Lance stopped at one of the little eateries in the hotel and had a quick, but light lunch. His stomach was still strongly revolting against the rest of his body, so he only managed to eat half of his sandwich and a couple fries. With food in his stomach though, he began to feel a little more human.
Lance slid his sunglasses up onto his nose then pulled the baseball cap lower on his head as he reached for the door. The bright desert sun was blinding and his head was throbbing before he ever hit the dry heat outside. The doorman hailed a cab as soon as he saw Lance coming, I must really look like shit." Lance thought to himself. "Thanks." He mumbled quickly, then pressed two bucks into the doorman's hand. He slammed the cab door shut and leaned back in the seat with a heavy sigh. "Caesars please."
"You got it." The driver eased out into the traffic and headed for the elaborate hotel up the street. Lance rested his elbow on the windowsill and watched as crowds of strangers flooded the streets in front of the large casinos, secretly wondering if any of them knew this girl or if perhaps she was one of them.
When they pulled up at Caesars Lance paid the cabbie then put his hands in his pockets as he looked up at the wide front doors that were the only familiar thing he saw. He made his way inside and up to the massive front desk. While waiting at the guest relations window, he leaned against the counter. "Hi, my name is Lance Bass. I was playing craps here last night and I need to -
"Lost and found is next to the check in counter down that way there." The young man interrupted him.
"No, I I didn't lose anything. Well, I mean not really. There was a waitress there and I need to know who she is." He scratched at his unshaven jaw and tried not to imagine what he must look like.
"Was there a problem?"
"No." Lance shook his head. "No, it's just she was very helpful last night and I wanted to thank her." He lied so he wouldn't have to explain himself.
"If you'd like to leave a note I can try to get it to her."
"I can take it to the food services manager and he can find out who was working last night." The kid nodded.
"There had to be a dozen waitresses walking around last night." Lance rolled his eyes.
"If you can tell me where you were playing they can probably figure out who it was. You don't have her name or anything?"
"No." Lance shook his head. He'd wracked his brain all morning trying to come up with a name, but he always drew a complete blank. Either he'd been completely ripped the whole time, or he had never bothered to find out who she was. He hoped it was the first option.
The guy made a clucking sound with his tongue as he shrugged. "Well ?"
"Nevermind." Lance sighed. "Thanks." He turned and walked toward the casino floor, hoping beyond hope that she might be walking around.
He spent more than an hour wandering around the casino and shops, carefully avoiding the bar. Even the slightest scent of alcohol made his stomach do a U-turn and threaten to hand back the tiny meal he'd had.
When the security guard started to watch him a little more closely after his third trip around the craps tables Lance gave up and headed back to the Venetian. The sun was beginning to descend in the sky and every muscle in his body hurt. As he crossed the street he squinted down the side street to where a few restaurants and gift shops were set up.
"Oh shit." Lance closed his eyes as heart skipped a beat. The chapel wedged between the Denny's and the 99-cent souvenir store looked dangerously familiar. Lance's mind immediately caught images of the night before. Stumbling into the chapel, the smell of the borrowed jacket, laughing at the rings in the case and standing in front of a man who could only be described as an Asian Elvis. "No no no no no." He shook his head as he pressed the palms of his hands over his eyes making stars appear.
He walked as fast as his aching legs could take him to the little blue chapel with a neon sign outside, Graceland Chapel". The little steps outside were littered with dirty rice and confetti, which crunched under his feet as he opened the little chapel door.
"Do you Marisa take " A different Elvis stopped and looked at his note card, Clayton to have and to hold in sickness and in health "
Lance tuned him out as he slid into one of the many empty chairs near the door. He hadn't expected there to be a ceremony going on, the place looked like somewhere that got most of its business at three in the morning from drunk and stupid idiots. Like himself.
When the ceremony was over he politely stood up and clapped as the new bride and groom ran down the aisle to the poor quality music coming from the boom box behind the pulpit. Lance took a deep breath, then walked to the back of the little chapel where a little desk was set off to the side.
"Hi, my name is Lance, I was here last night." He smiled at the blue haired lady behind the desk. "I got married here actually." His smile wavered for a moment. "I think." He added softly. "Is there a way I could get a copy of the certificate?"
