The bellhop had one eye. He didn’t wear a patch. So I just gazed at the scar.

As if he had a little of Oedipus in him, he looked at me sadly. “Right this way, sir,” he said. “You’ve been waiting.”

“Not very long though,” I said, gazing past him into the Sahara Hotel Sports Book. There were several rows of tables and chairs, and a wall full of TVs. A few days before, a group of Algerian nationals had gathered. They hooted at the television in unison, taunting as if Landon Donovan would never score a goal. Now the Sports Book was nearly empty. Except for one Asian man. His head nodded toward his chest as if he just went ahead and died there.

“Right this way,” said the bellhop. His uniform was golden. It shined against his deep black skin. His hair was slightly receded. He looked like he’d been working the casino for so long that he might have known Elvis, who himself stood in ghostly iconic history in a nearby black-and-white photo that hung poster sized behind the front hotel desk.

The bellhop followed me into the elevator.

“Sorry to trouble you,” I said.

He fumbled with some keys as I punched the nineteenth floor.

“Ain’t no trouble,” he said. “We’re just short staffed is all. I can’t do everything. So some people just gonna have to wait.”

“I hear you,” I said.

The elevator felt old. The building sighed, sagged. The smoky casino had carried itself into these steel walls. When the elevator stopped, my twenty-eight-dollar room was only a few steps away.

Down the hall was a set of rooms where a minor league baseball team was visiting Sin City. Their organization must have struck a deal for cheap rooms. It was just a straight shot down Las Vegas Boulevard to the Las Vegas 51s homefield. There, a parking lot held a ghost town of washed up casino signs. Golden Nugget, Moulin Rouge and Stardust all lay in rust and decay with piles of others. Unlit bulbs in the thousands rimmed the dozens of signs, evidence that history’s lights wink and go out in the bleak asphalt desert.

The bellhop and I walked to my door—right around the first bend from the elevator. I pulled out my plastic room key. I’d taken it down to the lobby once already and got it replaced. But the latest key didn’t work either. “Here,” I said, swiping the key, only to hear a beep and a buzz and see a red light flash. “Just temperamental, maybe.”

“That ain’t no good,” said the bellhop.

I tried not to look at the scar where his eye had been. But who can help staring into mystery? My eyes shifted. I saw a man who had suffered. Behind him I imagined the real Oedipus. He stood down the yellow hall with black holes for eyes. He looked for his mother but could only fumble past two prostitutes scarred with tattoos, suffering all Jesus-like themselves as they disappeared into a room.

“I got a master key,” said the bellhop. He pulled out a metal card shaped like my plastic room key. He swiped it and the red light flashed. “Isn’t that something,” he said swiping his master key again.

I saw beads of sweat on his dark brow. He leaned forward, shook the boxy keylock device attached to the door.

“You’ll get it,” I said.

They oughtta replace some of these,” he grunted.

I’d taken a walk. McDonalds across Sahara Avenue stood next to a black-painted abandoned casino. Another casino wrapped in glitter and Big Mac big screens was really a second McDonalds around the corner on the Strip. Giant cranes stood near that. They hung over tall buildings with shiny grey-blue windows that reflected a decayed urban sky, where even dusty smog seemed to break apart and drift to the earth. It fell from above those of us who walked beneath all the scaffolding on porn-covered sidewalks with nothing more ahead of us than promises of helicopter rides, girls in pits dealing cards at the Riviera and Peppermill pancakes.

My feet hurt from all the walking. The dollar-menu burger had long drifted its way through my gut to more hunger pangs. I just wanted to sleep. I wanted to get inside my room and gaze out the window down at the streets, where the sleek monorail station was a soft whoosh, and the tower where Latoya Jackson lived in a high room upon infinite desert comfort stood over it all.

“I gotta get maintenance,” the bellhop said.

Pancakes weren’t sounding so bad. And the Caravan Cafe was just an elevator ride and a quick walk past rows of empty slot machines anyway. “I’ll get something to eat,” I said.

“It’ll be fixed by the time you return.”

“Ain’t no thing,” I said.

“You just don’t know about these machines.”

“Not your fault,” I added as I imagined both of his eyes gone just then. Behind him I saw Oedipus laughing. I saw the casino; his mother; the city mother. His lover. She was a big glittering sagging bitch with her finger wagging for a few more rings.

As I headed back to the elevator I imagined him in his golden uniform ascend through the floors and sail over the casino, across her glittering eyes and neon breasts.

*NOTE: This piece was written entirely on an iPhone.

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NICK BELARDES is illustrator of NYT Best-Selling Novel by Jonathan Evison West of Here (2011), author of Random Obsessions (2009), Lords (2005), and the first literary Twitter novel: Small Places (2010). An author, poet, and screenwriter for Hectic Films, Belardes turned TV/online journalist overnight after blogging his way to success. His articles and essays have appeared on the homepage of CNN.com and other news sites across America. You can find Nick on Facebook and Twitter.

132 responses to “Oedipus Laughs”

  1. Danielle says:

    I love it! Thanks for sending me the link. You have amazing description and it makes me want to pick up writing again. The one thing I really miss about being a college student was the writing because I love painting scenes, ideas, or just describing a point of view with words. I want to read more about Vegas… I love that city despite it’s seedy reputation.

    • College is where I first learned to write. Loved my experiences. I do have an entire Vegas series I am working on:

      The Mysterious Lair Of Mimi Lin
      Saroyan’s Postcards
      Shapeshifters In Transit
      Take What You Can
      I Live In A Casino
      Gauguin’s Girls

      ARCHIVE PAGE: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/author/nlbelardes/

      I really appreciate your comments. I do have more photos that I will release with upcoming stories, including of a decrepit bus station, a man making corn husk crosses and more…

      • Lee says:

        Do I hear a collection coming on?

        • That’s been my aim all along. Just didn’t advertise my plans. There are still a few more pieces I am writing for this before I am spiritually cleansed….

        • Lee says:

          Now where’s the fun in that? LOL I say keep that troubled edge. I’m sure that when people read my chapters they think I have to be deranged, but I actually write the opposite of what I am. My characters in the The Salton Sea Chronicles are somewhat amoral in their approach to morality. Their flaws run deep and their alliances are changeable. I tend to be very by-the-book.

        • I think you will really like “Across the Sahara.” It is a very deranged piece. You’ll find similar themes to your own writing. I’m tempted to post it right now, just for you. Late this week perhaps.

          I agree, we write about being troubled. And though sometimes I am, I try to keep enough sense to recognize that conflict is inherently what we must convey, to grab the reader, even if it’s the truth.

