A Dead End in Vegas [Kindle Edition]

A Dead End in Vegas [Kindle Edition]

by Irene Woodbury

ISBN: 9780744321470

Publisher SynergEbooks

Published in Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Tricia Sloan's life starts to unravel after she discovers that her husband, Dave, cheated on her. She soon finds a lover on the Internet, but when the two try to meet in Las Vegas, things go horribly wrong, and she ends up dying. A Dead End in Vegas is a dark, probing look at marriage, infidelity, revenge, and grief.

Sample Chapter

Tricia always said that Dave had his share of flaws as a husband, but he was a great father. It was true. From the day his son was born, he was devoted. When Randy was a baby, he carried him everywhere and changed, fed, bathed, and dressed him. During his toddler years, the hands- on dad drove him to nursery school every day and volunteered for story-and-snack time once a week. When Randy joined Cub Scouts, Dave became a troop leader. He never missed a little league game and treated both our boys to fishing trips in the summer and skiing and snowmobiling expeditions in the winter.

During Randy’s pre-teen years, Dave stayed close. When he expressed an interest in learning guitar, Dave paid for private sessions with one of the best musicians in town. And the day his handsome son turned 16, Dave bought him a shiny new red Jeep and signed him up for driving lessons. A job at Marigold was in the works when Tricia died so that Dave could teach his son the restaurant business from the ground up.

Randy had also been very close to Tricia. When she died, no one was hit harder. One day he was a happy-go-lucky 16-year-old kid with two attentive, adoring parents; the next he was an angry, sullen young man whose mother had died under mysterious circumstances and who blamed his father for it.

Trying to cope with all this took a terrible toll on Randy, who went into a shell after Tricia died. One of the few times he emerged was at her memorial service, where he stunned all of us with his drunken, disheveled appearance, and ended up trading punches with his father. He did settle down somewhat during the summer he spent with his grandparents. But it was short-lived. By the fall of 2005, he was back home and in full shutdown mode, cutting classes and spending most of his time locked in his room with a blaring television. He wouldn’t answer his phone or e- mails. He would just sit morosely on his bed, unshowered, with dark circles under his eyes, watching sports while downing any form of alcohol he could get his hands on.

I had known Randy since the day he was born, so watching this slow-motion meltdown was painful. But there wasn’t much I could do. He wouldn’t open up to Mike or me. He seemed completely lost and alone. Ryan and Sarah were the only friends he still talked to. Sarah, especially. She was one year younger. After Tricia died, Randy turned to her more, Ryan less.

She was the same sweet girl she had always been, but her plump, gawky stage was over. She was taller now, and coltish, with curves in all the right places, long chestnut hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. Very pretty. I sometimes wondered if Randy had a crush on her. He was a great- looking kid too, with a thick mane of shoulder-length light brown hair, green eyes, slightly tanned skin, and a shadowy moustache over a full, pink mouth. Maybe Sarah had a crush on him, too?

The first fall and holiday seasons without Tricia droned by. I barely noticed the leaves changing on the aspens, skipped all of Ryan’s football games, ordered in for Thanksgiving, and the Christmas tree never even made it out of the box. “Joy To The World,” it was not.

My grief for Tricia was still all-consuming, but it was nothing compared to what Dave and Randy were going through. Mike would tell me how strained and tense it had become across the street, with loud arguments--some of them even getting physical – raging for hours, or long days of bitter silence behind slammed, locked doors.

Apparently there was no respite from the hostility, even on national holidays. Thanksgiving 2005 was a total bust for the Sloans. Dave’s parents had invited him and Randy to come out to

Evergreen for a traditional turkey dinner, but Randy refused to go so they carted umpteen bags of groceries to Lehigh Street and cooked in Tricia’s kitchen. Dave showed up at the table freshly shaved and sober, but his son remained locked in his room watching football and eating a hamburger from McDonald’s delivered by Ryan. Needless to say, the day was ruined for Dave and his parents.

I was worried about both father and son, especially Randy. He’d always been the sweetest, most trustworthy, dependable kid. But after Tricia died, all that changed. And then, as the one- year anniversary of her death approached, he did the most unbelievable thing. He went to Las Vegas.

The trip seemed sudden at the time, but, based on the details my kids got later from Randy, it was well-planned and methodical. To raise money fast, he took some pieces of Tricia’s gold jewelry to a pawn shop on Colfax Avenue and hocked them for several thousand dollars. Then he bought a one-way bus ticket.

