3/15 - Prose created without a net––here is what I forged in today's workshop. A second potential beginning to Two Bullets Left. Again, far from the version that will make the book––and probably more original for that.
Las Vegas Strip 3:45 am
The Strip never quite sleeps––even at that moment when movement wanes and those tipsy sorts not enclosed in all-night wombs have departed in cabs, the neon lights and video towers flicker out ultra-luxe lifestyles at a bargain. The bridges that crisscross an otherwise pedestrian-hostile desert are empty except for the odd vagrant too out of his mind to make it to the shelter of darker rock and scrub––the vacant expanses that hint at hard times only minutes from the glitter. The plexiglass on the overpasses, designed to halt the fall of brawlers and losers on the felt flicker a hundred fuck-me colors––stimulating aural intimations that one has come to a place where money spent is just a colorform, unfocused, without limit.
The sky lightened incrementally, the form that sprawled against the plexiglass in a half-upright posture exactly mimicking the sort of gone person who would continue to sit in that position, staring epically at the sun, until the midmorning pavement baked. His skin was burnt leather, in a month or two he would be broke, if not dead. Leaving Las Vegas a vacant myth for his type in this car drowned city.
It was not until the sun ran across the steel-ribbed rooftop of the Aria, radiating onto the bridge’s metal railing and creating a vaporous orange taffy reflection, that the municipal services employee noticed him. An older Asian woman with soapy bucket, she had been avoiding the man’s slumped, sure-to-be-smelly form for some time, assiduously wiping down the rails opposite, scrubbing plexiglass into some semblance of transparency.
There was no avoiding it, she was going to have to rouse him at some point. A sudden reflection of sunlight off the Paris hot air balloon, as thin, pointed, and powerful as that which guided hobbits into Smaug’s dread mountain lair, etched a frozen turbulence, a moment of impact––when the blood trickled from the cranium faster than the body sank and smeared a crimson wash down the smooth surface behind his shoulders. She took a single step forward, enough to get a glimpse the unending night in his eyes, and screamed.
“Thank god for barriers,” the junior officer thought, angling a toothpick between teeth. The height and pattern of the blood spatter on the plexiglass indicated that the body would have otherwise fallen off the overpass onto the Las Vegas Strip, pancaked on a 2 am asphalt crawling with taxis. Instead, the body had been framed for four or five hours. It was in good enough condition––forensics would blast through it in half a day, the junior officer thought. He almost recognized what remained of the face––had maybe sat with him at a late-night table once or twice, at the Orleans or the Nugget.