THE CLUB VEGAS BUS - STEVE PRUSKY
“Sam.” The cellmates do not shake hands.
“Rules: I drive this bus. You ride. Stay quiet. Snore, I’ll slap you. No beating off. Don’t fuck with my shit. Top bunk is mine.”
“What’s your crime?”
“Probation violation; Bigamy.”
Chauncey--amused--coughs, spits up phlegm. “Bigamy! Your first conviction?”
“Possession with Intent to Sell.”
“You don’t divorce wife one before you marry wife two. You’re already on paper. Two snoops some and voilà; home is jail--‘Club Vegas’ we call it. Yup, you’re a crass criminal all right; foot in the gutter, foot in the grave... Scared a you.”
“Wife one lives in Wyoming. State needs her testimony or the judge will dismiss. She won’t. She’s mother to my kids. I’m violated anyway; dishonorable discharge from probation--Two years in Carson City all over a farce comedy for a case.”
“Been to Carson City; Indian Springs, Ely, too. They took my previous cellmate to Ely. Trafficking. Twenty-five to life. Twenty-three hour lock-down. They’ll let us out for dinner soon. You take his seat across from me at chow. At the table we got each other’s back.”
“Eyes in our backs, huh.”
An oriental trustee trots cell-to-cell, chimes “CHOW-TINE... CHOW TINE... CHOW TINE.” Chow Tine nods to the bull he is done. Fifty cell door locks simultaneously click open. The detainees form a line on the central floor for their plastic trays heaped with 600 calories of quality soup kitchen nutrition.
“They let us out on the floor eight hours a day. Sometimes fights start for the phone. Gang bangers mostly. They won’t fuck with we unaffiliated ones, though. We’re locked down sixteen hours daily; longer if there‘s trouble.”
“Why’er you here?”
“Forgery. Cashed a bad check. DA’s going for the ‘Big Bitch’. My public defender’s lost in the sauce; hasn’t done shit but help keep me locked up here with asinine motions to discover. Hired a real lawyer. I appear tomorrow; case dismissed--easy. Been shuffling through the system four months. Soon you’ll drive this bus... Oh shit, lamb. I can’t eat lamb. Eating lamb’s as close to eating human flesh as you can get.”
“There’s a little bitch?”
“Habitual Criminal Act. Two parts. Get convicted on the ‘Little Bitch’ it’s seven years minimum, fifteen max. The ‘Big Bitch’? Twenty-five to life. You gotta do the ‘Little Bitch’ to qualify for the ‘Big Bitch’. I’m eligible for the ‘Big Bitch’. Combined, that’s thirty-two years. Here, take my lamb and bread. Makes two sandwiches. Gimme your dessert.”
Sam wishes for mustard to liven the taste of the over processed ash grey fleshy slabs of meat.
“Nevada got the death penalty, too, in case you’re thinking of offing number two over this.”
They convict Chauncey--more so for wasting his life than kiting paper.
Sam offers his hand in friendship. “Sam,” he says to his new cellmate.
The stranger ignores Sam’s gesture. “Look, I been to ‘Club Vegas’ before, so listen good; I own this bus...”
BIO: Steve writes, lives and works in Las Vegas. His work has appeared in The Legendary, Flash Fiction Offensive, Whistling Fire, Short, Fast and Deadly and others. All his previously published work can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.