I stopped moving. For a few seconds, in fact, I think I even stopped breathing. I wasn't sure, at first, if I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing. Then, too, I wasn't sure whether or not they had spotted me.
But I suppose I should set the scene...
Once upon a time in the Nevada desert some smart cookie had proclaimed, "Let there be parking!" and it was done. Three big casinos pitched in to share the costs and an entire foothill was bulldozed, paved and painted. The casinos were rurally located, but well within sight of a major interstate, and the expansive parking lot served as something of an advertisement: All the spaces were ten feet wide and seventy feet long-- easy accommodations for tractor-trailer rigs, charter buses and big [jackass] RVs. (The RVs are very big, y'see... and they are all driven by [jackasses].)
It was a Saturday night. I was parked in a row, side by side, with ten or fifteen other big rigs. In the row in front of us were six or eight more trucks, a couple of RVs, and three charter buses in a tight little group on the end. The buses were empty, mostly. The passengers had long ago shuffled off into the casino across the street to feed the machine. I couldn't see the drivers but they were probably clustered somewhere nearby, like limosine chauffeurs killing time: Smoking, swapping stories or arguing sports.
I wasn't doing anything productive either. I was just sitting behind the wheel, staring off into space and ruminating on another disastrous session at the poker table, when I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped moving. For a few seconds, in fact, I think I even stopped breathing. But I already told you that.
More scene-setting: Across the street the lights on the casino-front danced a frenzied dazzle. The display --combined with the tired, yellowish light that fell from the tall, droop-necked lamp posts that stood over the lot-- threw long, shifting shadows amid a mood-lit haze into this forest of snoring behemoths. It also created one hell of a glare on my windshield.
Fortunately, my driver's-side window was already down. Slowly, I leaned to my left --I didn't have to go far-- to get a clear view. Yep, that's what I'd thought: Some young couple, motivated by a sense of either adventure or necessity, had chosen this dim, grumbling world of asphalt and fire-tempered steel for a romantic rendezvous. In other words, they were "going at it."
Okay, technically, they weren't really going at it. What they were doing could best be described as trying to have sex on the back bumper of a charter bus, without actually having sex. There was, as yet, no bare skin. Nor bear-skin. Just an awful lot of clenching and motion.
They were probably in their early twenties. He was a fine, strapping, dislikeable looking fellow: The kind of guy with a perpetual arrogant sneer on his mug. The kind of guy who reads --if you can call it that-- motorcycle magazines, hot rod magazines, and not much else. The kind of guy who never actually buys Playboy, just mooches off of his friends and never, ever, ever reads the articles. That kind of guy. Of course, I could be biased. After all, he was, uh, getting a lot of playing time, and I was sitting on the bench.
She was slender, willowy and blonde, and she was trying to plaster herself to him. He was trying to plaster her to the back end of the bus. Something else I noticed about her: I could swear she was looking right at me. He had his back to me, but she could easily see me over his shoulder, if she happened to look in the right direction. I wondered where they'd come from, and how long they'd been there. I wondered precisely how their little adventure had gotten started, whose idea it was. I wondered if she knew I was watching; I wondered if it mattered to her one way or the other. I wondered if she would tell him or keep it to herself.
Mind you, I didn't find the scene erotic. But I did find it interesting-- like watching a good baseball game. A low-scoring game. I could hear Phil Rizzuto's voice in my head: "...he's not letting up at all. He's gonna try for second... He's out. No, wait, safe! Safe at second base! This kid really makes things happen out there..."
In the scene I was watching, he stepped out of the batter's box. That meant she actually had to stand-- she had been completely off the ground, her back pressed against the bus, a foot away from its tall taillight. For a moment, I thought they were going to leave. But it turned out to be just a breather. Soon they were wrapped around each other again and he, uh, well, let's just say he spent some time at third base, if you know what I mean. After a few minutes, he picked her up and wedged her against the bus again.
Then the bus left. Not the bus they were using --although that would have been funny-- but one of the other buses. Since there had been no agonized loading of passengers, I figured the driver must be going somewhere to top off his fuel tanks, preparing for a run across the desert sometime in the next couple of hours. Whatever the reason, the bus' sudden departure gave the amorous couple cause to pause. They stepped away from each other, several feet. Then they started looking around, looking at the ground. To my surprise, they both got down on their hands and knees and started crawling around on the asphalt. Apparently, they had dropped a number of items during their throes. He picked something up and put it in his pocket. I looked at her. She had crawled several feet under "their" bus to retrieve what looked like a dark-colored hat.
