Friday, August 30, 2013


Seen outside the Freakin' Frog at about 11 p.m., August 29th, 2013

White-haired and stooped, he confides the lyrics like they're some big secret: "you know, girls just wanna have fun." The group laughs at him, but if Arthur is not mistaken, the men take Cyndi's advice into serious consideration: perhaps their female companions want smiles and accidental touches and oldies and booze more than they want devotion. Devotion is heavy. 

It is not Arthur's most successful pop music intervention. Once he saw a woman rushing down the sidewalk in high heels, skirt straining against her thighs, sweat beading in the corners of her frowning mouth. He grabbed her arm and said, "you can't hurry love." The next day he saw her waiting for the bus. After watching a young man take five shots in rapid succession at the local bar, Arthur sidled up to him and whispered, "happiness is a warm gun." You can guess what happened later that evening.

Arthur considers himself to be life's disc jockey, a benevolent voice who helps you recognize your own soundtrack.

Went to the Freakin' Frog last night for a drink. Went again today to toast to the memory of Seamus Heaney. Probably going again tomorrow, since we befriended a waiter and the owner and they're going to let us come to their cask party at a steep discount. Adventures ensue.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Seen at Silver Sevens Casino, August 22nd, 2013

B-7 N-32 G-54 B-12 O-64 O-70 I-18 O-62 the numbers soothe her like a chant N-34 like counting sheep I-27 I-20 O-75 she slouches toward the table, cigarette B-9 I-22 slouching from her lips, daubing patterns in pale blue G-46 N-40 O-69 B-2 N-37 someone died G-60 on her shift today, baby wailing against I-16 N-39 N-45 mommy's cold O-61 bloody chest G-51 O-66 she can B-3 almost B-15 forget B-1


Rachael snaps straight, red-eyed, envious, fearful, exhausted, nauseous.

"Alright, folks, the next game will be played on page three, and this time we're looking for 'bottomless.'"

This one got a little bit prose-poemy, didn't it? I played with a bunch of people in my program last week. It was a far more fast-paced game than I anticipated, because they want you to miss numbers. I have my own dauber now. It's pink.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Al & Kyle

Seen at Mandalay Bay, August 25th, 2013

Why did I bring my son to Vegas? He's only five. He's not gonna notice any of the scum--just the lights and the colors and the smiles on people's faces. Yeah, maybe the casino itself isn't exactly kid-friendly (although he does seem to like the bleeps and bloops and ka-chings--thinks every slot machine is a robot!), but there's a wave pool for crying out loud. What five-year-old boy doesn't love a wave pool? He can only sort of swim, sure. But I'm there with him, and there are lifeguards and everything. They're probably really fucking good lifeguards, too, because there are so many drunk-off-their-asses people to watch out for.

Having Kyle here helps me, too. I can just lock him in the hotel room at night when I want to have some fun--I tuck him in first and make sure he's sleeping and all. But anyway, then I can have some fun while setting some limits that I think are pretty reasonable. I can drink, but not too much, since he's going to wake up so fucking early. I can flirt, but not too much--can't bring a lady back to the room if Kyle's there, can I? Keeps me from getting in trouble with his mother, too, since we're still trying to work things out.

Plus, on top of everything else, Kyle thinks I'm the best dad ever now. So don't act like I'm all crazy. I think the real question is why wouldn't I bring my son to Vegas?

Saw this fellow and his kid when Shaun and I went to Mandalay Bay to buy tickets to see Flight of the Conchords. So. Excited.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shadow Man

Seen at a Starbucks in East Las Vegas at about 8 p.m., August 20th, 2013

He learned to hide in corners in the first grade, when Olive Jones laughed at his broken nose. Smashed by a soccer ball as he watched the older boys play, he initially thought it made him look tough. Olive's gap-toothed grin, however, slashed his confidence; his body faded into a dull gray. He huddled in a crevice near the art supplies, knees tucked to his chest, and despite the neon yellow bandage slapped across his face, people stopped looking his way.

He learned to appreciate the inconspicuous lifestyle when he realized that he inspired pity in women instead of fear. Who could fear a shadow? Women fear what lurks in the shadows, but not the shadows themselves.

When he desires to make himself known, he detaches his toes from the backs of others' ankles and steps into the light.

"What did you order?"


"I like coffee."


"You're more beautiful than this dancer I saw once on the strip. She had blue sparkles just like the ones in your eyes."

"Uh huh."

"You're more beautiful than Olive Jones."


"Can I sit with you?"

Sometimes they let him, when they recognize he's lonely. Sometimes they make an excuse, but it's okay. He learned to deal with rejection the day he realized that, whether you turn the lights on or off, shadows are inevitable.

Sorry again for the lack of posting; the transition to writing PTKY stories has been a bit rough because I've been spending lots of time getting used to my new life here. Things are going really well so far, though. Taught my first class today. I promise that the posts will be more regular in the future. PTKY isn't going anywhere. It's the little fiction blog that could.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Seen outside the parking lot of the Main Street Station Casino, August 18th, 2013

Eugenia screams at the other driver through the window of her car, her gray gums and false teeth fully exposed: "Watch where you're going!" The other driver is a young woman, pale. Doesn't she know that this part of town belongs to the old, the tired, the hoarse, the broken-down? To those who lost everything (even if they never gambled a day in their lives) and hung on anyway? To those whose sleep is dreamless but provides no rest? Little girl should go back to The Strip where she belongs, where they've demolished all the women like Eugenia.

This lady didn't seem to like the fact that I needed to pull out of a parking lot. I'm still feeling a bit like an out-of-place tourist here sometimes. Not on campus, but elsewhere. I'll get over it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Seen on the balcony of Comme Ca at The Cosmopolitan, August 16th, 2013

"Can I take a picture of you? No? Well let me know if there's anything else we can do for you this evening."

Can I take a picture of you? Send it back to Minnesota for the kids, perhaps? Can I take a picture of you? I can make it so the light doesn't shine off your fake gold chain, sir. I can make sure the cellulite curdling down below the hem of your too-short dress doesn't show, m'am. I mean miss, of course. How about you, my dear? Picture in front of the stunning Las Vegas skyline? Eiffel Tower and palm trees, all in one shot. Obviously none of it could be more stunning than that smile of yours. If I could just get your number I could--no? Alright. Enjoy your evening. Bitch. Can I take your picture? Oh, you don't even know each other? Who the hell cares? You're drinking pricey cocktails and eye-fucking each other on a balcony in the one place on earth where I guarantee you no one gives a damn about what you do together. Do us all a favor and stop being so coy. If you're not going to get a room, let me take your goddamn picture so you'll at least remember what you didn't do.

Saw this guy when I went to happy hour with some of the MFA kids last Friday. I wonder if his whole job was just to take pictures of people on the balcony. It was weird. Orientation is going well. Read all about it on my BRAND NEW personal blog, "Viva Las Becky." Go on. It'll be fun. Promise.