We Went to Vegas to Wring Joy From Heartbreak

Even though I rarely wager more than $20 on the slots on any one trip to Vegas, the excitement of the “you could win big” atmosphere never gets old. Tonight, however, it feels as if everyone and their mother has decided to make this weekend, perhaps even this hotel, a symbol of the release we’ve all sought. This bold and ubiquitous “YOLO” is appealing to me, but I wish I could summon this brand of fearlessness, too.

When it comes to protecting ourselves and the greater good, there is a fine line between doing what’s right for our own safety and the greater good and giving up a freedom that may never be returned.

For us Black people, who have been denied self-determination for twice as long as we have been given it, the line between right and wrong is more perilous because we have been denied self-determination for twice as long as we have been given it. It is safe to say that my peoples have it worse than most, if not all, if Covid provides cover for the rulers to usurp even more liberty from the peoples.

So even if it is wrongheaded or not, I count every maskless person as an emissary—I’ve lost all patience for the antivaxxers—for the resiliency of this devastating pandemic in the same way I distrust the city’s gambling odds and legerdemain. The more mature part of me also realises that this whole carpe diem thing is more appropriate for those with better health prospects than my brothers and I.

While Black men have the shortest life expectancy in the United States, Covid is killing at least two times as many of its crew members who are Black.

Unbeknownst to me, almost the entire crew has received their shots.

Then, we had to give up Cowan and Blass in the process.

Cowan is no more. Blass is no more.

And it’s possible that any of us could be the next victim.

Some members of the cast and crew relax on the upper deck with a few blunts. A bass-heavy, twilit end is in store for the hotel’s daytime pool party.

The crew shuffles back into the suite one, two, three times, leaving me and AD on the balcony alone. AD is the only member of the group with whom I haven’t spent much time. In high school, we didn’t compete against each other, so he’s one of the oldest members of the group. He also lives a long way away from the rest of the group, so he wasn’t around as much as he should have been.

That the man who raised him isn’t AD’s biological father came to light recently, AD tells us. It was only after his father’s death that he learned of his paternity, and as fate would have it, his father was also the father of his childhood best friend. AD reveals that Dub’s biological grandfather was also his adopted uncle. At times the pain in his voice is almost audible. In my opinion, Kenny had more knowledge of my father than I did.