The usual disclaimers apply. If for some legal reason you shouldn't read this...don't.
A special acknowledgement to Drew for encouraging me to tell a better story through his edits and suggestions. And a big thanks to Brad for his patient proofreading and editing. Finally, a shout-out to Trab for the final tweaks to get the story 'just right.'
I enjoy receiving email comments. Give me a 'shout out' at email@example.com. My other stories can be found in Nifty's Prolific Authors listings.
We re-visit the exciting oasis of Las Vegas. Like an onion, this is a city that only reveals itself when the complicated layers of skin are removed with circumspect and respect for its tawdry past. The story is a companion volume to It Stays in Vegas. While knowing the background of the characters featured in the earlier story can be helpful, Desert Fantasies should be considered a tale that stands by itself.
The first chapter makes reference to an involuntary, abusive inter-generational relationship as part of the background. While I do not condone this behavior, it is integral to character development.
Chapter 1, UNPLANNED DEPARTURE
Cray Gamble looked silently ahead through the bug-splattered windshield. The Kenworth's powerful diesel engine droned into the dark desert and the headlights illuminated the endless reflective markers embedded in the surface of the Interstate highway. The driver of the large tractor-trailer hadn't asked many questions when Cray approached him about hitching a ride at a truck stop back in Provo, Utah. He had convincingly lied to the trucker about his age and his reason for going to Las Vegas.
The only truth in his story was being very short of money. The strapping teenager was usually able to bluff his way in encounters with strangers. In this case he lied about being 18 years old, rather than admitting he had recently turned 16. He easily spun a yarn about needing to get to Vegas for a summer job, omitting that he was running away from an intolerable home life in Provo.
"Well, kid, we're just about to Mesquite...inside the Nevada state line. Should be in Vegas in just over another hour. There's a truck stop near the strip that'll be convenient for ya to get to your cousin's place."
"That's great, Mr. Simpson. I really appreciate your help," Cray said in his best respectful manner. It had taken a couple of hours back in Provo to find a driver and rig with whom he felt comfortable approaching about a ride. He looked at the green glow of the dashboard's digital clock and noticed it was just a little after 4:00 a.m. It had been only eight hours earlier when he had hastily packed a duffle bag with enough clothes to keep him decent and a backpack with his toiletry kit. 'He'll never touch me again,' Cray thought with a shiver.
"You goin' to have someone pick you up?"
"Naw. I know the Vegas bus system well enough to find my way to her house." He didn't reveal that there was no cousin or house.
"If time's not a problem, I'll treat ya to a little breakfast when we stop. The cafe has real good corned beef hash and home fries. I'll need a little break...and guys your age are always hungry."
"Never turn down good food. That works well cuz I'm not expected until later this morning." Cray said a quiet 'thank you' to himself. He wouldn't have to worry about buying food for a while. When he hastily left the house, the last thing to go in the duffle bag was his meager $153.13 savings and I.D.'s. 'First thing after we split is to get a Vegas newspaper and find some sort of job,' he thought.
"Breakfast it is; then I'll head on to L.A."
"Deal." Cray turned and smiled at the heavyset man behind the wheel. Mr. Simpson and his step dad were similarly built. But that's where the commonality ended. 'This man's friendly, warm smile ain't anything like Gene's constant stare,' he judged. Earlier in the evening, Gene's drunkenness had turned his hungry, needy look into a contemptuous, combative, sexually starved snarl. Cray grimaced at his memories of the familiar expression; it always indicated that Gene wanted to abuse Cray.
Gene Scarpino had married Cray's mom six years earlier. "More of a way to make ends meet than anything else," was the way his mom described the relationship. Cray was ordered to make Gene feel at home and not 'upset the applecart'. His real dad had disappeared two years earlier and the mother treated the son as more of a burden than anything else. There was an uneasy understanding that the young boy best keep out of everyone's hair. In return, he had a decent room, meals and occasional shopping trips at the local thrift stores for clothing.
