The Square Wheel of Misfortune

by Calendar Hacksaw

On a lark, Betty an' me decided to get away from the autograph hounds for a few days and head for the bright lights of the city. No, not Oildale again. This time: Nevada!

So we pored over the glamorous travel brochures in search of the perfect resort. Would it be the Luxor or Mirage in Vegas? The Nugget in Sparks? Maybe Tahoe or Laughlin?

When all was said and done, we'd made up our mind: Searchlight! We're not dumb, you know!

We were in Searchlight once before, about 25 years ago. Well, actually we were camped on the other side of the river at Cottonwood Cove, and never saw Searchlight at all. But I remembered the routine: we'd fish at dawn's early light, sleep through the heat of the day, go down to the dock at sunset and swill Schlitz with all the other Okies, then feed fish guts to the coyotes 'til midnight. It's a lifestyle to which I still aspire.

This time, though, we would skip the nightlife of Cottonwood Cove and go for the "big time;" maybe make a bundle in the process.

It would take some hefty stakes in order to do any good over there, so I wandered down to the Thrift and rounded up $100, using the deed to the Twisted Sisters as collateral. Betty tucked the money inside her bra, where she keeps all our other valuable stuff, and we were set. I remember one other time I needed the deed to the ranch, and guess where I found it? Yep, in the glove compartment of the Jeep, tucked inside Betty's spare Maidenform.

The travel guide said reservations weren't necessary at Searchlight during the off-season (Jan-Dec), so we just motored on over and parked in front of the first place we came to. The flashing neon lights said it all: "WELCOME TO THE FIRST PLACE YOU CAME TO!!" So we went inside and gave it the once-over. Two "21" tables. Juke box. 10-cent coffee. We knew we had made a big mistake. This was way too upscale for us. With deep regret, we piled back in the car and headed south.

After a good bit of driving, we finally reached Two Corners (that's "Twin Corners" to you), hard fast by the border of Nevada and some other state, not too far from Nowhere, and clearly in the flight path of Area 51. Like redundant deja vu, the sign said it all: "SCOTTY'S ALL NIGHT GAS HOTEL EATS GAMING CLEAN RESTROOMS MARGARITAS LOOSE SLOTS FREE PARKING." Heaven at last!

We went in an' woke up the desk clerk, told him we wanted the bridal suite.

"Yeah, yeah, they're all 'bridal suites,'" he assured us.

"Good deal; how much?" I queried.

"$6.00 an hour."

"We'd like a room with a river view."

"Hell, the river's 18 miles east of here!"

"That's okay; just give us one facing that direction and charge us extra."

Okay with him. So I bought six hours for Betty, six hours for myself, and we settled in.

Next stop was the roulette wheel, where I pulled that $100 bill outa Betty's ample safe and traded it in for nineteen $5 chips, which the dealer assured me was the equivalent of $100, minus "seller's commission."

"Do you know anything about wagering?" the dealer inquired.

"No. Do you know anything about Coleman stoves?" I countered.

"You're in the wrong joke," she responded, and she was dead right.

Without further ado, I plopped the whole pile on number "2" (for Twin Oaks), and damned if it didn't hit, giving me and Betty a pile of tokens taller than the Twisted Sisters themselves! We were rich, and we knew it! Now we could afford "SCOTTY'S BUDGET BUFFET BUILD YOUR OWN BOLOGNA SANDWICH TWO CHEESES $5.99." Not only that, we could finally afford one night at the Rankin Ranch!

Betty headed upstairs for some well-deserved rest, and I sauntered over to the bar for a refreshment ("MARGARITAS 50-CENTS - WITH TEQUILA $5.00.").

A cute little lady who had been studying my roulette skills sauntered up behind me and cooed, "Hi, cowboy. My name's 'Starlight'. What's yours?"

"Um, Wayne, ma'am. Wayne Moody," I blurted out, spilling my tequila-free margarita down my pantleg.

"That's a pretty name, Wayne. You wanna go have a party?" she inquired, innocently.

"No thanks!" I replied. "Betty's got the room for another five hours, and it's too small for a party anyway! But it's got a river view!"

Well, she leaned forward and whispered in my ear, and I think she must have been a travel agent, because she said she wanted to take me around the world.

I said that was just fine, but Betty and me had things left to do, and couldn't afford to get stranded someplace like Morocco or Hong Kong. So 'Starlight' moved on down the bar. Farewell.

With our gamblin' done, we had time to tour the town, which took about five minutes including a stop at the whorehouse for souvenirs ("SCOTTY'S PLEASURE RESORT PRETTY CLEAN GIRLS LOOSE SLOTS ANNUAL CHECK-UPS RV PARKING IN REAR FAMILIES WELCOME"), then decided to head for home. We'd certainly got everything we'd come for, and then some. Besides, I didn't care to hang around and have to explain to the desk clerk how my room key found its way down the toilet, a story way too short and disgusting to put into print.

Back home, we started unpacking and guess what I come across? Yep, wrapped up inside a dirty WonderBra were the 665 $5 chips I'd won at roulette (minus "dealer's commission")! They didn't seem to have as much value at home as they did at Scotty's, so I went down to the swap meet and unloaded all of 'em on some fool for $2.50 each, coming away with a cool $1,662.50 (minus what the guy said was a 5% "buyer's commission").

There's a sucker born every minute, ain't there?

Calendar Hacksaw can be reached via e-mail at <> and he'd love to hear from you.

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