THE LAST DRIVE TO VEGAS
(excerpted from a published novel of the same name)
by David Roland
Much later, bored and tired, driving through the hills and mountains approaching Nevada, he rounded a curve and saw a dead bird lying splattered at the roadside. He remembered those birds playing "chicken" with his car in Texas . . .
Evidently, this one took a chance and lost, he thought. He wondered about it for a moment. Was it an omen? That bird took a chance, like I'm taking a chance. Suddenly, he became fearful. What's that little dab, that pittance, under the seat going to do for me anyway -- prolong the inevitable? The realization of what he was actually doing struck him so hard, he said it aloud: "I'm driving out here like a goofball, trying to recover my money by gambling in a casino . . . This is way beyond desperation, this is madness!"
After another hour or so of driving, Wayne became more fatigued and more depressed, thinking the whole trip futile. He saw a SCENIC VIEW AHEAD sign, and, needing a break from driving, stopped. He parked and casually walked to the edge of a precipice. Away from the road, it was strangely silent. He was the only one there. He leaned against the protective rail and looked out over the vast mountainous view, savoring it. This is magnificent! he thought. He took a very deep breath, as if trying to breath in all that he saw. The sun had set, and the calming twilight added to the peace. Not much greenery, but the setting orange-red sun, perfect against the reddish mountains and red clay, gave it an other world look.
He looked down and saw a river that was so far below, he couldn't tell whether it was moving or not. He relaxed, leaning against the rail, beholding the view. It's so peaceful here . . . so silent, he thought. He looked straight down again and thought how easy it would be to step over the rail and jump. The more he thought, the more sense it made . . . free of disappointment . . . free of fear . . . free of growing old. He began thinking of his wife, Emily, and wondered if he died, would he see her again.
. . . He took hold of the rail, trembling a little, and took a deep breath, closing his eyes . . .
Then, the sound of tires crunching gravel. Wayne didn't turn, but just stood still, clutching the rail.
Car doors slammed .... Children laughed. "Race ya," squealed a small voice. He slowly turned to see two little girls racing toward him, their tennis shoes mashing gravel as they ran. They reached his side, laughing and giggling . . . He stared at them for a moment . . . at their cheerful, bubbly, innocence . . . so full of life.
He could hear the crunching of others walking, coming closer. He turned and walked back to his car, nodding to the passing smiling couple following the girls: a woman carrying a baby and a man beside her. Both nodded back.
David Roland, after being fired from his brief position as a sports writer over forty years ago, yielded to the call of the wild and began his exciting, but foolish adventure of betting horses and dogs for a living.
Now retired in St. Petersburg, after playing most of the major horse and dog tracks throughout the country, and living in Las Vegas for a number of years, he's thoroughly knowledgeable of the gambling life. Drawing on his lifetime of experience observing people, gambling games, and human nature, he has written a stirring novel that sweeps the reader through a roller coaster of emotions. Filled with zany and colorful characters, racetrack and casino action, gambling anecdotes and tips, it's a must read, especially for those who frequent racetracks and casinos. For more excerpts and to visit David online at http://www.thelastdrivetovegas.com Contact David.