Chris V

Artist, Designer, Maker

75

2

The Long Trek

This is a memory from last summer.  I thought a piece including the hot temperatures where I live, might add some interest to the story.  I am still working in coming up with images to upload, so hope to be adding that soon.  I'm trying not to obsess about how it turned out, but I am my own worst enemy in this area...  Looking forward to your thoughts Chris, or if anyone else has some feedback I'd love to hear it:

I walk out of the 12 foot ornately framed glass doors, into the blistering heat. Immediately I feel over dressed in my sleeveless top, skirt and sandals. It seems odd to be carrying a sweater given the 110+ degree July temperatures, but being a local, I know it will soon come in handy. As I begin my trek across the pedestrian bridge that spans Las Vegas Boulevard, I look through the tall glass partition that protects tourists from the busy street below. I spot heat vapors rising from a flashy Lamborghini.  I look down the boulevard lined with mega resorts, their flashing digital marquis and outlandish architecture competing for attention. I notice an advertisement for an upcoming installment of original 19th century impressionist paintings and I make a mental note to put this on my to do list. Music fills the air as a blues guitarist plays a Muddy Waters tune. He is good, and his open guitar case, full of $1 bills and change, is proof to that. 

My head snaps forward to something in my peripheral vision and I quickly veer to miss the outstretched legs of a homeless woman sitting on a newspaper. I start to reach into my wallet for a contribution, when I notice the hint of black wire leading down from her ear, obviously meant to blend in with her dark hair. The passers by, who fill her cup with money, don't realize she is wearing ear buds leading to a hidden cell phone in her shirt, but my eye is trained. Obviously, she is playing music to make her "work day" pass by more quickly. She will make a good haul by the evening, when she walks back to her car that is probably parked in a nearby lot. Based on past example, there is a good chance it's nicer than mine. Panhandlers can earn a generous annual income in this town, especially when you take into consideration that they don't pay their taxes. What kind of world is this when I have to distinguish a "fake" homeless person from a "real" one? 

I am half way across the bridge now, and the oppressive heat continues to bear down. I begin to wonder if it was worth venturing out. As the guitar music fades out, accordion music replaces it. It sounds bad. Really bad. I wince as I pass by, picking up the pace just to avoid the off key notes blasting from his instrument. Somehow his cup is full of money. Are people paying him to stop? Because it's not working. Or are these travelers so gullible that they drop tips into every open jar? Gamblers through and through, it seems. Well, they did come to the land of "Lost Wages" as our town is otherwise known as, by those who inhabit it. 

Three-quarters of the way across the bridge, I start to significantly feel the perspiration. I shade my face to cut down some of the effects of the unyielding sun while I hear someone say, "Honey, I think this is why the hotel rates were so low..."  Indeed, I think to myself. A man a Spider-Man costume and another dressed as Darth Vader pose for a picture with a young couple. The heavily costumed will also earn a hefty sum from the tourists. I can't imagine how the manage in this heat, but apparently, it's a living. 

When I am almost to the end of the bridge, I can't stop myself from smiling at the sight of four familiar characters. Captain Jack, the Mad Hatter, Edward Scissor-Hands and Tonto stand huddled in deep conversation.  I snap a quick shot on my way by. Odd for me, but who knows when I'll ever see four versions of Johnny Depp standing together again in my lifetime? 

The automatic doors to the resort in front of me beckon and sub zero air conditioning hits my over heated skin. A welcome relief from the virtual oven outside. I breathe a sigh and look forward to putting on my sweater after the 10 minutes it will take for my body to absorb the cool after only 3 minutes outside. It felt like an eternity. I take a long pull from the water bottle I have in my hand to hydrate my body from the short walk. Another trick that the tourists will have to learn the hard way. 

A cacaughany of pinging and dinging assaults my ears and alerts players of the staus of their beloved slot machines. Cigarette smoke fills the air and burns my eyes on my way to the dining area where I will enjoy my lunch before heading back out into the desert that is my home. 


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