He listens for the shuffle and pop, followed by a doubled trill, slightly higher pitched it seems on the second pass that is commanded by the smooth black remote locking/unlocking mechanism attached to his keychain, and which, along with the locking/unlocking function, bears a slightly convex red rubber button marked PANIC. He walks between the shade of the signature green awning and his moments-ago unlocked late-model rental car and polypropylene insulating double cup rests in his hand, freshly refilled with a vanilla iced frappucino. As he passes from under the trademarked shade, the desert sun electrifies his exposed neck causing a heat shiver that he thinks to himself feels not unlike having a piss after a too-long wait, only warmer.
The signature green coffee establishment is the only operating business in this semi-expansive retail plaza of about a dozen or so taupe painted stucco and arenaceous feldspar accented units. The empty lot is being absolutely, like fist-fucked into a sizzling asphalt flapjack by the 1 pm sun here, about a mile and a half south of THE STRIP. As he opens the driver’s side door in a rapid jerking motion to avoid having his fingertips blistered by the shit-hot paint, his smart-phone (which is being balanced in his non-door opening hand along with a bedongled keychain and venti extruded polypropylene ‘chino) erupts in rapid, pre-orgasmic like vibrations.
The estate agent on the other end of the line, whose name appeared only as UNKNOWN NUMBER on this prepaid US SIM card, begins talking immediately.
The property at 2702 West Flamingo Road has never had a commercial tenant. Construction was stopped sometime in late 2008, well after the bubble had, in fact, burst. He considers the slightly agitating quality of the desert light as it filters through the blue, iridium tinted floor-to-ceiling windows along the north wall of the space. It will probably be mostly video he shows here anyways, in the beginning at least, until he gets his head around what’s involved in transporting sculptures from London without paying import taxes. The estate agent, an unremarkable white woman in her early forties, fidgets with her leatherette portfolio containing relevant papers, seeming slightly uncomfortable. He realizes he hasn’t said anything for 10 minutes and has been looking intently at the ceiling matrix. It’s only been about 30% installed with those perforated white pressed panels that cover up the duct work and wiring, leaving it hanging out like the intestinal tract of an armadillo he passed on the side of the 95/515 heading to Henderson yesterday. He’s doing the math. If he gets rid of his one bedroom flat and studio in the east end which, altogether with bills, runs somewhere in the neighbourhood of 900+ pounds a month and takes over that Greek girl’s room in the south he’ll save almost 600. That will more than cover a round trip flight to MCCARAN INTERNATIONAL(LAS) every third week. The two bedroom ranch house where the carpets had been peeled up at the corners in an attempted theft (and where the meth heads had been unable to get the carpets and defecated on them and smashed holes in the drywall and removed all the bathroom fixtures and doorknobs) — the two bedroom house he had bought yesterday for $38,000 (last sold for $270,000) would be covered by the $10,000 cash down payment he had made from a line of credit, and because the cash down payment gave him more than 25% equity in the property, a second mortgage would be easily secured at another bank. With the additional $40,000 he could rent this commercial property and support the basic operations he intended to carry out. With nothing more than a good credit history and a fake job, the details of which had been corroborated over the phone by friends in London, he would have access to over half a million dollars’ worth (at pre-crash prices) of property.
Whether or not some part of the billions of dollars in discretionary spending that still flowed through the collapsing arteries of this city from Hong Kong roulette jockeys and Paolo Alto card-counters ever helped to float this venture was unimportant, he thought. Because of his dual citizenship he could declare bankruptcy when the second mortgage ran out, and it would mean little more than not being able to borrow money in a country he mostly didn’t live in. Hours later, riding the monorail toward the Mandalay Bay casino and resort where he had booked a shiatsu massage through a Groupon voucher, he observes a group of young men, displaying the very best in body dysmorphia. Human Growth Hormone inflated muscles tanned a medium mocha, slowly atrophying under polyester board-shorts printed in a New York Wildstyle graffiti pattern. Pastel hued Ralph Lauren and Hollister golf shirts, stained with traces of spilt margarita and sweat. He studies them through their reflection in the monorail car’s window as the last fringe of purple dusk evaporates between the black sky descending and an uneven outline of the buttes that mark the desert’s edge beyond. The waveform hum of the monorail’s electric engine gearing up between transit points blends into a Ridley Scott-ish take on Ozymandias with the young men’s conversation about pussy and their musky-sweet barrier of various Armani colognes.
It strikes him that what he wanted to identify as a `vernacular’ of styles and gestures wasn’t exactly correct here because there was no immediate outside to it. Nothing to position as a high style. As if the sustaining force of the language, the whole system, was simply assumed and never provoked into appearing, not unlike the fractional reserve banking system that made and unmade the whole show. An essence created from a deficit. A messianic secret that allowed miracles to happen which one did not have to believe in to enjoy. He was a part of it now.