        • Lee says:

          See, I don’t have the courage to be deranged. For example, I heard that you can lose a lot of weight doing meth–and I need to drop 40, but then when I researched it further, while you lose weight, you also lose your job, friends, teeth, hair, sexual functioning, and your freedom. The cost of being deranged–for me at least–is too high to experience directly. Working with the Chamber of Commerce down in Salton City, my good friends John, Imari, LaVon, and Bob have told me true stories that are morphed into my novel. Bob, who was a sheriff at the time, busted a porn shoot at the Sundowner Inn once. I’ve also poured through issues of the Salton City Resorter–the local defunct newspaper–going back 60 years to get a feel and the feel of the hustle, the too good to be true, was there even then. The conflict is so essential to a story as is the need for shock value without going too too far.

        • That’s a great way to develop fiction. Real stories can be such great fodder. Like my book Lords. Like Season of Purgatory by D. Dunne. Good stuff, man.

          I like your line: “The conflict is so essential to a story as is the need for shock value without going too too far.”

          Absolutely.

          I am already thinking we need a workshop retreat down here.

        • Lee says:

          A workshop retreat couldn’t happen fast enough. I am working my tail off on my chapters. Keep the great stories coming. We MUST do the Salton Sea sometime soon.

        • Salton Sea, retreats, good times. I need it all. I’m settling in here. After three weeks of twenty miles a day of bike riding, my legs finally aren’t burning so bad! hahaha

  2. Connie says:

    Nick,

    For some reason this piece brought to mind “The Shining” nice work.

    • Scatman Crothers was awesome in that movie. Didn’t he get the axe? Ay. Terrifying. This bellhop did remind me a little of him in a way. I didn’t realize the connection until now.

  3. Connie says:

    The movie is terrifying and your bellhop really did remind me of Scatman, as well as the condition of the hotel. very spooky.

    • My next piece, which I have already written on an iPhone as well is very spooky to me and involves angels and devils. It’s a very bizarre piece titled, “Across the Sahara.”

      As for this piece, I suppose it did leave a lot of mystery to be revealed in the sense there was a doorway that wouldn’t open, and when we peer into stories with obstructions, we tend to want to always want to see on the other side. In this case, I was just damn tired, and I should have checked whether my key worked when I had it replaced, instead of taking such a long walk.

      Scatman would have played a great role in the short film version of this story. I can imagine him ascending into the Vegas skyline, like an angel…

  4. Susan Jones says:

    All over again. In love.

  5. Leathur Rokk says:

    Nick,

    I’m glad that the Saharan is still there.Too much of the Strip has been demolished,since way back when I lived in Hollywood fulltime & had a boyfriend who loved playing craps with the rent money…we stayed at The Saharan,once smuggling fried chicken from the buffet via a napkin lined dollar coin bucket!A highlight…..Jayson had a few drinks and took to the public address system (when there was a Rodeo in town or a cowboy convention of sorts,I mean 10 gallon hats everywhere you turned)….he sang “I Wish I was A Cowboy”,nonsense laced with profanity.

    Another trip,we tripped on acid inside Bob Stupak’s Vegasworld,admiring all that space junk!(I bet its long gone too,isn’t that now the site of the Stratosphere?)

    Locals said the really really cheap food left when they kicked the mob out of town……last I heard (read) the cheapest casino buffet was at Terribles ,downtown……

    I always route through Vegas en route Los Angeles on Greyhound and I try for several hours layover .

    I really love your Las Vegas stories…..

    • Leathur! So great to hear from you! You know, food in Vegas is expensive as heck. I did find that Nevada Chicken served up some mean portions with some low prices. But not buffet prices.

      Fast-food prices there were way higher than even L.A.!

      The days of the cheap buffets went out years ago, and took more of a dive ten years ago when I lived there before.

      I think Vegasworld was where you say. And the Frontier was around there. And so was Stardust.

      Your acid trip and chicken-stealing stories are marvelous. Although, I do have to say, I am now inspired to want to tell one of my old tales. One that involved burgers, ghostwriting, and a transgender man who packed a mean punch.

      My dad always gambled away the rent money. He said God ordained him to be a gambler. His way of justifying his mad as a hatter temptation to play the poker machines. Rest his soul. He finally turned away from the machines there at the end, and a Filipino woman tried to get him to join the clergy.

      Crazy.

  6. Connie says:

    Vegas is not as safe since they kicked the mob out as well. The mob frowned on tourist being mugged or etc.

    • Oh I don’t know. I think Vegas has always had a lot of crime: drugs, murder, thievery, and prostitution. I think, and I’m not sure, that that was just great marketing from all of Oscar Goodman’s mayor campaigns to say crime went down. But went down from what?

      Anyway, I am blessed every time you read my pieces. You always have insights into my stories that I don’t even realize.

      I wonder if Bakersfield crime is better or worse than in years past?

  7. Connie says:

    Crime in Bakersfield is different, very different from when my hubby started in law enforcement.

    • Gangs and drug cartels sure are screwing things up in the valley. I can see that as a major difference. Biker gangs of sorts have been around for ages. But this gang thing, where the drug cartels are even controlling the gangs, I think I am hearing, is causing some really dangerous conditions.

  8. Jan Fulton says:

    Again, your descriptions put me right along side you and the bellhop – very well written!

  9. Sara says:

    Of the things of yours I have read, this is one of my favorites. I am always a sucker for the magic of neon and for me well, I guess you could say, “The ‘eyes’ have it!”

    • Thank you Sara. There’s a few who really liked my last piece, which I didn’t advertise, titled “Gauguin’s Girls.” There is a heart to it that I don’t often reveal in my writing.

      I think you’re right. The eyes did have it in this piece. Poor bellhop. He was a mystery.

  10. matildakay says:

    I think the one-eyed bellhop would have scared the pants off me. Especially since he had a master key to everyone’s rooms! Yikes!

    Love the description and sense of mystery… you’ve really brought the reader into the story and given us a glimpse of Vegas not many visualize when they think of bright lights, big city.

    Can’t wait to read the next piece in this series. Are you going to send this series out and try to get it published? Maybe Vegas has a University press or another small press that would be interested in some Vegas stories.

    • University of Las Vegas Press. I used to have contacts there. That was years ago though. I am going to write several pieces that won’t appear on this site that are Vegas stories from recent and from yesteryear. Not sure how many words I have. Going to go check right now!

      The bellhop wasn’t scary. He was a nice man. A hard worker I could tell. A real gentleman.

    • I just did a word count that includes a story I haven’t posted. I have 10,625 words so far, which is enough for a novella-sized book. I can double that no problem. The question is, do I really want to put together an entire book of Vegas stories. I have enough stories in me. Not sure I can get to 55,000 words. That would be an awful lot. But I have probably ten more stories in me if I put my mind to it.

