Main Street in Las Vegas, Nevada, was the hottest spot for adult fun and games that America had to offer. Every night was a Christmas light show from the biggest front lawns in the neighborhood. Bright lights flickered and enticed the mind in hues of red, pink, yellow, green, purple, blue, white, and orange from every creatively designed building that made up the skyline. "The Strip" was an overdose to the senses, a giant pinball machine of all-night gambling and solicitation. It was a wonder that people ever managed to sleep there. However, they did sleep -- they slept on their own realities and became easy prey for those who recognized the value of remaining awake.
"You ready for this, girl? 'Cause if ya' not, then you betta' get ready. Ain't nuntin' in this world like Vegas. Nothin'."
The girl smiled and kept her cool while sitting inside the white stretch limo with the man. She looked young enough to be his daughter, but she wasn't. That's why the man felt so comfortable when he slid his big right hand over her burnt orange dress and landed it between her legs.
The girl barely noticed his touch. She was too busy being entertained by the bright lights that lit up the Vegas night.
"You need sunglasses out here," she said with a smile.
"Ha, ha, ha!" the man laughed, louder than what was expected. He wasn't even drunk yet.
The girl paid his overreaction no mind.
As the limo came to a complete stop at the curb, she said, "That's a big lion out there."
The man laughed hard again. He said, "Shit, girl, that's the MGM Grand. That's where our fight is tonight."
She nodded to him. "Oh...looks like fun."
"Shit yeah, it's fun," he told her.
The limo driver, a small Latino man in a tuxedo, opened the curbside door for his two African-American passengers.
"Here we are, Mr. Bennett. The MGM Grand."
The driver extended his hand to the young lady, who sat at curbside, and helped her out of the limo.
"Thank you," she told him and grinned.
"Hey, no flirtin' with her, Jose," Mr. Bennett joked.
His driver laughed and shook it off.
"You don't have to worry about me. I have a wife and six children at home."
Mr. Bennett climbed out of the limo and stood at the curb, wearing a black tuxedo himself, size extra large.
He towered over Jose. He said, "You got six young'uns and you only twenty-five years old."
The driver grinned and ignored the slander.
He said, "I wish I was twenty-five again."
Mr. Bennett greased his palm with a ten-dollar bill.
"I'll call you when we're ready to go," he told him. He smiled in the direction of his young lady. "Or better yet, Teresa'll call you when we're ready. She'll probably have to drag me outta here anyway."
Teresa took her cue and grinned, right before she locked her arm in his and pulled him toward the casino.
Thousands of well-dressed fight fans headed inside the casino alongside them, with some of them rushing to get to their seats before they missed any of the action.
"You can tell when these motherfuckers never been to a fight before," Mr. Bennett said to his young date. "They act like they in a got'damned track meet."
Teresa smiled at him and squeezed his bulky arm.
"Marvin 'Head Hunter' Bennett!" someone yelled out.
Mr. Bennett turned his freshly shaved head, standing more than six feet tall and leaning slightly to his left. His rugged brown face showed several healed nicks and scars from too many battles won and lost in the boxing ring. Teresa stood beside him with a baby-doll face, shoulder-length hair, and a sultry young body that appeared untouched and docile.
"How you doin'?" the stranger asked Teresa first, ignoring his old friend for the moment.
Marvin "Head Hunter" Bennett was not as easy on the eyes as his young date was.
"She's doin' just fine," Mr. Bennett answered for her. "Now back ya' ass up off her."
The two older men scrambled into action and began to spar with each other in their tailored suits, right there in the middle of the casino. His friend was not as big or as dark brown as "Head Hunter," but he appeared a touch quicker and more athletic in his old age.
"What 'chew got? What 'chew got?" Mr. Bennett challenged with outstretched jabs. "I'll still knock ya' ass out."
Teresa stood off to the side and shook her head. Boys will be boys, even as old men.
After a minute or so, when they had both run out of gas, the old friend looked at Teresa a second time.
He said, "I see you're doin' well, Marvin." He was referring more to his friend's healthy choice of a date than his actual physical appearance that night.
Mr. Bennett nodded his head with pride and looked Teresa over for himself.
He said, "Yeah, well...some of us earned it."
His friend chuckled at his boast, an old, slick chuckle.
"Yeah, I see."
Teresa stopped their idle chatter and asked, "So...are we gonna see the fight any time soon?"
"Oh, and she can talk too? Well, that's a damn bonus," Mr. Bennett's friend joked.
"I can do much more than that," Teresa teased him.
She didn't seem offended by his slight at all.
The old man became interested in exploring what more she could do, or would do. However, Mr. Bennett cut his plans short.
"Yeah, well, let's get on to this fight," he concluded.
"Aw'ight, I'll see you later on then, Marvin. I got some other people I'm waiting on," his friend told him.
