First Signs of Life in the Desert Outside of Las Vegas

Kevin Paul Giordano


I am here to lose what remains of me, Howard Storm. I have changed my name because I am not ready to lose my real name yet, which is Stephen Howling. But that is really just half my real name. My real first name is Stephen but my real last name is not Howling. I am not ready to give up my real surname.

From Las Vegas I can go to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, or Utah. Walking I mean. I tell myself the absence of water will not bother me. There‘s rocks and sand. Wonderful Biblical things happen in the desert.

Whatever happens to me out here, I will still be called Stephen. Or Howard. Or Barnes. These are my choices for names in the order of preference. I am willing to lose everything else, but I will not lose this list of first names and their order of my preference.

When I get there—when I get to Hoover Dam—I know something will present itself.

I haven’t answered my phone in two days.

I haven’t turned it on since yesterday.

I haven’t yet found a good church or a good priest or a good place to pray. I put that down to my to-do list, but you can’t hurry God. He has His own plan. For the time being, I am praying in my motel room and in the desert.

If there’s something I need I just walk to the local 7-11. They have duct tape, potato chips, and sunscreen.
Late afternoons are for coffee and contemplation. Those are good hours for me to remember photographs I gave away.

I go from storefront to storefront looking for something: a haircut, a T-shirt, a sandwich, a pair of shoes, something made of wood.

I need a bathtub filled with water. Just to look at. But more importantly, to know it’s there—especially when I’m walking the strip and feeling lonely and grappling with my wanton. To know there’s a bathtub filled with water waiting for me is comforting.

The hospital won’t take my blood. They say it’s infected. They don’t know with what.

At the motel I’m alone with my blood. I can feel it in my arms the most. I imagine it looks like lava. It feels that way. Hot, bubbling, and toxic. My own blood has become toxic to me.

I go for a checkup. The doctor tells me I’m in great health. My blood though, he says, is infected. He won’t tell me why or with what. He says I’m dying but I will live a long time. It can’t be cured, but it can save someone.

“Who will take my blood, then? I want to give someone my blood,” I say.

He lets out a long breath and pauses for a long time, long enough for me to remember the long road that brought me here; then he puts his hand on my shoulder.

The casino prostitutes are FDA-approved.

Angela, who was Angel, is smoking crystal meth in my motel room. I have watched her do this before. But it’s her breast implants that I am drawn to.

I’m seated on one double bed and she’s on the other, close to the bathroom, which emits a lone shocking light on her legs.

She lets me cum—once she’s under. She doesn’t care what happens then. I’m done a long time before she is.

While she’s nodding out I drip my blood into a clear ashtray.

Eventually she comes out of her nod. But my blood has hardened. I bring her my hardened blood. She puts her cigarette butt out in it.

No one loves me the way I need to be loved, the way I want to be loved. Everybody misses by two or three inches, usually off to the left—my left—around my hip area.

In my motel room I sit at the table and look up things.

Anacoluthon is a syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentence, a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another. Eg. “you really ought—well, do it your own way.”

Anacreontic is a poem in the manner of Anacreon; a drinking song or light lyric.

Anacrusis is one or more syllables at the beginning of a line of poetry that are regarded as preliminary to and not a part of the metrical pattern; upbeat, one or more notes or tones preceding the first downbeat of a musical phrase.

Anadiplosis is a repetition of a prominent and usually the last word in one phrase or clause at the beginning of the next (as in “rely on his honor—honor such as this?”).

Anagnorisis is the point in the plot esp. of a tragedy at which the protagonist recognizes his or her or some other character’s true identity or discovers the true nature of his or her own situation

Anagoge or anagogy is the interpretation of a word, passage or text (as of Scripture or poetry) that finds beyond the literal, allegorical, and moral senses a fourth and ultimate spiritual or mystical sense—anagogic or anagogical—anagogically

Anagram is a word or phrase made of transposing the letters of another word or phrase; a game in which words are formed by rearranging the letters of other words or by arranging letters taken (as from a stock of cards or blocks) at random—anagrammtic also anagrammatical—anagrammatically

I go to the desert and park on the highway that leads to Hoover Dam. I open the glove compartment and take out a box of razor blades. I take a new one out of the cardboard sleeve. I walk a few yards into the desert and kneel down. I know I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s something I’m doing. I use my left hand to hold the blade and make the incision on my right arm, just above the wrist on the top side.

I turn my arm over and let the blood trickle onto the sand. I wait for something to happen, but the sand only turns black. I let the blood trickle till it stops.

“Behind the glitz and glamour is another story. You must take off your makeup. It’s clouding your vision,” Tresa says to a show girl.

“My vision is fine,” the dancer says.

“No, the view of other people of you,” Tresa says. “Take off your makeup.”

“What’ll be left? I’m old. They’ll see the scars.”

“Gashes, honey. Right now you’ve got gashes. Be happy when they become scars.”