[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”45%”]From the upcoming “13” Anthology of short stories…[/mantra-pullquote]
She grew up in Vegas and she grew up hard. Her father was a gambler and her mother cleaned rooms at the Stardust. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment on Koval Lane, just off the Strip. One of those eight unit, two-story, cinder-block dumps with little window air-conditioners that couldn’t cool a closet. Her older brother ran away when he was fourteen. She didn’t miss him.
When she was little, she’d hang out at the Desert Inn by the employees’ entrance, cadging casino chips and snacks from the maids and carpenters and engineers who maintained the illusions inside, laughing at the security guards who came out to run her off. She liked the sickly-sweet sump smell of the Dumpsters back there. She liked watching the flies fry in the blue light over all that rotting food. She liked the big trucks that hauled the dumpsters away and brought back empties. She was seriously into refuse.
She was pretty, but her short hair and hand-me-down clothes made her look like a boy. She didn’t care. She didn’t have time for boys. Every night she’d play canasta with her mother and count the butts piling up in the ashtray. Every morning she’d empty her father’s pockets while he slept on the couch so she’d have milk money for school.
Of course, I only learned all this later.