The lights assault my eyes, as they blur past me. Vegas is a beautiful city at night. I had had a table with my friends at the club with bottle service. Slowly, I remember us drinking the vodka shot by shot until the girls had enough.
“Were done, I’m already too drunk. I want to be able to shop tomorrow afternoon,” Megan said and her friend Kelly nodded in agreement.
The other guys and I laughed and jeered, egging the girls on to do one more shot. They refused and went off to dance. After an hour or so passed, I saw them leave the club, removing their heels on the way.
I noticed my good friend Ryan had passed-out on the cushioned bench around the table, parallel to me. I continued drinking, sipping my vodka shots, determined to finish the little vodka left in the bottom of the bottle. It was expensive after all to get bottle service.
A concerned bouncer who had been watching me with deep dark eyes, set two glasses of water down in front of me. “Sir, you need to drink both these glasses,” he said.
“Umm, no. I want more vodka. I’ll pay for another bottle,” I slurred.
The bouncer shook his head, “You need to drink these glasses now sir. I don’t want you to get alcohol poisoning and die in my club.”
I sighed grabbing both glasses, I downed them one at a time.”Gees, I was thirsty,” I told the bouncer.
“I’m calling you and your friend a cab at the back door entrance,” he said nodding at Ryan. ” I don’t have to, I could just throw you out. But, I get this feeling you’re running from something, trying to drink it away. So tonight, I’ll be nice,” the bouncer said. “I get it man, but you’re a grown-up and even in Vegas, you have to have limits.”
Another bouncer came to aid the first bouncer, guide us out to the cab. I leaned on the first bouncer’s shoulder and the other guy half-carried Ryan out the door.
The cab driver looked nervous, “I don’t want anyone throwing-up in here,” he announced. But the bouncers ignored him.
“Where is your hotel?” The first bouncer asked me.
I had to think a moment, everything was such a blur and it was difficult to think. I was so tired and mad at her. Why’d she cheat on me after ten-years marriage? Why’d she leave me for him?
“Um, we’re at Caesars,” I stammered, then reached into my pocket, pulling out a wad of bills; I tried my best to count out $100.00 exactly. I gave it the cab driver. He nodded, “okay where too?” The bouncers shut the cab doors and the driver took off down the Las Vegas strip.
The lights of Las Vegas were beautiful, brilliant, and blurred. But they also made me nauseous. I closed my heavy lids, and opened them as I tried not to sleep. But I couldn’t stop myself and I fell asleep quickly.
Ryan was shaking me. “Come on Blaine, wake up. You’re 6’4″ and two-hundred-some pounds, I can’t lift you alone. You need to help me.”
I blinked in the bright lights at the entrance to Caesars guest reception. It would take us forever to find our rooms because the hotel was so huge and neither of us were well enough to remember where our room was specifically.
Ryan’s hands shook and his face was pale white. He ran and threw-up in a garbage can. He apologized five-minutes later to a man near by helping guests at the front entrance and gave him a twenty, and thinking this man would have to clean the garbage can up.
I was slowly, stepping out of the car, but my legs nearly collapsed and I groaned in frustration. I reached into my wallet and pulled out eighty-dollars. I could count money now at least, though my head felt like someone was hammering my temples.
“Here,” I said to a couple of men upfront working for Caesars. I gave them my cash and asked,”Help us back to my room, please.”
Two silent men grabbed the cash splitting it and they smiled at me now. “Of course sir, do you have your keycard?” I nodded, pulling it out of my pocket. I gave it to the men and they called for two other men, one whom I leaned heavily against as we made an endless journey to my room. Sometime in there, I fell asleep.
It was 3:00 pm when I awoke in my hotel room. Immediately, I went and threw-up in the bathroom several times before I felt better. I took a shower and washed away the smoke and putrid smell of vodka and vomit. I called room service to put some food in my stomach and help me recover. I ordered some French toast, coffee, and orange juice –two orders –one for Ryan as well, when he awoke.
I saw him lying on the bed and I tried to shake him awake. I thought he only needed more sleep. He wasn’t a big guy, so perhaps the vodka hit him harder than me.
A day later, Ryan still wasn’t up and I asked my friends what we should do.
“Well, sometimes you really need to sleep it off. We’re not so young anymore, hangovers can last two-days. He’s breathing so he must be fine,” Kyle reasoned and my other friend Maison seemed to agree. We went down to the casino to play poker.
