Oyster Boy Review 15  
  Summer 2002
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The Benny Poda Years

11 - Vegas

Kevin McGowin

The first thing I did in Vegas was get me some Xanax, and then I hit the Halls.

Vegas is like a Fellini film. Where at the end of the movie, all the fuckers who were in the movie come out and have a parade. In Vegas, you're in some bar or casino or some shit and you keep thinking, don't I know that guy? Didn't I fuck that woman twelve years ago? Things like that. Vegas is One Big Hallucination, just like it's supposed to be.

In Vegas you also, just in case you'd not noticed before, observe how lonely and desperate and full of shit and revolting people really are. It's full of bitches who want to be Louise Brooks or that Double Indemnity bitch. There is NOTHING more insufferable and pitiful on this EARTH than women who think they're femme fatales but ain't. Look, hoe, I've had so much nook what exactly did you think I'd want YOURS for? Huh? All OVER Vegas, I tell you. Women who are dime-bag whores posing as goddamn Barbara Stanwyck.

You'd thought I was gonna leave you out of this, didn't you, Cassandra. Not for a fucking L.A. Airport Moment. You were a liar and a whore, not that I'm not too but what's worse were the lies to yourSELF. That you gave a tinker's SHIT about anything else than your putrid little heart.

—Somewhere, out there, there lives a girl-woman named Cassandra, who hates herself worse than I hate the worst thing I ever did, which is never love anybody, ESPECIALLY me. Who hated herself worse than Daniel, Laura, Fogerty, Trisha, George, Ruthie, Rick, Catherine, John Belushi, Kathy, Bonnie, Monty Clift, John Gilbert, Robert, Mark, Ed, all you people out there burning in hell reading my shit, YOU, Janie Wannamaker, and yes, even Cassandra. I think she came from Atlanta, Georgia. I think she came from Louisiana. I think she followed me from Denver. I think she is my mother. I think every kiss, glance from her eyes, every caress, every time she guided me into her in the honey'd middle of the night and said my name and said I Love You were the be-all and end-all of a Vegas Morning, a billboard with a cunt floating around in a glass of Bombay Gin, a Salem Light in the dregs of a day-old glass of Pepsi, unrepentant as a message that reads,


In my life, I have known only one woman save for my Grandmother who had a beautiful heart. She lives south of Baton Rouge. But no, don't cry! That's one more beautiful heart than I've ever seen in a man.

Have you read Baudelaire? Have you READ that motherfucker's lousy shit? Well, he's this French Poet who pats himself on the ass for an ENTIRE BOOK for being a lousy, fuckwad sack of filth. Just for today, JUST FOR THIS HOUR, I will not allow myself this luxury. Vegas? Vegas is just a State of Mind. Me? Well Me, I am sorry for. ME, well, I am sorry to be what I've become, and you know what, to get to the point where you see what you've become, you have to have been really, really afraid, in Denver, Vegas, Miami, Houston, Boston, Birmingham, Memphis, Paris, New York and Tempe, Arizona, about just what the fuck you're gonna do next—what you're gonna do to turn yourself into a whining sack of shit like Baudelaire, a hurtful, spiteful creature who does to others what he's most scared of in himself, a man who would kill you if I thought I could get away with it, Cassandra, and everyone like you, who secretly LOVES Jack the Ripper like most women also do because he is their Animus and their father, the final fortune of their desire.

Somewhere out there there's a book by this Russian dude that he wrote Underground and kicked off the Diatribe. The Rant. The most dishonest form of expression known to humankind, because it DOESN'T do the damage we want to do to each other and to ourselves, hear that, Barfly? Coward motherfucker. And in I Love You we are not exempt. In I Am Powerless we are not exempt. In I Have A Dream we are not absolved. We will fight on the beaches, we will fight on the landing grounds, in the air, up the Devil's asshole, we will never surrender. Okay, Thunderball. Save yourself, first. YEAH! Can you get your lazy morbid masochistic ass down off that cross? WILL you?

Isn't that the point, really? You're a martyr? Well, FUCK YOU. You're a skeptic? Hey, we all think we're fucking David Hume. Didn't know I knew about him, did ya? Well, neither did Ernest Borgnine. Until I told him. Then he knew I knew about it, except he's not a fag, like Gary Player, so that particular Vegas Moment ended with a Vodka Gimlet in the bar of the Saturn Lounge on the Strip and somebody finally piped up and said,—What are you saying?

What am I SAYING? Shit about other shit, signifying nothing, parodying drunk novelists from Mississippi and jaded expatriate Brooklynites?

Well, you believe what you believe only because what you believe is a lie. SWEET GOD I'm cranking. But you're a would-be femme fatale? Drink, bitch. Do coke, heroin. You hate yourself and everybody else so save me the trouble. I know. I've been there.

And what else? I didn't love you enough. I don't know HOW to love. I am no coward pissing himself on Golgotha. I'd love you if I could, and I can't. I'd love you if I could love myself and I don't.

May we all shine on. Now rack 'em up, John. It's time to play some pool. And I think I loved somebody, once. Once.

And this one's for you.

Three Contextual Solicitations for Chapter 11

We were down at the Life On Life's Terms meeting, and this elderly dude who looked like Tennessee Ernie Ford was saying that he'd been a lush for thirty years, and that he always had an excuse. He was smoking Chesterfields like he was trying to smoke out the devil inside, man.

He said yep, he'd told his wife before she'd taken the kids and split that he was overcome with sorrow over the death of Rutherford B. Hayes and the only thing that would set him right was a tumbler full of Captain Morgan. He added that he liked Seconal and Tunials as well, but when the bacon hit the pan, the Captain was his drug of choice.

And then they all got up and hugged Tennessee Ernie Ford and one man shouted, "It's seven years for me! Seven goddamn years!" and everybody was going wild like it was a Who concert and I wondered when somebody would throw their panties at the dude or try to suck his dick, but some other guy was at this podium saying that it was seven years tonight that he'd last gotten mowed and he wanted to thank Bill for it and God, too.

It was years later, in Tempe, Arizona, that I met a fella who'd known the Life On Life's Terms people and he soon after died of a brain tumor but all he said to me about it was, "Just figure out who the fuck you wanna be and be it." I never caught that man's name, but I realized that I'd long ago figured out who I wanned to be, and it wasn't Tennessee Ernie Ford.

I had never thought of the death of Rutherford B. Hayes as a reason to get so fucked up on cherry brandy I didn't care if I never saw another sunrise. But I was sure thinking about it then. And wondering why it had never occurred to me. Hayes' death was a horrible thing. A part of life, yes, but yet a horrible, horrible thing. Had my mind been washed? If you were fucking Rutherford B. Hayes and he up and died, wouldn't YOU take a drink? Well, you're a sorry son of a bitch if you wouldn't. I myself never fucked the President, but I loved him, retroactively. FUCK YOU for not mourning the death of President Hayes, I thought. I need a drink, communist.


1. Tennessee Ernie Ford's grandfather was an ardent supporter of the future president. Tennessee Ernie Ford later did paid advertisements for milk biscuits. What is the connection between Rutherford B. Hayes and milk biscuits? Think.

2. The narrator is angry in the as yet unwritten Chapter 8, Part 2. What do you know about the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes? Would you be angry? Why or why not.

3. If you were present at the death of President Hayes, would you accept a drink?

Have a safe short weekend. Expect a quiz.