Colin’s Awesome Vacation Part 6 by Colin Cotterill

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A sticky table at the Salsa Cantina but an ideal view of the action on the Strip. I went for a walk today way down Tropicana (it looks nothing like the orange juice) to the Pinball Hall of Fame. It was even more of a blast than The Atomic Research Museum – yesterday’s highlight where they let visitors handle objects contaminated in the atomic tests. But not even that shrivelling feeling in the fingers could outdo today’s visit. I love pinball. Some of my most romantic college moments happened on or around the pinball table in the bar. It’s where I learned a delicate touch on the flippers and how to curb my my violent streak just short of a ’tilt’.

I had a tear in my eye as I rode the Adams Family Freak Box, won a bonus on the Kiss Guitar Crazy and spent the last of my quarters on the Wild Mr Wolf Pool Table Blast. The bells and buzzers accompanied me back to my jock days.
They’ve been having storms here. This morning the airport was flooded. It’s good weather for walking on empty sidewalks. There is the mirage of distance in the desert of Vegas. Even the cab driver, Abdul mentioned it on the drive in.

Wherever you are the casinos look so close you feel you could toss your wallet and hit a crap table. But you walk and walk and you never get closer. There’s always one more block. Thailand makes Adidas-like shoes which are reknowned for falling apart in the heat. They shed their soles like snakes stepping out of their skins. Three intersections from MGM Grand I was flapping along like Chaplin. I’m in the Salsa because this is where my left sole fell off. I still have two virtual miles (18 actual miles) to go to my hotel so I’ve stopped for stimulation.

The Flamingo is my elderly, 50′s retro, tacky home in this bizarre place. My room is a brisk bicycle ride from the elevator. I have a splendid view of the multi-storey car park which explains why I got such a good deal with Agoda. Everywhere is crowded on the strip like Central Station with slots and beer and two-feet plastic glasses of margarita.

Hello Kitty is out front on the sidewalk making a killing. Whenever a Japanese makes a V sign she wrestles the hand down and reprimands the owner. I like that. I’ve counted six Elvises, two storm troopers, one Jack Sparrow and a Bart Simpson pass in the last hour. I think Sheffield must be lacking something because every second accent I hear is English. They shout at each other because they’re still under the impression the Americans find their accents cute. This was true in the seventies when I hitchhiked across the country but no longer applies. We’re just as annoying as everyone else now.

Hello Kitty appears to be throttling a four-year-old whose mother failed to put a dollar in Kitty’s purse. Two ageing burlesque queens are attempting to pull her off. The panhandlers are colorful but the vast majority of tourists here are white and ordinary. The women look like Jennifer Aniston off her diet and the men are all carrying extra pounds in sympathy. There are sugar daddies, folks who have ‘had work done’, polite African Americans who seem to be overcompensating for the vagaries of the Hood, and old-timers drunk in charge of mechanized wheelchairs and … my word. i don’t know who’s inside that big pussy head and that long lilac gown but he or she sure has an attitude problem. Hello Kitty just kneed some drunk in the groin for squeezing one of her eight nipples. Mothers are covering their childrens’ eyes. Now this is entertainment.

I’m back on-line. I have 476 unread emails from Bouchercon. St Louis next stop.

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