On the third day we asked reception to call a doctor for us. It was expensive but my friends and I were worried about Ryan. He was cold and his chest barely moved, his breathing was so shallow.
The Doctor was tense upon inspecting Ryan three-hours later. “I’m sorry gentlemen, your friend died earlier this morning, about the time I was called to your room. If only you’d called sooner and emphasized how badly he was doing,” the Doctor chided.
“Ryan had alcohol poisoning so badly he went into a coma. He has no heart beat and isn’t breathing as you indicated earlier. It’s tragic but I guess you’ll understand me now when I say, watch your alcoholic intake; in Vegas especially.”
I started to cry in front of the Doctor and my friends. I didn’t know how I could tell Ryan’s family he’d passed on. He’d been the one who said we needed a boys trip to help me get out the funk of my wife cheating and divorcing me.
I remember him saying, “Blaine you need to get out and have some fun. Come to Las Vegas with me and the guys. Forget about your problems for a while. I’ll forget about mine too,” he said. He never told me what his problems were and I never asked, I thought regretfully.
Now my good friend Ryan was gone. I closed my eyes imagining lights blurring past me. It wasn’t only how I felt when I was drunk. It was how I felt all the time these days. As if I had no control as all the pretty lights rushed by.
When I did have time, I made the wrong choices. The lights were my escape, but I needed to pay attention now, to move on in my life as Ryan would have wanted. I couldn’t drink the pain away.
Anna sighs as the teacher tells the grade-one students in her class to find a partner of the opposite gender to dance with for a Christmas concert song they will also sing.
Anna is a bit chubby. She doesn’t eat much if any junk food. Her parents are careful about feeding their kids candy because children on Anna’s Dad’s side of the family have a tendency to be chubby. They tell Anna she has those genes. Her weight bothers her even at a young age. Anna doesn’t think she is fat compared to some chubbier girls around her age; she sees how much and what they eat — often fruit roll ups and McDonald’s Happy Meals.
Nevertheless, the boys pick on Anna for her weight and they don’t like her as they like some of the smaller and cuter girls. She’s not unpopular but she’s not popular either. Anna is nice and gets along with almost everyone. She is smart and can read better than most kids in her class. Her worst problem is a tendency to cry if she gets into trouble.
Anna peers around the music room and sees the other boys and girls have partnered up. The only boy left is Devon. Anna and Devon look at each other unhappily. The teacher, Mrs. Nette, pushes them together and starts to teach the six-year-olds to waltz. Both the boys and girls think co-ed dancing is kind of icky, unless you happen to end up dancing with someone one you have a crush on.
Devon looks at Anna and sneers. He was her friend Roxeanne’s little brother. Roxeanne lived by Anna’s house and she was a good friend who was a couple grades ahead of Anna.
Anna peers up at Devon and tries to take his hand as Mrs. Netted instructed, but Devon doesn’t want to touch her. He makes a fuss to the teacher. Mrs.Nette will have none of Devon’s complaining and makes him put his one hand around Anna’s shoulder and the other around her waist. He looks dejected and Anna sighs, not liking Devon touching her; he’s a jerk. She doesn’t want to look bad on stage because of Devon.
Mrs. Nette turns on the music. The song is called, “The Log Driver’s Waltz.” The girl knows it because Sharon, Louis, and Bram, sing it on the kid’s music tapes her Mom plays in their van.
“Come on Devon. Just do it. It’s not that bad. If you do a good job Mrs. Nette will stop watching you so much,” Anna says perturbed. Devon frowns at Anna and nods hestitantly. The class practices dancing to the song and then singing it a few times. They do this every music class until the Christmas concert. It’s tricky having to waltz and sing as well. Anna is nervous because her grandpa and grandma will be at her first Christmas concert. She wants to do well for them.
At the dress rehearsal Devon sneers at her, “I’m not even going to be here for the Christmas concert. I’m going to be at my Dad’s; I hate you.” She shrugs, Devon is always angry and often lashes out. Anna thinks it’s because his parents are divorced. She tells Mrs. Nette about Devon not being at the concert. The music teacher phones Devon’s Mom who assures her, he’ll be there.
