby for a newspaper. The hit and run story was on the second page and they identified the car and the driver responsible for the accident. It was a thirty-four year old woman from Nebraska with a broken foot and her cast got stuck under the gas pedal and she bent down to loosen it and swerved off the road and killed the man with the camera and they were only looking for me as an eyewitness. I drank one more orange juice and walked to the counter to pay the bill but there was no money in any of my pockets. The man at the counter was short and thick with yellow teeth and no hair and I told him my backpack came up missing from the bar last night and I had money in my pants pocket but it was stolen by the prostitute who stays on the second floor all the way in the back and he laughed and wiped his hands on his apron and told me he'd cover it if I gave him my watch so I did.
It was a half an hour past checkout so I dropped my key card off at the front desk, walked outside, and sat on the white metal bench in front of the hotel where the shuttle picks you up when you need a ride to the airport. The van arrived on schedule and the driver sat there for a minute or two.
"Well, what the fuck buddy? Are you gonna get in or are you gonna sit there staring at me like a dipshit?"