A Lucky Desert Night

A Lucky Desert Night

A Story by SR Urie

Army Officers has several runs of luck in different ways



A Lucky Desert Night

            Sandra was a pretty lady who loved to gamble. She worked as a cocktail waitress in one of the casinos on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and managed to take on a lover from time to time, yet content to dream of that perfect man that would enter her life, make her swoon, sweep her off of her feet to the paradise of his pickup truck and horse ranch. In the meantime she joked with her two gay roommates on whether there was ever going to be any real men to walk into the smoky tavern alongside the quaint old casino in the Nevada desert. Sandy’s brown eyes and dark brown hair that rolled over her feminine shoulders were fetching, adding to her fairly buxom figure and long, shapely legs. There was little doubt that she could persuade any man she liked into her arms.

            It was a Friday night, a weekend when the eagle s***s for all, or payday for the United States Marine Corps. Rusty Phillips just started on a two-week leave, driving from San Diego on his way to Laramie, Wyoming. He stopped in Vegas for gas and a hamburger, and headed north when the Longstreet Casino drew him into its parking lot as if some other Marine First Lieutenant than himself took control of his classic convertible, pulling into the parking lot and gazing up at the old miner icon of the Longstreet Casino sign. Some bizarre feeling suddenly ran through his body, impressing him that maybe his bad luck finally changed for the better after a tough deployment to Iraq that weighed heavily on his intellect, on his soul.

Rusty lost six of his people to insurgent IEDs and one to sniper fire where he, himself, took a round to the leg that earned him a Purple Heart and a promotion to zero-two, changing the butter ball gold bar on his collar to silver and bumping his pay up. His Division Commander mentioned some other God damned medal that Rusty didn’t want or didn’t think he deserved. Seven of his best friends weren’t getting any promotions or leave of absence from duty, and it didn’t feel right to walk away from that damned war when too many had not. Still he put the paperwork in and picked out a 1967 Mustang Convertible, signing his good name away to the bank for the cost of the car. The new silver bar was tugging away at his neck all the more as Rusty drove away from the military community to find some kind of peace for a while where he could ride his dad’s mare and swuck out the stables while his mom fried up ham and eggs.

When the tall young man with the high and tight haircut walked into the casino, Sandy and all the other girls memorized every move he made, every step he took. His shiny boots and crisp blue jeans led a girl’s eyes up to his muscular arms and friendly blue eyes. His goofy smile melted Sandy's heart as readily as his silly hat sat haphazardly on his closely cropped head. She went nuts all over the floor for the young cowboy the instant he sauntered through the blackjack pits as she altered her way to cross in front of him and set her waitress tray on the bar, closing her eyes and praying the handsome fellow would not think less of her because of her skimpy skirt and low cut blouse. Bruce was behind the bar and Lenny, Sandy’s other roommate, sat near the waitress station, nursing a beer. Both of them saw the gorgeous hunk walk into the place, especially the way this particular guy cast an ardent spell on Sandy’s whole frame. Sandy looked up at Lenny and her head tilted to the side a little as her eyebrows raised up in her closely held smile; both gay men looked at one another with an all knowing grin of their good friend Sandra’s infatuation.

As Rusty walked through the casino the bells and whistles and clink-clink-clinks of the slot machines echoed in his ears. His eyes took in the decadence of the blackjack tables and all the money and chips and dealers with their bow ties, and the friendly looks in their faces as they dealt the cards out and scooped to chips back as the participants lost. He found himself standing in front of a roulette wheel, watching the numbers spin in one direction as the little white marble rolled into the other direction. An image burned into his mind, into his dreams in the desert a world away, of how that little white marble landed on 22, and as Rusty now watched, the little ball landed on 36. That weird feeling that drew him to the peculiar casino from the highway in the first place flowed up from his crotch into his chest, throat, and brain. Rusty acted on the feeling by reaching into his wallet and pulling every bill out and slamming the cash down onto the betting numbers, specifically the number 22.

