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Had an adventure of your own while vectoring across some part of the U.S.? Share it here! Write a short description or story (500 to 1,000 words) and I'll post it here if it captures the spirit of Daz and Alex's trip--that is, something unexpected, something learned, meeting someone interesting, etc.

For inspiration, here's the story of their visit to Las Vegas:

Daz and Alex Do Vegas

You have to hand it to these Vegas casino owners. They put the grinderia in the very back of the casino, down by the parking garage, so you have to walk through the entire casino before you can eat. There's all these flashing lights and slot machines so you might drop a fiver just getting to the cafeteria and another fiver trying to get out of the place. Boom, a twelve-buck dinner turns a ten dollar profit. But then the low ceilings and the dark and the flashing colored lights and the whole feeling of being in Hell might cause you to fritz out and start ranting about Abe Lincoln or something and then the bouncers would move in like piranhas, grab you, stuff you in a duffel bag, poink you with Valium and then ship you back to L.A. after making sure your room tab is even.

But twelve bucks for all the food you can eat is a sure loser when Alex is tromping up to the buffet, so we follow the screaming brats in front of us down these long hallways and then we finally get to the grinderia which was designed by the same guys who make school cafeterias only this time they had the room to really stretch out and uglify a whole basement.

Half the people in line should be behind a plow, working off the lard they're already carrying, but no, they're here, picking up a little piece of lettuce and one slice of tomato and then rushing for the roast beef and turkey and the desserts. What the hell, I didn't even bother with the one chunk of iceberg lettuce, I went straight for the beef and gravy. Alex is a better eater, "my body is a temple of the gods," et cetera, so he takes lettuce, sliced beets, sprouts, lots of carrot and celery sticks and a few olives, and then he goes for the sliced turkey and some Chinese style chicken which he pronounces "Okay" after four pieces went gravitational. The desserts look better than they taste but then I could only eat two, a cream puff and a cherry tart.

I'm Joe Tuba after one turn but Alex loads up again and the owners are really losing gitas on this deal. I scan the room for 501s and spot a couple and that keeps me occupied until Alex is done and we can vector.

It's about midnight and the air is finally cooler and we're walking down the Strip spocking the lights and all the people. It's like the United Nations of Regular People convenes here every day. We're almost back to the Sands when we spock a couple of guys about our age trying to push a big old Chrysler into a parking lot. People are honking at them because they're blocking traffic; Alex nudges me and says, "let's go help them."

I'm afraid I'm going to hit the vomitorium if I bend over, not to mention push a three-ton car, but Alex and I help the two guys push and I see there's two girls in the front seat. It turns out the transpo just went four paws to the sky for no known reason, it's gassed and charged. The two couples seem nice so Alex and I, spliff mechanics, right, pop the hood and see what we can do.

The thing is dead as a can of tuna, it's dark and there's nothing we can see that's wrong. I look over at Alex and he says, "Maybe we should give them a ride home." I agree it's the least we can do, so he brings the Cruiser around and they pile in the back seat and we're off to their friends' apartment.

We drive up to this concrete block building and I already know which apartment is their friends'. The ground floor unit's door is wide open and people are sitting on the doorstep holding brewkowskis. We can hear the bass thumping and people laughing, and then the guy who owns the old Chrysler invites us to spend the night since it's a two bedroom apartment and the friend who's renting it works all night anyway.

I'm wary, maybe it's instinct, but Alex says, "Okay" and the gig is launched. We go in and the lanky Chrysler man hands us two brewkowskis, then we find a spot near the front door and sit down. There's lots of girls at this party, so even though I'm tired it's okay.

There's a raised voice outside and a sudden hush so we poke our heads out the front door. Some middle-aged Mexi with a pot belly and a Western style button-up shirt is standing in front of Chrysler Man and his girlfriend, and Chrysler Man is telling him, "Sorry, man, but you gotta leave," and the guy answers back with with some jank about "We're brothers, man," and it's obvious he is King Widget drunk.

Chrysler Man is hotwired by now and he grabs his girlfriend and says, "Let's call the cops," and that sets the drunk off on a riff. "So that's how you treat a brother, man. Call the cops on him, huh."

Then the drunk spocks Alex and I get this chill that crawls up my back because I know, uh-oh, the mojo is cranking because Alex is here and the griff is going to hit like a wildfire.

Sure enough, the drunk lurches over to Alex and says, "I know Jose Padrone, man, he's my brother and you're my brother, too."

Alex hates these situations, he doesn't know how to deal with crazies, so he just turns away and acts like he doesn't see the guy. Does this work? Yah. You know the answer. It just winds the guy up more.

"So you don't think I'm a brother, huh?" the guy tells Alex. He's swaying just like a big pine tree in a wind, slowly but creaking so you're not sure if it'll fall over. "I'm Jose Padrone's brother, man, and he shakes my hand." Then the guy extends his hand to Alex and says, "Shake a brother's hand, man."

Alex still doesn't look at the guy but he points to me and says, "He's the Mexican."

This also doesn't work, and the drunk insists again on Alex shaking his hand. "Is this how you treat a brother? You won't even shake his hand?"

