In Las Vegas, but not staying in Las Vegas

Vegas is how you imagine the world ending: inane frivolity alongside fear and suffering, each pretending not to notice the other.

In Vegas, money trawls its nets through humanity, leaving the skeletons it stripped. They wear layers of clothes they got out of dumpsters and, for the lucky, a child-sized mattress they tote around for getting through cold nights on the sidewalk. Vegas is a huckster’s vision of Heaven built around, through and atop a foundation of hell.

Trump has a tower here. Of course.

Freaks and normals are side-by-side. Freaks are appalled at the dishonesty they believe they live above, and normals are afraid to give more than a glance outside the mainstream they float in. Because, you know, those people are creepy. Men with makeup! Men holding hands! Men with long, scruffy beards! Old women with deep lines etched in their faces and no teeth!

The casino resorts hotels are spotless. Everywhere else looks like the edge of a landfill. Plastic and paper goes airborne when the wind comes up. Dark-skinned people pick it up around the casinos afterward, but elsewhere it just lies there awaiting the next desert breeze.

They have places where you can sell your blood. Smallish signs, but the clumps of people standing around outside testify that advertising isn’t necessary in a land of desperation. They have bars on the windows, as do the pawn shops … along with most other establishments in the never-ending strip malls.

I’ll tell you what looks strange in Vegas: Costco. And Home Depot, and Lowe’s and Walmart and CVS and Smith’s grocery. “You’re from the real world, what are you doing here?”

There are a lot of sleazy motels along Boulder Highway. Today, I took a walk up the sidewalk. When walking along a sidewalk I always look up, smile and try to make eye contact with approaching people. The only one to smile back today was a young, dark-skinned woman in tight pants, exposed midriff and spiked heels. I didn’t stop to say hi. Because I don’t have much money, and I’m too old for that anyhow.

Later today I returned to where I had parked my car at the curb (and paid a dollar out of my Mastercard for the one-hour privilege), and a person of uncertain sex was sitting on the curb next to it. A man in a spotless, perhaps satin, black robe that reached just above his shiny, black shoes approached and said something. What did he say? Did he offer to help, or did he tell her to get the hell out of the neighborhood? I didn’t hear the question or the answer, if any. All I saw was him picking up some specks of trash she had apparently dropped, pulling the long, black sash that draped over his neck close around him and walking back across the street to a building that said, “Catholic Church, Latin Mass”. It had bars on the windows.

As I walked by, the person on the sidewalk had their head down and appeared to be knitting or crocheting something. I just got in my car and drove back to the RV park. Thinking, “There’s so much of that, what could I possibly do to help?”

Where I’m staying has electricity, water and sewer you can hook up to. It has a clubhouse where they sometimes play poker, and out behind is a small pool and a hot tub. Nobody uses the pool much in January, but a few people sit in the hot tub occasionally and tell each other tales about who they used to be.

I won’t be here long, but I say that everywhere. I gave up pretending I belonged anywhere when it sank in that I was just passing through.

Nomadic writer, realist, voluntaryist, nudist, singer, drummer, harmonica and recorder player, composer, gadfly, runner, troublemaker, survivor so far.

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