Anna chooses a pretty dress to wear to the concert. She knows how to waltz even though she isn’t much of a dancer. She waves to her parents and grandparents sitting in the audience before going back stage. Then the grade-one class lines up to go out onto the stage. She doesn’t see Devon anywhere. Anna tugs on Mrs.Nette’s hand and she tells her, “Devon’s not here.”
“Well, will put you in the back and you can pretend you’re waltzing with a partner,” Mrs. Nette says. Anna frowns, not happy about the situation. Mrs. Nette grabs a boy from another class who is in grade-two, “Here you remember how to waltz don’t you?” She asks the new boy. He nods looking at Anna and taking her hand.
The music starts and all the grade-ones starting dancing and singing to “The Log Driver’s Waltz.” Mrs. Nette puts Anna and the grade-two boy filling in for Devon in the back of the stage. The grade-two boy isn’t a great dancer, and Anna isn’t great either but she does most of the leading anyways.
As the grade-ones start singing the second song they had practiced, Anna sees her Grandpa laughing and smiling. It didn’t matter what the grade-one class did, the audience thought it was adorable.
Anna remembered the “Log Driver’s Waltz” always; it became stuck in her head. Twenty-five-years later, she still finds herself humming the tune occasionally and remembering Devon –such an angry little boy.
It began in an elevator. One of those unexpected moments which occur in life. You were gazing at me and I looked up at you transfixed; there was a sparkle in your blue eyes.
As the elevator went higher, the people emptied out onto their respective floors. Eventually, we were alone.
I felt my breathing quicken and could hear your breath speed up beside me. I listened to you breath, in and out, desire for you rushing through my veins.
There had been a meter between us in the elevator, now you somehow were right beside me. I could smell your cologne: ocean, vanilla, and a note of something sweet.
I felt your eyes peering down at me, inspecting me from head to toe. The mirrors around the elevator reflected my image: Shiny black booties, polk-a-dot hose, a black A-line skirt, and a hot-pink sleeveless blouse. Makeup lightly done, eyes bare except for mascara and black eyeliner, and pink lipstick. My light blond hair was braided, stray hairs framing my face.
You saw me, catching you giving me the once over and you smiled genuinly, daring me to look you over. My eyes discovered your form: tall, and lithely muscled, wearing a navy pin-stripped suit, grey dress shirt, and a grey-blue tie. The tie matched your blue eyes exactly and your face was freshly shaved with a defined jaw; your brown hair curled slightly at your collar.
I blushed, staring at my booties, comparing them to your designer shoes. It felt as if the elevator wasn’t moving at all, or maybe time was standing still.
“You look pretty,” you told me. Your voice deep and a bit husky. “I like your perfume, it’s floral but not overwhelming; it smells delicious.” You gave me a devasting smile and I nearly swooned.
Instead, I gathered my wits and smiled back at you, blushing again.”I like your navy suit,” I stammered. “The blue, blue of the tie and the navy of the suit, it matches your eyes. And your cologne, it smells wonderful.”
I couldn’t believe what I said. I saw you grinning at me from the corner of my eye as I stared shyly down at my boots. It wasn’t normal for me to be so nervous, my heart beat so furiously.
You tipped my chin up to better look me in the eye.
“The elevator.It’s not moving,” I said.
You chuckled, “I made it stop. If only for a moment or two.”
But then, your lips touched mine. Soft and questing at first. Gently, coaxing my month open, until your tongue danced inside. Rubbing and sucking on my tongue, causing me to sigh and fall against you.
I returned your kiss grabbing the lapels of your jacket, kissing you harder, wanting more of you, of your magic taste, your delicious mouth all over my skin. Your arms came around my body, holding me close.
Suddenly, the elevator started moving up again. We both pulled back from each other panting.
“Why did it start again?” I asked.
You gazed at me with your intense blue eyes, still gathering yourself. “I’m not sure. You have to have high-clearance to make the elevator start and stop. I didn’t make the elevator move again. Believe me!”
Before we could say more, a beautiful woman with dark hair, walked into the elevator on the twenty-sixth floor. The woman smiled at as both, not oblivious to what had gone on between us minutes before.
“You have lipstick on your face, darling,” she said to you. Your face went pale and you tried to speak but the woman only laughed at you.”Don’t say a thing, you do this all time. But I’m your wife and I know, you’ll always come back to me.”