    • Let’s figure this out. Here’s a list of some titles off the top of my head from recent travels and from the late 1990s:

      Across The Sahara
      The Ghostwriter
      Mob Men
      The Death Of A Truckdriver
      Night Of The Meteor
      Radio Station Follies
      Animation
      The Bus Ride
      A Strange Artist
      Search For Chuckwallas
      John’s Home For The Sick

  11. Ah, I was just thinking I hadn’t seen anything of yours in awhile, and, just like magic, here you are with another richly detailed gem of a story! And written on an iPhone, no less. I think I’ve mentioned this before — I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but I love experiencing it through your work. I’m always fascinated by bellhops and aged hotels on film (not sure why, exactly) — Barton Fink, Mystery Train, Four Rooms, to name a few. So needless to say, I loved your take on it here.

    • I will have to write another hotel piece. Inspiration is everything. I think I can do one where I really get into the sensory detail of some of the places there. I will add to my list of Vegas stories left to write. So, thank you! I really appreciate your comment. I think of all my Vegas pieces though, the upcoming one “Across The Sahara” will be the most poignant of them all, and is a travel narrative that I hope no one else ever experiences.

    • Oh, and my iPhone experiment really worked for me. It’s something new, and I don’t have to lug my computer around.

      • I’m curious to know if you found that writing on the iPhone impacted your creative process or writing style.

        • Here are my thoughts about writing stories on an iPhone:

          I did a little test at first. I spent part of a lunch hour just writing random prose on my phone. I found it very liberating. It didn’t cramp my hand, and I didn’t have to carry around a bulky computer. Not that my MacBook Pro is that bulky. But it is heavy in my backpack when riding 10.3 miles to work and back.

          I loved it so much that when I took a bus down to the Irvine Spectrum and to Dana Point, I was able to do some great writing and editing.

          At one point I was sitting on giant rocks on a sea wall in the harbor watching fisherman dodge swells that smacked on the rocks. I gazed out into the ocean, watched an otter lounge, and peered into crevices, in a place I wouldn’t have dared take a laptop.

          It gave me a new found creativity.

          The drawback is finding creative ways to spend time here and there charging my battery. A Starbucks, a McDonalds. Outlets where I can find them.

          In a way, I feel like I have stepped into a sci-fi novel. A writer obsessed with constantly charging his battery…

          I don’t think writing on an iPhone is for everyone. But I have found something new and liberating for me.

          Thanks for asking and for all your kind words.

  12. Michael Lee says:

    Beauty, sadness and mystery all under the mundane happening of a hotel key malfunctioning.

    Bravo, Nick!

    • Thanks. I figured everyone who reads this piece would have something in common with it. We all get locked out.

      But one-eyed people holding the keys to the gateway to our happiness are rare…

      Hope you are well.

  13. Holly C. says:

    I think you are right. We all get locked out. But it’s not the gateway to our happiness to which the one-eyed bellhop holds the key – it’s sometimes the gateway to a little peace.

    I loved this. At the end, I had empathy for the bellhop – wondering what must have happened to this soul for him to lose his eye. And wondering if that “big glittering sagging bitch” was the only lover who loved him back.

    🙂

    • It’s such mysteries as his that pull us into seeking truth, only to find truth is in the shape of Clio the Muse, taunting us, dancing around us, just as she perhaps did the bellhop, so that we fall deeper into her trap…

      If I were to venture a guess, maybe he learned to love her out of necessity.

      I think you’re right. A “gateway to a little peace” is all I need sometimes.

      It’s very nice to read your comment. Thank you so much.

  14. Jenifer @jehujeni says:

    Thank you for sharing this .. Enjoyed it!! I wanted to know more & more….

  15. Judy Prince says:

    Wow, I love this, Nick!

    Every bit of it’s a keeper, a carefully crafted vivid journey from ancient Greek tragedy to USAmerican tragedy, the personal and the universal united. A brilliant central figure who “looked like he’d been working the casino for so long that he might have known Elvis, who himself stood in ghostly iconic history in a nearby black-and-white photo that hung poster sized behind the front hotel desk.”

    “I saw a man who had suffered. Behind him I imagined the real Oedipus. He stood down the yellow hall with black holes for eyes. He looked for his mother but could only fumble past two prostitutes scarred with tattoos, suffering all Jesus-like themselves as they disappeared into a room.”

    The emptiness, on all levels of meaning, you’ve forced forward:

    ” . . . a parking lot held a ghost town of washed up casino signs. Golden Nugget, Moulin Rouge and Stardust all lay in rust and decay with piles of others. Unlit bulbs in the thousands rimmed the dozens of signs, evidence that history’s lights wink and go out in the bleak asphalt desert.”

    Excellently played!

    • And yet, the irony about that parking lot is it’s where the downtown stadium is located, and they play baseball!

      I was there during the season, and I was not going to sit in a hundred-and-something-degree weather for an All-American game of baseball. No way.

      And I say that having covered minor league baseball in Bakersfield. It gets darn hot there too. But it doesn’t quite get as hot.

      Yeah, lots of emptiness from history to eye sockets in this piece. Though emptiness gets filled with Greek drama and mystery. And you know I love a good mystery, especially when it’s going on all around me.

      • Judy Prince says:

        “And you know I love a good mystery, especially when it’s going on all around me.”

        Yup, now I begin to see what you mean, Nick. That need to mystify, to be mystified—-as well as to figure out how to resolve what seems unresolvable, or p’raps resolvable if you just look in the right places and pick the right brains. I think you approach most of life that way. Unique. Makes me want to be mysterious.

        • I think you and I talked about mystery before. I try to include it in everything I write. It’s around me in real life. It’s Clio the Muse taunting me with truth even in pondering the smallest particle and the grandest idea, and it’s in the faces of everyone around me, because I don’t know their thoughts or histories…

          You are mysterious.

          We are mysterious.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Hmmmm……now you cause me to try to reason out the whole mystery thing, Nick.

          Personally, it’s always been my style to be mysterious, but I’ve always called it “sneaky” and regarded it as a big character flaw. The whole thing began quite early when I observed my older sister being open and honest with our parents, and it didn’t work out for her so well, so I just went underground, metaphorically speaking. Also, I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and announcing it ahead of time was complete folly, so I just got on with it and hoped I wouldn’t get caught. If that constitutes “mysterious”, cool!

          Further, “lying” and “fiction” have always seemed the same thing, and they come easily to me.

          At the same time as I, natch, regard myself as totally honest. HA!!!! How long I’ve been fooling myself!

          Getting to the grit: Works that are mysterious have an aura, a “cover” of either 1) an otherwise non-mysterious person, place or event, or 2) a deeply weird, un-understandable person, place or event. Or both.

