welcome to vegas sign

Out of all the Las Vegas show girls I was ever married to, perhaps the most tragically flawed was Esmerelda duBois. She was beautiful, Esmerelda was. She had luxurious auburn hair that perfectly framed her sensuous face, willowy arms that matched nearly perfectly, and legs that went all the way up to her hips. And what hips! My god, what hips! The hips that launched a thousand ships! Most women would kill for hips like that. But what I didn't know at the time, was that Esmerelda had.

I first met Esmerelda duBois at my wedding reception. I had just tied the knot with a dancer named Bananas Foster. Bananas and Esmerelda had danced together at The Follies Burger, a popular American style restaurant and nightclub in Vegas. They became close friends over the weeks, and even though they no longer worked together they still shared a special bond that only Las Vegas show girls can ever really understand. Bananas and I were having our reception in one of the ballrooms at the Howard Johnson's. It was absolutely beautiful. The mirror ball was twirling, the booze was flowing, and the velvet walls of the Vic Damone Room had never looked more plush. I was as happy as any man has a right to ever be. Then fate took a sharp u-turn when Esmerelda and I simultaneously reached for the same fried clam off the catering tray. As our fingers grazed, I could feel the electricity pass between us. "Ow!" she exclaimed.

"It's the carpet," I said, "plus the air is so dry in here. Are you okay?"

"I'm a little woozy," she said, leaning on the table for support. "I think maybe my dress is too tight." She was wearing a slinky black dress that fit her like a glove. The fingers off the back looked kind of weird to me, but I'm no fashion expert. "Can you help me to a chair?"

"Of course," I said, gently taking her arm. As we navigated through the crowded reception, she clung to me the way a woozy woman clings to a guy helping her to a chair. I couldn't help noticing that my heart rate had increased dramatically. My cheeks felt flushed. Flushed in the sense that they were hot, not swirling down a commode.

"This way," she murmured, and turned us toward a service door. We entered a fluorescent-lit corridor and continued onward past the metal utility shelves covered with dishes and silverware in putty colored trays. We turned one corner and another and turned again. I didn't know where we were going and I didn't care. Soon we came to a heap of dirty linens. "I can rest here," she sighed and collapsed on the pile. "It's so hot. So, so hot..." And with that she whipped off her dress in one fluid motion, giving me, for the first time, a view of her incomparable hips.

"Yow," I observed.

What happened next was a blur of arms, legs, and soiled tablecloths. I was in an almost surreal daze-- a strange, otherworldly trip that ended with her blowing me a kiss over her shoulder as she sauntered away. It had been the most beautiful experience of my life, even though I was sure to lose the cleaning deposit on my rental tux. When I regained my senses, I was left with fragmented memories of what Heaven must be like, and also with Esmerelda's black glove dress, which she hadn't bothered to put on when she left. After a time, I returned to the reception festivities and my new wife.

The morning after our wedding began fine, but during breakfast Bananas and I began to drift apart. By the time The Price is Right came on, we found we really didn't have anything in common anymore. The rest of the morning was consumed by petty bickering. Over lunch we realized our relationship couldn't be saved and we needed to go our separate ways. We considered staying together for the children's sake, but since we didn't have any children we dismissed that notion pretty rapidly. Our divorce that afternoon was bittersweet. There had been good times, like from 8:15 to 8:35, but those were in the past and it was time to move on. I never confessed that I had been unfaithful to her. I thought it would be better if I said nothing and simply wrote a story that she might one day read if she stumbled across it in a book or magazine. "Hey," she might say, "here's a story by my ex-husband. I think I'll read it." Then later she might say, "That son of a bitch! I'll fucking kill him!" but I'd be nowhere around. That seemed the best way to me.

A divorce, no matter how amicable, is always traumatic. It tears your life apart. But time heals all wounds and by that evening I was finally ready to venture out into the world again. I decided to go to The Follies Burger for dinner and a show. They were performing a new kick line version of Goethe's Faust, which had gotten very good reviews. And the role of the lovely ingenue was being danced by none other than the stunning Esmerelda duBois. Her performance was simply phenomenal. Never have I seen a precision kick line with such depth of feeling, such subtle shading of emotion. After the show I rushed out to buy a dozen roses, then waited at the stage door. When Esmerelda emerged, I presented them to her with a slight bow. "Incredible performance," I said.

"Oh, thank you," she replied.

"So how have you been?" I asked.

"Fine," she said with a slightly confused look. "Um, have we met?"

"Yesterday. You came to my wedding reception. We had sex in the service corridor."

She looked at me closely and squinted a little, studying my face. "No, that wasn't you," she said finally. "That guy was good looking."

"Well, I was in a tuxedo. Guys always look better in tuxedos."

She paused and furrowed her brow while trying to imagine me in a tux. "Mmm, I don't think so. Sorry."

"No, really, I swear! Wait here, I'll show you," I said and dashed away to the all night tuxedo rental shop around the corner. "Fit me in a classic black, boys," I cried, "and don't spare the cummerbund!" Twenty minutes later I was fully outfitted, right down to the shiny black vinyl shoes. I ran back to the stage door in the alley where Esmerelda stood, tapping her foot impatiently. She turned and saw me, and her face broke into a smile.

