Saturday, July 20, 2002

"Without you"
a short story by Michael Sherrillo

What more improbable place could a person find love than on the Las Vegas strip? There exist a very real reason that this town is so fondly referred to as Sin City. Where the lights and flash of nearby casino’s promise wealth, happiness, and riches untold if you only step inside. One-armed bandits, shooting the green, spinning the wheel… the biggest decision of the night is picking your poison. Who could imagine that walking down this street of empty promises and hollow hope that I would find love? Not the Vegas love of high rollers, cheap hookers, and 24 hours neon lit chapels. I found the love which can only be understood by poets and madmen, the love which stops your heart, quickens your breath, fills you with hot and cold, and finishes you off as your legs crumple beneath you.

It happened close to midnight. The water of the Bellagio was shooting into the air, music filling the streets as thousands of people walked to and from hotels and shows. Anyone who thinks that New Your is the city that never sleeps obviously hasn’t ever been here. I’m not sure what made me turn my head, maybe it was fate, destiny, karma… at least that’s what I’d like to imagine. Though blind luck and good fortune are probably closer to the truth. I caught it coming out of the corner of my eye. A white Eclipse convertible filled with people, music pouring from the speakers in the car. As it came closer, I could see the people, and that’s when time stopped. She was sitting in the back seat. Even now, I can still see everything perfectly; her beauty so radiantly burned into my minds eye that I can see every detail as if it were yesterday. Even from across the street, you could tell her complexion was flawless. You knew that if you touched her cheek, you would find not skin but the finest of silks, the cool rich color of milk. Her head tilted back slightly, and her eyes were half closed with pleasure as she let the warm summer winds of dusk caress her face. Her lips were slightly parted as she smiled, with teeth that gleamed white against the neon lights behind her. Though it couldn’t be heard, you could tell by the look of ecstasy on her face that she was laughing, though not at any joke or comment, but just to laugh. Her happiness was so complete, that as her profile passed by, you could almost not bear to look. She glowed more like an angel, so total was her joy. Her blonde hair streaked strawberry half hidden from the wind under a red beanie flew behind her like a shimmering trial in her wake.

Though I cannot and will not ever be certain, my heart knows she saw me. Her head turned slightly, her eyes, for just a moment, lit upon me, a face in the crowd. Maybe it was a reflection of the light around us, or wistful thinking on my part, but I could swear that I saw just the slightest glimmer in her eyes when she did, and before she disappeared into the see of red taillights, with a look more cryptic than the Mona Lisa herself, she smiled, and was gone.

That night I just stood there, watching the lights fade away. I lost the car after only a few seconds passed, but I never forgot her. She will always remain the angel, untouchable, who passed from the land of heaven onto earth for just a few seconds, and in that instant of time, changed my heart forever. Though I’ve married, had children, and seen them have children of there own, I have kept her always hidden within me. Though I often wonder what happened to her, if she’s still alive, did she ever marry, have children of her own, I hope I never really find the answers. The person I saw that night was perfect. To know any more about her would be to corrupt that memory, and kill her in my mind more swiftly than any bullet ever could. So, for now, as always, she remains an object of hope, and the embodiment of dreams. A rose, hidden among the weeds and thorns… some nights, I’m sure, she still rides that lonely strip of empty dreams through the town, wind in her face, head held high and back, forever laughing, forever young… a single light, hidden in the darkness of the Vegas night.

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