by David S. Grant

an excerpt from the new novel

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E




Sometimes the heat in Vegas has nothing to do with the temperature.

There are seven of us in all and Stoner is already baked when we meet at the Bellagio. "Dude, it's my party." Chip doesn't have an excuse, already wobbling as he reaches the bar. It's three in the afternoon.

We drink boilermakers and play poker at Bellagio, then play craps at Caesar's until the complimentary shots of Jim Beam are out, smoke crack behind TI, walk through MGM in two minutes, walk back over to TI and drink frozen mixers while smoking Kool cigarettes and commenting on the length of the waitresses' cocktail dresses, rent two Ferraris and drive to Crazy Horse Too, where we drop two grand on strippers (would have dropped four, but we get thrown out when Stoner's friend Jekyll bites Jasmine's nipple), total one of the Ferraris on the way to Olympic Gardens, leave the Ferrari, go into OG's and drop two more grand, eat sliders with mustard at a restaurant called Lucky Burger, and then smoke crack next to the lone Ferrari hidden behind the Lucky Burger dumpster.

After sliders, we hop on a helicopter, take a loop around the city, finally landing near the Stratosphere, where we go to the top and drink Bacardi straight up with a slice of chocolate cake. Leave the chopper and walk to Stardust, drink red wine and smoke cigars and sing karaoke songs. Half an hour before midnight, we go to Circus Circus and take the elevator to the roof, where Chip has arranged for a Cambodian stripper to perform for Stoner. I walk over to the open bar, order a shot of dry gin, and then lean over the side of the roof and watch the city lights as midnight, the New Year, approaches. At midnight, the fireworks begin and I look over at Stoner and see that the Cambodian girl is now performing oral sex on him. Chip walks over and explains that she's only a stripper and that this is normal in her country. I turn back to the lights of the Vegas Strip as they shoot to the sky.

"I know a place just off the Strip that has the best Thai." Chip puts his pipe back into his pocket.

"Cool," someone says and we pile into the Ferrari and within minutes pull up to a two-star hotel and walk up to the second floor, where the Thai prostitutes are waiting for us and then after twenty minutes meet out in the hallway, where we all smoke Kool cigarettes and drink from a warm case of Miller that was left in the hallway by someone. Two guys decide to stay at the hotel with the girls and finish the case of Miller. "Ahaahaa, dude, that was fucking awesome," laughs Stoner as we pile back into the Ferrari and speed back over to the Strip and stop at the Paradise Club, where the strippers are doing a shower scene on stage and Chip works out a deal to get Stoner up on the stage, but he looks too stoned to remember and spends the whole time laughing hysterically. After the shower, the girls take Stoner backstage, where more laughter is heard, and a bill for one thousand dollars is handed to Chip. When Stoner comes out, he goes over to Chip and whispers something into his ear. Chip gets up and goes backstage, Stoner walks over to me and I'm high and I ask him if his soon-to-be bride knows what's going on tonight and he tells me that it doesn't matter because he's only marrying her for her trust fund and that when she finds out the wedding may be worse than Kill Bill. Chip returns with a smile on his face and says, "You're right, it was worth a thousand." At Perfect 10, I get lap dances from girls named Saw and Ginger, but my second dance is cut short when Chip interrupts and says we have to go because they are playing Kanye West music, which is just the same to me because Ginger isn't really into the dance, snorting cocaine while she's grinding on me.

In Bikinis, three rounds of Manhattans are consumed and conversations about both grass skirts and whether or not Mariah Carey is still considered crazy are had. A girl named Anne begins talking with Stoner, but he can't stop laughing so she leaves. The grass skirt conversation carries over when we arrive at Coyote Ugly and begin drinking Old Fashions, even though we ordered gin, and Stoner dances on the bar until we are asked to leave. A joint is smoked inside the House of Blues while waiting for our Sidecars, which we slam in under a minute, and then at Rain, another joint is smoked instead of attempting to get drinks at the overcrowded bar.