They stood. Once again I figured the show was over, but these two couldn't stay away from each other that long. Soon there was kissing, caressing and --who knows?-- maybe even some mild biting. This time, he decided to go to second base (heh, mixing his pitches, if you'll allow me to mix my baseball metaphors). Before long, he had her pressed up against the bus again. Her bluejeans had been undone for quite some time, but she wore them so tight that they hadn't moved. Now, after a few seconds of agitated fumbling, I saw his jeans slip down a couple of inches. He was wearing maroon-colored briefs. He shoved her shirt up about halfway and, uh, well, he spent several minutes trying to, uh, ahem, "put a runner on second base," if you will.
He didn't. Again he stepped back, and again he, uh, threw to third. Personally, I thought his technique was a bit clumsy, but she didn't seem to mind: She dropped her hat again. By now, it was clear to me that he was getting frustrated. Maybe she was, too, but women are better at hiding it: They get more practice. I noticed, too, that in some respects she wasn't being too helpful. So, for several minutes, he, uh, had both of his hands full, if you catch my drift. No? Well, then, uh, he was trying to coach third base for both teams at the same time.
Oh, heck, I'll just say it: He was trying to jack one out of the park.
He had a few factors working against him. For one thing, he didn't have enough pine tar on his bat. For another, he was trying to swing it as a lefty, and he'd already proven to me long ago that he was decidedly right-handed. He soon gave up. He grabbed her again and pressed her to the bus again and... and... and...
...And then the other bus came back. Remember the other bus? The driver had pulled away earlier, probably to go top off the fuel tanks. Well he, unlike our hero, was finished. Sweeping in from my left, rocking and rolling like a ship on gentle seas, swinging and swaying and Sammy Kaye-ing, the big charter bus swooped out and swept in --lights ablaze-- headed back to its original parking spot. The headlights --stabbing into the dark, shifting, yellow-orange gloom like a hot white knife-- bounced and goggled and veered... and flashed directly across our young pseudo-exhibitionists. For just a second, I could swear I caught the glinting shimmer of small heat waves radiating off their bodies-- particularly hers.
The guy froze.
The bus driver, for his part, didn't stop-- nor even slow down. He had to have seen them, but maybe he didn't realize what they were doing. Or maybe he's a guy who has seen it all at least once and doesn't care to see some of it a second time. It could be, too, despite the public setting, that he felt like an interloper and wanted only to go away quickly, before he could violate their "privacy" any further. In any case, he simply drove past them and parked.
Not that it mattered. As far as our fine, strapping, dislikeable looking fellow was concerned, the game was over. In the here and now, at least. He gave her a quick hug and a quick kiss and then, quite suddenly, took off at a fast walk. She sat there on the bumper, mouth open. He'd gone fifty feet before she summoned the wherewithall to call after him. He stopped, half turned, said something to her, kept walking. She doubled over in that loose, over-acting, mock-collapse way some people have of expressing certain emotions after they've had a few too many drinks. By the time she straightened, he was more than a hundred feet away and still moving. She bounced to her feet and trotted after him. She didn't catch up until they were across the street. There was a hotel attached to the casino. Maybe he was hoping to get a room. Maybe he was just hoping to sneak her into a bathroom stall. In any case, she didn't have her hat.
Lightening quick and virtually of their own accord, my eyes cut back to the ground near their bus. Just at that moment, a puff of wind skittered the hat out from under the bus into the open.
Now, look: If you think for one minute that I went over there and picked up that hat, you'd... be... right! It was a plain black baseball cap. Fitted, no less-- not adjustable. No logo. And why I did it, I don't know. Maybe it's like saving a ticket stub from a concert you've really enjoyed. Or maybe I'm just a little bit sicko. One thing I know I did want to do, though, was kinda scout the area-- try to see if anybody else had seen the same show. I scanned the cabs of all the trucks with a view. It's tough to be sure, but as near as I could tell I was the only voyeur. Everybody else was either sleeping, gambling or --here's a certain irony-- up the street at the strip club.
I'd like to think there's another reason why I swiped the hat, though. Something tells me, odds are, that in the days or weeks or months to come, that young lady will look back on her carefree weekend in Nevada and the thing she will remember most is that she lost her hat. And for some ambiguous reason, I want a piece of that.
P.S... Bud "Come On Down To Bud's Where We Won't Be Oversold" Selig must go.