          What is the nature of the quality called “mysterious”? Is it ONLY something we can’t figure out? Some trait in a person that we don’t understand? Most often in a mystery novel we’ll have at least one character whose background is unknown and for a time unknowable.

          But “mysterious” people or events are not just unknowable, I’m thinking. They are purposely hidden by the mysterious person, or the person may, frustratingly, not know about a chunk of her past.

          OK, that’s a start. And I’m a total novice at this mystery business, Nick. So give me a nudge or two.

        • I don’t equate mystery in writing with being sneaky or lying. I suppose there are just mysteries in life. And mysteries lead to questions.

          For example:

          Why does that one man take a walk every morning that I see on my way to work? Is he going somewhere? Why is there always a dead black bird that I see while I’m on my morning bike rides to work and why hasn’t anyone cleaned it up? Why did I see a cross in a city worker’s blueprints that he accidentally flashed my way when listening to a podcast sermon while riding my bike? Was God telling me to endure life or endure my bike ride? Or both? Or something else? Why did it make me cry? Why did I find a little pile of money when I asked God for directions to the bus stop. And then the bus stopped right where I found the coins? Why doesn’t she love me the way I love her? And if she does, why might she be afraid of showing it? Is it the disease battling her very soul? Why am I here in Irvine? What will this mystery reveal? How does one fight the loneliness? Why am I right now seeing an angel and a cross surrounded by plants? When I see strangers at the beach, why do I want to know their stories?

          I’m a novice too. I just know that when crafting a story, if I can lead the reader to ask questions and wonder, then I’ve done my job.

          Wonderment is a revelation.

          Storytelling is a powerful tool in tugging at curiosity inherently within us. But sometimes we have to lead people through powerful imagery.

          People may think the writer knows the answer. But the writer is often playing a game just as powerful as Clio the Muse… and so it becomes a dance.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “doing” or “don’t” or “do”, Nick? (second word of your comment)

          Your lots of examples helped me see better into the broad world of mystery. Even Rodent got into it (though his were literary examples and mine were homely ones).

          I see that you (or your fictional creation) often question the “signs” (portents?) of things or events. That totally fascinates me, too.

          Your lying, but not just at the moment, friend.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Mystery” probably always leads to a discussion about time, which fascinates most folks. Writers, philosophers, kids, pretty much everyone wonders about time. I like psychic Edgar Cayce’s thought: “There is no time, there is no place, there is only patience.”

          Especially during WWI and WWII in England, doubtless because of so many deaths of the young soldiers, notions of the afterlife grabbed people’s imaginations.

          English writer J.B. Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls” was made into an immensely popular, fascinating film, described here: “The comfortable complacency of the British Birling family is upset when Inspector Poole (Alastair Sim) comes calling. An impoverished young working girl named Eva Smith (Jane Wenham) has committed suicide, and Poole hopes that the Birlings will help him find out why. As the evening progresses, a series of flashbacks reveal that each member of the Birling family has in some small way been responsible for Eva’s demise. A twist ending adds a mystical, thought-provoking touch to the proceedings. Bryan Forbes, who plays the Birling son, matriculated into the noted director of such films as The L-Shaped Room, King Rat and The Whisperers. An Inspector Calls was based on a play by J.B. Priestley, which recently scored a huge hit when it was revived in London and New York.~ (Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)”

          David Niven starred in two “time” films, one which is known as “Stairway to Heaven”, here described: “Also known as Stairway to Heaven, A Matter of Life and Death is the remarkable British fantasy film that became the surprise hit of 1946. David Niven stars as Peter Carter, a World War II RAF pilot who is forced to bail out of his crippled plane without a parachute. He wakes up to find he has landed on Earth utterly unharmed…which wasn’t supposed to happen according to the rules of Heaven. A celestial court argues over whether or not to claim Carter’s life or to let him survive to wed his American sweetheart (Kim Hunter). During an operation, in which Carter hovers between life and death, he dreams that his spirit is on trial, with God (Abraham Sofaer) as judge and Carter’s recently deceased best friend (Roger Livesey) as defense counsel. The film tries to have it both ways by suggesting that the heavenly scenes are all a product of Carter’s imagination, but the audience knows better. Among the curious but effective artistic choices in A Matter of Life and Death was the decision to film the earthbound scenes in Technicolor and the Heaven sequences in black-and-white. The film was a product of the adventuresome team known as The Archers: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.~ (Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)

          My own special favourite “time” film, “Last Holiday”, 1950, a dark comedy written by J.B. Priestley, stars Alec Guinness. Wikipedia synopsises it here: “George Bird (Guinness), an ordinary, unassuming and unmarried salesman of agricultural implements, visits a physician for a routine check-up and is told he has Lampington’s Disease, a newly identified condition which allows him only a few weeks to live. He accepts the doctor’s advice to take his savings and enjoy himself in the little time left to him. A bachelor with no family or friends, Bird decides to spend his last days at an up-market residential hotel among its elite clientele.”

          “Bird’s unassuming attitude generates a great deal of interest among the hotel’s residents. He is seen as an enigma to be solved, with wild speculations offered as to his identity and possible noble lineage. The hotel’s housekeeper (Walsh) guesses the truth, and Bird confides his secret to her. Bird quickly acquires friends and influence, falls in love (possibly for the first time in his life), sets wrongs to right, and is offered lucrative business opportunities. But these successes only serve to make him reflect on the irony that he will have no time to enjoy them.”

          “During a labour strike by the hotel’s staff, Bird comes into contact with Sir Trevor Lampington (Thesiger), the namesake of the disease which overshadows his recently found happiness. Lampington insists that Bird cannot possibly have the disease. During a trip back to his home town, Bird confirms that he indeed was given the wrong diagnosis. Overjoyed, he is ready to begin life afresh with his new sweetheart, friends and business opportunities. In a twist ending, however, he is killed in a car accident on the way back to the hotel. The hotel guests, having learned the truth about Bird’s identity and misdiagnosis, quickly begin to cast aspersions on him, but are interrupted with the news that he has died.”

          Another old “time” film favourite, in addition to “It’s A Wonderful Life,” is “The Bishop’s Wife” (Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young).

          Most of these I got from the public library (when I was in Chicago); others I’ve rented from netflix or, here in England, lovefilm.com

          Que pensez-vous?