"No you won't see me later," Mr. Bennett responded.
His friend looked at Teresa one last time and said, "Yeah...I guess not."
Marvin "Head Hunter" Bennett strutted through the casino crowds with his young eye candy on his arm, headed to the fights inside MGM Grand's main arena. All around them superstitious travelers prayed hard to strike it rich over a thousand game tables and slot machines. Occasionally, the money-grubbing machines and card dealers would hemorrhage on a few of the lucky gamblers, just to keep the crowd of sleepwalkers from waking up to the slim chances of actually winning.
"Oh, yeah! I won! I won!"
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
A flashy jackpot spat out silver coins faster than the old white woman could catch with her plastic bucket.
Sshinnk sshinnk sshinnk sshinnk sshinnk!
Mr. Bennett looked her way and sneered. "Lucky old bitch."
Then he bragged at Teresa, "I don't need to win a bucket full of quarters in this damn place. I already got money. We 'bout to go where the real money is being made, inside that boxing arena."
He said, "You hear me? Ten, twenty million in one night! And that's just the boxers' share."
With that, he yanked Teresa's hand in his with more urgency to get to the fight.
She complained softly without stopping or slowing them down, "Be gentle with me. I'm coming."
Her old man looked back at her and froze for a minute. "Now that's
why I like you so much, girl. You know just how to say shit to an old man," he told her.
Teresa smiled at him and squeezed his arm again to acknowledge his attempt at a compliment. No more words were needed. They had figured out how to bond that night. They would just enjoy themselves.
When they reached the MGM Grand's main arena, Teresa took a deep breath. Roman gladiators went to battle in similar domes of excitement two thousand years ago, and the pandemonium of the crowd had not changed since.
Teresa cupped her ears for a moment to protect them from the deafening roars of boxing fanatics:
"Kick his ass!"
"He ain't got nothin' on you! He ain't got nothin'!"
"Hit 'em wit' 'da left! Hit 'em wit' 'da left!"
The fanatics screamed as if their individual words would be deciphered in a tiny ring of flooded bright lights a football throw away. They screamed, yelled, and hollered all at the same time. It was a wild and spontaneous scene, erupting on Teresa's ears from all angles:
"Fire his ass up!"
"He ain't nothin'! He a bum! He don't deserve this fight!"
"Knock his ass out!"
"He don't want it! Who let his ass up in the ring?!"
"This is it, girl. This is it!" Mr. Bennett exclaimed, as if Teresa had failed to notice.
"Head Hunter" launched into a flashback of his own march into a championship fight some twenty years ago. He began to bounce his head and shoulders left and right as they made their way to their seats near the front.
"You still think you can go a couple of rounds?" Teresa asked him.
She was only teasing, but "Head Hunter" took her seriously. He was a lifelong athlete. His pride overruled the reality of his body.
"You damn right I can still go a few rounds," he answered. "I ain't lost it yet."
Teresa only grinned at him as they found their seats close to ringside.
"Wow, we're up here pretty close," she commented.
Mr. Bennett remained standing at his seat and frowned at her.
"What the hell you think, we were gonna sit up in the nosebleed section wit' 'da nobodies? Shit. I'm a somebody. I'm Marvin "Head Hunter" Bennett up in here!"
He looked around to make sure no one would deny him his right to history that night. And they didn't. The fight fans sitting around them nodded to him with respect. Mr. Bennett nodded back to them and took his seat with his young lady, feeling satisfied with himself.
Teresa took another breath and tried to become comfortable in her surroundings.
"Yeeaahh, that's how you do 'em!" another fanatic screamed from behind her.
Teresa ducked as if a bullet had shot past her.
"God," she mumbled to herself with bent shoulders.
Mr. Bennett caught her protective lean and laughed at her.
He said. "You betta' get used to that, girl. They gon' be doin' that all night. Especially when the big fight comes."
"What's the big fight?" she asked him.
It occurred to her that she had never bothered to ask. She only knew that she had never been to a fight before, so she was honored to accept his offer to accompany him to one that night.
"'Pretty Boy' Floyd Mayweather Jr.," he answered.
Teresa held back her smile and offered a sedate nod instead. She didn't want to alarm her date with too much of a response. She had heard of "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr. often since she moved to Las Vegas. He was one of the most successful and available young bachelors who had made the city his home. But there were plenty of other bachelors who crossed through Las Vegas, bachelors and married men; married men who had left their wives at home.
Teresa looked around and spotted celebrity bachelors and married men who sat in cologne-smelling range. There were actors, singers, rappers, athletes, politicians, comedians, local pimps, and national drug dealers all dressed to the T -- and with plenty of money to spend on the Las Vegas playground.
"Good jab, boy! Work it! " Mr. Bennett shouted toward the ring.
