Saturday Story

Las Vegas Magic

In life, like magic, perception is often “reality”.

I spent most of ’95 living and working in Las Vegas. The job market in Honolulu was in the toilet but was wide open in Vegas where my parents were living. Julie and I had decided to check on the possibilities of moving there so I went first to try and set up some ground work.

My Dad wasn’t doing too well, physically, and was in and out of the hospital during my stay there. Some days I’d go to the hospital with Mom after work. I was working for one of the largest collection agencies in the country, making decent money, but they required shirt and tie from male employees. I’d dump the jacket soon as I got in the car.

For some reason, I didn’t take the jacket off this day.

Mom picked me up after work and we drove over to the hospital on basically the other side of town.

As we were driving, a male and female on a motorcycle passed us weaving in and out of traffic. I couldn’t tell their ages as both were wearing full face helmets, no colors, and it was only the short shorts that gave me the clue the passenger was a girl.

At the next stop light the bike cut left across several lanes and into the left turn lane. As we all waited for the light, a four door sedan, a Japanese car of some sort or another, also pulled into the lane. The car was directly behind the bike but stopped several lengths away. This caught my eye, especially in Vegas where nobody leaves an open space. The car driver opened his door and stepped out and stood next to the front of his car and was yelling at the couple on the motorcycle. The bike driver got off and began yelling back. The car driver was acting very aggressive and acted like he wanted to fight. The bike driver wasn’t backing up a bit and looked ready to go.

In fact, he held the helmet by the strap and I know they make real good clubs when held that way.

I was watching all this happening and making comments as Mom was telling me not to get involved.

I had no intention of getting involved until I saw one of the vehicle occupants slip out of the right rear passengers door. He was crouched very low, moving very slow as to not attract attention with his movements, and had either a knife or screwdriver in his hand down and kind of hidden by his leg. But I was on the outside of him and could see he had something in his hand.

I started to open my door when my Mom says, “Jim, don’t get involved”. Sure, like that was gonna happen.

I opened the door, put my right hand under my jacket hopefully simulating reaching for a gun in a shoulder holster. My arm reaching across my chest was even more visible with the white shirt and dark jacket. I pointed with my left hand toward the guy moving slowly down the passenger’s side of the car, and yelled,

“Hey you, drop the knife”.

The whole group, bike riders, car driver, and sneaky passenger all looked at me as I moved to in front of Mom’s vehicle. I figured if the light turned green she wouldn’t run over me. At least I hoped she wouldn’t.

My action had worked. They all thought I was a cop of some kind, or some other guy carrying a gun, because they had all come to a complete stop.

They spent 2-3 heartbeats looking at me and then someone pushed the “start” button.

The bike driver handed his helmet to the passenger, jumped on the bike, and hit the gas. They made a left turn, jumped the medial strip, crossed the intersection, and rapidly sped down the road. I noticed they were still weaving in and out of traffic.

The other two guys, jumped back into the car, also jumped the medial, made a tire screaming U turn, and roared off in the opposite direction.

The light turned green as I got back into the car and we drove off to the hospital. My Mom was busy chipping her teeth at me for “getting involved in something that’s none” of my business. And what would I have done if the passenger had decided to come after me instead of running off.

What happened is just what I expected to happen. I wasn’t carrying a gun, but I counted on neither group wanting to get involved with any kind of cop and would decide to get out of the area as quick as possible.

Let’s face it, in Vegas it’s all about what the audience believes they see. That’s the magic baby. That’s the magic.

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