A/N: Written for the Review Game's October WCC. Inspired by Panic! At the Disco's (amazing) new album 'Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die'. Hope you enjoy!


At least I made it. At least I didn't end up like all my friends, brains blown out in a desert ditch at two A.M. drunk and dazzled by the neon of the strip.

The Vegas lights raised me. The lights of my city lit up my dreams every night and every day. We lived twenty minutes away from the strip in good traffic and we had the perfect view of the hell that is and was my hometown.

I always thought it was kinda gross, when I was little, the fact that people went to that street to lose themselves and all their money and just fuck their lives up so badly.

And that they did it willingly. That's what got me. I thought I'd never be like that.

But then I got older. When I was ten my best friend and I used to watch the lights dance and shimmer in the distance, a symbol of a life we thought we'd never have.

When I was fifteen my best friend and I would drove out to the strip after school every day. His mom had a friend who worked in the bar of the cosmopolitan and he'd teach us how to mix drinks and sometimes we'd pose as waiters in other hotels and try and get tips.

I started going a little…off course, I guess you'd say. The neon and nicotine lured me in a bit too much I guess. I would find teenage girls who'd been dragged along by their parents and kind of, just, talk to them. See what they were like.

And then I'd take them out into the desert to watch the city from a distance with a stolen bottle of Jack and when we were drunk enough we'd kiss with the city watching us, silently wondering why we'd left the city to do stupid stuff.

The girl's parents would usually call worried sick and just plain sick sometimes and I'd drive the girl back to the strip. We only got into an accident once.

The girl that was in the accident with me, she was my favorite. She was named Vegas and that's why I remember her so well. I thought it was a fucking hooker name, stripper name, whatever, but she was a lot like the city.

Bright and dark at the same time, perfect on the outside and a sinner within and I loved her I fucking loved her I never wanted to drive her back home. Her pull was worse than nicotine and I wanted to keep her forever&ever&ever. We danced drunk in the desert topless and perfect in the moment. I felt young for the first time with that girl, with Vegas, with that embodiment of the city that haunted me and my dreams, the city that was endlessly pulling me in and repelling me like the ocean I'd only seen once.

So I drove my Vegas back to the hotel she was staying at, my beautiful southern beauty of a girl, and she was kissing me from the passenger seat and running her hand down my back and I had to give something back I had to and the warmth was taking over me the alcohol and love and I could smell our brief fuck all over her and then we were screaming and bleeding a little and alive and alive my babygirl Vegas and me.

It wasn't bad it was just a dent in the car and a vivid memory in my brain to stir around like a vodka martini. We laughed away our fear, just giggled away the cuts in our foreheads and the faint taste of blood mixing with the whiskey still on our tongues.

She giggled into my shoulder the rest of the drive, occasionally reaching out to change the radio from one mindless pop song to the next. I whispered things to her that I wish I remembered, probably just telling her what she tasted like and what I would do with her if we had more time.

I remember pulling up in a dropoff zone outside the Bellagio and asking her to run away with me. She smiled and kissed me no, and she rested her bloody forehead against mine and told me that no matter how much I wanted to get away from her, I never would be able to.

I sat there stunned until a car horn startled me out of it. The girl was the city-or was the city the girl? Or maybe she was just a girl and I was crazy. Or maybe she was just the city and I was crazy.

But I couldn't be crazy, she had to have had existed because I still have that car and it still has a dent where I ran into the telephone pole. The city spun me a night-long love story, and whether she was just playing the love interest or not is something I've never figured out.

I stopped chatting up the tourist teens after that. I grew into a new attitude about visitors, that they were what made the city so famously sinful. I started to think that the neon lights would be clean if not for all of the people who got majestically fucked up for a weekend and left with a cocaine habit and an std if they were lucky.

Las Vegas is no more than a vomit stain on a nice shirt to most people.

And I hated that. I hated that I lived in a place that was just a hazy and unpleasant memory to everyone who passed through.

I grew up. I tried not to hate my hometown like every fucking punk out there, but it got harder and harder because I really did hate it down to my core.

But then—then it hit me. Then I changed. My nineteenth birthday. It hit me that I could use everything I hated about the city for myself. I could be the cold calculating person in the corner of every bar and every casino, watching and waiting for the faintest hint of someone influential and rich.

And then I'd strike. I'd leave them begging me not to tell the world what they did last night. And I'd tell them, hey, for a hundred grand, that's pretty manageable. Maybe even a million if they were real assholes.

Except—problem. The only way I knew how to do that was sex drugs and alcohol. Sex was out of the question. When guys are sober they don't like admitting to their inner bicuriousity.

So drugs and alcohol right? But guys just don't trust guys.

I needed to get myself a girl to do the dirty work. So I found her one night in a strip club about half an hour into the desert. She called herself Vegas.

That made me laugh the first time I heard it. Another Vegas, just what I fucking needed. I had the city, I had my first love, and now I had a pathetic whore.

It seemed a little fitting. I charmed her that night. I hadn't learned how girls worked, not by any standard. But Vegas was easy as easy came. I don't remember what I did to her and I don't want to but the next day she was clinging to me pretty tightly.

So I asked her for a few favors.

And every politician, every musician, every actor and businessman and artist that came through the lights of my city….

Well, they belonged to me.

I had pictures; I had proof of their tiny mistake. Vegas was a good little whore for me. I pretended to love her. I had to.

Sometimes the people I blackmailed refused to give me money. Only a few recovered from the resulting scandals. Gossip magazines had me to thank for a good half of their stories. Of course, I always posted things online with different accounts, remaining pretty anonymous.

I never thought I had it in me. I never thought I could become the person that I did.

This went on for years and I started slipping farther and farther into the life I really didn't want. I had a corvette—actually, a Corvette and a Cadillac. The Corvette was named Prince and the Cadillac was named Lucy for no fucking reason.

I experimented with coke a bit. I started drinking expensive martinis in nightclubs that I owned. Everything was under different names. I owned everything and everyone.

And then Vegas landed herself in a back alley with two drunk fuckers who raped her and killed her so she'd never tell on them. She had pictures of herself and some pop princess on her phone and I panicked.

I was so strung out on yayo when I heard that I just went into a crazed shock. I ran. I left everything behind. I took the car that I crashed as a kid, and I drove up here.

And now look at me. Oh, how the mighty fall.

I miss my city. I miss her so much.

I left her. But not really, because I think about her every day. I hate her still, I hate what she turned me into. But my god, I'd do anything for the neon and nicotine and sex and strobes and blow. For fuck's sake if I'm going to be homeless, if I'm going to live like this…

Couldn't I at least live like this in her hot embrace?

Fuck.

At least I made it.


A/N: All feedback is appreciated.