On a cool, rainy Friday night in May 2006, he threw some things in a knapsack and locked his bedroom door with the television blaring so Dave would think he was still there. Leaving his Jeep in the driveway, he took a cab instead to the Greyhound station in a seedy part of downtown Denver he had never been to. At one am, the bus pulled out.

Thirteen long, grimy hours later, Randy arrived at the depot in downtown Las Vegas. To get his bearings and stretch his legs, the rangy six-foot man-child took a quick stroll around Fremont Street. What an eye-opener! Under the warm, watchful gaze of Vegas Vic, the forty-foot neon cowboy perched near 1st Street, Randy’s jaw dropped in amazement at all of the lewd and bizarre sights. There were strip clubs with flashing signs touting totally nude girls, shapely pole dancers in skimpy bikinis writhing sensuously on bar tops, giddy showgirls in glittery get-ups hamming it up with tourists, big-bellied cowboys barging in and out of casinos, and even a few Mickey Mouse and Elvis-types popping out in the crowd.

Munching a red candy apple that served as breakfast, Randy edged further down Fremont. Sprawling at 6th Street was the glitzy Spanish-ranch casino, El Cortez. Its old-time Vegas charm captivated him. One look, and images of tuxedoed Rat Packers swinging from chandeliers were dancing in his head. He couldn’t resist a peek and wandered inside for a quick spin around the vintage lobby. It was cool, lovely, and dark, with soft lights gleaming on wood paneling and lush, brightly colored carpets. The lanky youth wanted to sample the beckoning pleasures of the adjacent casino, a gaudy mélange of blinking lights and clanging slots, but he felt the lure of the Strip even more so he returned to the street and asked a bellman to get him a cab.

The fifteen-minute ride along sun-baked Las Vegas Boulevard was replete with more colorful revelations. Both sides were lined with cheesy-looking motels and wedding chapels, raunchy strip clubs, taco joints, and rickety wooden houses with chipped paint, bars on the windows, and bail bond signs flickering in their front yards.

Closer to the Strip, things started changing big time. On the west side of the boulevard, Randy gazed up at the towering Stratosphere. Then, a few blocks further, the gaudy neon clown at Circus Circus, looking the worse for wear, lurched into view, with the ratty-looking Riviera, another relic from better days, glowering from across the street.

After stopping at a traffic-light in front of the sleek, bronze-hued Wynn, curving softly and seductively like a massive slug of shaved chocolate, the cab crawled into the heart of the Strip. Looming on both sides of the palm-lined boulevard were the iconic mega-resorts Mirage, Caesar’s, Venetian, and Treasure Island, each ablaze in neon glitter and enticing come-ons.

Randy gave a hefty tip to the driver, who dropped him at the ornate entrance to Bellagio. The

boy’s heart was set on staying in Room 1772 where his mother had died, but since he was only 17, he couldn’t check in. Undeterred, he walked back out to the Strip and crossed over to Planet Hollywood, where he came upon a gaggle of scruffy young people handing out baseball-card- like come-ons advertising sexy young females who could be delivered to your door faster than a Domino’s pizza. Without a thought, he ordered up a hooker who he figured could help him get the room. Yes, 17-year-old Randy actually handed one of these hucksters $100 right there on Las Vegas Boulevard and asked him to dispatch a girl who was over 21. I have no idea how he came up with all this. But based on what he told my kids later, I think he was desperate, at the end of his rope, needing to see where his mother had died and wanting answers and closure.

The 22-year-old female promptly delivered to him in a van was a buxom stunner from Kearney, Nebraska named Lola Ray. She was a sweet young thing with cornflower-blue eyes, flowing blond tresses, and long, tanned legs. They met under the Eiffel Tower at Paris and hit it off right away. She told him he reminded her of her younger brother.

Randy bought her a burger at Mon Ami Gabi and told her he was 18 years old, from Salt Lake City, and on a birthday-gift trip from his parents. The shapely Lola, who was poured into clingy purple hot pants, a pink tee shirt, and pink knee-high vinyl boots, told Randy about farm life in Kearney, how boring it had been and how messed up her parents were. She then went on about her new life on the Strip, where there was 24/7 glamour and excitement.