"Sure, it'll be $15. I'll need to see your I.D." She smiled and began flipping around in the filing cabinet to her left.
"Sure, of course." Lance pulled his wallet out and slid his license over to her along with a twenty-dollar bill.
"Nope. It was a spur of the moment thing." Lance mumbled softly as she took the license and began looking through the files. After a few minutes she pulled a plain yellow folder out of the cabinet and set it on the counter.
"Oh hey, look at this. It looks like you guys forgot your complimentary wedding photo." She smiled and slid a polaroid snapshot over to him, along with his license. "Let me just go make a copy of this, I'll be back in a jiffy."
"Thanks." Lance said as his mouth turned dry. He tried to push the feeling of nausea away as he turned the picture around to see it right side up. Facing him was the image of himself in his jeans and t-shirt with a black tuxedo jacket thrown on over it. The jacket was easily two sizes too big and hung past his fingertips. Beside him was a mostly blurry girl in a pair of light blue jeans and a ruffly white blouse that couldn't have possibly been hers. She must have moved when the picture was taken because her hair was the blurriest part of the picture and that covered half of her face. But what he could see of it was beautiful.
"Man " He said under his breath as he held the picture closer to see if he could recognize anything about her.
"Here you go Mr. Bass." The lady said, breaking him out of the trance.
"Thank you." Lance mumbled as he took the photocopy and the five dollars change. He waited until he got outside before he looked at the marriage certificate in his hand.
"This document certifies that James Lance Bass did marry Monica Ann Saylor on
Lance was surprised. He'd been drunk enough to not remember most of the night before, drunk enough to get married to a complete stranger, but he'd somehow managed to sign his name and sign it like he did every other time he signed something. Anyone comparing that signature to one he could do on any other day wouldn't be able to tell them apart. "I guess that's what happens when you sign stuff twenty four hours a day." Lance sighed and folded the paper around the polaroid picture, then stuck everything in his back pocket.
The sun blinded him for a moment as he looked up the street towards his hotel. Lance slid his sunglasses up to their place over his eyes, then walked back up the street. One big piece of the puzzle was found, now all he had to do was try to locate the girl. Monica Once he found her, he'd only have one more hurdle to face. It was the 'finding her' part that he knew he'd have trouble with.
Lance let himself into his room and collapsed back onto the bed in the center of the little bedroom. The drapes had been pulled back and the trash picked up. There was a tiny gold mint on his pillow and a little card signed by Nanette thanking him for staying at the Venetian and asking him to call housekeeping if he needed anything. "Thank God for maids." His face hit the cool pillow and he allowed himself to rest for a bit before he was supposed to meet Joey.
Just before seven Lance's phone rang in his hip pocket. He rolled onto his back and tried to wake up as he fumbled around for his phone. "H-hello? Hello?" He asked, halfway thinking it might be Monica. He'd dreamt about her, but in the dream he was chasing her down the street still unable to see her face.
"You're not still in bed are you? I swear, you're such a fucking slacker." Joey cackled into the phone. "Where are you?"
"I'm uh " Lance yawned and stood up beside the bed. "I'm in my room."
"I dont know how many times I've told you that you have to go outside at least once a day to get the stink blown off ya. Have you been outside yet today?"
"Yeah yeah I was outside."
"Good, then get yourself cleaned up and meet me for a buffet."
"Which one? What do you wanna eat?"
"Where's there a Mexican buffet?" Lance stretched and yawned as he turned the bedside light on.
"The one down here serves Mex." Joey shrugged.
"Down here where? Where are you?"
"I'm in the gift shop."
"I'm buying shot glasses for tweedle dumb and tweedle stupid." Joey laughed, referring to Justin and Chris by some of their many nicknames. "Like, 20 floors under you."
"Oh okay. You wanna hit the buffet here?" Lance woke up a little more as he flipped the bathroom light on and ran his hand through his hair. He was pleased, and a little embarrassed, to see that all of the condoms and wrappers had been cleaned up. He'd have to remember to tip the housecleaning staff well before he left.
"Yeah, gimme like I dunno, a half hour or whatever. Will sleeping beauty be up by then?"
"I'm up." Lance sighed.
