Looking for a ride to Vegas | VailDaily.com

Looking for a ride to Vegas

Matt Zalaznick

The nausea roared back as Brick revealed to her his sacred dream of succeeding Winger County Sheriff Hex Oxenburg when that revered lawman of the West hung up his holster. And Dapple threw up violently over the edge in the direction of a lighthouse. A seagull swooped down and pecked a chunk of her plummeting vomit from mid-air. “Miami, Florida!” Gaucho exclaims, jolting Dapple out of her stupor. Handsome Vegas has handed Gaucho his driver’s license because Gaucho is apparently attempting to expedite the check-in process while Dapple, emerged from the frustrated fog, decides: Handsome Vegas will give her a ride. Damn straight he will, she thinks, even if she has to have sex with after her shift is over. “Florida, wow,” Gaucho says, tapping at the arm of his tinted eyeglasses and then tugging at his goatee. “That’s where the space shuttle takes off. I’d do just about anything to get down there to see one of the launches. Y’all ever see one?””I’m afraid not,” Handsome Vegas says. He’d understand about the suitcase, Dapple thinks, he’d understand feeling strangled by the Pumices and the Gravybranches, and wanting to fly, to sail, just to run. But does Dapple even have an inkling that the Pumices and the Gravybranches couldn’t care less if Dapple Del Toboso were no longer a citizen of Burrow Junction? Any member of either tribe would look her straight in the eye and tell her, that this very moment even, she could walk out of the lobby and across the street to the bus station, buy a ticket and never come back again. Tonight, she has settled on Handsome Vegas as the most current, most promising salvation. So she sighs up at him, beginning to flirt her winsome gaze, however, would be more touching and less beseeching if her left eye weren’t aimed apathetically at the lobby doors. “Someday I’ll get down there, when I’ve got the time,” Gaucho says. “Plus, I’ll get to go to Disney World, because that’s where the shuttle takes off, right?”Dapple snickers at the buffoon, to let Handsome Vegas know she is on his wavelength, to show him she is not so out of touch, to prove to him she could invest his empty passenger seat with lively conversation, if not clever jokes. But Handsome Vegas is unfazed. He hasn’t caught on. “No,” he says, “the shuttle doesn’t launch at Disney World. But Disney World is only a few hours from Cape Canaveral, where the shuttles do take off.” “Well,” Gaucho says, “I bet they probably got something at Disney World that’s just like riding in the space shuttle.” “I guess they do yes, a roller coast, called Space Mountain,” Handsome Vegas says and Gaucho looks a little intrigued and a little confused.But Dapple nods. She’s heard of Space Mountain, she thinks she has, at least. She’s not sure exactly what it is, but still she nods and smiles and this time Handsome Vegas notices. And smiles back. “Space Mountain is a roller coaster that’s inside, in the dark,” he explains to Gaucho. “It zips around in the dark so you can’t really see anything and you can’t tell when you’re about to turn real quick or drop all of a sudden.” “Neat,” Dapple says and accidentally winks her delinquent eye instead of the good one. It’s an odd effect, but Handsome Vegas actually blushes slightly – at least Dapple thinks he did. Yes, she proclaims to herself, he’s my ticket outta here. Once and for all. No more Junktown crap No more crap from Brick, either, who’d seemed so competent, who’d seemed so much fun when they started dating, who, for a few months, had made her feel pretty good about herself; but who’d recently proved to her, once and for all, that he administers the law by the book. One of Dapple’s most cherished pastimes is to go for walks in the rain in her dad’s backyard, at her mom’s place, in Brick’s backyard doesn’t matter where: as long as she has cigarettes, as long as she has a few gulps of whiskey, as long as she is completely naked. Her mother’s next-door neighbor called the police to complain a few days ago. “That’s indecent exposure, Dapple,” Brick had told her, in his angriest voice. “If a kid was around, if a minor saw you, it would be a felony.”A felony! She was lucky – lucky twice now, he’d said – that he’d decided not to charge her.”Oh sorry,” Handsome Vegas says when Gaucho gives him his key. “Is this a double? I don’t want to be a pest, but if there was a way I could please have a single?”Gaucho doesn’t get it. What’s the difference, his chubby, quizzical face says with a trace of suspicion in his sleepy eyes. “Well … y-you see,” he stammers, “it’s just that, uh, having another big empty bed s-sort of gives me the, uh, creeps, y’know?” Gaucho still doesn’t get it. And Dapple is a bit alarmed by Handsome Vegas’ dopey drop in confidence.”Let me see what I can do, sir,” Dapple says brightly and elbows Gaucho out from behind the computer. “After an empty passenger seat all day …””Th-thanks,” he says. “Yeah, empty seat and an empty bed. Y’know that’s just too much for one day.””Listen, we’ve got a big group coming in tonight and we can switch one of their singles to a double,” Dapple says, sliding the hotel map toward him. She points to the room, then attempts a sassy smile as she hands him his new key. The smile is foiled by her left eye darting out at a group of minivans pulling into the parking lot, but still, she brushes his hand as he takes the key from her. He chuckles, half-smiles, quickly glances down at his shoes and up at Dapple again and squeezes her hand. No more crap, Dapple shouts to herself again. “I’m on my way to Vegas, too,” she whispers to Handsome Vegas, who’s still holding her hand, though lightly now. “Tomorrow, as a matter of fact. Thing of it is though, I’m pretty sure my ride’s gonna flake out on me.”He glances up and down again. Smiling now as at a smutty joke. Vail, Colorado

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