A ray of sunshine poked up over Sunrise Mountain, snaking its way through the canopy of Fremont Street, falling downward to pause a moment in a puddle of beer, then reflecting upwards to land on the shoulder of Vegas Vic.
“Quite a party last night Sally,” the large man beamed to his partner across the street. He attempted to adjust his cigarette.
“Yes, Vic. Quite a party.”
Sassy Sally tried to straighten out her leg.
A young couple bounced out of the Glitter Gulch, into the empty street, running past a uniformed man sweeping up the trash and litter of the overnight. The young man, barely old enough to drink, pulled the girl along as she pushed down her skirt. They laughed and skipped past the man with the broom. The janitor drew the clutter in faster.
“Still underway, it would seem,” said Vic.
“Yes, Vic,” Sassy replied as she tried to nod. Her neon eyes followed the couple down the canopy.
“They sure do look happy.”
Sassy’s skirt lit up and the neon tubing glowed bright pink around her hat.
“You can feel the love all around us Vic.”
His handkerchief glowed bright orange in reply.
Cindy Lash set down her suitcase and looked up at the tall man with the cowboy hat sporting a welcoming smile and a frozen wave. The neon around his hat sparkled. She felt a bit lost for a moment and the tall man seemed to say “Howdy.” She followed his eye to the cowgirl sitting atop the Glitter Gulch. Sally flickered and her neon eye seemed to wink back.
“I’ll bet you know a few secrets,” Cindy said as she picked up her bag. Hoping to find someone to talk to, she looked down Fremont Street. The last flickering lights and neon were extinguished and the sun had become more than just a yellow glow.
Just in from San Marcos on the overnight bus, heat blasted Cindy in the face. Although the sun was struggling to peak past the hotel towers, the little bit of sunlight still felt like a flame. She shaded her eyes and felt sweat on her forehead. The beads of water dripped into her eyes carrying with them a burning sting.
She carelessly wiped them away with her hand and moved into the shade. She reached into her rose satchel and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. It was an crumpled itinerary of all the things she had ever planned to do in Sin City.
The list was rather short. Really only a few tasks: see the lights of Vegas, visit Circus-Circus, and take a picture at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. The abbreviated list, scrawled in child’s script, was made during her first visit to Sin City when she was barely eight.
In big block letters Cindy had written at the bottom, *Kill Todd Lour….* The last name was smudged and stained with tears. It could have been Lourin, Lourdes, or Lourdin. It was a flimsy clue, yes Cindy knew it was enough for a small girl intent on revenge. She shuddered at the sight. It brought back tears, and Cindy quickly brushed the away.
Now barely 23, Cindy lacked life experience, yet what little she had was focused on this moment. She practiced her naive charm. It helped if people thought they could get one up on her. Overall, she knew how to get things done. Cindy closed the purse and considered her plans.
She nodded her head. Very sure of her mission, Cindy figured she could take care of Todd L. and jump back on the bus bound for her mama in Salt Lake. Slam, bam, thank you mam. Something her dad used to say. She liked the idea.
Her mama was different. If mama had known about this stop she would have rushed to talk Cindy out of it. Mama was pragmatic. Cindy usually felt the opposite. If she was going to get over this thing, she needed to be a little bit like her mother and a lot like her dad.
Cindy smiled at the thought of her mother lecturing her on the reasons why it wasn’t worth the effort. Since that day, Cindy felt like she had been the grown up. All of the loss and the pain for too many years welled up in Cindy’s eyes. Flashes of the struggles to fit in and the fear of watching her remaining parent fall apart rolled across as bitter memories. Mama, and Cindy, had seen too much.
Who Todd L. was and where he was, Cindy had no idea. Considering her plans, Cindy felt sure her mama would rejoice when the man who killed her husband also lay in his own piss. Still the idea frightened Cindy and she had sudden doubt. She attempted to shrug off the feeling, forced a smile, and scratched off her first item: see the lights of Vegas.
Cindy folded up the list and tucked it into her pink purse. She placed it neatly next to a picture of her mama and a .22 rimfire pistol with pearl handle. She fingered the gun, a nervous purchase in a back alley pawn shop nearly four months ago. She almost left it behind, but the shop owner insisted she come pick it up a month later. She didn’t like the gun. “It’s the only tool I have,” she thought. It did give her a sense of empowerment as she stroked the handle.
She looked around Fremont Street. The lights on all the casinos were off. Behind her Sassy Sally flickered in blue, purple and yellow. Those few lights would have to do.
“There,” she whispered. “I am off.”
Cindy only intended to leave Vegas after scratching everything off her list.
© 2018, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.
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