It's a hard town, that Vegas, and you learn early on not to fall for the glitz and the glam; because everything that sparkles in the desert sure as shit ain't gold. Still, when those cold night winds blow, a man is only a man...
Vegas Bride by Steven Prusky
I was on my second week as new swing shift bartender at the Vegas Lounge. My shift had ended. It was two in the morning; the guerilla-faced, old bitch who’d taken over comped me Tangueray and tonics to keep her company while I lost my ass at the video slots. Then Sully, the girl with a scandalous grin and smack back slits for eyes, walked in as if she were Cinderella after midnight, both shoes still on, sprung on rocks, hunting for her princely trick. I stumbled with lust at the sight of her; I thought, any man worth his testosterone would slash his wrists for a chance to swim in those eyes.
She slid up to the stool next to me, oozing of everything carnal.
She exuded sex sitting, standing, laughing. . . She manufactured pheromones on command; tried to cast a hypnotic spell on me when she said, “Give me a kiss, babe. I’ll be your Vegas bride!” She moaned a kitten’s purr and sucked my tongue long and hard tugging at its roots; it was always the first move of her game.
Sully needed no help from Frederick’s of Hollywood to advertise her wares. Braless, she was firm and pert. A loose gold leaf shimmering top tickled her nipples taut as if she were a Chevy with its brights on. Her hair, black as night, was full and straight, her shoulders square, her tawny complexion clear, and those eyes gleamed come on smiles of invitation. Tight fitting white denim jeans accentuated her curvy hips, which swayed like a snake slithering along the barroom floor. Well-worn three-inch heeled, knee-high black boots embellished her lean, built-for-speed body. It was clear she had dedicated long semesters to earning her street degree.
As a bartender in Vegas getting women free is easy; getting free of them is not. Caution ruled my judgment whenever I was near any available woman in this town. When it came to women like Sully, I never paid. Falling for a hooker is to jones for a fix, volunteer for servitude, cash in your soul at a discount. I said to Sully, “I never pay for it, honey. I can give you a roll of quarters and the comp drink that goes with it. What you win we split.”
“Works for me,” she said.
This was Fremont and Eastern: crack alley, Smack Back Ave., the original template all Vegas skid rows emulate. The only class here was a clean rock glass or an eight ball of coke stepped on just twice. Lowly street hoes, drug dealers and undercover cops worked this septic tank of the lost. Sully was one its kind. I saw some value in her though. I thought it best to cultivate Sully as an ally and keep her handy if I ever needed help from her part of the world.
After that first kiss and purr, Sully quit her game on me. Yes, I wanted her, but she never gave it up free. Strangely, she acted friendlier toward me than a normal street hooker. She stayed with me, it seemed, more inclined to cultivate a friendship than a trick. I suspect she had a use for me too: off Strip Bartenders in Vegas were gods; I could protect her when I stood behind the bar.
I bought her another roll of quarters and short shot cocktail. I kept my guard up, fed her rolls and drinks until dawn. By 6:00 a.m., we were both drunk and she was close to needing another fix.
“Well, baby,” she said. “It’s bedtime.” See you again when you want to pay. Who knows, I may do you for free some day.” I was two-hundred dollars poorer when she left. In my mind I had already paid plenty.
Occasionally she would stroll in on the graveyard, high as a Georgia Pine, find me, come over and insist, “Give your Vegas bride a kiss, babe!” with the purr of pure invitation. We spent my money to the tunes of “Pink Cadillac,” “Honky-Tonk Woman” and “Stand by Me,” as we drank and gambled shoulder to shoulder. At dawn, I would get another traditionally long goodbye kitty kiss, with a rub of her crotch against my upper thigh as a bonus, and a promise that some day she would do me free. Then she would walk from my life as soon as I went broke.
She quit coming to the Lounge. I asked around. Via the hooker word of mouth, I learned that Sully, smack back and sprung, delirious on a sleepless three-day run robbed a trick at the point of a Philippine butterfly knife, sliced his belly twice from hip to hip and delightfully watched his intestines dangle below his knees. His was a slow death. She stayed to relish every moment of it. Metro caught her. Judge Jensen sentenced her. She’d never be out in my lifetime.
A rock-hoe I protected for 10% of her earnings said, “I’ve seen you with her at the bar a lot. You never went with her though. Smart move. The fuck she cut could have been you if you’d a stepped out a line with her. She gutted him like she fucks—with passion.”
Sully was the closest I ever came to falling for a Vegas whore.