Late Night Vegas Drive – Open Heart Story

Story By Rickey Stewart

Well, I was really bored tonight.  Living the Vampire life at times can be nice but other times — not so much.  It can be a little solitary.  So I decided to go on a 2 a.m. trip.  After getting a drink at my favorite 50s style drive thru Sonic, my starting destination was a bone yard of old and dark Neon tributes to the places they once proudly stood in front of.  On past a little 24-hour place once only known for trading your valuables for cash so you could make it home.  But now it is the world famous Gold and Silver Pawn where stars are made.

Continuing on that same heading, I came upon a wedding chapel and bail bonds place that have taken over one of the greatest record stores of all time, Odyssey Records.  Another 24-hour spot from the past where you could find whatever music your heart desired.  If you didn’t know who sang a song, you just asked the hipster behind the counter.  They would point you to whatever orange crate it resided in.  Man I loved that place.

Just past that, I found myself at the foot of the Tower that Stupak built, Stratosphere.  It just isn’t the same with the new name, Vegas World still sounds better, and I miss the giant astronaut on the side.

The next leg of the journey is where things can become a bit blurry, and nostalgic.  Sometimes even quite fantasy landish.  I drove on down a street or maybe a Strip that was a little familiar looking from my youth.  But blocking my way, to the 1980’s kid’s mecca Circus Circus and that little building Dan Tanna pulled that 57’ T-Bird into, was a film crew recording for yet one of many Vegas reality TV shows, Vegas Strip.  There was some poor gentleman laying on the hood of a police car, (that was not in his big Vegas weekend things to do list I’m sure)  “Coming to a television set near you real soon.”

Once past that is when the Vegas of my youth disappeared into vacant land with skeletons of half-done buildings, some sort of spaceship looking thing hanging over the Forum Shops, and the Stardust, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Desert Inn, and my beloved Sands gone.  Bare land or bigger and much brighter buildings now take their place.  Two of these new buildings looked very much like each other, just facing different ways with different names, Wynn and Encore.  The place that I refuse to mention its name, because I despise its owner for how he treated the longtime Rat Pack era employees, taking up a couple of city blocks.  Then I saw a Mirage that had a volcano, and a place named Caesars.  I had to stop there for a minute because I was seeing red.  Seemed like I was there for a while, almost like waiting for the grass to turn green.

Next, I saw the lake by Bellagio, funny though because I swear I remember Dunes being there before, and next to that is has a very Cosmopolitan look to it.  I trudged on to the Eiffel Tower and Paris before once again seeing red while stopped by Monte Carlo.  But I got the green light to move on so I headed towards New York, New York because I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty (much smaller than I thought it would be).

My trip got a little bizarre for the next few minutes because there was a giant M&M next to a large lion that looked like the MGM Lion at the movies.  Then I thought I saw a castle named Excalibur with a pyramid named Luxor behind it.  Must have been that eye problem and all the red that kept stopping me.

But my trip is now almost complete with a stop over by Orleans that just wasn’t the same without getting some beads.  Now my trip has almost come full circle and I decide to stop and get myself a Slurpee.  This is when Vegas became the one of a kind place it truly is, when I turned my $2.00 in change into $20.00 playing five-card draw on my way out the door.  Weird part is pulling into the driveway; my worldly like trip had only taken an hour.

Sorry folks being bored and a frustrated wannabe writer don’t mix well at 5 a.m.  But where else in the world can you see that much variety, and do almost anything at two in the morning?  Nowhere but Vegas Baby.  I love this town.  I could have gone bowling, grocery shopping, eaten a world-class meal at several places, hell I could have even gone to a range and hit some golf balls.  So if you are a night owl like I am, there is no better place to live than The Real City That Never Sleeps — Las Vegas.  And as Tom Bodett says, “We’ll leave the lights on for you”.

Publishing Editors Note:  Rickey’s humor and talent shine through in this piece.  I’m sure you’ll love his surreal journey in one of the most unusual cities in the world.  The photograph was designed and shot expressly for this story.

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