Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day Sixty-Three

Day 63: 03 Oct 2010

Las Vegas is a true 24-hour town. Forget about New York's title of city that never sleeps -- that's a lie. I've been to New York, seen it without motion, heard it without a sound. It sleeps, or at least parts of it do.

Not so in Vegas. I've been stationed here the better part of five years, and I've never seen or heard it sleep. There are always people moving about. Always voices. In the whole time I've been here, I've never experienced silence or stillness.

Take McCarran International Airport. Flights coming and going around the clock, welcoming newcomers like fresh blood and expelling the losers, money gone, like vomitus. A whole functioning biological system, pumping cash instead of hemoglobin.

Cassie's flight was scheduled to land at midnight. I'd heard nothing from her while she was in Texas, but that was by design. The Chinese (and my own bosses) notoriously eavesdropped. Cell phones and email are not anywhere close to secure, but even land lines were vulnerable. Besides, I don't have a phone, anyway.

I pulled up to the airport at about ten minutes to midnight, driving one of the West Coast Syndicate's fleet of Lexus LS sedans. I'd been ducking my employers for days -- they probably wouldn't send anyone but Phil to track me down, but he hadn't yet shown up. I knew I had to check in with them, but first, I had to see if Cassie accomplished her objective.

I waited in the idling Lexus. The radio was off -- the slug hates our music -- and the engine wasn't making noise, so I heard it when the SUV pulled up behind me. Before I looked, I knew it was Travis -- I could sense it. I checked the rear-view mirror and saw him step out of the huge truck. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt, and sunglasses even in the dark. He looked bigger. More muscular. Even more than me. As he slowly approached the driver's side of my car, I saw Cassie walk out of the baggage claim doors. I floored the accelerator. The Lexus stopped inches from Cassie, who, seeing Travis, immediately got in. We peeled away from the curb, the engine howling.

"Uh, Jared, we have a problem," Cassie said as we accelerated, turning to look out the back window.

I checked the rear-view again. Travis was running after us, keeping pace. On foot.

No, he wasn't keeping pace. He was gaining.

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