At first, Gene seemed to want to be a friend with 10-year-old Cray. Because his mother worked a waitress shift most evenings and didn't get home until late, Gene made sure dinner was ready at 6:00 p.m. for the boy and himself. Through dinner, Gene would share his life experiences that he thought a young boy should know. Frequently, after dinner was finished and the dishes were washed, he'd insist Cray sit on the couch and watch television with him before homework. Gene would continue drinking his Jack Daniel's while commenting about the program. In time - probably six months - the adult's arm would frequently become wrapped around the child's shoulders. Although Cray wasn't too sure about this recurring scenario - especially with the liquor - he was starved for any affection and didn't mind the attention. The touching became more intense with time and occasionally he'd have to move Gene's fingers away from his chest. Gene would laugh before taking away the offending hand.
Months moved on and Gene's drinking after dinner became more pronounced...as did the exploration of the stepson's body. By the time Cray was 12, moving Gene's large hand was no longer an option in ending the now thoroughly unwanted familiarity. One evening, Gene roughly grabbed Cray's neck in a physical reaction to the rebuff. "Enough is enough, you little turd. I'm going to enjoy myself...and you better figure out how to enjoy it with me." Gene pulled Cray close and started licking the boy's face. "Mmmm," he grunted as he squeezed Cray's nipples.
"Wh...what the...Gene, what are you do...doing?" Cray replied as he attempted to pull away.
"Changing the way we watch TV. Like this, kid." Gene unzipped his pants and pulled out his limp penis. "You an' I are goin' to have some fun."
"No. I won't do that," Cray spat back as he struggled against the stronger man. "I'll tell Mom."
"Bullshit. You won't say anything. You know why? Cuz your mother won't believe you and she needs me to pay the rent." Gene let go of his cock and slammed a fist into Cray's stomach.
"Ahhgh, ohhh," was all Cray could gasp as he doubled over in pain.
"And that's the facts. Go to your mom...I'll just deny it and make things worse for you. Understand, boy? Or do I have to give you a little more taste of what happens if you don't obey me?" Gene looked at Cray with menace as he made a fist.
"Don't hurt me. I...understand. What do you...want to do?"
"You jack off, yet?" Gene asked as he started stroking.
"Na...no. I don't think I know what that means." Cray was both morbidly fascinated and repulsed at the same time as he watched Gene's adult penis become partially erect. 'It's so much bigger than my pecker,' he observed. 'And all that hair.' He knew that going to his mom would be a hopeless exercise. His step dad was their meal ticket.
"Watch, then, and learn something useful...for both of us. This will be one of our secrets." Gene settled back and grabbed his erection. He spit on his hand and gave Cray a demonstration.
That evening opened the door to a relationship that Cray endured for almost three more years. Dinnertime conversation about things the boy should know continued to be augmented by forced intimacy later. 'Later' usually occurred a couple of times a week. As he suspected, talking to his mother yielded no belief or sympathy the one time he complained about Gene touching him. In fact, she laughed and said this way she wouldn't be expected to do too much with her husband when she got home from work. The mother also told her son that he might as well enjoy it because he was probably a fag just like his real dad. She went on to call Cray's dad several confusing names and made a point of saying his birth had been a 'mistake'. He never asked, once he found out what all those names meant, why they applied either to his real dad or him. 'Playing with Gene's big dick ain't any fun,' he thought to himself. 'I'm certainly no homo. That's fer sure.'
But what he did confused him: Cray knew, through instinct, that his evenings with Gene were very wrong...an adult and a kid doing sexual stuff...he just didn't know how to stop it. At the same time, he had to admit that it felt good. Six months later, he was taken aback when for the first time he ejaculated, by the hand of Gene. He told the boy that he was becoming a man and graphically explained what had just happened...along with a very crude 'birds and the bees' lecture. By the time Cray had turned 15, Gene expected oral action - receiving and giving. If there was a silver lining, it was that his stepfather seemed uninterested about exploring the final level of male-to-male sex and he didn't play rough.