Ten minutes later in a club with "Aces" in the name we throw down double shots of dry gin and eat pretzels and then out of our minds all do the funky chicken on the dance floor. In the club we lose two of Stoner's friends and now we're down to three. Chip and I head to the blackjack tables and lose three hundred each and then drink more dry gin and Chip talks two porn stars into doing a show for Stoner, so we all go up to a room and watch the girls perform oral on each other for twenty minutes or so and then go to the Imperial Palace, where the owner knows Chip and lets us openly smoke hash in his lounge. We meet Nicolas Cage and Chip pitches his new reality show idea to him and Nic sounds interested as he sips a Heineken. They embrace and exchange contact information.

Outside of the casino, Chip falls on his face and while Stoner and I are laughing two squatters help him up and then Chip starts talking to them and it turns out they were actors at one point so Chip gives them his card and asks them where's a good place for breakfast and the squatters both point across the street where we see the sign for Denny's.

At some point after plates of sausage and bacon we hook up with a guy named Earl who is driving the Ferrari with Stoner riding shotgun, a girl named Rose on his lap, and Chip passed out with sunglasses on in the back seat. I ask Earl what time it is and he tells me 4:30 a.m. then pulls out his crack pipe and that's the last thing I remember until I wake up the next morning in Los Angeles with a gun barrel stuck in my mouth.


At what point in my life am I going to stop fantasizing over removing a police officer's gun from his holster? It's something that has concerned me for quite some time. Right now it doesn't matter as I stare into the barrel of the gun that is connected to the officer standing over me.

Lying flat on my back on a living room floor that reeks of Corona beer and Kool cigarettes, I'm looking out the corners of my eyes trying to figure out where I am. To my right is Chip. The officer already has turned him over and is applying handcuffs. At my left, I see a chair littered with leather whips and beads, and that's how I figure out that I'm at Sharon Winkler's new house in Los Angeles. Also from the Midwest, Sharon started her own escort service, which grew rapidly, forcing the move to a larger market base. Plus, she was really beginning to get into cosmetic surgery, so the move to L.A. was justified in her eyes.

Finance in New York is a bore and not really what anyone sets out to do with their lives. Firefighters, baseball players, and astronauts, these are childhood dreams. For the most conservative upbringing, financial analyst doesn't crack the top ten. A little over a year ago I decided to pursue my dream of writing. I got a job part-time as a writer for a satirical newspaper similar to The Onion, writing articles on popular culture. Unfortunately, I only got to write two articles before I was moved to the obituary section. Not normal obituaries, but rather strange deaths often caused by random circumstances.

Sammy O'Henry was golfing when struck by lightning, moving approximately 10,000 volts of electricity through his body. He lived. A week later, he was sleepwalking. He went into his garage and mistook a container of antifreeze for apple juice. He never woke up.

You're probably wondering who would do this in their spare time and thinking how depressing it must be. First, this was (and still is) supposed to be a stepping stone. I'm hoping to get back into the pop culture section of the newspaper. As for the depression, it actually had quite the opposite effect on me. It taught me that at any minute we can be gone. The bus around the corner we don't see, the crazy person who didn't take their medication, or waking to a police officer with a gun in your face.

A man only known as Koria travels to Thailand to teach English to underprivileged children. One of his students brings him a fruit called durian. He appreciates the gesture. He eats the fruit, which overheats the body from within. Koria doesn't live to see the end of the day.

This is a story about living.

The officer slowly lifts me from the floor and then applies handcuffs to me. At some point I attempt to ask what this is about, but my mouth is too dry to talk.

In the background, an Aerosmith video plays, Steven Tyler belting out lyrics of drugs, debauchery, and sex. I can't see the TV at the moment, but I'm guessing he's wearing one of his usual gown-like robe outfits that only he can wear. In my present position, what would Steven Tyler do?

I look over at Chip. It takes two officers to lift him, and he has a grin on his face. Chip has a cigarette in his mouth and is still wearing sunglasses. His glasses are knocked off by the elbow of one of the officers. "My shades!" grunts Chip, cigarette still in mouth.

"Too bad, lost your glasses. You're no longer cool," the officer jokes.

Is Chip cool? Is the situation cool? The LAPD? Definitely not cool.

Sharon walks out. She's wearing a bright pink robe that has a pin with a clover that reads: IRISH GUYS MAKE GOOD LOVERS AND BEER. "What's going on?"

The officer that is holding me by the cuffs, the one with the bushy mustache, tells Sharon that Chip and I are going in for questioning over some fifteen-year-old girl.

