A Girl I Once Knew (Las Vegas Rains)
by Francis Flanagan
(Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
A Girl I Once Knew (Las Vegas Rain)
A young woman awakens slowly
to the endless searing Vegas sun.
She sleeps in a confined space,
on a cardboard box, spread out.
With only a tarp for a blanket,
behind a foil blue dumpster,
behind Walmart off of Boulder Hwy.
Her space is littered with trash,
remnants of the things she steals
in order to survive on the streets,
and the shame embodying her life.
She is sweating, shaking, dehydrated.
Sun-worn from her countless days
exposed to the ruthless desert heat,
and from surviving on the streets,
she rises hungry, scared, and crying.
She’s been without food and water for days.
With tearful bloodstained eyes, the pain
of her past leaves a map of punctured
and bruised veins on her body.
She has abscesses now that are bad,
and getting infected. She needs help.
She tries to shake off the filth and
guilt of her lost and decaying world.
She stumbles slowly to the street
with a black plastic bag containing
everything she owns, and ever will.
After some time, She hails a cab.
The cabbie immediately notices that
the girl was once strikingly beautiful,
now sick and aged beyond her years.
“What happened?” he thinks to himself.
What happened was that the cruel streets
have taken their toll, along with the poisons
she has destroyed her body and soul with.
Looking down without making eye contact.
She hands him a small fold of cash she earned
from the previous night before, panhandling
and turning tricks. In a crackling voice,
she reveals her destination, stating softly
“This should cover it, I did ok last night.”
“It will, and I know where you’re going”
replies the cabbie under his voice,
“but you do need to go to the hospital.”
“I know” she sighs under her breath,
“but first I need to get well, one last fix,
then I will go get looked at, I promise.”
“That’s how the story usually ends here,”
he replies without emotion. The girl snaps
“This is it, let me off, thank’s for nothing.”
The next morning is greeted with heavy rain.
Two chatting Walmart employees quickly
approach the dumpster as they take out the trash.
“It never rains in Las Vegas,” one says out loud.
“It only rains in Las Vegas when an Angle falls
from Grace and dies” laments the other.
The two stop abruptly, standing frozen,
staring down at a lifeless form of a young girl
that was once strikingly beautiful, now aged
well beyond her years, sun-worn and bruised,
with vacant eyes, laying under a tarp, on
a cardboard box, with a needle still in her arm.
“She looks peaceful like she got well,” one says,
as they quickly retreat to escape the Las Vegas rain.