My small tremors do not alert the clerk and I move around towards the front awning to make sure he is still in the room behind the front desk. The coast is clear and I open the front door and slide in, letting out my held breath in a measured sigh when I get through without my bag catching or the door slamming. I breathe in quickly, and clamp my lips shut so the growls of my stomach can’t escape. I smell the yeast in the bagels, but not the cheese. I wish I had time to get a cup of the freshly brewed coffee too, but then I would be a mess if things go bad and I have to run. Thin hotel coffee cups do not travel well in the best of circumstances.
I flip open my messenger bag and start tossing bagels and little plastic cups of cream cheese in, looking to the front desk for any signs of life. The coast remains clear, maybe the clerk decided to pleasure himself in the early morning hours. It works out for me. I throw the flap back down on my pack and head to the door.
“Hey! What are YOU doing in here?”
Time to run.
My bag slaps against my thighs and I hope my bagels don’t get crushed by the movement. I smash my hands against the glass door and get outside as footfalls almost make it to me.
Well, at least that trick worked. I run back towards the pier, wanting to reclaim my home base and hide. Once I duck underneath the wooden slats that clod from the hotel will never be able to find me. I guess he remembered me from the other times I gleaned breakfast from his fine establishment. Shops opened their doors as I passed, getting ready for another day of tourists. The sun is above the horizon line now and I wish I had time to dig my shades out of the bag. Light permeates everything and manages to sting me even as I run. So I keep looking at the ground.
Glancing up to calibrate how far I’d made it down Main Street, I realize I missed my turn. I stop, almost falling over from my bag bouncing against me. I can’t hear any foot falls behind me, the world is filled with the scraping sounds of displays moving to the outside of stores. I dig my sunglasses out of my bag and put them on.
Sweet relief. Except for the smear.
Stupid me. I should’ve looked while I stole.
I throw it on the street beside me and turn back down towards the water. I have to clean out my bag before it gets any worse. I think about going home. Just because Gerard couldn’t understand my upset does not mean he is a bad guy. He loved me enough to get the hell out of Vegas.
Walking towards the pier, I decide to wait for him to find me. Or the mafia. It’s more prevalent in Vegas than you would think, don’t let yourself be swerved by the hype. There is a smell of corruption laying over a city the mob has a hand in. It’s always there, an acrid stink of lost innocence and dead bodies.
I would become one of them if I went back. My mother survived for awhile because my father left a strong enough reputation behind, and she allowed Anthony to see our son. I don’t agree. I should’ve brought my boy with me. His father was bred to lie.
The pier fills my vision now, baked by the sun and full of people, the diehards from the early morning hours displaced by the first wave of tourists who pay for access to the sea. The tide is in and quiet, lyrical, swirling foam covering my flip-flop clad feet. It calms me, prepares me for the task of cleaning. Best done under the pier where I can take my time.
Then I see him. Gerard. He sits with his arms hugging his legs, his chin resting on them. The tears on his face glisten in the few rays of sunlight that sneak underneath the wooden slats above.
Seven hundred more words, or there abouts. I’ll post the next set in a few days. Hope you enjoyed the read.