Two weeks after I met Suzy in the parking lot of the Cocky Bull, we’re in my buddy’s Ford Fairlane headed north across the eerie moonscape-like desert to Vegas. With a suit I borrowed from Larry in avionics, as soon as I finished the graveyard shift at the air base, Suzy and her two friends, Billy and Joy and I were headed north on I-15.
My family back in Illinois didn’t know. In my mind, I could hear my mother screaming how I could marry someone two weeks after we met in a bar and my father trying to calm her down. “Well, he is twenty-one now.”
Suzy had her heart set on the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel as soon as she laid eyes on it. For starters, it really did look like a chapel—this white clapboard building with what appeared to be stained glass windows and a steeple, surrounded by the cutest white picket fence you could imagine; though, the red and yellow neon sign out front and neon trim around the eaves were a bit over the top. I wanted to get married by the King at the Graceland Wedding Chapel, but Suzy protested. How could anyone not want to be married by an Elvis impersonator?
Billy and Joy loaned us some money so we could have the deluxe wedding that came with photos, a cassette recording of the vows, and four tickets to a show, tokens and a complimentary bottle of champagne. The minister, reverend, or whatever religious moniker he used to sanctify the vows reeked of whiskey and cheap cigars. Turned out he grew up not far from my childhood town. Then he asked me for a tip, or a donation to the church as he put it.
The show turned out to be some off the strip venue, but the guy that played Chuck Campbell, the ventriloquist with his dummy Bob on TV’s Soap headlined along with a chorus line of naked women dancing to the music of Star Wars as they brandished illuminated plastic light sabers. Suzy quaffed most of the champagne and promptly ordered more followed by shots of tequila and Coors.
Outside, while I waited for Billy to bring the car around, a hooker propositioned me. Joy and Suzy staggered out of the casino. The hooker smiled and shrugged before she sashayed down the sidewalk.
We had the $3.95 “All-You-Can-Eat” buffet special at the Circus Circus before we go back to our hotel located next to the airport. As soon as we arrived back at the 12.95 a night hotel, which came with with a complimentary bottle of cheap bubbly and tokens for one of the casinos, Suzy made a beeline for the bathroom. I fed some quarters in the vibrating bed and turned on the television just in time for Saturday Night Live.
“Suzy, are you okay?” I asked.
She said something unintelligible, which I took for, “I am so sick” as she vomited into the toilet.
Eric Idle was the host of SNL and Kate Bush was the musical act. Looked liked it was going to be a good one, I thought. I cracked open a Bud and dialed home. Dad answered and wasn’t too happy to have been woken up.
“It’s me, Ray,” I said and swigged some of the beer. “Yeah, I know what time it is. I just wanted to let you and mom know that I got married today.” It got quiet on the other end and heard him wake my mother. Through two time zones of static, I heard the two of them yelling. First, he yelled that I was old enough and then she yelled that I was his son and that this would have never happened if he would have spent more time with me as a child. Then it got quiet again before my father came back on and told me how happy he and mom were for us.
In the bathroom, I heard Suzy vomit again.
“Oh God, please don’t let me throw up anymore,” she said.
Finally, my parents got around to asking how we were.
Outside, another jet took off rattling the windows.
“We couldn’t be happier.”