I immediately regret stepping into the Lyft, but it’s late, and I’m drunk. The car pulls away from the curb. The neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip blur into a pulsating symphony of color as I lean my head against the passenger-side window glass of the back seat.
“I think you missed my exit,” I try to say, watching as the way home fades behind us at sixty-five miles per hour. The alcohol in my bloodstream plays hockey with the words in my mouth, and they come out jumbled. I close my eyes and try again, but stop talking just as suddenly. It feels nice to have my eyes closed. After so much on The Strip: lights, sounds, people, money, booze, desperation, elation… the darkness behind my closed eyelids is a relief.
I breathe deeply a few times. I can still hear the house music from the club pounding in my ears, though my driver listens to Chopin as he drives. It is a tangle of sound coming through the speakers behind my drowsy head, like pulling French vanilla taffy through a Gibson Les Paul.
I open my eyes suddenly when somewhere deep inside, the part of me that remains vigilant even after five dirty martinis, reminds me that I never checked the license plate of the car before stepping in. I scramble to pull out my phone, and realize I’ve left my entire purse behind in the club. Why on earth would I do that?
“We’re almost there,” the driver says. “If you’re gonna be sick, wait till you’re out of the car.”
“I’m not going to be sick,” I say, the words finally marching out of my mouth in the correct order. “I need to go back to the club. I’ve left my purse behind.”
“That’s not going to happen,” the driver says, pulling the car to a stop.
“But you don’t understand,” I protest, starting to feel my heart beat fast like a hummingbird’s wings. I try the door handle, but it’s locked. I pull on it harder. Still nothing. “Let me out, people know where I am,” I say in a last ditch effort.
He opens his door and steps out of the car. He opens the back door, and I try my best to scramble to the other side of the seat. I kick at him as he tries to grab at me.
“How on earth did you get out of these?” he grumbles, picking up a pair of handcuffs that glint silver in the fluorescent light from the parking lot he has pulled into.
I try to scream, but he has a hold of me, and he yanks me out of the car. I finally notice the flashing blue and red lights that were impossible to see among the spectacle of The Strip. The man pulls my arms behind my back, slips the cuffs over my hands, and I remember – quite suddenly – throwing that first punch at the club.