            “Money plays!” the old bald guy who was running the roulette wheel shouted, and with a snap of his finger and twist of his other wrist the numbers went spinning in one direction while the little white marble rolled in the other, and the three old women sitting at the table placed stacks of chips on obscure bets on the betting surface; Rusty was the only one who bet on a specific number. The really pretty waitress walked up with a cocktail on her tray, of which she set down in front of one of the women sitting at the roulette table, and Rusty looked into her eyes as she smiled for the woman who tipped her a silver dollar. He thought to himself ‘wow, what a dish’ as the little glass ball went ‘plinkety-plink-plink’ into the number 22.

            “Twenty two’s a winner!” the old bald guy shouted, and Rusty looked over as the dealer picked up the cash Rusty bet and counted it out on the table; five twenty dollars bills.

Looking back over at the beautiful waitress, Rusty saw her jump up a little in delight, just for him. It was as if she’d known him all her life and was sharing in the happiness of the big stack of chips the dealer set onto the number where Rusty placed all the cash his wallet contained in one bet. He reached down and picked up the stack of chips, counting it, and it was over three thousand five hundred dollars! He tipped the dealer and walked away from the table, not being into making sport of losing his money, whether it was earned in the bloody battlefield or won on a whim in an obscure casino. Marching straight to the cashier cage, he set the gaudy chips on the counter and scooped up the numerous images of good old Ben Franklin the black lady behind the bars of the cage produced.

In the corner of his eye he saw the delicate image of the lovely looking waitress cross the casino toward the bar. Looking down at his watch, Rusty saw that it was after five in the evening and decided to stay at the hotel for the night; getting a fresh start for Laramie in the morning. Stuffing the envelope of cash into the back pocket of his jeans, he walked over to the bar, drawn to the spirit in the barley like his little Mustang was overpowered by the Longstreet Casino sign from the northbound freeway. When he reached the bar the pretty waitress was there and she shyly smiled, once again just for Rusty.

“Congratulations sir.” Sandy, very excited for the young cowboy who had just taken the casino for a small fortune, plus her heart, ached to feel the muscled young man in her arms; desire that was difficult to hide.

“Thank you, ma’am.” Rusty replied, standing there with his hands on his hips and his hat at a goofy angle like some lovesick teenie-bopper, gazing into Sandy’s erotic brown eyes. “I uh, …umm, don’t suppose that you’d like to uh; …”

“Would you like a drink?” Sandy asked, breaking Rusty’s uncertain request for a date.

“Uh, yes, please.” Rusty was still nervous and his hand reached up and settled his black velvet had squarely onto his head. “A draft beer ma’am, and a glass of water. I’ll just have a seat here in the bar, okay?”

By the time Sandy brought his beer, Rusty reasoned with himself enough to just ask the pretty waitress if she’d join him for dinner. She told him that her shift was over in about an hour and a half, and that she’d meet him in the lobby of the hotel about eight after she had a chance to change clothes. When Sandy finally got off work she raced to the small apartment complex adjacent to the Longstreet Casino, her two roommates were waiting for her.

“Well, it seems that somebody besides me is going to get laid around here for a change.” Bruce’s humor always laced with sarcasm. “Too bad it isn’t that hunk that won all that money today, eh honey?”

“Oh no you don’t, a*****e!” Lenny spouted off in his best Kathryn Hepburn accent. “That boy’s mine!”

Sandy was grinning as she jumped out of her skimpy skirt and blouse and into a sundress. “Why don’t you two just go f**k yourselves?” She shouted, strapping on a pair of leather sandals before she raced out of the front door. She barely heard Bruce’s sordid response.

“Oh my, what a lovely idea!”