She had come to Vegas when she was just 20 years old with her then-boyfriend, a professional poker player. But six months later, before flying off to Dubai for a tournament, he dumped her and threw her out of their suite at the Rio with just the clothes on her back. She moved in with a girlfriend and found work waitressing in a coffee shop at the Venetian. But paying the bills every month was a struggle, so when a customer suggested a job as a “party girl” at Hot Strip Babes, she went for it. The “20-minutes-or-less” delivery promise kept her hopping, but she loved the flexible hours, and the pay was great.

After lunch, Randy and Lola walked across the Strip to the Bellagio, where they checked into Room 1772 with Lola’s credit card. There was nothing remarkable about the room. It was standard issue for a hotel on the Strip: big and beige with too much furniture, a large flat-screen TV, and a nice-enough view. When Randy gazed at the round, king-size bed his mother had died in, a pungent wave of sadness swept over him. He was suddenly overwhelmed by an image of her with that animal, Al Posey, and the two of them were naked and all over each other having loud, rough sex. Randy’s stomach knotted up. His heart felt like lead. He didn’t tell Lola what was happening or why, but she noticed he was pale and shaky.

“What’s wrong lover-dude?” she purred, wrapping her long, tanned arms around him and pulling him close. “Don’t you like the room?”

“The room’s cool, I’m cool,” he murmured, as he felt the firmness and fullness of her breasts pressing against his boyish chest. He was glad Lola was with him, but he wasn’t about to tell her his real age or why he was here. And then he softened a bit and let himself go as he inhaled her spicy perfume and the sweet, cotton-candy scent of her hair. She felt so warm and willing, her lush curves kneading perfectly into the hard contours of his chiseled young body.

Lola was still holding Randy, and then her soft, pink lips were kissing his. It was warm and sweet and full. Not like an empty token-kiss between a Vegas hooker and a gawky young virgin- boy from Denver. More like a passionate intermingling of lips, tongues, and mouths between a lost boy and girl discovering each other for the first time in a cornfield in Kearney. Both of them were breathless with excitement, but Randy was still trying to recover from the harrowing images of his mother with Al, so he wasn’t especially interested at the moment.

Instead, the two awkwardly disengaged and then retreated to the casino downstairs where they immersed themselves in slots. But it wasn’t their day. After blowing through a wad of twenties with barely a ripple, they strolled out of Bellagio and turned their attention to the Strip. Like any other young couple, they meandered down the garish, traffic-choked boulevard past bustling casinos, burger bars, and an endless parade of panhandlers, showgirls, cartoon characters, and musicians. While walking, they stopped to gawk at buskers; browsed in gift shops overflowing with cheesy, bizarre trinkets, and treated themselves to a white-knuckle spin on the towering roller coaster at New York New York.

That night they made it to the south end of the Strip for a jousting show with real horses and swords at Excalibur. Then they popped into Dick’s Last Resort for $13 “Big Ass Burgers” washed down with mojitos. Both of them savored the ambience of this loud, tacky saloon just off the casino, where the waiters are in your face and the customers wear white, condom-shaped paper hats with lewd musings scrawled on them.

They were both fairly sloshed by the time they stumbled back to the Bellagio, where they snuggled in bed and watched a movie. Then, I later learned from my son--who got the lowdown from Randy--they had sex on the same bed where his mother had committed adultery with Al the night before she died. When Ryan told me this, I gasped. It seemed morbid and almost gross, but also, in a way, sort of sad and poignant. I didn’t know how to process it because I had never heard anything like it before. Putting myself in Randy’s shoes, I tried to figure out where he was coming from. I guess he was trying to reconnect to his mother, trying to bond with her in some primal, intimate way. But through sex with Lola? No matter how many times I turned it over in my mind, I couldn’t quite figure out if I should be shocked and appalled or just feel sorry for him.

Randy was drunk and it was his first time, but he told Ryan that Lola made it good for both of them. She apparently really liked him and was turned on by his sweetness, good looks, and buff young body. All in all, I was the most flabbergasted by this part of Randy’s trip. Never in a million years would I have guessed that his first time would be with a hooker in Vegas. It sounds sort of funny when I put it that way, like a cliché or a footnote in a raunchy Hangover movie, but when I heard all this from Ryan my jaw dropped.

