In yesterday’s post Too Old to be This Young, I told you all that I was staying with some buddies in The El Cortez Hotel.
The El Cortez.
The armpit of Las Vegas.
In fact, it doesn’t even deserve to be called the armpit of Vegas. It’s more like a hanging wart on the armpit of Las Vegas.
I’m sorry, but I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about El Cortez right now. I mean, it was dirty, and it was smelly, and it was fun to make jokes about murder and death while we walked the halls.
But then the incident with the blood-covered towel happened, and shit became real.
Pardon my French.
But I’m trying not to lose my lunch here, and I’m not doing a very good job of it.
When we first checked into our shared hotel room, I noticed a peculiar stench. It wasn’t quite the stench of death. It was more the stench of what was once death, covered with cheap whiskey, covered with B.O., covered with sex smells, covered with old fried chicken, covered with more B.O., and covered with nursing home.
With the smell that hit us, I was 100% absolutely positively certain there had to be a decaying body under the bed, so I looked. Nothing there but an old pair of granny panties that had long before become infused into the carpet. I think I saw whiskers protruding from one of the leg holes, but nothing that would account for the smell. After a thorough search, I decided it must just be the permanent smell that has long ago become part of the wallpaper.
And, then we crashed (which was when I wrote yesterday’s post), and by the time we had ventured back out again and spent a couple hours hitting the roulette table, we were part of El Cortez.
The smell no longer smelled like anything.
The décor no longer seemed dilapidated.
Eighty-year old diseased and eager prostitutes became attractive temptations for us.
We were more or less fluent in Chinese, the only language the dealers there seem to speak.
And, our disgusting crap-hole room seemed like a luxury suite.
That is El Cortez. The hanging wart on the armpit of Vegas. Stay there a few nights sometime. You’ll be amazed how your perception of acceptable reality changes when you’re throwing dice next to homeless people who have bathed much more recently than the men with the derelict tuxedos and long sticks behind the craps tables.
On day two, my buddy AJ had lost too much money in El Cortez, so he decided to head off to another casino and play some poker, a game he’s truly great at.
At that point, we were all on cloud zero after having stashed more than 100 entry-cards as a group into a drawing that was held that morning. There were five chances to win. We knew we would win. We had plans of what to do with the money as a group when we did win. We could smell the win. We could taste the win.
We didn’t win.
My friend Brian, as they started spinning the wheel, pointed to a toothless hillbilly with hiked up semi-transparent shorts standing in front of us and said, “I guarantee he’ll win.”
Less than a minute later the hillbilly was jumping up and down screaming about his five hundred dollar prize. And I can’t blame him. Five hundred dollars buys a lot of squirrel jerky.
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