Imagine your driving through the desert, hour after hour, mile after mile, gas stations and cactus are the only things that mark the passage of time. It gets dark and only gas stations come and go, then on the horizon a dull glow appears. As you go on it gets brighter, half an hour later the glow is enormous and as you top the hill it appears “the strip”. 3 miles of pure fantasy. As you drive toward the lights, billboards everywhere extol the virtues of 10s or better video poker, $1.99 meals, 50c drinks and cabaret shows.
You park the car free in the middle of the city, something unknown in the U.S. You hop on the monorail shuttle bus and your off into the world of the unbelievable. The first thing you notice is the light followed by the noise. The lights dull almost dark but punctuated by flashing miniature bulbs, thousands upon thousands and then the noise 5000 poker machines, crashing and clanging, paying out and taking in.
Come in, come in, all interstate visitors get a free chance to win a car. Step right up, step right up, $1.50 to win a helicopter, 75c to win a Ferrari, 15c to win a new Chev a penny to win a .357. Time stops. There are no clocks, things happen 24 hours a day, in the corner the band plays, down the hall $1.99 for a 4 course meal and as much as you can eat up on the mezzanine.
At Circus Circus the stage is set in the sky above the Tables, It drags the punters in, bright flashy lights keep them mesmerized. The kids to the video games, the adults to the slots, look up, see the lion tamer, the traipse act. The real show is on the floor below. Time stops, reels turn, coins clatter, Ma and Pa feed the machines.
Walk out the front door and grab a handful of coupons on a way for a free telephone call at the Stardust, or a free meal at the Nevada. He sign out the front talks as much power as a small town to run and uses $5000 worth of electricity a month. Enter the next place, the games the same, only the characters have changed, block after block, mile after mile, everyone’s a winner.
You wont believe this but one of the guys at the hostel was telling Me how he needed to get a job in the morning and at 7 o’clock that night he rolls up in a chauffeur driven limo. He’s come to pick up his bags. Seems like he went down the Mint, put $5 on the blackjack tables, 5 hours later he’s $70,000 richer ($100,000 - 30,000 tax), and the casino has given him a limo, a room, and some Hookers for the night. And if they don’t get it back off him again tonight, tomorrow he flies home to Austria,. Everyone loves a winner.
Feel a bit lonely, rent a girl (this is Nevada you know) of course its not legal on the strip but in the next county and they give a private limo service. All major credit cards accepted. Then perhaps you feel like something a little more permanent. Wedding chapels operate 24 hours a day. For $49 Elvis can marry you and your girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, cat, dog, car, handgun. No blood tests, free documentation, flowers, photos and motels all arranged, for extra cash of course, or use your credit card, or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter. Get a government cheque, any government cheque and they will cash it for you minus their take, they get payed whether its hot or not.
You walk back out to the car. How long has it been? 2 hours
or 2 days Times stopped you’ve walked a million miles, pulled a million slots
your tired and broke. You start the car the noise slowly disappears, you drive,
soon the lights are just a dull glow, suddenly its back to desert, cactus, gas
stations every now and then, and lonely black miles. Did it happen? Did it
really exist or was it just a dream, another gas station: you start to wonder.