He snapped his young date out of her daydreaming about the other available men there, who were much younger and attractive. Some of them were also wealthier and still marriageable. Marriage and kids remained a viable option for the young woman.
Mr. Bennett had unknowingly brought the girl into a giant shopping mall of new opportunities. It only took her a few minutes before deciding to shop.
"Umm...how long before the main fight?" she asked him innocently.
"As soon as these bums get this shit over with," Mr. Bennett answered. "Why?"
"I have to use the restroom."
"Well, go 'head and do it then. The pre-fight talk takes thirty minutes anyway. So you might as well beat that long-ass line to the women's bathroom now," he joked.
Teresa smiled and stood up at her seat. "I'll be right back."
Mr. Bennett grabbed her arm before she left.
He said, "Look here...don't you get lost now."
Teresa paused long enough to set the old man's mind at ease.
She said, "I know my way around."
"Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of," he responded.
She shook her head and grinned at him sheepishly. "I'm coming back. Okay? Now, don't have me stand here and wet my panties. Let me run to the bathroom."
After her fresh-mouthed comment, every set of male eyes in their vicinity locked on the young girl's mug and the burnt orange dress that covered her curves. However, the few women who sat around them knew better. It was some good old-fashioned bullshit. Any mention of the word panties, especially from the mouth of a young woman, consistently moved a man's thinking to the wrong head. They figured the girl was old enough to know as much herself; otherwise she wouldn't be with a man who was more than twice her age.
Mr. Bennett smiled and started laughing, confirming what the other women already knew.
He said, "Yeah, we can wet them together later on."
Teresa smiled at him with superior patience. She allowed him to let her go before she moved.
"Thank you," she told him.
He responded with a long peek over her ripe body, "Yeah, you just, ah...hurry back."
As soon as Teresa made her way to the aisle, her old man looked around and collected the knowing smiles from the other men who envied what he had brought with him to the fight that night, a nice fresh hottie who knew her place.
Mr. Bennett grinned to himself and mumbled out loud, "Shit. I need me a drink. Hey, bring them damn drinks over here!" he hollered in the direction of a beer man who was working the aisles. The old man struggled to negotiate his massive hand into his pants pocket and past his throbbing hard-on to pull out his wad of money. Boy, did that beer taste extra good and cold when it met his lips, creating a foam-filled mustache across his mouth. He just knew he was in for a good night. He had struck the jackpot.
Teresa made her way up the aisle and toward the restroom while watching the eyes that watched her.
"Lookin' good! Lookin' good!" someone yelled.
He was not screaming about the boxers this time.
Teresa kept her groove toward the restroom without missing a beat. She already knew what would happen. She was an attractive female in a dress, invading a male-dominated arena.
"Hey, how you doin'?" her first suitor asked.
He was too short for her type and too eager to have any real money. She passed on him with no more than a look.
"Hey there, gorgeous," went the next suitor.
He was too homely to even look at.
The next man went ahead and grabbed her hand.
"I know you're on your way to the bathroom, but I wanna talk to you as soon as you come out. Okay?"
Teresa stopped and asked him, "And what would my friend say about that?"
"The key word you used is friend? So what can he say? Whatever happens between me and you stays between me and you."
Teresa kept her cool. This guy was too forward and precise with his words, which meant one of two things: He was either a pimp on the prowl for new whores or a professional womanizer. Neither one of those was what she was after. However, assertive men allowed her a chance to set up the type of guys that she was really after, the knights in golden armor.
"I don't know if I can do that," she told him. She angled herself toward the restroom without breaking away from his grasp.
Her assertive new suitor said, "Look. I know you wanna get away from that old geezer you came in here with. So let's stop the charades right now."
Off to the right, she spotted an extra-tall young man with an entourage of shorter friends who surrounded him. When he momentarily caught her eye, she went into a girlish twirl of her body, as if she lacked the strength needed to break away from the hold the stranger held her in.
"Look, I just can't do that," she whined to the man, while leaning away from him.
She gave her tall friend with the entourage a pleading look to rescue her. And he responded.
"Ay, dog, let her go, man. She ain't try'na hear ya' game."
"Thank you," Teresa responded to him immediately.
Her aggressive suitor noticed when the professional basketball player spoke up, and he got the point. This girl was as crafty as he was. Maybe more so. She was obviously choosing, and she had found a way to use him to do so.
He sneered at her and walked away in a huff.
"Fake-ass bitch," he mumbled to himself out of her earshot. Nevertheless, he understood the rules of the game, so he moved on to score with the next stray kitten.
Teresa looked up to her tall new friend and said, "Aren't you, ah..."
"Terrence Matthews," he answered for her.
She snapped her fingers and followed up with more innocence.
"Yeah. And don't you play for, um..."
"The Minnesota Timberwolves."
Teresa then took her excited posture down a thousand.
