Universal: Chapter 6
Once the Spiderman show was smoothed out, I had some free time and I worked on editing my reel. I was very focused on getting a show in Vegas and wanted DeCastro to see my most recent work.
With a little more flexible schedule, I debated about dating some. I still had no interest in getting into anything serious, but I wasn’t a monk and knew I should get out there.
Unfortunately, I was still hung up on Sookie Stackhouse, as ridiculous as that was. I wasn’t able to stop thinking about her, and believe me—I tried. The last thing I needed in my life was a hooker with a heart of gold. Beautiful or not, she was off limits. Nothing but trouble. Guaranteed heartache. And possible venereal disease.
Speaking of which, after our encounter at Universal, I’d gone to my doctor to get checked out. I was no expert, of course, but it didn’t seem wise to have had unprotected sexual contact with a prostitute. Fortunately, I was fine, but it made me really think about the risks out there and it was a sobering reminder to be careful.
I finally got my reel where I wanted it, and sent it to DeCastro. He called the following day and asked if I could come to Vegas for a few days. This was the break I’d been waiting for and working towards for years. I finally had his attention.
We made arrangements for me to meet him in Las Vegas at The Venetian. They were planning on doing a new show with him and so I was to be their guest. He and I had shows at other casinos lined up for three nights to watch together to get a feel for what he was looking for. It had been awhile since I’d seen the most current work there, and so I very eagerly agreed to go.
A few days before I was to drive to Vegas, I didn’t feel well. I had a very odd and vague stomach ache—not really like any kind of stomach ache I’d ever felt. I figured I was fighting some kind of bug, or maybe I’d eaten something not quite right. I took some over the counter stuff, but nothing seemed to help.
I debated briefly whether I should postpone my trip, but seeing DeCastro was just too important. I knew the timing was often critical in producing a new show—if I weren’t available to direct it, there was a line of other directors right behind me who were available and eager to take the job. I couldn’t risk it.
The day I drove to Las Vegas, I felt increasingly worse all day. I checked into my room and lay down for a couple of hours. I had no appetite and decided to skip dinner. I showered and got dressed, but felt like I might have a fever in addition to the odd stomach pain. I was tempted to call DeCastro and cancel, but figured, I’d come this far; surely, I could get through a couple of hours and then I could come back to the room and go to bed.
Going down in the elevator, I felt a little nauseous and beads of perspiration had formed on my upper lip. I wondered if I had time to find somewhere to buy something to bring my fever down—Tylenol, maybe—so I could get through the evening.
When the doors opened, I emerged onto the main level and the sounds and smells of the casino added to my nausea. I was supposed to meet DeCastro at the front desk, but as soon as I entered the casino, I stopped in my tracks. Sookie Stackhouse was standing in front of me.
I almost didn’t recognize her. Her hair was teased up and she had on way too much makeup. She was wearing a skin tight silver top and a very, very short skirt and spike heeled shoes. She was holding a drink in her hand and my first thought was, she looks like a hooker, and then I almost laughed at myself because that’s exactly what she was.
It hit me that she was most likely working here and my nausea increased. The thought of her having sex with strange disgusting men literally made me feel sick.
As I approached her, she had a tentative smile on her face. I stopped in front of her, wanting to give her a hug, but instead, I extended my hand.
“Hi, Sookie,” I started.
She shook my hand and said, “Eric. How are you?”
“Fine. How are you?”
“I’m good.” She was kind of staring at me with a strange expression. “Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look so good.”
“I’m okay. So, are you working here now?”
“Working here?” She was still staring at me. “Maybe you should sit down.”
“No, I’m fine.”
I looked down at the drink in her hand. It was something sweet and the smell suddenly overwhelmed me. I turned around to find somewhere to throw up, feeling the inevitable. I spotted a trash can by the escalator and walked over and unceremoniously vomited into it. Fortunately, I had my back to Sookie, but I was very much aware that I wished she hadn’t seen that.
I gripped the can and my stomach ache spiked into a very sharp pain. I dropped down onto one knee and thought, shit, if I throw up again, I don’t think I can stand up to make it into the trash can. I definitely didn’t want to throw up on the floor.
I tried to stand and felt hands on my shoulders. I looked down and saw Sookie’s drink sitting on the floor and fought the urge to vomit again. Then the hands were on my face and forehead. I looked up and Sookie looked scared as she felt my face. She fished a tissue from her purse and put it into my hand. I put it over my mouth, and thought, I should be embarrassed for her to see me like this, but I was beyond caring, I felt so bad.
I could sense people around me stopping and looking at me and thought, I just need to get up to my room. But again, I couldn’t stand up, the pain was so bad. I thought of DeCastro waiting for me at the front desk and knew I needed to call him to tell him I wasn’t going to make it to the show.
Sookie took her phone from her purse and I wondered how she had his number. As soon as I thought it, I realized it didn’t make sense and that scared me a little. I asked her, “What are you doing?”