Compartmentalization was the best way to describe Cray's young life. He buried himself in studies and was an honor student. While he did make casual friends at school, close friendships were shunned to keep his 'secret'. Gene had burned away any possibility for the teen to really trust others. However, he did hang around other guys and listened to descriptions of their family lives. Even with the normal bitching by teens, nothing they related came close to what he experienced. He was envious he didn't have a mom or dad who cared about him.
Dating was erratic. Except for a few fix-ups or being part of a group that went to the movies or the mall on weekends, Cray didn't have any interest in developing lasting social relationships with girls. But neither was there a desire to explore close, intimate activity with any of the boys in his class. The one time a group of guys discussed getting together for a circle jerk, Cray immediately said he had other plans and bolted.
One teacher, however, did reach out and suggest that Cray should consider some sport activities to augment studying. After some hits and but mostly misses in sports, he found Tai Chi Chuan and Kung fu appealed to him. In addition to building his body, Tai Chi meditation was very comforting. It offered him a way to come to terms with the unpleasant parts of his young life. The instruction also gave Cray an understanding of self-defense and how to use his body as controlled, physical weaponry. Learning Kung fu and kicking allowed him to become proficient in martial arts as an effective form of protecting himself. Later, he was offered instruction in Karate techniques.
The 16-year old had come home from his summer job at the local Seven-Eleven and decided to practice Tai Chi in the backyard until Gene returned from work to fix dinner. They hadn't had a 'session' in over a week and Cray wondered if he would be spared tonight. By 7:00 p.m., Gene had not shown up, so Cray came inside for a quick shower. He was toweling himself dry when the bathroom door was suddenly flung open and the hulking, drunken Gene stood in the doorway.
"Well, lookie here. A little 'welcome home' gift for me," Gene slurred. He staggered in and grinned at his muscled, nude stepson.
"Gene, for Christ's sake. You're completely shitfaced," Cray said as he quickly sidestepped the older man and got out of the small bathroom to the hallway. "You sit down and I'll make dinner." Cray went into his bedroom to dress.
"Shitfaced enough to fuck you," Gene roared. He walked to the bedroom and continued, "I think it's time for you to get that hot hole of yours baptized. Seeing you naked like this gets me excited...Son."
"Don't even think about it. The other stuff I've lived with. Nothing further is goin' ta happen." Cray gritted his teeth and stared at Gene. "In fact, I think that what you've been doing to me is over. Get it? Over!" Cray yelled. He was surprised at his anger and the way he stood his ground.
"Bullshit. Turn around and spread those cheeks. I'm gonna get myself some cherry ass." Gene lasciviously grinned as he entered the room. "Go on. I wanna see that hot hole of yours."
Without saying another word, Cray deliberately entered another mental space and assumed the basic Tai Chi posture. Gene advanced and Cray rapidly swung his leg up to kick his heel into the advancing enemy's stomach. When Gene stumbled back against the wall, Cray landed a numbing open hand Kung fu chop near Gene's neck. He watched as Gene's unconscious body sank onto the carpeted floor. Cray instinctively knew that the combination of the blows to Gene's body and the state of drunkenness would put his nemesis out of commission for several hours.
'No turning back now,' Cray thought as he struggled to drag Gene out of his room and into the living room. He decided that it would be easiest to arrange him on the couch. He was satisfied that Gene's pulse was functioning. The punch, part of the repertoire of moves he had learned, was used to disable an enemy without causing mortal injury. 'Yeah. This asshole is definitely an enemy.' Years of sexual abuse images flashed through his mind while Cray pondered his next course of action. 'Can't stay here. That's for sure.'