        • Judy Prince says:

          A correction re the Edgar Cayce quote, Nick. These may help; they’re excerpts from Cayce’s psychic “readings”, starting with a brief explanation of what he called “Akashic records”:

          ” . . . The record that the individual entity itself writes upon the skein of time and space, through patience — and is opened when self has attuned to the infinite, and may be read by those attuning to that consciousness.” (Reading 2533-8)

          ” . . . these records are *not* as pictures on a screen, not as written words, but are as active forces in the life of an entity, and are often — as may be surmised — indescribable in words . . .” (Reading 288-27)

          “Remember, life is vibration. So is mind. So is matter.” (Reading 1861-16)

          “There is no time; it is one time; there is no space; it is one space; there is no force; other than all force in its various phases and applications of force are the emanations of men’s endeavors in a material world to exemplify an ideal of its concept of the creative energy, or God, of which the individual is such a part that the thoughts even of the individual may become crimes or miracles, for thoughts are deeds and applied in the sense that these are in accord with those principles as given. That which one metes must be met again. That which one applies will be applied again and again until that one-ness, time, space, force, or the own individual is one with the whole, not the whole with such a portion of the whole as to be equal with the whole.” (Reading 4341-1)

          Hope this helps!

        • It was “don’t.” I fixed it.

          “Your lying, but not just at the moment, friend.”

          Am not!

          Boy do I need a wake up call.

        • What is “Que pensez-vous?”

          Time films. Intriguing. Mysterious characters. Love them. Like Dr. Parnassus in that Imaginirium movie directed by Terry Gilliam.

          I think mystery abounds like that in the natural world. If you read my 1000-word piece about the boy (my son) and the walking stick, there is some cool mystery in that.

        • The Edgar Cayce quotes were interesting. Not sure I understand it all based on a few quotes, but I’m sure his theories, as a lot of others can also be applied to my life or world perspectives that involve mystery and God’s mysteries.

          Thanks for sharing so much with me. I always learn from you.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Nick, que pensez-vous means what do you think (what think you?)

          And you missed the no-apostrophied “your” in my signoff: “Your lying, but not just at the moment, friend.” I meant that I’m your friend who is not at the moment lying.

          Please give me the link to your piece about your son and a walking stick.

          This sounds familiar, dunno why: “Like Dr. Parnassus in that Imaginirium movie directed by Terry Gilliam.” I’ll check it out.

          Hey, how do you fix a comment after it’s been posted? Oh how many times I’ve wanted to do it!

        • Only the writer of the post can edit comments. Is que pensez-vous French? I have no idea! lol. But thanks for the translation.

          I don’t often read comments for typos. So my eyes scan away, oblivious of mistakes.

          The link is…http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/author/nlbelardes/

          Just scroll down for Shaman Child. Has a little kid in B&W photo. I meant to re-add that photo to the piece. darn.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Thanks, Nick, for the title of the post, Shaman Child.

          Que pensez-vous is French, and one of the 12 French bits I actually know. In France I’d starve if I had to order in French. Not to mention that I wouldn’t have a clue as to what I’d be ordering. Except for escargot (snails).

          I assumed that only writers of comments could edit them, but how do you do it once it’s been sent?

          Your editing’s incredibly good, given what you say about not bothering much. I read each post/comment 3 times and STILL typos get by me!

          Here’s a voluntaried hothouse typo: Your not-lying-this-time-either freind.

        • I see an edit button on every comment that you don’t see.

          I re-read Shaman Child. I should have written an entire post about the mysterious staff carver. He’s only briefly mentioned. Definitely was a mysterious dude.

          Oh that hothouse typo is pretty glaring! Ouch!

  16. I was reading this and thinking to myself, “This is really, really fucking good.” And then I saw that you wrote it all on an iPhone!!!??? I know it shouldn’t make a difference, but that impressed me even more. I’ve never even held an iPhone before but I can’t imagine it’s the perfect tool for writing stories… Although evidently you’ve put my prejudice to the death.

    Incidentally, I loved the line about Landon Donovan.

    Oh yeah, that’s what I was thinking… A few years ago I was having trouble writing poems. So I went out about bought a tiny little notebook. I think it confined me to about 12 lines per poem, and only about five or ten words per line. It forced me to write differently and those are the best poems I’ve ever written. (Actually, the only good ones…)

    Which makes me wonder if we should all experiment with different input devices when it comes to writing.

    Or am I trying to justify myself buying an iPhone…

    • David, I don’t deserve such compliments.

      I merely strive, as do you, to capture my real experiences. Life on the road. Life itself. The unknowns. I do try to focus on something a little out of the ordinary, which I also focus on as I am living them. I think you and I both do this. We instantly recognize the “literary moments” we’ve stumbled into. No matter how tired, or life weary we may be at the moment, somewhere deep down we’re thinking: “This would make a good short piece,” or “This would go well on TNB,” or, “This would make a whacked out beat poem.”

      Landon Donovan is the cousin of a friend of mine. So I added that as a tribute of sorts.

      I was innovative with writing the first literary Twitter novel ever. So, I feel I have to push boundaries, when I think of them, though I’m sure many others are doing the same.

      I have read poetry and short stories at events and workshops from my iPhone and even conducted class from an iPhone.

      I feel very sci-fi.

      I agree about sometimes we need to confine ourselves in our writing. For me, the iPhone is liberating rather than confining…

      Thanks again for all your words of kindness and discussion.

      • It’s cool that you’re pushing the boundaries like that. I forgot about your Twitter novel when I wrote my original comment. But that’s another great example. Pushing literature along with technology and the modern world. I guess literature is frequently a battle between the old and new.

        Like I said, I’ve never actually held an iPhone. I found that technology hit a point that worked well for me – the laptop. It’s small enough to carry around and big enough for me to feel comfortable with. Then again, I feel a bit bored with writing… I need some new method to help me roll along.

        Actually, I find blogging quite liberating. My Korean blog was often just nonsense, but every now and then something good came through the nonsense, and it would never have been written if I was actually trying to write something like that.

        Twitter, too, seems to squeeze interesting things out of people, and Facebook updates. We’re all so desperate to look clever or funny or flippant or whatever… that we force ourselves to really think about these short bursts of information. I would how much people think about 140 characters on Twitter compared to any given 140 characters in their next novel? (I’m not speculating there, I’m legitimately curious.)

        • I think those of us who studied the Beats so much have a natural gravitation to push boundaries. Kerouac’s continuous roll of paper, and journal-like fashion of gathering information while on the road, seeping in experience, and putting it all to music in his head. Imagine if he had an iPhone, or exploded with 140-character verse.

          We all have to do what we can to stay writing, and stay fit, so our minds don’t stagnate, and so we don’t lose this gift, but rather build upon it, incrementally, as we are able.

          I don’t think the flash fiction brevity of twitter writing has an impact upon prose sentences in a novel. Too much of a difference. I switch on and switch off as I mentally toggle between the two. You?