Your wife exited at the top most floor and you gave me a longing gaze, whispering: “I’m sorry.” In only a few minutes, you broke my heart.
What is it about elevators? I wondered later. My recent experience with you made me think of many TV shows and movies, where elevators have great symbolic and/or metaphorical value.
Elevators are the place for the beginnings of trysts and romances, as I had hoped today would be. They are the places stopped for people to reveal truths and secrets. They are a place where the everyday manners and values are quickly forgotten. Elevators can even be symbolic of life and death.
Today, I felt cheated. I thought the elevator was our beginning. In reality, I had been caught in the middle of some rotting relationship. You were extremely deceitful and right now, I can’t forgive you for what you did. Your lies have killed my attraction to you.
So much so, on Monday when I see you get in an elevator, I will wait for the next elevator going up to arrive. I know you’ll notice, it’s exactly what I hope.
Thank you to CL Kaley from new2writing for hosting Mayday’s prompts. The prompt for May 2, 2016, is about neighbours and competition.
“She’s my girlfriend you can’t have her,” Tim shouted to the bulky idiot hitting on on Crystal.
“Maybe, she doesn’t want to be with you. She was dancing pretty sexily with me for a few songs there.” Brett, the bouncer, said laughing.
“She’s still my girlfriend we’re only having a fight right now. She was dancing with you to make me jealous. Isn’t that right Crystal?”
Crystal looked from Tim to her recent dance partner. “Yeah, I was trying to make you jealous Tim. But you know what, I liked dancing with Brett. He’s a friend and a talented dancer too.”
“What?” Tim shouted. The music in the bar was terribly loud.
“I said Brett is a talented dancer, but only a friend.” Crystal repeated.
Brett glared at Crystal, “What do you mean only a friend, you don’t dance with only friends the way you were dancing with me.”
Tim glared at Crystal angerily, “You were making out with this loser? Kissing him and letting him feeling you up?”
“That pretty much sums it up,” Brett remarked.
“I didn’t mean anything, I was caught up in a moment. You really hurt me Tim. I can’t believe you slept with Stephanie. You told me she was only a childhood friend in town visiting.” Crystal retorted.
Tim sighed. “Well she is, you only saw us in bed together. You don’t know we slept together.”
“Oh, I know,” Crystal said with venom. “You were both naked and you were spooning her. Your clothes were all over our bedroom floor. And you both reeked of booze.”
“Yeah, so it was one night. We were drunk and it didn’t mean anything.” Tim said making light of the situation.
“Doesn’t seem like you were faithful to Crystal, Tim. Why would you have a naked women, who was only a childhood friend, in your bed if you weren’t sleeping with her? Honestly, Crystal isn’t stupid and neither am I.” Brett declared.
“Well, maybe Crystal shouldn’t be dancing and making out with her friend who is only a bouncer at this bar — or so I was told.” Tim argued.
Brett and Tim stared at each other angerily and Crystal was sure a fight would break out if she didn’t do something.
“Enough,” she said. “I’m going home Tim. I’m going to pack my things and be out of there by tomorrow. You cheated on me and we’re done.”
“My friend Shailene, has an empty basement unit she’s been trying to rent out,” Brett piped in helpfully.
“I can give her a call and tell her you’re interested. It was redone about a year ago, has one bedroom, a kitchen, sitting area, and a bathroom with a separate shower and a tub . . .”
“Well, since you’re a friend $850.00 and wifi and utilities are included.” Brett said.
“I’ll take it!” Crystal said, “As long as it’s not too far from work downtown?”
“It’s a ten minute walk from downtown.”
” Nice, thank you Brett. But so you know, just because you got this great place for me, doesn’t mean I’m into you that way.” Crystal said peering suspiciously at Brett.
“Yep, I completely understand.” Brett answered, knowing he’d win Crystal over in time.
Tim stared at Crystal and Brett aghast. “You can’t leave me Crystal after two-years?”
“It’s too late,” she said not meeting Tim’s eyes as the cabbie texted her; he was out front of the bar.
Crystal left and Brett patted Tim on both shoulders, squeezing Tim’s shoulders hard for emphasis. Tim shouted, “Ouch, you’re hurting me.”
“That’s the point,” Brett said gruffly. “Don’t ever cheat on a woman like Crystal again.”