Back in the bedroom, Cray dressed while trying to decide what to do. By the time his sneakers were tied, the logical conclusion to this chapter in his life came to him like a vision. He went to the hallway closet and found an old army duffle bag that had originally been his real dad's property. It even had 'Gamble' stenciled on the outside. After checking to make sure Gene was still out cold, Cray methodically packed enough clothes to allow him to start a new life...somewhere. He grabbed Gene's dopp kit, filled it with toiletries and went to his mother's room to get the one remaining item he'd need anywhere - his birth certificate.
The note he wrote to his mom left out the exact details of what had happened. He only wanted her to know that he was getting on with his life and not to try to find him. Cray added the veiled threat that he would tell the authorities what he had been living with in that house over the past several years if she interfered with his departure. Gene was snoring deeply when Cray grabbed his windbreaker, Dodgers cap and backpack with gym gear. He took one final look around the house he would never see again before walking out the door. His beat up wristwatch indicated it was just after 8:00 p.m.
"There she is," Mr. Simpson said. "Purdy view."
"Wha...oh, jeez. I must have fallen asleep." Cray opened his eyes and looked down the I-15 at the sight ahead: Las Vegas in all its neon, garish, larger-than-life glory. "Holy crap, what a sight." He noted that it was just after five in the morning and he was looking forward to the promised breakfast. Leaving without dinner had made him very hungry.
"This town never sleeps. I'll stop here once in a while if I don't have an urgent load and try my hand at some cards. But you're not old enough to gamble yet."
"Only...18. Plus I don't get that excited about betting. Or drinking, for that matter."
"Is it a church thing? I know the Mormons run your town."
"Naw. Our family doesn't pray much," Cray replied. "Lots of my friends are Mormon, though." He thought about the drunken turd of a stepfather he had left behind, forcibly passed out, only 11 hours earlier. 'Asshole. Hope he has a good hangover to remember me by,' Cray thought with satisfaction.
The cafe at the truck stop was very busy, even at that early morning hour. Mr. Simpson and Cray sat at the counter and enjoyed a marvelously greasy portion of home fries with the corned beef hash topped with a soft-boiled egg. By the time Cray had polished off his plate and two pieces of marmalade-coated toast, it was time for the two guys to part. He took Mr. Simpson's large, calloused hand and shook it before the trucker left.
He decided to have one more cup of coffee while he ran through the classifieds of the morning Review Journal someone had left on the counter and circled a few things. One thing that bothered him was the lack of any proof he was 18. He needed a Nevada driver's license because his Utah license showed his real age. And his real age meant filling out work permits. First thing, he decided, was to stow his duffle bag in a locker. Without a car, he needed to rely on the bus system. 'Probably the best thing to do was to find the local Greyhound bus station,' he thought. 'They're usually downtown and always had lockers available.'
The cafe cashier was a friendly, motherly type - as if Cray knew what that was like - who gave him directions to the bus stop and the proper bus number to get him to the Greyhound station. Supposedly the station was only a few blocks from Fremont Street - the poor casino-populated cousin to the more famous Strip.
It was still early when he arrived at the bus station. First was the need to clean his teeth. He found the men's room and brushed while an older man at a nearby sink shaved. Next stop was the locker area. He made a mental note to get some extra change so he could re-use the locker until he had a plan. Cray retrieved some money and carefully stowed away his duffle bag. He slid three, folded twenty-dollar bills in his shoe, grabbed his backpack and went back to the passenger waiting area. With the marked-up classifieds in hand, he sat down in a worn plastic chair. 'Man, I don't even know where anything is,' he thought as he looked over the ads and unfamiliar addresses. 'Prolly should get a map of the city and figure things out.'
"Hey, dude. Whazzup? Just get into Vegas?"
Cray turned to his left and looked at a goodlooking guy, standing with his hands on his hips, who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. The stranger was wearing a dark tee that clung to his body, a pair of faded jeans and Western boots. His long, shiny black hair was combed back with a serious gel holding it in place. Each bi-cep appeared to have tattoos that ended at the shirtsleeves.