"Cool, I'll meet you there in 30 then." Joey laughed, then clicked his phone off, leaving Lance standing in the bathroom staring at himself with a phone in his hand.
"You need to shave." Lance mumbled as he pointed at his own reflection. He hadn't trusted himself with a razor that morning, and he wasn't entirely sure if he could then either. But he knew he couldn't go out looking like a mountain man so he ran hot water into the sink and reached for his shaving cream and razor.
He shaved quickly but carefully, then changed his shirt and brushed his teeth. Without a second glance back, Lance grabbed his room key and headed down to the buffet off the casino floor. Joey showed up ten minutes late as usual, and Lance had already dished up and found a booth in a corner. Sitting in a corner was a habit they would never outgrow.
"You look like shit." Joey laughed as he walked up and dropped himself in the booth across from Lance.
"Seriously. You slept till like, , and here it is seven hours later and you still look like death. Either you caught a nasty virus or you had an awesome time last night. Without me of course." Joey scoffed and piled refried beans into the open flour tortilla on his plate.
"Dude, I'm not saying you're hot or anything, but you usually look a lot better than this." Joey took a bite of his burrito. "And you missed a spot." He tapped his own jaw as he chewed. Lance reached up and felt the tiny patch of stubble he'd missed. "So what'd you end up doing?"
"It's a long story." Lance yawned and ran his hand through his hair as Joey began to choke.
"What the fuck?" Joey dropped his burrito and tried to swallow what was in his mouth as his hand darted across the table to grab Lance's arm. "Talk to me." Joey shook Lance's left hand in his face.
Lance blushed, he'd forgotten about the ring on his finger. He pulled his arm free from Joey's grasp and sighed, Yeah, see? I didn't have an awesome time. Not exactly anyway."
"Lance dude, start talking. This is better than burritos any day." Joey pushed his plate aside and leaned closer to Lance.
"I met this girl at Caesars last night while I was playing craps and I got real drunk and I guess we got married and now -
"You did what?!" Joey hissed. "You're joking, right? Please tell me you're kidding."
"You're lying." Joey shook his head and sat back with a wide smile.
"I wish I was. You have no idea how much I wish I was making all this up." Lance leaned forward and pulled the certificate out of his pocket and tossed it, along with the photo, to Joey.
Joey unfolded the paper and looked it over then glanced at the picture. "Monica huh? Nice coat."
"Joe " Lance sighed.
"You guys look happy." Joey smirked at the photo.
"So where is the lucky young lady? She's over 18, right?"
"Joey, come on."
"You really fuckin married her?"
"Yes, apparently I really married her. Yes, she's over 18. She's a waitress over at Caesars so she's over 21. I don't know where she is though."
"You've been married less than a day and you've already misplaced her?" Joey laughed.
"When I woke up this morning she was gone." Lance said softly.
"What am I supposed to do now?"
"Buy a house with a picket fence?"
"I'm serious Joey."
"Well I don't know. Do you love her?"
"Until I went and picked up that certificate this afternoon, I didn't even know her name." Lance dropped his head into his arms on the table.
"She's hot though. Maybe. If you squint you can kinda see her." Joey squinted at the polaroid. "So get it annulled or whatever."
"Won't I need her to do that?"
"I don't know." Joey shrugged and tossed the picture back to Lance as he read over the document. "It's not like I've done this before you know."
"Where would I go to find out?"
"I don't know." Joey shrugged again. "Can't you just go back to Caesars and find her?"
"I don't know when she works."
"Well you were there late last night right?"
"Uh huh." Lance nodded as he pushed the fries around on his plate.
"So she probably works the late shift."
"So that's what ?"
"Something like that." Lance shrugged; he had no idea what the 'late shift' would be.
"Well its like, eight now. Why don't we go by there and see."
"What? You'd rather sit around in your hotel room waiting for her to call?" Joey folded the paper and handed it back, then took another bite of his burrito.
"I don't know."
"Don't be an ass. We're going to look for her as soon as we finish this, so eat up." He nodded at Lance's untouched hamburger on his plate.
"What am I supposed to say if she's there though?" Lance sighed and rested his chin in his hand.
