48

Hospitality Hell

id

It was another damned day in the wilting teeth of the Las Vegas desert, as the merciless sun began its relentless assault on the madness entombed within the crumbling facade of the Moonlit Oasis Hotel. Like insects on a rotisserie, tenants and employees alike writhed in the furnace-like conditions, thrashing about like recreationally-drugged shrimp being escorted without mercy across the searing plate of a five-star grill.

Sweat pooled maniacally around my feet, seeping through the ancient cracks of the floorboards, while any vestige of sanity clung to the tertiary threads of my mind. Bob “Bulldozer” Pincus, the fat-pocketed, deaf-to-reason fascist who owned this gaudy sandbox, strolled through the lobby, barking his masochistic demands. A relentless oppressor with hair plugs, spray-tan complexion, a Rolex worshipped more fervently than any religious totem, and a temperament as volatile as a rattlesnake on psychedelics.

“Bobby, the guests are roasting like turkeys in November!” I howled at him, scraping together what was left of my dignity. “They’re about to start tearing each other apart–”

His puffy hand waived dismissively at me, “Guest comfort? That’s your racket, Jimmy! Keep ’em happy, keep ’em drinking, keep ’em from stealing the towels.”

“Are you serious, Bob? They’re miserable out there!”

“Look here, Jimmy,” Bob growled, distorting his face into a facsimile of a grin, like a bulldog trying its hand at taxidermy. “Remember who runs the joint, okay?”

I ran a hand over my face, pulling down my inflated eyelids, attempting to comprehend the lunacy that was my everyday reality. A shop of horrors micromanaged by a man whose idea of customer service was keeping the bar stocked and the slot machines ravenous.

Once, an old lady on a pacemaker nearly combusted in the armchair beside the fireplace, forgotten in the thick of a gin-soaked Bingo game. And Bobby? He just gave her another drink on the house and upped the air con. Compassion was not, it seemed, a tariff included in his kingdom.

Yet, amidst the oppressive heat and the rage-stirring absurdities of my Bulldozer boss, the gray lining of the oasis was the transient parade of characters lost in the Vegas vortex that passed through the Moonlit’s threadbare carpet. The love-lorn divorcees, retired go-go dancers, burnt-out gamblers, conspiracy theorists on the lam – all noble foot soldiers in the army of the strange and profane.

Oh yes, between the sizzling summers and the cruel winter’s whip, there’s no hospitality like desert hospitality. And the madness, I swear, it’s infectious. No matter how stark and vexing my reality gets at the hands of the Bulldozer, I find myself oddly attracted to the hysteria that is the Moonlit Oasis – a moth willingly diving into the blazing neon flame.

So, as another savage day peels away into the intoxicating Vegas night, I find myself once again, beer in hand, watching the saga unfold. Sherry, the six-time divorcee, flirts dangerously with Gary, the garden gnome collector. Billy “Three-Toes” is acrimoniously accusing Tanya, the retired showgirl, of rigging the poker game, all while Bulldozer Bob swaggers around his kingdom, oblivious to the bedlam he fuels.

But that’s the Moonlit Oasis – an island of insanity in the desert of the damned, a dingy retreat for the lost souls who’ve cashed in their return tickets on life’s highway. And while Bulldozer Bob and his infernal lunacy could certainly be classified under ‘Hospitality Hell’, I’ve come to realize one thing – I wouldn’t have it any other way. True, I might be a dollar short and a few screws loose, but the chaos, my dear reader, is just too damned delicious to look away from.

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