by Arnold Snyder
“C’mon, Lulu, let’s go to Vegas.”
She rubbed her eyes.
“Wake up, sweetie. We’re going to Vegas.”
“You mean …?”
“Yes, we’re going to be married. We’ve got to hurry if we’re going to catch the two o’clock bullet plane.”
“My latest creation. The plane is shot from a gun with such force it arrives in Vegas within seconds.”
“But that’s hundreds of miles.”
“Thousands now, tens of thousands. If you look out the window when it’s traveling, all you’ll see is a blur.”
“Is it safe?”
“It is when I’m a passenger. Besides, when no one can die, everyone’s safe.”
I considered telling her that fifty years had passed since she’d gone to sleep, but decided against it.
“Take me to my loft,” she said. “I have to pack.”
“Not necessary. Everything we’ll need in Vegas is already there. Besides, we’re overdressed already.”
The bullet plane station was brightly lit and noisy. We stood in a large crowd of people waiting for the Las Vegas Express. Lulu was surprised to find most of our fellow travelers naked or nearly naked. People had pretty much decided to stop wearing any kind of covering above the waist. Most wore shorts or underpants only. Some were naked. No one wore shoes. Without factories, clothing had become obsolete. The ever-expanding population on Earth was sharing an ever-diminishing supply of clothing, mostly clothing that had survived from the time of factories. Much of what was being worn was ragged, frayed, torn.
“Everyone’s walking around naked and they’re all acting like it’s normal,” Lulu said.
“It is normal. There’s a clothing shortage and no forthcoming supply is on the horizon. People don’t work anymore so who needs clothes?”
“But people are fucking out in the open. Look at those two. And those five kids over there are having sex on that bench!”
“Yes, people have sex in public now. Since there are no laws anymore, people just do what they want. No one gets married anymore. There are no more families. I should have mentioned fifty years passed while you were asleep.”
“I did not sleep for fifty years.”
“No, you only slept a few hours. But I turned the clock ahead.”
“I wanted to see how things would turn out if we didn’t interfere anymore.”
It pleased me to see the activity in the crowded station. People seemed focused and happy. My world was working.
“Don, what’s that horrible sound?”
“Oh, that … That’s mostly babies. A lot of babies are just left in the streets now. It sounds cruel, but no one gives it a passing thought. The babies are never hungry, never in pain, can’t be hurt, can’t die. They’ll grow up strong just breathing.”
“But that sound? It’s horrible.”
“Well … that’s mostly the babies crying, mixed in with the sound of the adults crying. It’s a kind of a droning wail that never stops. It’s pervasive all over the world.”
“So mothers just leave their babies on the streets?”
“Actually, most of them get taken to baby farms first—not a very appealing name, but that’s what they call them. The babies are dumped there by their mothers usually within a few weeks of birth, some as early as day of delivery. There’s no reason for children to be taught anything anymore. They don’t need food. They can’t get hurt or sick or injured in any kind of a permanent way. They live at the baby farms for any number of years until they come out into the world, usually around puberty when they get serious about sex. They have a lot of sex while they’re living at the baby farms. And anyone’s allowed to pick up a baby for sex any time they want. Most people don’t care much for sex with babies, but a small portion of the population prefers sex with babies and no one really cares. It’s just a baby. It can’t be hurt. The people who use babies for sex rarely return them to the baby farms. They just leave them on the street. If you look along the walls you’ll see little naked babies just lying there crying.”
“But aren’t there any good people anymore?”
“What do you mean by good? Everything changes when nobody dies. Good and bad don’t mean much anymore.”
Lulu didn’t look happy, but she was always hard to satisfy. The train roared into the station, bring with it a hot wind that almost blew us over. It did blow over some people, which most everyone found amusing. We rushed to the entry doors with everyone else who was still on their feet. I felt sure that the excitement of the casino would pep Lulu up.
As soon as we approached the train, I said to Lulu, “Just leave your clothes on the boarding platform. We don’t need all these clothes anymore. It’s better to blend in.” People were staring at us in our fifty-year-old outfits.
I took my shirt off and kicked off my shoes. “Get down to your skivvies,” I said.