"You say, 'hi, my name is Lance and we're married. I don't wanna be, so lets go get this erased or whatever.' Then she'll say, 'okay' and you'll be set." Joey laughed and shook his head as he took another bite. "Man, Johnny's gonna shit a brick and JC's gonna implode. You have to promise to tell me when you tell them, I can't miss that."
"Joe " Lance sighed and reached for his dinner. He took a few small bites then dropped it back onto the plate. "If this gets taken care of this weekend, you can't say a word to anyone." He said suddenly.
"What are you talking about?"
"If I get this annulled or whatever, you can't say a word to anyone."
"Oh come on." Joey rolled his eyes. "You think I can go back on the bus and not say something about you getting so wasted in Vegas that you married some chick you don't even know? Yeah right. What if Chris was you and you were me, you'd be telling everyone." Joey shook his head. "No way man, I can't make a promise like that."
"Like anyone will believe me anyway." Joey shook his head with a defeated look. "No one ever believes me."
"I'm serious Joey. You can't say anything."
"Dude, if you get it annulled or whatever, there will be county records. There are probably county records of the whole marriage thing anyway." Joey nodded at the piece of paper documenting the union. "Someone somewhere will stumble across that and it'll be all over the tabloids. I think that I should be the least of your worries."
"Fuck." Lance dropped his forehead onto his fists and sighed. "This sucks."
"Yeah. Well." Joey shrugged and took another bite of his burrito. "Come on, eat your burger then we'll go over to Caesars see if we can find Mrs. Bass."
"You're not funny." Lance said without moving.
"Yeah I am." Joey laughed. "I'm a little bit funny. You've gotta admit that I'm a little bit funny."
"Not today you aren't." Lance lifted his head then brought a french fry to his mouth. He chewed it without tasting it, then licked the salt from his lips. "You're going to come with me to look for her?"
"Okay." Lance nodded, and took another couple bites of his meal before Joey finished and they were ready to leave the restaurant.
"You're gonna be hungry later." Joey pointed to the better portion of Lance's meal that was left on his plate.
"If I eat anything else I'll throw up."
"Good enough excuse for me." Joey pulled on his zip-up sweatshirt and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Ready?"
"Yep." Lance dropped a five on the table and they left through the side entrance of the restaurant which was closer to the elevators. He followed Joey out to the parking lot and climbed into the passenger seat. "You know, Caesars is just like, across the street."
"Yeah." Joey gave Lance a look that said, And ?"
"Okay." Lance sighed and shrugged, then sat back in the seat as Joey started the car and pulled out.
Lance and Joey returned to Caesars and went directly to the front desk. With a first and last name Lance thought it'd be easier to locate her but no one was willing to help. "Listen, it's his wife and he just wants to know where she is." Joey said as he lowered his voice. He tried to lean onto the counter to look intimidating but his big teddy bear look gave him away.
"Joe." Lance sighed and rolled his eyes.
"What? She's your wife."
"Can you just tell me if she's working tonight?" Lance ignored Joey and directed his attention to the man behind the counter.
"No she's not working or no you can't tell me?" Lance asked.
"No, I can not tell you. I don't work in personnel and even if I did we're not permitted to hand out our employees work schedule. If she's your wife you'll need to take up her schedule with her." He turned around and let them standing at the counter alone; the conversation was undoubtedly over.
"Fuck." Joey slammed his hand down on the marble counter top.
"Joey, come on." Lance sighed and stepped away.
"They can't even tell you if she's working?" Joey stormed away from the counter and headed for the casino floor. "Forget it then, we'll just walk around and see if we can find her. Come on, you know what she looks like, right?"
"I have the picture." Lance shrugged, in all honesty he just wanted to go back to his room and go to bed.
"Jesus Lance, you're pathetic." Joey shook his head and skimmed the crowd looking for a waitress. "Maybe one of her buddies will help us out." He grabbed Lance by the elbow and pulled him along. "We've gotta find her. I'm on a mission now."
"I swear Joe, if you start humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme, I'm leaving." Lance practically whined as he followed, willing his feet to move in the right direction.
"You're no fun. No fun at all. I'm trying to help you find your wife and all you can do is whine and complain like a little kid. You keep that up and you're gonna go on a time out." Joey said as he kept his eyes on the casino floor, looking for any waitress to start with. "There. There's one." He stopped and turned Lance's head toward the red headed waitress leaning against the bar. "Okay, you go talk to her, I'll go find some uh yeah some other ones, and I'll meet you back here, okay?"