"I'm not your brother," Alex says, and I'm getting tense because Alex might punch the guy's lights out just to shut him up and then we'll be in jail with a bunch of drunks and I'll have to get my Dad to bail us out.

Chrysler Man is standing behind me gassing the scene and I ask him, "Who is this guy?" and he answers, "I don't know, he just wandered up."

The drunk says, "Okay, man. I'll leave if you shake my hand." Alex says, "I'm not your brother, pal," and he turns to leave.

This womps the guy's volume to ten and he starts shouting out this same griff about how his Mexican brother won't shake his hand and everyone gets silent. Chrysler Man says, "I called the cops," but my cousin is a cop so I know they might not come if there's deeper action playing somewhere else, which seems likely in Las Vegas. I turn to Alex and tell him, "Just shake the asshole's hand so we can get rid of him."

Alex looks like he'd rather rip my head off than shake this guy's hand, so I say, "You can't whack him, we'll get busted." Everyone is looking at Alex and waiting for him to do something, anything, to adios this drunk.

So Alex caves in, grabs the guy's hand and pushes him back toward the front door. Then he lets go of the drunk and wipes his hand on his jeans. "Okay," the drunk says. "My brother shook my hand, but he wasn't very friendly. Is that how you treat a brother?" The guy is teetering on the front door sill so I say, "Bye," and close the door on him. The door pushes him the rest of the way out and he's standing out there, gibbering.

Chrysler Man is at the window and he says, "He's doing something. Cut the lights so we can see outside." The lights click off and we all gather at the window to see what griff Mr. Brother is laying down now.

He gathers up all the beer cans and bottles the party left outside and lines then up in a row on the concrete in front of the door. He's still mumbling some major loco-moco but he drifts off out of sight and there's a big sigh of relief.

After a minute we go outside but the drunk is gone. His line of empty beers is still standing guard, so I start picking up the cans and bottles and carry them to the kitchen.

This gig has scorched the atmosphere and people are quiet. Talk about a commercial against alcoholism. Nobody feels like drinking anymore after we've seen the zombie you become later. I'm feeling claustrophobic in this little living room with a dozen people so I tell Alex, "I'm sitting out by the Cruiser for awhile," and he nods and says, "Me too."

We'd parked the Lancer out on the street because the lot was full. We lean against the hood and watch people drift outside again and I'm about to say, "I don't know about you, but I've had enough for one night," when a black Jeep squeals into the parking lot and four guys jump out. They scan the people leaning against the wall and then go inside.

About five seconds later they come out again pushing a blond guy who's yelling something like, "You started it, Neal," and then one of the Jeep guys punches him full in the gut. The guy doubles over and hits the ground and Neal seems satisfied, but then the blond guy rolls over on his knees and springs up at Neal, who screams and I see the sharp glint of a blade, and Neal is holding his face.

Neal's pals start kicking the blond punk and he's swishing the knife trying to slash their legs. Chrysler Man comes over and tries to pull one of the guys off Blondy and he gets punched in the mouth. Three other guys come out of the room and jump in and then the cop cars swerve around the corner and they're in the lot, lights flashing, and a voice booms out, "Freeze. Do not move," and two cops jump out and their backup car has a man out behind his car door with his roscoe aimed and ready, and I am solid ice because somebody will get shot right now if they make the wrong move.

Nobody makes a wrong move, they freeze in mid-punch, and the cops move in and frisk everybody and then they start cuffing guys and loading everyone into the back seats. An ambulance screams up a few minutes later and Neal, whose hands and face are all bloody, is helped into the back and the ambulance hauls derriere. A third squad car pulls in and loads up, the cops question the girls and the few guys who stayed out of it, and then all the cop cars vector. The few people left after all this action stand around about a minute and then they jump into a Toyota and vector.

The apartment is dark so Alex and I go over to check it out. The front door is closed but it's not locked, so we go inside. It's silent as a classroom at Christmas. Everyone's gone. My adrenaline has pumped itself out and I feel really tired, so I say, "Why don't we crib here? Nobody's going to mind," and Alex agrees. So we go get our gear and take over the empty bedroom.

I lie awake for just a minute, everything that's happened in just one day rushing through my brain, from packing the Cruiser in the driveway to saying goodbye to Old Man Ching to Hendrix in the desert to slot machines to white lions to cherry tarts to talkative drunks to knife fights and cops to silence.

See what I mean about Alex? He swears it's me, but it's him. This griff never happens when I'm alone.

The next morning I wake up and Alex is still asleep, so I get up and look around. There's a guy sleeping in the other bedroom and I figure it's Chrysler Man's friend, the one who rents the place. There's no one else around, so I quietly shake Alex out of the dead zone, pack up our stuff and we tiptoe out the door to the Cruiser. I wonder if the guy even knew we were cribbing in his place. We drive back to the Strip and stumble through the casino again for an "all you can eat" breakfast.

We both drink a lot of coffee with the scrambled eggs and pancakes, and eventually we track out of the robot mode and feel ready to face our second day on the road.

All content and coding copyright © 2005-6 by Charles Hugh Smith, all rights reserved

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