Jack swirled the ice in the glass and glanced into the bar’s mirror. Reflections of people having the time of their lives were all-pervasive – the hum and clatter of slot machines filled his ears. There was something about Vegas! Sure, it wasn’t the rat-pack romance of the fifties, but beneath the stylized, packaged decadence the seediness was still palpable. Vegas was a turd that had been polished, shone, and spun to pure brilliance. Everything about Sin City fascinated him. From the one-armed bandits that stood waiting to accost the unwary as they entered the Casino, to the girl at the end of the bar who, despite her perfectly applied makeup still bore the haze of a five o’clock shadow. Jack watched as she delicately sipped her wine, noticed the telltale trace of an Adam’s apple that bobbed greedily as she drank. He smiled again. God he loved this place, although God had very little to do with it – the devil’s playground and he was determined to have one hell of a good time.
Life had been kind to Jack – over the last couple of years the dealership had really taken off thanks to regular clientele with more money than sense, who were eager to splurge on unnecessary luxury vehicles. The ensuing success had led to more money, a bigger house, a faster car…all the trappings of a self-made man. When his marriage had collapsed and he’d parted from his wife of twenty years he’d felt utterly defeated. Having to leave behind his son and everything that went along with belonging to the ‘Mr.and Mrs Institution’ had propelled him into the bottom of a bottle. Fortunately an intervention from the last of his friends had put him on the right path and ultimately the bar stool on which he now sat.
He watched as couple of pert twenty-somethings traipsed by in short skirts and heels, clicked his tongue in appreciation and motioned for another drink. Yes, life in the fast lane was definitely preferable and being able to spend quality time with his only son was fantastic. Sam had recently turned eighteen and was now capable of making his own decisions, which was why the two of them had jetted off into the sun – a good looking, shy boy, who reminded him a lot of himself. So far they’d raced buggies over the dunes, bungee-jumped and even enjoyed a helicopter ride above The Strip. He felt he’d a lot to make up for, and now that he was flush with cash and minted in success he was able to mend fences and build bridges. He glanced at his watch, the phosphorescence of the hands glowing in the half gloom of casino lighting. It was nearly seven; he was supposed to meet Sam at eight.
The bar tender splashed drink into his glass and onto the counter whilst dexterously scooping up the dollar bill in one easy practiced motion; grinning he reached for his drink. The telephone lying on the bar started to vibrate. Wiping his hand across his mouth he picked it up, flicked it open, and read the text.
Right on time. Everything was coming together.
His mother had been wrong about his father; he really wasn’t the bastard she’d made him out to be.
Vegas was a gas.
The fun hadn’t stopped since they’d disembarked the aircraft two days ago. His father had the energy of a man half his age and he’d enjoyed the time they’d spent together. They hadn’t discussed his mother or the divorce, in fact, if anything, they’d just picked up from where they’d left off all those years ago – as though nothing had ever happened. New cards, new chances; a fresh page in what was turning out to be a great read.
Steam rose from his body and condensed on the glass as Sam stepped out of the shower. He was running late, meeting with his father – they were going to dinner and then on to some comedy show. His father had promised him the best steak of his life.
Another night, another good time.
Sam thought he heard a knock on the door and turned down the radio. The knock came again. His Dad was early and he wasn’t even dressed. Wrapping a towel around himself he padded over the thick carpet and swung open the door expecting to see his father.
It wasn’t him.
Pulling the towel tighter around himself and skulking behind the door, Sam stuttered an apology. In front of him stood a petite, crimson-lipped brunette with beautiful wide eyes, dressed in a short, black, cocktail dress and holding what looked to be a very expensive handbag.
“I’m so sorry to bother you,” she said, “but I’ve lost my key and I really need to make a phone call… my mother, you know? She’ll be worried.”
“Of course, of course,” stuttered Sam, half listening but registering the distress in her voice. He opened the door to allow her in, standing back as the beautiful stranger entered and closed the door behind her.
She held out her hand, “I’m Cynthia.”
Sam struggled to hold on to his towel. “Sam,” he mumbled, amazed at what was happening. Only in Vegas, he thought. “I’m really sorry. I just got out of the shower. I’m meeting my father. We’re going for dinner.” The brunette span around ignoring his explanations and widened her eyes. “Oh, the telephone. It’s over there by the bed. I’ll just…” and he gesticulated towards the bathroom.
“Thank you so much. I really appreciate this, and I know my mother will be pleased to hear from me.” She brushed a manicured hand across Sam’s shoulder and smiled her gleaming thanks.
“No trouble. No trouble at all,” said Sam, as he backed himself into the bathroom and shut the door. What the heck was going on? He looked at his disheveled reflection and then horrified, realized his clothes were still in the bedroom. A voice shouted its thanks, and he heard the hotel door room bang shut. She must have gone? He was supposed to meet his dad in less than fifty minutes – he needed to shift his arse and get his shit in order.
He rubbed himself vigorously, discarded the towel, opened the bathroom door and walked back into the bedroom. Paralyzed, he came to a dead stop. The girl hadn’t left but instead had stripped down to a pair of white panties and pumps, and lay lounged across his king-sized bed. Visibly aroused Sam was at a loss what to do next. Sure he’d kissed a few girls in his time but that was the extent of his experience. The girl smiled and beckoned him to the bed – her ruby lips oozed sex, her eyes flashed desire. Sam moved towards her. He was dreaming, this couldn’t be happening? What about his dad? A thousand thoughts flooded his head as the stranger reached out and pulled him towards her.
The one thing Jack had discovered was that money could get you anything. Whoever said money couldn’t buy a little happiness didn’t have any. He glanced at the Swiss time piece once more; it was eight thirty. No rush he thought, Sam would be down soon enough. Besides, if he couldn’t use his money to spread a little joy what kind of father would he be. The telephone buzzed on the bar once more.
“Thanks Jack. Hope to see you both again soon.”
He motioned to the bartender one more time. Vegas…you had to love it!