"Um...is it that obvious I'm new in town?" Cray decided to say as little as possible to the guy. His non-trusting antenna was on alert and he decided that his shy routine from school was not the tact to take.
"Well, duh. This is the bus station and you look like you're right out of an Iowa cornfield...no offense. I'm Mario." The stranger sat down on the next seat and extended his hand.
"Cray Gamble...and I'm not from Iowa." He shook Mario's hand and stared back. 'Jeez, do I really look like a friggin' farmer?' he wondered.
"Cray? As in Crayola?" Mario said with a smile. "Relax...just joking."
"It's cool. Crayton is my official name. Dropped it a long time ago." He decided not to offer further information.
"So whatchu doin' in town?"
"Damned if I really know. Get a job...I suppose," Cray said with a shrug.
"Might have something you could do. I, ah, work for someone who can use young guys like you." Mario's eyes darted around the room while he talked.
"Doin'?" Cray's antenna was pinging big time. He was young but knew when he was being conned by someone who was just a little too smooth.
"There are men - older men - who pay good money to be with a stud like you. You could make yourself lots of bucks."
"Yeah...bucks for fucks. Right? That's definitely not what I'm into. I must look like some sort of hayseed, Mario...or whatever your name is. Find someone else cuz anything I do for a job will be honest with no strings." Cray looked at Mario and instinctively stiffened his hand. 'I just left something like that and didn't get a cent,' he considered with disgust.
"Hey, no biggie. Part of my job is finding fresh meat. Just business...that's all. I'll be on my way..."
"Wait. Maybe you could help me with sumpin." Cray didn't like asking Mario to assist him but he didn't have many options in the strange city.
"You change your mind...stud?" Mario replied with an 'I told you so' leer.
"In your dreams. Forget it...I'll find someone else."
"Calm down. I understand. Maybe this is my day to do a good deed. Whaduya need?"
"Here's the deal. I need some I.D. that shows I'm 18...something I won't be for another two years." Cray looked at Mario and smiled.
"Whoa...jail bait on top of everything else. I'm glad we didn't do business cuz my ass would be..."
"So, is there somebody who makes driver's licenses? I don't have much money."
"Yeah, I got a guy. It'll be a hundred bucks, though."
"Crap, that would wipe me out. I...I could afford maybe sixty bucks tops. Please, Mario. I don't want to beg but I've been going through shit and I'm running away from my stepdad who...wanted to...diddle me in the butt."
"Man, no wonder you're a little touchy with, you know..."
"I kicked his ass and left last night. Forever. I need a license good enough that I can use it to get a job." Cray decided to go for broke and give Mario a large part of the real story.
"It's not even nine o'clock and I've got a whole soap opera going." Mario smiled to show he wasn't mocking Cray. "Okay. Here's what we do. Walk down with me to Fremont Street. The guy I know is probably up and can make you a Nevada license - picture and all. Give me the money and I'll do the rest."
"You gonna run off with my cash? That would be a mistake." Cray looked at Mario and stared intently into his eyes.
"Absolutely not. This is my Boy Scout thing. Maybe it makes up for all the shit I pull. Go figure," he said with a shrug. "Gimme the cash and let's blow this pop stand."
"Okay." Cray reached inside his shoe and pulled out the money. "Just for the record, you mind telling me why you're doing this?"
"I like you...for openers. And you might as well put your good looks to work for you. My boss also has a legit company that books models for conventions around town. You know, working booths at trade shows. I think you would be good at it. There's nothing going on right now in the middle of summer...but come the fall..."
"That sounds like something I could do. Mario, let's keep that option open."
The two young men walked out of the bus station and ten minutes later arrived at a non-descript, six-story building off the Fremont Street casino area. Mario pushed a button, said his name when he heard a click from the speaker and pulled open the door after a buzz released the lock. They walked in, stopped at the open elevator.