  17. Belinda Singleton says:

    🙂 great job and written on an iPhone! I also love a short story that mentions pancakes! Mmmm pancakes …

    • I think I had pigs in a blanket that night. I remember seeing a family there. Their kid was being unruly. I giggled. And the pancakes and sausage were yummy. I wish I had some right now. There’s an IHOP right across the street from where I work…

      Thanks for kind words. And thanks to responding from Twitter!

  18. Matt says:

    Damn you, Nick.

    I’ve been intending to write a TNB essay entirely with my iPhone (and if I could get the WordPress app to cooperate, input it directly as well), and you’ve beaten me to the glory of being the first to do so!

    But if I have to be beaten to that particular punch, I’m glad it’s by a piece as well-rendered as this.

    You know, I’ve never once stayed in a hotel that used genuine keys for the doors, just those stupid little cards. Something about that knowledge makes me incredibly sad.

    • I love your new avatar pic, bro. It’s badass.

      I remember actual keys for hotel rooms. I think the late 1980s is the last I can recall using one. Oh, there’s a wordpress app? I am going to have to check that out. In the app I used, I made a text file. Eventually I emailed it to myself and cut and paste. I’m going to have to try the app thingy. Will try to download right now.

      Thanks for your kind words. May you never become a one-eyed shark hunter.

  19. James D. Irwin says:

    I love your stories almost as much as I love the way you tell them.

    And I’m with David on the utter amazement at this being written on an iPhone. I’ve never touched one either, and I can only type on certain keyboards.

    Did it take much longer to write than it would hae done using a conventional method?

    • Hi James! Thanks so much, man! You know, I don’t recall it taking any longer to write. I sat by a Ferris Wheel, then next to a carousel and listened to the music as I wrote about the Scatman Crother-esque guy. It was liberating. No bulky laptop to carry around. I think my fingers moved rather swiftly across the touchscreen. Eventually I think I will just have a touch screen embedded in the palm of my left hand. Life would get even easier and more bizarre. heh.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        Ha, sounds pretty cool.

        I guess I always work on the assumption everyone is as clumsy as I am. I just got a touchscreen phone and I’m so bad at it it’s incredible.

        • Oh they’re not easy. I stumble a lot on them too. The key, I think, with the iPhone for me, is being able to turn the phone sideways, which makes for a more spread out keypad. That, and i have small nimble fingers. What kind of phone do you have?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I have quite short fingers.

          My phone is an LG something-or-other. It was passed on to me after my mum upgraded her phone. I can just about text at a reasonable speed now, but it’s nowhere near as easy as my old phone with proper buttons.

          iPhones are a bit bigger, I think, so the sideways keypad might be a bit easier to use. On mine all the buttons become even smaller.

        • Sounds like a real pain in the ass when you have a phone that makes texting more difficult rather than easier. Bummer. Rob a bank and buy an iPhone. It’s addicting. I’m reaching for mine even as I type. Must hold it. Must pet it. Must look at it. It’s shiny…

  20. PeggyJudy says:

    I can almost smell the old lipstick stained cigarettes and feel the red flocked wallpaper…Vegas, baby!

  21. chingpea says:

    i want to meet the bellhop…

    • He was a nice man. A gentleman in every sense of the word. He was about my height, and was well-mannered in the verse of the hospitality industry. I always enjoy talking to hotel workers, having once worked for a hotel-casino. I even had a conversation with a bellhop at the Golden Nugget when I was there this summer. I remembered him from working there in the late 1990s. We talked about the Lakers. A great conversation before I wandered off to work that day…

      Thanks for commenting. Always love seeing your words!

      • Lea Allen Wankum says:

        Ahhhhh……the tenderness of a one-eyed bellhop. I tend to believe that one-eyed folks do see something that the rest of us can’t get in touch with. We can cry with them over their loss or laugh with them over their silly antics.

        In school once had a young man with Asbergers and a fake eye. He was about 10 years old and always got close to my face to talk. I’d have to tell him to straighten out his eye ’cause it grossed me out if it was crooked. And then while giving the State Test to a group of students who needed special attention, his eye flew out, bounced on the table, he caught it, automatically popped it back in and went on with the test. I flew out the door so I could laugh and cry at the same time. To the young man, it was just as normal as running a race.

        Great, insightful story, Nick!

        • Lea, that story of the one-eyed Asperger’s Syndrome kid is the best I think I ever heard. The poor kid was probably so embarrassed. I hope he was able to look back on that tragic moment and have a laugh. You never know, maybe it helped break the monotony of the test. My heart goes out to that kid wherever he may be. As a father of an Asperger’s kid, and who may be himself, I can only hope that kid has grown as much as my kid has, both socially, academically and as a great person.

          I’m so glad my story could spark one as great as yours. Miss you bunches!

        • Lea Allen Wankum says:

          Wow! Asperger’s kid…..that’s great….they are insightful, sensitive to others and if they can learn to laugh at themselves as that young man (because of his parents), they will have a great life.

          I’ll always remember him and my fondness for him as many other special needs kids I came in contact with….what wonderful memories…..better not feel sorry for myself.

          Miss you, too……Come back soon.

        • If you’ve ever met my oldest boy who is a fiddler and college student then you will have met the most successful Asperger’s person I personally know. The kid is driven to succeed, is a leader, and very kindhearted and insightful as you say.

          I hope to visit in October.

        • Lea Allen Wankum says:

          A fiddler–great! My great-grandpa was a fiddler straight from the Scottish Isles….Thomas Jasper Stewart.

        • See, he sounds great. Did you ever see him perform? Did you know there’s a bagpiper who lives in Bakersfield who once performed for the Queen of England? He’s Irish I believe…

  22. Steve says:

    HAHA Nick. Have you been listening to my Podcasts or something 🙂 The stories I have just from living life and Big Mac screens and dollar menus! Gotta love it. Doesn’t Oedipus mean swollen footed?

    • I don’t recall what Oedipus means. Could be a swollen foot, neck or finger. I’m too lazy to google it and afraid of what I might find. lol. Hey, dollar menus help the world go ’round. And your podcasts are definitely worth a listen too. Been meaning to talk to Mikee about some cross promotion at the vocational college where I’m at. I will hit him up this week.

  23. reno says:

    nick-
    dig this. but you know i dig vegas stories. and those two mickey d’s ur talking about? i know them and i gobbled up many burgers at both of them. see ur in CA now. well, pal, good luck. hope all is well.

    bellhops and burgers,
    reno

    • Anyone who is anyone in Vegas has to know both of those Mcdonalds. I was considering writing an entire story that took place at one of them. Hell, I’ll write it. See how easy I am?

      I got a boatload of Vegas stories in me. And so do you. These fine folks here at TNB have no idea what our combined Sith power of cheesy Vegas stories could be. Oh man.

      Be real. You always are.