Rusty was waiting in the lobby of the hotel at exactly eight o’clock. He checked in for the night and changed into khakis and a nice shirt. The money he won would not only cover his trip home and a really good time on the town, but would take a big chunk out of the money he owed on the Mustang. He stashed the bulk of it in his suitcase and looked forward to a good meal and maybe going dancing with the gorgeous waitress. When she finally showed up, only twelve minutes late, she reached up and took his hand, leading him to the best restaurant in the Longstreet Casino where the prime rib was palatable for a reasonable price. They went dancing at a western club that Sandy knew of in the outskirts of the city. Rusty enjoyed himself in Sandy’s arms, of which she relished every second. Of course Bruce and Lenny had to show up too, introducing themselves as Sandy’s big brothers; Rusty took it in stride.

As the night grew and the stars came out, the little Mustang found itself in the desert sand with two people in the back seat, frantically making love with every twitching muscle and tendon and pubic hair. Sandy’s body was delicious from head to knee, and Rusty’s love was deep and strong and endearing. Sandy’s body shimmered in the glistening starlight as her flesh shuddered and her voice gasped with every caress of Rusty’s firm touch. The passion was exquisite, mutual love at first sight bloomed.

Once the gasping lovers caught their breath they decided to go back into downtown Vegas for breakfast, again to a little greasy spoon that Sandy knew of.  Of course, for some reason, Bruce and Lenny were also eating there, and the gay couple was in the middle of a spat that they dropped, to be finished later on. After breakfast Sandy said that it may be better to go home with her two ‘brothers’ for a while and that she would meet Rusty at his hotel room, which was okay, at least that’s what Rusty said.

The drive back to the Longstreet Casino was very strange in the darkness. Somehow Rusty got lost after taking a turnoff that said it led to the Longstreet Casino. The road led up into the hills of the desert, swerving and curving back and forth. Before Rusty knew what was happening he was driving down a dirt road, downhill into a dark, black canyon. He had no idea where in the hell he was. All he knew was that he’d met and made love to the most beautiful girl he ever saw, after some bizarre urge drew him to the Longstreet Casino like the smell of bacon used to draw the American troops from the desert to the makeshift chow halls the USO set up in Iraq. Rusty wanted to get to the other side of the small, dark canyon and he increased his speed when suddenly a coyote jumped out of the Mustang’s path in the darkness. At the same time some kind of cat or dog or perhaps another coyote was in the passenger seat, then jumped out of the car as the dirt road Rusty was driving on fell away on the right side.

The small car rolled down the gully throwing Rusty against a boulder and killing him instantly. He didn’t know what happened or what hit him, or how he’d got so far north of the hotel room and the paradise of Sandy’s love. When Sandra, Bruce, and Lenny arrived at their little apartment adjacent to the Longstreet Casino, Sandy’s cool head had settled the argument; Lenny admitted to being in the wrong and just a selfish a*****e.

When Sandy finally made it up to Rusty’s room and used the key that he gave her to get in, he was not there. The next morning, after he didn’t show up at all, she called the police. Sandy took Rusty’s suitcase and stored it for him in her closet on the premise that he would show up sooner or later; either to the hotel, which she left her phone number or with the front desk or the casino. Rusty never did show up and Sandy couldn’t help but to take it personally. Six weeks later a passing airplane spotted the crumpled up Mustang at the bottom of a ravine high in the Nevada hills, about fifteen miles north of the small casino just outside Vegas. The military sent some officers who showed up at Sandra’s door to claim his suitcase; just under three thousand dollars was found still inside. Rusty’s name and military record were reconciled and his parents received his belongings; insurance paid for the Mustang. Sandy had warm memories of Rusty until the day she died.

It’s difficult to say whether the same bizarre notion to stop and bet every penny Rusty had with him on the number 22 from a dream from the battlefield rebounded somehow, to drag Rusty’s afterglow of love up into the desert hills to kill him in some erotic reprisal. Or whether his own subconscious tricked him into such a situation in lieu of those under his command who died in battle on the other side of the world. One thing certainly can be said for two impassioned lovers in the starlit desert night, love is fleeting.





© 2015 SR Urie

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Added on June 29, 2015
Last Updated on July 5, 2015


SR Urie
SR Urie


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