HE NIGHT BEGAN as a bad idea. After that it was all downhill.
I had comp days from the Circle K coming up, and Chuck had started to make noise earlier in the week about going out to Tyronnasaurus Mex on Saturday night. T-Mex was our old party HQ, a place that five years previously should have charged every goddamn one of us rent. It was the only club in all Vegas besides the Sports Pig that offered punk or “alternative” music for its patrons…it was the only one where the underbelly of Vegas really came into its own element.
The drudgery of our post-Unloved (re: UNLV) lives was a bitter pill even I was starting to taste everyday…a taste that no amount of free malt liquor, free Hustlers and free nachos could wash away.
The drudgery of our post-Unloved (re: UNLV) lives was a bitter pill even I was starting to taste everyday…a taste that no amount of free malt liquor, free Hustlers and free nachos could wash away. So a night at the old stomping grounds didn’t sound so terrible.
The plan may well have fallen apart of its own weight, but the very next day I got a call from ‘Tasha, another of our psychic kibbutz’ dark and brooding hipsters, rapidly degenerating into some form of maturity.
“Hey Pablo? Wanna hang at T-Mex tomorrow?”
“Hey yeah, funny you should ask…”
The plan was locked in. Chuck, Nicole and I would meet up with Natasha for a buffet dinner at the Palace Station, and then head over to the club to meet up with some other members of our extended kibbutz, Mary and Samantha. ‘Tasha wasn’t crazy about the idea of hanging with Chuck.
“C’mon, it’ll be fine for dinner. Nicole will be there, so he’ll be on his best behavior. Really, he’s not as bad as he used to be.”
“I don’t know...”
“C’mon Natasha! It’ll be fun. We’ll talk about the old days. You only have to put up with him until we get to the Mex. How bad could it be?”
I’m still not sure how I got that line to work on her, but within five minutes of taking our table at the Palace Station on Friday night, I learned how bad it could be.
“So how’ve you been squid?”
Immediately she was up and storming out of the restaurant, with me in tow, desperately trying to bring her back, but not before I shot Chuck my patented “fucking asshole” glare.
I caught up to her just outside the casino. “Don’t go ‘Tash!” I pleaded like the pathetic little club kid I always used to be. She was a beautiful girl, a dead ringer for a young Demi Moore, but about thirty five pounds heavier, alternately cursed and blessed with a natural swimmer’s body.
I really wanted her to stay because late in the week I had got it in my mind, after the plan was made, that finally, I would be willing to go to bed with her. I used to think I couldn’t sleep with a woman, much less a friend who was that heavy, but recent years had seen me working more of the beggar’s angle and less of the chooser’s. My own god given body was no prize itself, and my horniness was starting to become a lot louder than my superficial judgments.
“Why?” she fired back. “Why should I put up with that self-righteous prick tonight, when I would just rather have a good time with you and Mary and Sam? Didn’t I tell you I didn’t want to hang out with Chuck?”
“This was supposed to be a reunion,” I whined. “I just thought we could keep it together for the old group’s sake tonight. C’mon, just tell Chuck where he can stuff his bullshit and eventually it’ll just drop.” It was a precarious pitch…but it worked. With the stiff porcelain facade Natasha put on her face, I knew it could fall apart at any moment.
“Chuck, why do you have to call me that shit?” she fired at him as soon as she returned. I knew Nicole would have asked him a more diplomatic version of that question while we were gone from the table, and I knew Chuck’s answer very well:
“Well, because you are a squid.”
But this time he didn’t say it. This time he said, “I didn’t mean for you to take it all personal and stuff” as if what he really meant to say was “it’s my cute nickname for you.” ‘Tash was particularly insecure about her natural body and the extra weight and curves frequently associated with it, yet she knew Chuck well enough to know that this was the closest he would come to an apology.
Dispatches from Atlantis #8 continues...