  24. Nice piece, Nick. Very thoughtful, good imagery. I never have literary moments in hotels. Once, I was awakened by a drunken wedding guest who couldn’t remember his room number and was trying his key in every room on the floor. This might have made a good mystery, since I was tempted to kill him for waking me. And recently, I went up to see the room I had reserved for my teenaged son and his friend (they were at an Honor Choir event), and found two women in the room. Geez, talk about room service! I have no idea what kind of story that would make, but Child Protective Services would probably be contacting me about it.

    • Gayle, you are too nice to kill anyone. Well, except your sarcasm. It’s so sharp sometimes it can kill. And that’s a compliment. That’s why you’re such a good writer I think, because you have such an incredible sense of humor that you capture in every comment, Facebook post, etc.

      Two women in the room?? Good grief, I hope they were at least super hot or something!

      I wonder if that happened to my kid when he was in Honor Choir. I’m going to have to ask him. 😀

      • They were nurses, who looked to be in their 30’s somewhere. I wouldn’t say they were hot, but I’m not a teenaged boy. The hotel had given them the wrong room, so they were on their way out, but we were all pretty surprised when I opened the door!

        • I can just imagine the looks on everyone’s faces. I bet the hotel was pretty embarrassed about that mess up. Makes me wonder how often that happens.

          I have to admit I’m one of those idiots who always jiggles the wrong door. I’ll get off on the wrong floor and think I’m at the right door. I need GPS in my brain. But that would probably just make me talk funny while traveling.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Love your humour, Gayle.

  25. “I tried not to look at the scar where his eye had been. But who can help staring into mystery?”

    Love this! Intriguing piece Nick. Keep writing ’em!

    • Now, if I could just get another poem out of you. You’re a way better poet than I am.

      • Thanks Nick! If only I could get my head back into a poetic mode for more than one night a week. My weekly poetry gathering is the only place I write because it was my idea to do a weekly writing exercise…but after that my mind is churning on the wheel of this journalism thing I’m doing now. Maybe I need to read more of your stuff to get into a different headspace. Yeah…I’ll do that. Keep writing. There are poems in here. I know there are. They peek out every Friday.

        • I’m the same. I really need to get my head more into poetry. I am working on a project with the Arts Council of Kern. I write poetry and photographers take photos, and vice verse. It’s fun and I feel like my poetic prowess is growing. What’s the journalism you’re doing?

  26. Erica says:

    Thank you for sending me the link! Your great at painting a picture for a reader!! Vegas is my hometown and I always think of it outside the hotel & casinos. When I read your story I could see that part of Vegas from a visitors perspective.

    • Thanks Erica. I think I have seen Vegas from every angle having lived there twice. Working making animated features for the Fremont Street Experience was the weirdest angle to see it from that’s for sure. Loved those days back in the late 1990s. Lots of creativity and downtown weirdness. The city seems to have transformed so much. But then, maybe it just always is.

  27. mickey Irish says:

    You usual greatness. Don’t you get tired of all the complements LOL, you know your already one of my favorite writers. Now to get you to critique something of mine. Once I get enough nerve to finish rewriting and rewriting it LOL – Love your work Mickey Irish

    • Mickey Irish!! How ever would I get sick of compliments? No matter how undeserving they may be I will take a compliment where I can get it and even cash it in at the bank if I can!

      Oh please get the nerve. Writing is sharing. And I give encouragement and compliments in return!

      Rewriting does take forever, doesn’t it? I have entire novels I’m not happy with, and so the rewriting continues…

  28. Cindy says:

    The capturing of human response……

  29. KayK says:

    Great piece, very descriptive! My favorite though is “big glittering sagging bitch” … makes me think of a fabulous drag queen.

    • I think Vegas personified would have to be one. Think of all the sequins, rings and lights she would wear in the stage rendition of “I Am Ms. Vegas.” Her makeup would be fabulous.

  30. Zara Potts says:

    I love your use of words here Nick and the imagery of the discarded casino signs. Did you take a photo of those use? For some reason, I can see them in my mind’s eye.
    Although we were only in Vegas for a day and night, I found it to be one of the more haunted places we went to. For all it’s glitz and gaudy charm it felt like a hard and ultimately lonely city to me. There must be a million stories lurking in that town.

  31. DCR says:

    I love that your words help us stand on the cliff of emotions with our toes hanging out over the edge. It is interesting that your characters strike a familiar chord, bringing us into their space and mystery. Call it imagery or a time-space-mind connection, the folks you describe seem very real and bring me, at least, shoulder-to-shoulder with them. I could reach out and pat the bellhop on arm with some sort of small effort to comfort.

    Thank you for another really good story.

    Best wishes

    • Thanks DCR. Your ability to analyze my writings always brings me new insight about myself I didn’t realize. for instance, you wrote “cliff of emotions with our toes hanging out over the edge,” which I wasn’t sure if I was capturing. But you helped me realize that there was emotion in a moment of just wanting a door open. And it really was worth writing about.

      Thanks so much.

  32. Patty Wonderly says:

    I want to interview the bellhop. What’s his story? Where’d his eye go? I’m glad you’re outta there. Your writing sort of creeps me out from when you were there. Which means the mood you were going for succeeded…which is a good thing, I think. Anyway. I’m glad you’re in Irvine and writing about riding dolphins and seeing mermaids. My imagination is much happier now.

    • You know I love and appreciate your encouragement so much. I miss everyone at the Random Writers Workshop so much. Those Wednesdays were so uplifting and helped rejuvenate me from that hellish Las Vegas landscape.

      I do have a few more Vegas pieces I plan on posting, including a whopper of a finale I already finished writing on an iPhone. I may write 10 pieces altogether, but only post a few online, and also tell some stories from the late 90s as well.

      This weekend is the Tall Ships Festival in Dana Point. I’m really looking forward to the cannon battles. Now that’s some good writing material!

      Unless I get hit by a cannonball. :/

  33. Robin says:

    Oedipus! Such a strange name, but I love how easy it is to spell. I learned about so many mythical creatures in high school I couldn’t recall specifically the one to which you were referring. Wikipedia filled me in, and I was instantly able to recall with photographic memory the black-and-white photocopied paper on which I had read the story in summer school seven years ago. Strange story.

    Such an interesting story, Nick. I would not have been able to resist looking and thinking about it in my head, wondering what had happened to his eye. Walked past a guy with an eye patch once when I was young, and I started to stare and point, but my mom stopped me. Was rude, I guess, but how would I know? I had never seen a guy with an eye patch before.

    I don’t travel very often, so I don’t have any hotel horror stories. Guess I should start traveling and go look for some horror stories.

    • Smallest man in the world & Man with no face….

      Thanks for commenting, Robin! Love when you do. You have a unique perspective, which is what I appreciate most from you.