The next morning, while “Hot Strip Babe” slept, Randy took a shower, got dressed, and prowled the halls searching for a maid. When he found one, he pressed her with questions. Was she the one who had discovered the dead woman in Room 1772 a year ago, he wanted to know? He confided to her that the woman was his mom, and he had some questions. Before the startled maid, who was Polish and spoke little English, could answer, Randy started firing away.

“What did she look like when you found her? Was she still warm? Was she breathing?” he wanted to know, staring in her eyes with an intensity that was both alarming and riveting. “Did the paramedics perform CPR?” he went on. “Did you see the guy she was with?” The questions came fast and furious. The maid was stunned, taken aback. She quickly begged off, trying to explain that when the body was found she was at lunch and therefore missed the commotion. After expressing brief, awkward sympathies, she shuffled off with her cart. But later, when she spotted the freshly showered Lola in a denim mini and red halter prancing out of Room 1772, she grew suspicious and called her supervisor.

Randy and Lola enjoyed a second day of fun on the Strip. Breakfast at Denny’s was followed by another workout on the one-armed bandits. Randy quickly won $200 on Wizard Of Oz. That called for a celebration, so he promptly treated Lola to a lace teddy at Victoria’s Secret in Caesar’s. Afterwards, they roamed around three floors of glitzy boutiques in the Forum Shops

and browsed for high-end jewelry at Bijoux Babe.

That afternoon they came upon a liquor store in a grungy strip mall across from Circus Circus

where Lola bought bourbon and vodka. Later, while she browsed in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, Randy settled at a table in the food court and sipped Smirnoff’s from a bottle concealed in a plastic bag.

Amply fortified, he then tackled his next mission. He found a pay phone in a hallway and rang up Al Posey, whose name and number he’d filched from a legal pad in Dave’s office. When Al finally picked up, Randy told him right off that he was Tricia Sloan’s son and that he was in Vegas and wanted to meet with him to talk about his mother’s last two days, and death. Al mumbled something about deepest sympathies and curtly told the boy to go back to Denver and never call him again. Then he hung up.

Randy was stung by the brute insensitivity, but there was nothing he could do. Flashes of anger tore through him. He stood there for a few minutes, trying to absorb the full impact of having just spoken to the man who had slept with his mother the night before she died. Warm remembrances of his mom flashed through his mind, as did lurid images of her with the scoundrel who had walked out on her dead body just hours after having sex with her.

The events were too improbable and confused for him to reconcile or make much sense of. Deeply conflicted, with his thoughts in a muddle, he stood there dazed, gripping the iron stanchion of the phone stand for support. Finally, with his emotions in check, he felt steady enough to make it back to the table to wait for Lola.

The tall, bosomy hooker with a heart of gold soon glided back into the food court. Strapped on her slender, well-manicured feet were freshly purchased red-leather sling-backs with four- inch heels. Dangling in both her hands were chic totes holding more pairs of sexy shoes. With a breathy giggle, she plopped down at the table and announced, “I’m starved!” Randy took the hint and got both of them hot dogs, crinkly fries, and Cokes at Nathan’s. Lunch was followed by more shopping, as Randy bought his babe a flirty blue sundress in a pricey boutique. The bulging wad of greenbacks from his mom’s gold jewelry had taken a hit, but he was still sufficiently flush to fork over cash for nearly everything.


Excerpted from "A Dead End in Vegas [Kindle Edition]" by Irene Woodbury. Copyright © 2014 by Irene Woodbury. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Irene Woodbury

Irene Woodbury

Irene Woodbury’s third novel, POP-OUT GIRL (2017), pushes a lot of buttons. It’s a gripping look at the tumultuous life of a 23-year-old showgirl-wannabe named Jen Conover who pops out of cakes at special events in Las Vegas for a living. The novel offers riveting glimpses into the loves, lives, triumphs, and tragedies of Jen’s family and friends as well. Irene grew up in Pittsburgh, and has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Denver. The University of Houston 1993 graduate also called Texas home for seven years. Her writing career began In 2000. After five years as a successful travel writer, she switched to fiction. Irene’s first novel, the humorous A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published in 2011. The darkly dramatic A DEAD END IN VEGAS followed in 2014. POP-OUT GIRL is another dramatic effort. With her husband, Richard, editing, Irene completed the novel in eighteen months. She hopes audiences will enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

View full Profile of Irene Woodbury

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