"I'll do all the talking. Anthony does a lot of business with us so I don't expect any problems with the discount for his services," Mario said when they got in the elevator. "Push '3' while I unfold your money."
The elevator slowly ascended, jerked to a stop at the third floor and the doors slid open. Mario turned left and waved Cray to follow. At the end of the hallway, Mario knocked twice on a door with frosted glass and opened it. Inside was a maze of equipment, computers and printers. Mario signaled Cray to wait by the door as he approached an older man. Mario and the man shook hands after Mario kissed him on the cheek. They had a quiet conversation for a few minutes before Cray was motioned to come closer.
"Okay, kid. Here's the deal. I take a picture and you give me the information that you want on the driver's license," Anthony said as a matter of fact.
"What address should I put down?" Cray hadn't thought out the entire process other than needing to advance his age two years.
"Here, I'll write down an address in Henderson where I used to live. It's a non-descript apartment complex with a couple hundred units." Mario took a piece of paper and printed the address and zip code. "Write your full name and the date of birth you need. Anthony can do the rest."
Cray printed his real name and wrote down his actual day and month of his birth. He paused and mentally counted to himself before writing down the year. "Here ya go," he said as he held up the paper.
"I'll enter all the info in the computer. Mario, take the kid's picture. You know how I need it." Anthony grabbed the paper and walked over to his desk.
"Stand over by the wall in front of the dark cardboard background where the "X" is on the floor. This Polaroid will be great for the license," Mario said. "And don't smile too much. It'll make you look too young."
In a matter of moments, the photo was processed and trimmed, and the license was produced on a laser color printer. The almost-finished license had just rolled out of the laminating machine when Anthony turned to Cray and asked, "So, what are you going to do now? Mario says you're looking for work...but not what he had in mind for you."
"Something legit that pays the bills. I know the pay will be minimum but I need to start someplace."
"And you'll probably need a cell phone at some point. I might know of a job if you're not choosy about the shift and what you'll be doing," Anthony replied while he inspected his work.
"As long as I don't have to..."
"Screw for a living. Ya, ya...Mario told me. No, this is hard, honest work. My cousin runs a janitorial company - Galaxy Services - and can always use workers. You got a Social Security card?" Anthony trimmed the laminate so the card would be the standard size.
"Yeah...in my wallet. I guess cleaning's something I can do, really well. Where do I go?"
"Mario, why don't you use my truck and take the kid over to see Manny. If ya got time."
"Time's something I got plenty of."
"He's at the construction site at the new casino on The Strip. No reason to mess up your wheels in dirt and crud. And the truck's got a security decal in the windshield."
"Barcelona, right? Next to Bellagio?" Mario asked.
"Correct. And I'll call to let him know you two are coming." Anthony turned to Cray and continued, "It may only be a janitor's job but this is an important deal for my cousin. If everything goes well, he'll manage the cleaning services once the casino opens. Don't screw it up or you'll find you're in deep shit." He smiled with an 'I'm really not kidding' look and shook Cray's hand. "Chances are you'll be able to start work tonight."
"Don't worry, Sir. This is a great opportunity and I appreciate it." Cray grasped that this could be a turning point, albeit temporary, in his life.
"Anthony, I'll have the truck back in a couple of hours." Mario handed the money to Anthony, retrieved the finished license and inspected it. "This is good work. Cray, you are officially - well, kinda officially - an 18-year-old." He smiled and handed over the forged driver's license. "Let's boogie...I got some other stuff to do later on."
"Checking out studs getting off the busses from Iowa?" Cray replied with a sly grin.
"Or Bum Fuck, Utah." Mario playfully squeezed Cray's shoulder and added, "Who are legal."
The drive down Las Vegas Boulevard was an eye-opener for Cray. He held his backpack tightly and kept moving his head around to take in all the sights; the various casinos and landscapes were previously only images he had seen on various television shows. Mario gave him a rundown about Las Vegas and what he'd seen change since moving from New Jersey, via California, seven years earlier. After they passed The Bellagio complex, the looming new casino and resort construction came into view.