“But this is my favorite blouse,” she said. “It’s so pretty.”
“Not nearly as pretty as your tits,” I said. “Especially in this world.”
She didn’t argue the matter further. By the time we boarded, we were both in our underwear and shoeless. I felt it was important to blend, not so much for me, but for her.
The plane ride lasted about six seconds till the doors slid open and the naked people packed inside spewed out.
The bullet-plane port in Vegas was crowded and confusing. Thousands of people of all ages, most wearing very few if any clothes, were riding up and down the uncountable escalators and jamming the walkways.
We were picked up at the terminal by an impractically-long stretch Tesla and transported to Caesars Palace LXVII, which was the 67th Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino of the 82 that were now in operation on Las Vegas Blvd, aka the Strip, which was now 285 miles long.
As we disembarked from the limo upon our arrival at Caesars, we were greeted by a smarmy casino host in a black tux, the first person we’d seen in Vegas who was fully dressed, except for his bare feet. “Welcome to Caesars kingdom,” he said. “I’ve already checked you in and your luggage is being sent up. Allow me to escort you to the elevator to your penthouse suite—our bridal suite!” He was incredibly handsome in a sweaty Italian sort of way.
At the elevator door he handed me a plastic card. “Your player’s card,” he said. “And it doubles as your room key. Room 274562. You’re on the 274th floor.”
Lulu was looking at him with gaga eyes. He was her type.
In the elevator a large poster advertised the entertainment that week:
Two Franks! Sinatra Meets Zappa!
Appearing Live in the Emperor’s Showroom
10 PM (Dark Tuesdays)
Our suite was the epitome of luxury. Jacuzzis and wall-size flat-screen TVs in every room. As per my instructions, bowls of maraschino cherries soaking in brandy (only the best French Cognac!) were on every table in every room. A snooty-looking tuxedoed butler (sans trousers and shoes) was standing at attention in the kitchen.
“What have we got to snack on, Jeeves?” I asked.
“Whatever you desire, sir. Caviar, champagne, truffles …”
“Can you whip up a double espresso and a chocolate chip cookie?” I said to him. “Do you want anything, Lu?”
“I can’t eat, Don. I’ve got butterflies in my tummy.”
The butler nodded at us as we went back out to the luxuriously appointed living room.
“Those are real Picassos,” I said.
The richly-veined marble floor was punctuated with small hand-woven Moroccan rugs as black as night and soft as clouds underfoot. We were each standing barefoot on one of those little black clouds, facing each other. Lulu looked dazzling, like a tanned goddess in panties.
The butler appeared holding a silver tray with a matching silver coffee pot, two large cream-colored ceramic mugs, and a platter of chocolate chip cookies.
“Thank you, Jeeves,” I said, as he set the tray on the matching silver coffee table. He poured me a mug of coffee and disappeared.
“When is the wedding?” Lulu said, unimpressed.
“Tonight at midnight in the casino chapel,” I said, noticing the change in her face and attitude. “Jesus will perform the ceremony, just like we talked about. And Elvis and the Beatles will sing. Then, tomorrow morning, we’ll be on a bullet plane to Hawaii.”
“I’m feeling nervous about it, Don. Are we doing the right thing?”
Was she purposely trying to provoke me? This whole damn thing was her idea. I wanted to tell her it didn’t make a goddamn bit of difference to me if we were married or not. I’m God. Why would I give a shit?
“It’s the right thing, Lulu. In your heart you know. This marriage will make our importance to each other official.” She wasn’t important to me at all. Why am I lying to her? Leading her on. Humoring her. Am I using her? One look at her body and I knew why I was lying. I wanted her tits. I wanted her ass. I wanted her pussy.
“Well, I know I said yes, Don, and I do love you, but I’m still in the process of deciding if I’m going to go through with it.”
“Jesus has been practicing for this all week,” I said.
She looked at me sternly. “Don’t guilt-trip me.”
“Whatever you decide is fine with me, okay?” I relented. “Shall we go gamble? Blackjack? Slots?”
Her face brightened. “Let’s hit the buffet,” she said.
Go to Chapter Fifteen