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(V)antics: Las Vegas

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  Tommy tapped the capped Sharpie against his notepad. "Give me something to draw," he requested. "Ask Twitter," replied his band mate Ben from the passenger seat of the tour van.

  "I did, but no one responded yet." Tommy turned around to check on Jesse, snoozing in the back seat of the van, one arm draped around the Freddie Mercury walrus he won in a crane game on an earlier tour. Tommy doodled the human Freddie Mercury as a walrus captioned with "Another one bites the tusk." Flipping over to a new page, he stared out the window.

  After Los Angeles, they had two days to get to Denver for their next gig, so the boys decided to make a detour to Las Vegas. They weren't going to be able to stay for long, but with any luck they'd be able to stop at a casino and play. Unfortunately, they got caught bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving LA to Barstow, but were now two hours outside Vegas.

  This scene's boring, thought Tommy, staring at the desert outside. Dirt and scrub brush for miles with mountains in the distance could have been beautiful at sunrise, sunset, or even on a stormy day, but in the cloudless sky everything looked flat. A barren place without even billboards to act as distraction. At least the sky's blue, he mused, drawing a toad dressed as a Vegas show girl.

  Jesse bolted upright as the van hit a pot hole and squinted several time in the afternoon sun. "Where we at?" he murmured to Tommy, mustache tickling the guitarist's ear.

  "Near Vegas." Tommy twisted around to look at Jesse, who had fallen back into the seat and was playing with his walrus toy.

  "Cool, let's get married," the drummer chirped, springing forward again to fold his arms over the middle row of seats.

  "No marriages," interjected Ben, looking up from his phone to shoot a look at the others before looking back down.

  "It'll be tits," Jesse locked eyes with Tommy and ruffled his hair.

***

  A few hours later, the van rolled into a stall of a Shell gas station. The doors flew open and the boys hopped out to stretch their legs as their manager Seth refueled the car.

  "Tommy, Tommy, look," Jesse roped Tommy around the neck and pulled him into a headlock, pointing at a building across the street. In the middle of a strip mall of dollar stores and Chinese restaurant chains stood a gray storefront with the crumbling plaster of a chapel facade. The red block-letter sign above simply read "Weddings." Jesse marched through the door dragging the protesting guitarist.

  From the dim lobby they could see straight to the back--an elevated alter on blue plush carpet, white-latticed trestle snaked by vines of fake ivy. Seven rows of pews lined from the alter to the front door, all of them empty. A man appeared from an office to the left of the door and greeted them.

  "Afternoon gents, lookin' to get hitched are we?" asked the balding manager. "We can't call them marriages for people like you, but civil unions just as good."

  "Yessir," said Jesse, shifting his arm from Tommy's neck to his shoulder but still keeping him close.

  "Great, we have several packages available to look over. Everything from simple ceremony to riding in on a Harley."

  "We need something quick, boss," Jesse turned to the door as Ben entered, wondering where they went.

  "Be with you in a sec, son," the manager said to Ben.

  "He's with us," Jesse replied as Ben stood next to him shaking his head.

  "Wonderful, we needed a witness anyway." The manager went to his office and returned with a stack of papers. "Follow me," he said, leading them to the table in front of the alter. "You, sign here, here, and here. You, witness, sign here. Now get up on the stage, lovebirds."

  Jesse moved Tommy onto the alter and positioned him at arm's length away, still holding him by the shoulders. Tommy, for his part, hung his head in resignation, grinning.

  "By the power vested in me by the state of Nevada, I now pronounce you husband and husband," intoned the manager-turned-officiate, "mazel tov." He handed them a certificate and a couple of bumper stickers that read, "Just Married."

  When the boys left, they saw that Seth had moved the van into the parking lot outside the chapel, waiting with the doors open. "They did it," Ben said to him, climbing in to the front seat.

  Jesse scooped up Tommy in a bridal carry. singing. "Tits, tits, ti-tits. Tits, tits, ti-tits" to the tune of "Here Comes the Bride" before tossing him into the middle seat and slamming the door.