Electric Roses

by David Howard

You ever been to Las Vegas? . . . It*s something, I*ll tell you. . . . You gotta go at night, though. All those lights, man, it*s something. (He laughs a little.) Somebody said they musta built it at night, cause it*s so damn ugly in the day. An* Darrell said the only thing you ought to do in Las Vegas is eat. You try to do anything else, they*re just taking your money . . . Course, you can drink for nothing if you gamble, but . . . I suppose he*s right anyhow . . . you can*t drink enough to make it worth-while. So, we figured, you know, what the hell, you gotta do something, you can*t just sit there . . . an* you know as well as I do there*s nothing to do here in Yuma at night . . . The sun goes down, this place turns into a damn grave yard. Feel like you*re in Tubac or somewhere. So, he called Abby, an* we went to get Sara. She was working. She works over at Jerry*s Tastee Cone . . . Used to be the Tastee Freeze, til they run outta money. Now it*s the Tastee Cone . . . An* we go over there, an* said, you know, we*re goin* to Vegas. You wanna come? You see, a woman like Sara . . . I mean, she was pretty an* all, but . . . that ain*t it. It was like, when I looked at her, something happened . . . (He puzzles over what he feels.) She put a hook inside of me that wasn*t ever gonna let go . . . I knew that . . . I knew that the minute it happened. So, anyway, we*re drivin* up there. We*re out therein the desert, up past Needles, an* you know, there ain*t nothing out there. It*s just black. An* Darrell pulls the car over, and, I don*t know, runs off to take a piss or something, an* me and Sara get out of the car. . . . Abby was asleep. She always does that in the car . . . An* you know, there*s nothing around. . . The only light you*ve got is from the stars. And I*m telling you, you look up and you look up and you can see things you never believed were up there We were standing there, an* I could feel her there next to me . . . that dark all around us. And I said, “You know why we*re going to Vegas, don*t you?” And she said, “Why*s that?” And, I said, “So I can marry you.” An* she said, “Bullshit.” An* I said, “I am. I*m takin* you to Vegas, and I*m gonna marry you when we get there.” And she laughs, and she says, “Why in the hell should I marry you?” And I said . . . (His tone becomes much more sign dl cant the words mean considerably more.) I said, “Cause no one in the world is ever gonna feel what I feel for you right now.” (There is a pause.) Hell, I don*t know what was in her head to say yes to me, but she did. I guess maybe she knew how much I wanted it . . . (He thinks a moment.) First thing we did when we hit town was find a place that would do it for us. You know, they*ve got places that will do it all night. An* we found one . . . this little white house with electric roses that lit up the outside, an* . . . I married her. Later on, we were sitting in this bar . . . Darrell*s eating shrimp cocktail. You know, forty-nine cents. An* Abby*s over playing the nickel slots. An* this guy . . . this ass-hole, keno player . . . He*s got this shirt with flowers all over it, and his hair looks like . . . you know, Mr. California-Dude. An* he*s sittin* there lookin* at Sara . . . just staring at her, an* you know what I*m talkin* about . . . Hell, I wanted to break his greasy neck. An* I said, “What are you lookin* at, pal?” An* he says, “Do you own her?” An* I said, “Yeah, I do.” And then I broke his friggin’ nose. (Over a speaker, we hear the voice of the bus station announcer.) See, you gotta understand, a woman like that, geez, if you Could see how they are around her.I start thinking about that, and . . something happens inside of me. (It is painful for him to speak.) I admit it . . . I*ve hit her . . . (Pause. He looks over the audience.) Well, what do you want me to say? I*m not proud of it . . . Sometimes, when I drink . . . all them looks . . . (quietly) Sometimes, you just wonder how strong a person is, you know?God knows, I love her . . . She*s the most important thing in the world to me . . . she knows that, too. No matter what happens, she knows it.

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