I am out in Las Vegas with my dumb cousins and things have not gone well. It is not clear to me why, but Gil, Marie, and I just fight and fight and fight. Except it is not totally unclear why. My theory is that it is because Marie is just not a very pleasant person. In the car earlier today:

Gil: You sleeping?

Me: Nah, it’s that I just took my first Chantix of the day and it makes me kinda noxious.

Gil: Xanax!? You took fucking Xanax this morning dude!?

Me: No man, Chantix.

Marie: Gil, never take Xanax! Xanax is fucking terrible; promise me you’ll never take Xanax!

Gil: Chill, I don’t do drugs.

Me: He just misheard me, Marie.

Marie: I don’t even want to hear you two talk about Xanax, okay!

Me: Marie, Gil has never done drugs, not even after four combat tours. I doubt he’s gonna start now, and if he were, you just screaming about it probably wouldn’t stop him.

Marie: Gil, will you promise me to never do Xanax!?

Gil: Marie, I think you’re projecting a bit here.

Marie: That is so fucking rude!

Me: I mean, you have been to rehab more times than Gil has been to the Middle East.

Gil: Anyway, I think I heard once that Xanax makes you sleepy, so it sort of made sense that he might be on it. But maybe that’s just because people mix it with alcohol a lot? Even though they aren’t supposed to? Is that true?

Marie: Gil, promise me you’ll never take Xanax with alcohol; that is so fucking dangerous!

Me: Marie, you need to calm down.

Marie: Fucking promise me! Both of you!

Every conversation seemed to go more or less like the above. By the end of day two, Marie had gone silent and was holed up in her room. Gil and I went to a bar and got drunk. He chatted up some girls, but struck out and got real depressed about it, so we sulked back to Marie’s place so he could sleep it off. But me, I wanted more, so I got an Uber and headed for the nearest casino.

I have always loved the ambiance of casinos. The lights, the babes, the white trash, the drunk Indians, the cocky blacks, the all-business Asians, the mummies at the slots with the cigarettes about to fall out of their mouths. All of it is great. It is exactly the right kind of tacky, the kind of glitz and glamour that is a crossbreed of what just fell out of Hollywood and what just fell out of your cereal box. From the posh carpets to the nicotine stink to the cheap steaks—its unique charm is enough to make me want to live there. The only real downside of casinos is that there’s not much to do. Cards, slots, craps, roulette, and the rest of it really don’t do much for me. It can be a little fun, sure, but I will never understand how people manage to do it for hours and hours. Casinos would be perfect if they just had a little library or a small theater. Hence, whenever I go to a casino, I tend to just buy a pack of cigarettes and wander around to people watch. I’ll hit a slot machine once an hour or so as a courtesy to the owners, just as I always buy an item at a bookstore if I have been there for over an hour, otherwise I feel guilty.

The scene at this casino is pretty standard. I spend a lot of time at a craps table as one heavily-tattooed black guy reacts to his every dice toss with more vibrancy and gusto than any play I have ever seen, or will ever see. Humanity is out tonight, and it feels good to get away from my cousins. Later, I chat up the chick next to me at a slot machine. We get along so well that when I hit zero, she reaches over and puts cash in my machine without hesitation. I figure I have never known a nicer person in all my life. Trouble is she seems to want to sleep with me, and I don’t feel the same, so I slip away. After all, are there really any social norms in casinos?

I walk another few laps and my drunkenness starts to fade. I decide to let it fade completely as I watch a few stone faces play blackjack. These players could win a staring contest with the statues on Easter Island. But what the hell do they do when they are not here? It’s around four in the morning, after all. I’ll probably never know; I’m not sure they’d even tell me if I asked. Then again, there aren’t really social norms in casinos. Whatever. I move on and notice that none of the slot machines have themes from movies or TV shows; they are all just random things like “Sphinx Gold,” “Underwater Treasure,” and “Meltdown Jackpot.” This really bothers me, even though it shouldn’t. Eventually, I find a pair of machines with stuff from the Friends TV show all over them. While I never cared much for the show, I decide I am in no position to be picky and have a seat. In no time at all, I lose a bunch of money.

It was right around then that the depression hit. The loss lit the fuse. I sit there and I wonder why I am such an idiot as to play slots and lose money like this. And why can’t I just have a nice time with the cousins I only see every few years? Why is my life like this? Fuck. This can’t be right. It’s like a cord inside my head was briefly unplugged and then plugged into the wrong socket. My brain just broke for no good reason and I’ll never be the same again. I guess the stress and anxiety of existence finally got to me.

Fuck, fuck; fuck…fuck. Should I just kill myself? Is it that time? Has the clock run out? How can you be sure when the moment has arrived? This is the sorta thing you gotta be right about. I have a revolver back home, but nothing out here. Does Marie have a gun? Maybe that junkie has a ton of pills stashed away somewhere. But pills are a real roll of the dice, and we learned tonight that this is not a lucky time in my life. What if I found the pills and didn’t take enough, then landed in a coma? My cousins would be so fucked up by that. They would think it was their fault and that just wouldn’t be true, but I obviously would not be able to explain it to them since I’d be in a coma. And what if I took too many pills too quickly and puked before I could die? Anyway, Marie may very well be clean and not have any pills. Plus, if she did, there is no reason to be sure that I could find them. So the gun. That’s the way to do it, of course. You’ve always known that. But there’s no gun I can get out here. Well maybe at a gun show. I know; I’ll look up if there are any gun shows tomorrow/today and just Uber over there.

Except maybe I shouldn’t kill myself. Why was it that I decided I should? I can’t remember anymore. It felt like a sure thing just a few moments ago. Weird. Okay, give it some more thought. Keep it together; this decision is important. No matter what, you’ve got that gun at home: remember that, it always gives you the option.

The night ended with a whimper, not a bang. By that point, since I had been a new member for three hours, I was entitled to a free steak, which I eagerly ate up. I started to cry a bit afterwards and refused to chat with my Uber driver on the way back to Marie’s. The next day, the situation with my cousins finally exploded and Gil and I left in disgust. The whole ordeal may have been wrought with meaning, but I doubt it.