A Girl I Once Knew (Las Vegas Rains) – by FRANCIS FLANAGAN

A Girl I Once Knew (Las Vegas Rains)

Francis Flanagan

 

 

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 foul blue dumpster,   

behind Walmart off of Boulder Hwy.  

Her space is littered with trash,  

 

the 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 bloodstained eyes, the pain  

of her past leaves a map of punctured  

and bruised veins on her body.  

 

The poor girl has abscesses now that  

are getting bad, and infected. She needs  

help. She tries to shake off the filth and   

guilt of her lost and decaying world.  

 

She stumbles off to the main street   

with a black plastic bag containing  

everything she owns, and ever will.  

After some time, She hails a cab.   

 

The cabbie knows her and remembers  

that the girl was once strikingly beautiful,   

of body and mind. She is now sick   

and aged well beyond her years.   

 

The cruel streets have taken their toll  

On her, along with the poisons she has  

destroyed her body and soul with.  

She looks away without making eye contact.  

 

From her bag, she hands him a small fold of cash  

earned the night before panhandling and

turning tricks. She reveals her destination,  

and asks for him to wait, she won’t be long.  

 

The cash should cover it, she did ok last night.  

He acknowledges and he knows where she’s  

going, and it is no place she ever needs to be.   

The cabbie looks into the rear view mirror.

 

He tells her she needs to go to the hospital,

and fast. She agrees, but first things first,  

she needs to get well, she needs a fix. That

is usually how the story ends in this town.

 

The next morning is greeted with heavy rain.  

Two chatting Walmart employees quickly  

approach the dumpster to evade the downpour  

as they rush to take out the trash.  

“It never rains in Las Vegas,” one states.  

“It only rains in Las Vegas when an Angel falls  

from Grace and dies” laments the other.   

The two stop abruptly, standing frozen.

Transfixed and aghast, staring down at a

lifeless form of a young girl that was once  

strikingly beautiful, of body and mind, 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 whispers

as they run for shelter from the Las Vegas rain.

***

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Francis Michael Flanagan has a B.A. in Economics at the University of California at Berkeley, and is currently enrolled in the Graduate School of Economics at UNLV.  He is serving as a Graduate Student Instructor in mathematical modeling and statistics. Born in Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts and later moved to Southern California, he is a single father of two, who has, at last, returned from his life’s Odyssey, and found home in Las Vegas, Nevada, who loves writing about the dark and seductive side of the city he has grown to love.

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