"Yeah." Lance nodded.
"Right here." Joey pointed to the floor. "Got it?"
"I got it Joe."
"By the high rollers tables."
"Were you a high roller last night?" Joey looked over his shoulder at the high roller tables with his eyebrow raised.
Lance gave a short laugh and shook his head. "Not exactly."
Joey sighed with a look of disappointment. "Oh well meet me back here okay. Right here."
"Right here." Lance nodded, then rolled his eyes and headed over to the bar to talk to the waitress before she left. "Hi " Lance tilted his head sideways and looked at her nametag. "Lisa." He smiled and met her eye. "I was here last night and -
"Yeah, you're Monica's friend." She dropped two napkins on her tray and glanced over at Lance who was standing there looking confused. "Aren't you?"
"Well you asked for her last night I just thought " She shrugged.
"Oh, yeah I uh...I know her." He discreetly ran his thumb over the gold band on his finger.
"Any idea where she is?" Lisa asked.
Lance frowned, No, I'm actually looking for her."
"Well if you see her you'd better tell her to call in. Marcus is about ready to have a fit and Natalie and I are covering her floor until someone else can get in." Lisa reached for two drinks that the bartender sat on the bar in front of her.
"She's not here?"
"Isn't that what I just said?" She gave him a look and sighed as she picked up the final drink on the bar. "She didn't show up for her shift and if she doesnt call in this time she's gonna get canned."
"Oh okay yeah. If I see her I'll tell her." Lance nodded then looked over to where Joey was talking to another waitress in the high rollers area. Flirting was actually what he was doing, and it didn't look like he was asking about Monica. He caught Joey's eye and shook his head, then turned back to thank Lisa but she was already gone.
Lance sighed and shoved his hands back in his pockets then walked over to Joey. "Come on." He grabbed the tail of Joey's shirt and pulled him away.
"See ya later Eve." Joey waved then turned around to walk beside Lance. "So ?"
"So nothing. She didn't show up for work today." Lance ran his hand through his short hair and looked around the casino floor as they walked toward the exit. "If she didn't show up for work, she's not gonna be in the casino, you know?"
"True." Joey smiled at another waitress. "I've gotta say, you've got good taste though. Every waitress I've seen here tonight has been hot."
"I'm glad you're able to focus on the job at hand here Joe." Lance said sarcastically.
"Hey, it was my idea to come here and look, so stop with that tone." Joey shook his finger at Lance and laughed. "Let's just go back to the hotel and kick back. We can watch a movie or something. I still need to recover from last night, if you know what I mean." Joey's hand instinctively went to his crotch.
"Oh Jesus, you did not." Lance rolled his eyes.
"You didn't score with all three showgirls."
"Hell no." Joey made a face. "Would you believe me if I said I didn't score with any of them?"
Lance raised his eyebrow at Joey and stared at him for a minute. "Yeah, I'd believe that." He nodded.
"Pathetic. Really." Joey sighed and shook his head as he dropped his arm over Lance's shoulders and headed for the exit. "I've lost my touch."
"Yeah well. What are you gonna do?" Joey shrugged and sighed. "I mean, I'm not a lesbian so that pretty much took two of them out of the running."
"And the third?"
"Eh, she wasn't my type."
"Did she have boobs?"
"Bite me; I look for more than boobs."
"Liar." Lance shook his head and removed Joey's arm.
"Nah, for reals. There was no hooking up." Joey bit his lip solemnly. "I didn't even get to witness any girl on girl action. I had to go home and take care of myself." He winced slightly and shoved his hand back in the pocket of his sweatshirt.
"Joey " Lance stopped walking and covered his eyes with his hands. "You're an embarrassment to all living men."
"Oh bull shit. You know, you say that all the time but you know you'd be just as into it as I would." They stepped up to the valet booth and Joey handed the guy their ticket.
"I'm not even going to discuss this with you. Just take me home and let me sleep for a zillion hours." Lance leaned against the concrete column letting it cool his warm back.
"Yeah yeah, we're going." Joey took a step off the curb and waited for the valet to bring the car around.