She said, "I hate that I always mix the teams up. That's the team that just moved to Memphis, right?"
Terrence answered, "Naw, the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis."
The mating game continued on while the baller's entourage of friends read through the continuation of bullshit.
"Here we go again. This shit is groupie heaven out here, man. I swear," one of his friends complained.
"Yeah, well, I don't give a fuck. As long as I get one or two of them," another member of the entourage countered.
"That's what I'm sayin', as long as I get one tonight," he was seconded.
Female eye candy was everywhere inside the lobby. They didn't seem to care much about the fight. Their presence only seemed to distract the men who were there.
"So what's your name?" the baller asked Teresa amidst the crowd.
"Toni Karson," she told him. "And that's Karson with a K."
"Oh, okay. Well, who you here with?"
"What kind of friend?"
"Somebody who paid my way to the fight."
He chuckled and asked, "That's all he is, hunh, a free ticket to the fight?"
"No, he's more than that, but, you know. We don't have any rings or kids or anything."
The baller nodded his head and got the point. She was free to roam.
"How old are you?" he asked her. She appeared younger than he was.
"I'm turning twenty next month," she answered.
"I thought so," he responded with a grin.
"Why, I look that young?"
"In here you do. It's a lot of grown women up in here. But at a lot of the basketball games and the after parties, you would fit right in."
"You wanna come to our after party tonight?" he asked her.
She paused for a minute. "I don't really do after parties," she told him. "I'm more of a one-on-one person."
She looked into his eyes deeply to let her personal taste sink in on him.
He nodded to her again. "Aw'ight, aw'ight, I feel you on that. So if you call me on my cell phone, I can hook up with you on the private tip." He promptly gave her his cell phone number.
When Teresa finally made it back to her old man after four more offers for her company that night, the main event was just about to begin.
Mr. Bennett was on his way to drunken skunk land.
"You made it back right in time, girl," he told her. "'Pretty Boy' Floyd 'bout t' come out the tunnel."
Teresa took in his alcohol-laced breath and ignored it.
"I guess I did get back at the right time then," she responded. "I love when they walk out to the ring. I always like to see what they're wearing."
Mr. Bennett looked at her and frowned.
"You like to see what they're wearin'. Shit, you sound just like a woman," he snapped at her.
She said, "Well...that's what I am, aren't I?"
He looked her over with glassy eyes and said, "Yeah, you sure are. You all woman."
When "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr. made his way to the ring, Teresa was forced to duck and cup her ears again.
"Bring it on, champ!"
"Show 'em what you got out there, Junior! Show 'em what you got!"
The fight hadn't even started yet. She could only imagine how loud it would get in there once it did.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. wore white sequin trunks with red-and-gold trimming. He was fairly short, like most of the boxers in his lighter weight division, but his lean muscles and definition made him knockout attractive.
"I see you lookin' at him," Mr. Bennett joked to his young date.
"You're lookin' at him, too," she joked back.
"Yeah, but not for the same reason that you're lookin' at him."
"What, I can't be interested in seeing him fight?"
"Shit, you didn't even know who he was. You thought the other guy was Mayweather. And that nigga over there ain't even pretty."
Teresa shook her head and smiled it off.
"Let's get it on!" the fanatics began to yell into the ring.
"Time for the fight!"
"Let's do it! Let's do it!"
After a while, the poor girl's ears were so damaged from the round-to-round yelling that she became immune to it. By the end of the fight, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had pulled out a unanimous decision, and her date for the night, Marvin "Head Hunter" Bennett, was flat-out drunk as expected.
"You need any help with him?" a handsome man asked as Teresa struggled to guide Mr. Bennett out of the arena and through the post-fight crowd.
"Yeah," she admitted.
Mr. Bennett looked the man over and said, "She don't need your help. She got big muscles."
Nevertheless, he allowed the man to help him out to his limo. He didn't have much of a choice. Teresa could hardly shoulder his drunken load.
After they placed him safely into the car outside the MGM Grand, the handsome man was finally able to ask the questions he wanted to ask her.
"Are you really with him...or is this just a thing?"
"A thing?" she quizzed.
"An outing?" he corrected himself.
"Why? Are you interested?"
"On what I would be getting myself in to."
She smirked and said, "I'm not who you think I am."
"Well, who are you?"
The game just never stopped. Teresa left the man hanging.
"What that motherfucker say to you?" Mr. Bennett asked as soon as she joined him inside the limo. He could barely sit up straight inside the car, but he was obviously still able to spit out his venom.
Teresa lied to him, "He said to make sure I got a famous champ like you safe home in bed."
Mr. Bennett looked her hard in the eyes before he began to laugh.
He said, "Shit, girl, you must think I was born yesterday. I know that motherfucker tried to take you away from me."
Copyright © 2003 by Omar Tyree