      For some reason two things come to mind when reading your comment, as your words sparked some other images: people I have seen and strange occurrences.

      The first happened this weekend. I was reading news on my phone when I came across a news story on the shortest man alive. He is less than two feet tall and I really felt for him and his negative life experiences, complaining that people always pick him up. At the same time, I wondered what meeting such a tiny person would be like. Would we have a normal conversation? Or would we talk about people and perceptions? Later that day when I was at the Irvine Spectrum, which is this big outdoor mall, I was walking through a crowd when there came a motorized wheelchair. In it was a tiny man, less than two feet tall, and about my age.

      I didn’t say anything to him as he passed so fast. And then I remembered that I sort of knew him, as many years ago he went to the same high school as me! His name is Guy. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t chase after him. But I’m also happy to know that the smallest man in the world isn’t the dude in that major news story, but is someone obviously smaller, older, and who I once knew as an acquaintance. And he drives really fast!

      Bizarre.

      The second story took place in Baltimore a few years ago. I was wandering around exploring as I like to do among the big city brick buildings and alleyways, when I happened upon a trash-strewn street with some homeless people on it. I can’t explain it any other way, than I suddenly saw a man without a face. I had a really crappy cell phone at the time, pulled it out and shot some video. But he had already hurried past: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqaHC4ePN6A.

      Who was he? Where was his face? He had eyes. But that’s all I saw. Just eyes…

      • Robin says:

        You’d think that, given how bored I was today, I would have remembered to respond to this sooner. Oops. Well, all that really matters is that I’m contributing to the comments. 🙂

        That is such an interesting story about the smallest man in the world and your encounter with a smaller man with whom you went to high school. That’s so weird. I’m trying to imagine exactly how small and stalky someone like that might look. It’s truly a testament to how small the world really is, though. I’ve heard my fair share of small-world stories from my dad, so I don’t need any convincing.

        Strange and bizarre that you ran across a man with no face. Only you could run across something like that. I imagine the man without a face the same way as you would see a black cat in a dark area; its eyes will eerily stare you down, but you can’t see the rest of its mysterious body. Hmmm…

        Checked out the video last night. Interesting stuff. Well, I’m off to do my nightly chores before it gets too cold and dark.

  34. Richard Cox says:

    I believe the last piece I read of yours smoked with this sort of dystopian world view and I loved that as well. I probably mentioned it before but I see a lot of Philip K Dick in your work, if not the creepy paranoia, at least the modern, florescent world slowly disintegrating. And the unique minor characters you find and describe so well.

    Plus, the fact that you wrote the whole thing on an iPhone only solidifies by PKD leanings. Good work!

    • I love real dystopian explorations. Being a fan of such themes in literature and film since a teenager in the 80s. Of course, I am nothing but overjoyed that you pick up on such themes, my intentional themes. I don’t think anyone else has really picked up on that obvious sense of a Blade Runner-esque world that we live in and share… And so i thank you!

      I really feel like I’m in a sci-fi novel when I sit with my headphones on blasting Arcade Fire and typing away like a madman such dystopian stories on my iPhone. especially when I am in a multicultural atmosphere next to a rusted carousel…

  35. Susan Reep says:

    Being a wordy person, I marvel at how much you can say in such a small story. I think I had that experience at the Comfort Inn outside of Denver, with the manager instead of a bellhop. The manager had two eyes but I don’t think they helped him to see any better. As usual, I like the story. I like most everything you write.

    • Lol! Susan, you are so funny! haha. “The manager had two eyes but I don’t think they helped him to see any better” is better than any line I’ve written lately. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that or I would have snorted it outta my nose.

      Thank you for your compliment too. It’s been wonderful working with you lately for the Arts Council of Kern.

  36. D.R. Haney says:

    The killer awoke before dawn
    He put his boots on
    And he walked on down the hall…

    It’s a pity, in one way, Nick, that you no longer live in Vegas, since it was so fruitful for you as a writer. This is one of the more evocative pieces I’ve read at TNB of late.

    • What are you trying to send me to my doom?? Just kidding. Thanks Duke. I have Vegas stories coming out my ears I have so many from both times I lived there. I’ll churn some more out. It’s just too bad I didn’t run into Reno there. That would have been a much different story to write. Would have been all NFL and babe talk while shooting at gangsters during a heist of a 7-11 Slurpee machine. Or something cool like that.

      I like being evocative. Call me Nick Evocative.

      You’re right. I think this piece has a bit of “the killer awoke before dawn” in it. Funny the things that are obvious that weren’t obvious when I wrote them.

  37. Simon Smithson says:

    Dear Nick Evocative,

    So grim, these Vegas stories of yours! All the grimmer for the shiny illusion that they are wrapped in. I think they’re among my favourite pieces on TNB; there’s a blurring of the line between dreams and reality to them, even if that isn’t always a comfortable meeting…

    • Simon, that is the ultimate compliment. I am both shocked and honored. One more nice word and i will actually cry like the baby I am.

      I’m about the farthest from a TNB rock star, and so I thank you, as half the reason I’m even writing this series is to cleanse the system and heal myself of the desert toxin.

      I was once bit by a black widow and almost died as a result. And living in the desert was nearly the same. I did walk into a few of their webs there too.

      I’m glad you caught on to my use of the dream-reality texture.

  38. Jessica Blau says:

    BRAVO! Great piece! (And I’m impressed with your iphone typing skills!)

  39. Erika Rae says:

    Loved this line:

    Unlit bulbs in the thousands rimmed the dozens of signs, evidence that history’s lights wink and go out in the bleak asphalt desert.

    You are the imagery king.

  40. You are the master of description and this short is no different. I loved reading about the bellboy but have to wonder if you ever got in that room? We stayed in a place similar to that one night. The prostitute who walked into our room had a key that worked better than ours!

    • Hi Kissa! Thank you for your kindness. Such nice words are so uplifting. Thank you.

      My key did work when I got back to the room. I was finally able to gaze out the window and plop onto the bed and fall into immediate slumber

      A prostitute walked in on you?? Oh man, that’s crazy!

  41. I was waiting for you to be completely inappropriate but badass and ask if you could like touch his scar. Yeah, I wouldn’t have either, but I’m sure the ripply scar flesh and knowing you were touching the hollow of a man’s eye would have been hella supernatural. I can imagine that the story behind it is tragic, but the will to live despite is most triumphant. Bravo, Nick. Another gem in prose…

  42. Sam! says:

    This was neat! But the Nick I know would have just been like, “Dude, where’s your eye? You’re creepin’ me out, man.” But then we would have gotten a whole different story from this one. So maybe it’s best that you were decent and civil, since this was great!

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