"Here she is...the Barcelona. It'll be open sometime this fall," Mario said. "The security guard at the gate will give us directions to the trailer Manny works out of."
"This is going to be another big place," Cray replied. "Pretty fancy." Various buildings the size of his former school's gymnasiums and auditorium surrounded a huge hotel tower. Without any landscaping, the grounds looked very barren. However, a mammoth sign announced the hotel's name and a colorful, animated LED screen promoted all the features of the new resort.
"Yeah...really cool. Supposed to have a replica of the old town area of Barcelona. Spain, ya know. I've only seen pictures of how it's supposed to look when they open. A few of the best chefs from New York and L.A. are opening restaurants and the showroom will have only topnotch headliners. I hear there's supposed to be a bitchin' night club in the works." Mario turned off the boulevard and drove down a service road. At the security entrance, a guard recognized the sticker and gave instructions on how to find the Galaxy Services trailer.
"I can't friggin' believe it," Cray said with a chuckle. "After that bad start with each other, what you're doing for me is amazing. Thanks, Mario."
"Enough with the sweet stuff, already. You're going to make me cry and blow my image." Mario turned slightly and asked, "By the way, where are you going to live?"
"Um, haven't figured that out. I don't have any money...even for a flop house."
"You can stay with me for a couple of days if ya want - no strings attached. I share a large house with several guys who...you know...work in the escort business. Anyway, you could share my room for two days tops cuz I got a special houseguest coming over from L.A. for the weekend. She's someone I met not long ago."
"Two days would be great. It'd give me a little time to find a place." Cray was thankful for this additional favor. He also noted that Mario said a 'she' was visiting him. 'Wonder what that's all about? Must be he likes gals and the guy thing is just business?'
Amongst the maze of trailers, building materials and equipment was a small trailer housing Galaxy Services. Mario parked the truck and they walked into the trailer. The secretary perked up at Mario's name and said to have his friend fill out an application.
"You go ahead and do the paperwork. I'm going to walk outside and check the layout." Mario said.
"I'll do that and see what else they want."
"I'm sure they'll need to copy your driver's license and social security card." Mario smiled with a wink before leaving.
Cray sat down at a table and filled out the application. He pulled out the new driver's license to copy the address. In the space marked education he fudged the dates and stated that he had graduated from Provo High School two months earlier. He took a deep breath and signed the application. He knew that it was wrong to lie but he was in survival mode. Next he filled out the W-4 and I-9 government forms.
"Young man, have you filled out everything?" came a voice from the doorway to an inner office. "I'm Manny Genovese. Anthony's cousin."
"Yes, Sir," Cray replied as he stood up. "Here it is." He handed the forms to Manny and waited.
"Good. Give her your I.D.'s so she can copy them." He kept the application and gave the secretary the other forms. "Come into my office."
For the next 15 minutes, Cray gave him a mostly true story of his life. Manny seemed to accept that he wanted a change from living in Provo and decided that Vegas had a lot of opportunities.
"So, you're okay with starting tonight? I do need someone to fill a vacancy and could use you starting at 5:00 p.m. The shift finishes at 1:00 a.m. and I'll start you at eight bucks an hour. Deal?"
"I'm ready. Where do I report?"
"You'll work out of the trailer next door. I'll go over and introduce you to the supervisor. We need to issue you uniforms, locker, set you up on a time sheet and get a security card for you to wear when you're on the property. Come on...it'll take just a minute."
Cray followed Manny out of the office and gave Mario a 'thumbs up' when he saw his new friend.
"Mario, I think this fellow will work out fine," Manny said. "We've got a few things to handle and I'll have him back to you in ten minutes."
"Well, buddy. It looks like you're on your way. I'll drive you back downtown when you're finished. We can figure out how you're going to get around, later. The city buses are a bitch but they do run all night long."
TO BE CONTINUED