These days, he’s a corpse. An automaton crookedly shambling down the migraine-inducing neon strip, wrinkled suit wet from stale liquor and sweat. He squints while trying to bring her lazy image into focus. An out-of-focus apparition makes him lose track of time. The face of his watch suffers a splinter from his most recent bender.
‘Lo and behold, there she is, amongst the sea of tourists and one-day marriage lovebirds, with that handsome magazine man by her stick-thin side. Mafia, he suspects, by the way he’s packing, by his bravado, his clean-cut face hidden by aviators, and the swell of his side hiding a polished caliber.
But he doesn’t know.
He never does.
Paranoia makes him sick. The Vegas sun scrambles his brains, fries his intestines, and scorches his neck Republican Red. His jaw wears down, teeth grinding like rusted gears trying to work after too much aggravated misuse. Parched, he pines for another shot, another swill of liquid fire to eat him alive.
The slit in her dress raises the stakes, exposes a pale, ivory thigh, and offers a nauseating hunger. In the electric distance, she smiles. It’s not for him. He hates that she ruined him, annihilated him, and tore him asunder with no reprieve.
His dry, bleary eyes linger on the chiseled Adonis who pretends to keep it cool despite the nagging heat. She laughs, the sound tinny and shrill. He curls his splintered nails into his calloused palm. Worn, flopping soles catch dirt and stone, the residue of vomit and scandal to tarnish this licentious boulevard.
So, he leaves Cleopatra in the street (it was never her name) and slinks into Caesar’s Palace, his wallet full of bullet holes and burning ships.