"We should have walked." Lance complained as he tapped his foot against the column.
"You should have gotten her name before you married her." Joey retorted as he kept his eye on the flow of traffic in front of him.
Lance cracked a smile, though he didn't feel like laughing. He could always count on Joey to take a serious situation and make it seem better than it was.
Joey looked over his shoulder at Lance and gave him a quick smile as the car was pulled around in front of him. "Come on sunshine, get in the car." He walked around to the drivers' side and got in.
Lance got in the passengers' side and fastened his seatbelt. "Man, this is seriously the worst hangover ever in my life."
"What'd you drink?"
"Tom Collins'." Lance's mouth tasted metallic suddenly. "A lot of them."
"How come you're not sweating gin?" Joey laughed and pulled out to the street.
"I think I threw most of it up."
"Nah, if you did that you'd feel better. You're still humming I bet. In fact, I bet if you cut yourself you'd smell like a fuckin Christmas tree right now."
"Probably." Lance leaned his forehead on the cool window and sighed, leaving an uneven fog circle on the glass. They drove back to the Venetian and went straight to the elevators. As they were waiting three girls came over to ask them for their autographs. Joey was enthusiastic enough for both of them, and Lance hoped they didn't notice how much like shit he felt still.
"Are you staying here?" The older girl asked.
"Nope, we're visiting some friends up in the penthouse. Pro golfers and stuff. We're over at the MGM, but we're leaving in the morning, right?" Joey smiled over at Lance.
"Uh huh, we've got an early flight." Lance nodded and quickly signed the girls Hard Rock Café menu.
"Oh man, we leave tomorrow afternoon." Another girl said.
"Damn, I wish we had brought our camera." The last girl practically stomped her foot as the elevator dinged.
"Maybe next time." Joey laughed then quickly gave each girl a hug before he dove onto the elevator with Lance. He waved as the doors closed then leaned against the mirrored wall of the elevator. "Man " He sighed.
"You shouldn't lie to fans."
"Yeah, neither should you." Joey stuck his tongue out like a child and shrugged. "If they were staying all week, would you want them hanging around the elevators all day?"
"Okay then." Joey sighed and repeatedly hit the button for their floor. As they stepped off Joey grabbed Lance's elbow. "You okay? I mean really?"
"Yeah." Lance shrugged. "I guess."
"I'm tired and I feel like shit. I think once I get some sleep I'll be better." He tried to smile as he raked his fingers through his hair.
"Tomorrow will be better."
"Because it can't get much worse." They said in unison.
Lance laughed softly and shook his head, Thanks Joe."
"Anytime man. I know you'd do the same for me in fact, I'm actually kinda surprised the roles are reversed all things considered."
Lance nodded slowly, Yeah, me too."
"Hey listen, don't stress about it. Either she show's up or she doesn't. Right?"
"So if she does you'll get it taken care of and if she just disappears then there has to be a way to get it annulled or whatever that way too." Joey shrugged.
"I hope so."
"You hope what? That she shows up or that she doesn't?"
"I don't know." Lance raked his hands through his hair and closed his eyes tightly. "I don't know. Gimme a call in the morning or whatever. My head may actually be connected to my body so I can think straight tomorrow."
"All righty, I'll call you when I get up."
"Okay, thanks Joe."
"No problem." Joey slapped Lance's back and slid his key into his door up the hall from Lance's. "Go get some sleep, you'll feel better in the morning."
"Man, I hope so." Lance yawned and walked slowly down to his room at the end of the hall.
When Lance opened the door to his room the air conditioner was on and the drapes were shut across the window in the sitting room. Lance's stomach tumbled as he thought about the possibility of Monica being there. "Hello?" He called into the darkness. "Hello?" He asked again when no one answered. He turned the lights on and walked all the way into the room and looked around. It was exactly as he left it hours ago. The message light on the hotel phone wasn't blinking, and there was no note anywhere that he could see.
Lance sighed and dropped his room key, wallet and some spare change on the table then walked into the bedroom. He wasn't sure if he really expected to see her in there or not, but the bed was untouched and the mint was still on the pillow. Lance frowned into the room and leaned on the doorframe. He sighed again then asked the question that only she could answer, Where are you?"
Copyright © 2002, Amy Lynn