jesse kaellis in Lifestyle, beBee in English, Writers Bally's. Trop, Dunes, Caesars, Sahara. Landmark, Barbary, State Line, on and on. • 21 joints. I counted them again. Sep 29, 2016 · 2 min read · +300

Like embracing futility

Like embracing futility

My friend died in June 1991 sometime, perished in a one-car accident. I’m pretty sure that was when it happened. I had been planning on quitting Vegas, leaving Caesars and heading back to Canada in September. I’d been there four years and moved through another eight casinos -- resorts and casinos.

I’d broken in on dealing dice. I was at the Barbary when I got the Caesars job and went back to doing massage.

But, regardless, I figured I’d had enough of Vegas. I had accumulated some money. Maybe eight thousand bucks – I don’t know, but to me that seemed like money.

I’d been in sporadic touch with Jamie. He wasn’t too faithful about writing, and he didn’t seem to have a phone number. I’d gotten bits and pieces of bad news about him – a motorcycle accident and a badly broken leg with pins in the bone. A stoppage loss in an over the weight fight where he had gotten TKO'd. His life was getting messy.

And my life, my life was the usual Vegas deal. Making money, drinking, partying with my co-workers, partying with whores, rock crawls.

After Jamie had died, I cut loose. Was I just looking for an excuse? Yes, more than likely. I liked my medicine. I was also in a world of pain.

I’m living in a quiet and comfortable dump at 3rd and Garcia about four blocks from the Golden Nugget downtown. I don’t have to live there because I’m making decent money for the first time since I hit Vegas in June of 1987. I was cautious, though. I had twenty-one jobs in Vegas, twenty-one joints over the nine years that I lived there and I never felt secure in any of them. And that is numero uno in the industry. It isn’t secure. For example, age is a significant factor. And there are various ambiguous timelines in the gaming industry.

You want to be ensconced in a top strip job within five years of breaking in and then hang on there for dear life -- the top or as high as you can rise. For some people, that’s a middle-level job.

And when you start hitting about 40 years old then that’s getting long in the tooth for the gaming industry.

I left Vegas in my rear-view mirror the day before my 40th birthday. Now that’s intrinsic to me personally. I burnt the town down, and that was it. But I factored my age into cutting my losses.

All this stuff is just a preamble to what I wanted to write about. I’m living in a bad neighbourhood and let’s face it, if it doesn’t have a wall around it, it’s the tenderloin.

I’m doing my thing, I don’t give a shit, my best friend is dead, I wanna get high, I’m picking up these whores two at a time, and we’re smoking crack all on my dime of course. I’m scarcely having sex with these women. Misery loves company – that’s the deal. And they have tubes, which I don’t want around since even possession of clean drug paraphernalia is a felony in Nevada.

I’m getting up near the end of the first part of my Vegas life here; I’m about ready to run for my very life.

Naturally, my front door has a number on it. One day there is a knock on my door. I answer the door, and it’s some black dude that I never saw before, and he’s got a full crack tube – loaded with a  juicy rock and he has a lighter ready.

I was shocked. I felt a physical shock. This is no good. I had put my business out on the street, and this was not a safe location for me anymore. I shake my head, “No thanks!” “You sure man?” “Yeah!” He looks disappointed, but he goes away.

He wanted to get me started. “The first ones on me.” Then I would be chasing until all my money was gone. I’ve been through that many times.

I didn’t leave town immediately, though. Caesars was a good job. A working stiff could make a career out of it. I remember I had one more rock crawl at least, burnt up about 300 bucks worth, which is not that bad.

But that was it. I phoned work and told the attendant, “Listen, I quit.” He begged me to give two weeks’ notice and I did.

I ended up in Reno for part of a winter, four months, ended up back in Vegas, and I had to start all over again. I went back to dealing dice.

I’ll tell you about Vegas. You might change. You might become sober as a Judge. Vegas will never change. It’s there waiting for you to slip. There are reformed alcoholics/addicts that live in Vegas. You can find a meeting at any time of the day or night.

One time I had an interview, “Would you ever go back there to live?” “The casinos? No that’s over. I can’t work for them again. I’m finished.” “You know the movie, Leaving Las Vegas?” “If I ever went back it would be for that. To surrender to the nihilism, for self-destruction -- like embracing  futility."

jesse kaellis Sep 29, 2016 · #2

I can't necessarily blame the environment, but if you are looking for darkness it's there all around you. I used to get manicures in Vegas weekly. One time I was getting a manicure off my regular lady and I was working at the Barbary Coast dealing dice. The Barbary was right on the four corners but not really a strip joint, not the way it was run. But, I said to her -- long sigh, "This town is rife with drugs." "You're just finding that out?" "I've been finding that out." And she laughed. This is from a review from author Gisela Hausmann

Even though I have very fond memories of Las Vegas I knew that the city is also reason for many broken dreams. However, "Early Out" hits harder. Jesse Kaellis' authentic, raw and powerful language describes what I missed altogether. To people, who work in Vegas there is no glitter, no glory, and no magic, and nobody hits the high notes.

"...I worked from four am till twelve noon. I'd step out of there into the blazing sun and go get a drink at the Shoe. I felt like I was on some alien landscape."

Of course, like everybody else, I knew that Las Vegas' casinos operate around the clock. However, since I myself would never gamble at in the middle of the night I had never thought about that obviously some dealers had to be working at these hours. And, I had never thought about what kind of toll such shift work would take on a man, if he had to do this for a prolonged time. Jesse Kaellis did drugs for relaxation and to keep himself afloat. There is nothing romantic about being a dealer playing Lady Luck - or not:

"... You will rub up against some very talented dealers. Dealers who were at the top and screwed up some way and are on a downward trajectory. You look at these guys and you are looking at your future. You can tell yourself that it won't happen to you, but you know. You know..."

Yes, "Early Out" is an eye-opening book.

Thank you, Deb. I value comments and feedback. Otherwise it's lonely.

Deb Helfrich Sep 29, 2016 · #1

Vegas seems made to make most people surrender. Environment is a huge factor in whether we can utilize willpower or just succumb. I went twice. The heat, the sounds, the energy wore me out in two days flat. Actually, I am pretty sure I went twice, but I can't parse the trips apart right now. It all melds into jerky camera work in my mind.

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