"Oh, hi," she said. "Fancy bumping into you here. How have you been?"

"Thirsty. May I buy you a drink?"

"But of course! I was supposed to wait here for some guy to show me something but I'm sick of hanging out in this alley. Let's go someplace cozy."

So we did. And later I got to see her hips again.

As Esmerelda and I began spending more and more time together, renting tuxedos was no longer cost effective so I bought some. Our relationship blossomed, and soon I knew in my heart that I had to make Esmerelda and her glorious hips mine forever. Of course, that was before I learned that Esmerelda's hips had originally belonged to a woman named Gladys Spignoli-- before my world came crashing down around me.

One sunny July afternoon about two days after Esmerelda and I were married, I was underneath the car draining the oil from the pan when I heard a man's voice say, "Are you David van Wert?" I rolled out to see two men in dark suits standing in my garage. "Who wants to know?" I asked.

The men pulled out badges. "FBI. I'm Agent Smith and this is Agent Smith," said one. "Nice tux."

"Thanks," I said, getting to my feet. "What's this about?"

Agent Smith pulled a photograph out of his shirt pocket. "Do you recognize these hips?"

I most certainly did. "You filthy swine!" I lunged for his throat, but the other Agent Smith stepped between us and held me back with a gentle but firm kick to the groin. "Where did you get a picture of my wife's hips?!" I groaned from the floor. "I want the negatives! I'm calling my lawyer!"

"Your wife?" said Agent Smith. "Is this your wife, sir?" He held out a photo of a woman I'd never seen before. It was obviously the same shot as the first photo, but the first had been a close-up on the hips. Now I could see that I'd been mistaken. That wasn't Esmerelda after all.

"Sorry, agent," I said. "I guess I jumped to the wrong conclusion. The resemblance is uncanny."

"I'm afraid you're wrong, sir. The resemblance is, in fact, canny. Quite canny, indeed."

That was when I learned the horrible, horrible truth.

Esmerelda and Gladys had been roommates and best friends studying dance together at Julliard. Esmerelda majored in precision kick lines, while Gladys majored in exotic dance involving food products. The two were virtually inseparable. What nobody knew at the time was that a tiny seed of envy had been planted in Esmerelda's heart that would one day blossom into a Botanical Garden of Evil. It was, of course, Gladys' hips that she coveted so fiercely. Those damnable hips!

It was a foggy November evening in New York City, no different from any other foggy November evening in New York City except for the part where Gladys got sawn into pieces with a buzz saw. Yes, the buzz sawing is primarily what made it different from other foggy November evenings in New York City. Esmerelda had been very patient and very clever. She'd been pretending to study magic for months, often using her best friend Gladys as a test subject. She'd had Gladys levitating, disappearing, and shooting coins from her ears, so naturally Gladys had no trepidation about laying on a buzz saw table so her trusted friend Esmerelda could practice a new routine. Later the police found Gladys' body in an abandoned warehouse. And down by the river. And in a secluded glade in the park. Eventually, they found it all. All, that is, except for the hips.

The transplant operation was performed in Argentina by Otto von Schistbaden, a German doctor who'd changed his name to Pepe Allende and been in hiding since the war. He hadn't been a Nazi or anything, but he had lost several library books which he'd never paid for. Jakob "Edel" Weiss, the famous library book recovery expert, had finally tracked him down, and it was in Otto's papers that they discovered the evidence that would convict Esmerelda for the murder of Gladys Spignoli.

The weeks that surrounded the trial of Esmerelda duBois are still a jumble in my head, a dizzying swirl of images and events that I somehow just couldn't comprehend. I was trapped in a slow motion, expressionist nightmare. In retrospect, perhaps I should have taken it easy on the Quaaludes and scotch. That might've helped some. Maybe then my comments to the press wouldn't have sounded so fucking retarded. But what's done is done. There's no point in regretting it now.

Esmerelda was convicted of first degree murder in the death of Gladys Spignoli. The D.A. had argued for the death penalty, but the jury had opted for a life sentence on the grounds that Esmerelda was one hot mama. Juries are notoriously reluctant to give the death penalty to hot mamas. They did, however, insist that Gladys' hips to be returned to her family so they could be buried with the rest of her body.

The last time I saw Esmerelda duBois was in the visitor's room of the Fort Bollox Maximum Security Correctional Facility. She complained a little about the difficulties of being without hips, especially when going to the toilet and so forth, but she was not without an ironic appreciation for the restoration of the karmic balance of the universe. She seemed resigned to her fate and accepting of the consequences of her unspeakable crimes. Well, maybe not technically unspeakable since I just spoke them, but you know what I mean.

As I left the Fort Bollox Maximum Security Correctional Facility, it was understood that Esmerelda and I would never see each other again.

"Will you come see me?" she asked.

"Of course," I responded.

And that was the end of that.

gay marriage