April 21, 2013: On her toes.

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“I haven’t been down here all that long, just a couple of months. The problem was with my Mom’s new boyfriend. He didn’t much like me to begin with, said I was always getting in the way. Problem was, he got pissed off when I called the cops because he was beating on her. I can’t sleep when he’s hollering and she’s screeching and they’re breakin’ stuff in the house. And then every now and again he wants to beat on me too, or get me in bed with him.

“I mean, I gotta get sleep so’s I can go to my job, don’t I? It’s a good job, working at the hotel. Pays good, and I get some leftover food from the kitchen when they got a big convention or something.

“Anyways, one night Mom and him was carrying on like forever, so I just got mad and left. Took my stuff and went to the park down by the river behind the hotel. Nobody bothered me that night, though later I found out that the bushes I was in was a regular spot that some old guy usually takes over, but he wasn’t there that first time.

“I tried to find me an apartment or a room, but I didn’t have enough cash except for a couple of really bad places and I decided I’d rather be on my own. Some guy told me about a way down into the storm water tunnels under the street and I came down here and found this place and I’m really liking it. I got this corner back in here, see, and it’s raised up off the floor so nothing gets wet when it rains real hard, which it don’t all that much out here in Vegas.

“I lucked out, finding this place. There’s a couple hundred people down here and some of them is real private and get mad when you get in their space. But the old whore that had this before me died, and everybody picked the place clean within an hour after they dragged her out of here, I came by and got it, and it’s just fine. It’s out of the weather, don’t get too hot down here, not like outside anyway. I mean when it’s over a hundred degrees on the street, it’s only about eighty underneath it. I got this old sleeping bag, and some blankets and a pillow from the hotel, and a flashlight. I go to MacDonald’s before work to put myself to rights and get some coffee. I don’t need much else.

“Biggest problem is getting in and out of here: I wear heavy boots because there’s snakes and spiders and broken glass and lots of needles. Then the big storms come and this water can rise about a foot an hour and that’s scary too, plus it brings all the crap off the streets, butts and bottles and whatever else the rains bring down here.

“I got friends in this neighborhood. Some of them are druggies, crystal meth mostly, and almost everybody gambles, or used to. Now they’re just silver miners, checking the slots for cash that got left behind, dumb tourists. Most of them are like me: just want to be left alone, do their thing.

“I like being one of what they call the mole people, and I got no plans to leave right away. It’s peaceful down here, not much to worry about. I clean up for a work day, go to a tunnel entrance, walk a few steps, and I got food and a little money. No debts. No nasty boyfriend beatin’ on my ass.

“What’s not to like? As long as I stay on my toes and watch out for Number One, I don’t have any complaints.”

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