"But I know these guys. They couldn't have"

"We have witnesses," says the cop with the well-trimmed mustache.

Once again I try to say something, but my mouth is not cooperating with me at the moment. Chip looks disoriented as we walk through the door and into the back of the police car. I sit and try to remember the night before. Bits and pieces slowly fill my head: dropping off Stoner at his place, arriving at Sharon's, where her annual New Year's Eve party was winding down, looking for Mary, and finally settling for a conversation with a girl named Patricia that went something like this:

Patricia: Hey, I remember you. You're Jeremy, right?
Me: That's me.
Patricia: What have you been up to?
Me: Nothing, and you?
Patricia: Oh, you know.
Me: {putting a gun to my head}

Other than that, I don't remember much. I know that the sun was up and that Chip wasn't around for most of the morning. I had probably assumed he had crashed in a corner somewhere. He has always preferred hallway corners over beds after a long night.

Outside, cuffed and resting against the squad car, the cops standing in front of us smoking, Chip asks, "So what did we do?"


"We have rights. You have to tell us what we did," I barely get out.

"You see this?" One of the cops points to a patch on his sleeve, then blows smoke into my face. "LAPD. We don't have to tell you shit." He laughs. The others laugh as well, staring at our bleached hair. "What are you guys, a couple of surf bums?"

"No, I'm in finance," I say.

"I'm in construction," Chip says.

"Whatever. You guys look like a couple of bums to me."

Inside the car, Chip makes the motion of putting his arms under his legs to move his cuffed hands to the front, but is unable. "Damn, now it's ten inches even. There's no way I can get the cuffs over."

Chip was referencing his penis, which he had recently had lengthened another half-inch to ten inches. (A previous operation put him at nine and a half.)

"Yeah, that's too bad," I say as I move my legs up and swing my arms under, moving my cuffed hands to the front.

Two officers are in the front of the car. The dispatch radio is turned off. A classic rock station is playing. When a song by The Who comes on, the officer with the more trimmed mustache asks bushy mustache what he thinks about when he listens to music. "Do you pretend to be the guitarist, the lead singer, or do you just listen to the music?"

"Mostly just listen," Bushy mustache replies, "but sometimes, like with Van Halenold Van HalenI pretend to be Eddie in my head." We approach a red light and he puts on the siren. "Yeah, but that's pretty much it. Only Eddie Van Halen, that's really the only guy. How about you?"

Eddie Van Halen is (or was, depending on whether it was only the music) cool. In an era where there seemed to be nothing left to do with a guitar, Eddie took it to new levels, and did it with a drink in his hand. Cool.

"The same. I feel exactly the same way," the trim-mustached cop says.

An awkward silence is had by all until Chip coughs. "Damn cigars. I don't think what Cage gave me was a Cuban. It was pretty harsh."

"Maybe it was only the wrapper," I say.

"Rapper?" Chip adjusts his arms. "Oh, you mean the wrapper was Cuban."

"Yeah, Cuban seed. That's not illegal."

"Cool. That explains it. I don't want to be pissed off at Nic."

Almost to the station, the mood is pretty light since we are pretty sure we will answer a couple questions, explain that we were too hammered to remember, and then find someplace to sleep. I overhear them discussing a fifteen-year-old girl, and it sounds as if she was at the party and then left, so I speak up and ask what happened and the officers tell me to sit back and wait until we get to the precinct for question time. One says, "One of you is going down like the Titanic," which is the last thing I need to hear. Go ahead and reference a movie that took me eight years to finally see and realize that I never really needed to see it.

"Dude, we didn't molest any fifteen-year-old," says Chip. He coughs again.

The trim-mustached cop turns around and looks Chip in the eyes. "The sex is only part of your problem, you asshead. Her death is another."





Copyright © 2008 David S. Grant

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

David S. Grant was born in West Allis, WI. David's first novel, Corporate Porn, was published in 2005 by Silverthought Press. Major writing influences include Bret Easton Ellis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chuck Palahniuk, and Hunter S. Thompson. David has also published several short fiction pieces with various literary journals and websites including The Writing Journal, The Reader's Retreat, The Falling Star Magazine, The Sink, and Lifted Magazine. Grant has three corporate degrees and now lives and works in New York City. He is currently working on a prequel to Bleach titled Bliss. For more information, please visit David's website at:

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