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August 13, 2018 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Two Serious Head Injuries in the U.S. of A

I was in Las Vegas, Nevada, when I got the second serious head injury of the tour I was on. The first had happened in some concrete hole in the ground DIY venue at the wrong end of Echo Park, Los Angeles. We were playing our set like we would back home; as raucous and fucked up as the sound system would allow. The LA indies had come along to see some pretty guitar bands, but when we got on stage, we were anything but pretty. Guitars squealed in dissonant feedback, drums grabbed the tempo and beat it within an inch of its life, bass rumbled in the gut punching lower register of the stomach, synth contorting in tandem with the vocal melody, which I screamed, ripping my vocals with the strain.

The crowd was not into it.
The venue was pretty full, but the front rows had backed away fearfully from the stage to compress along the rear wall, leaving a couple metres of open concrete floor between us. Somehow, I got it into my ethanol addled head that to further the joke the set was becoming, I would need to up the ante. That ante was my performance. It was upped by my dolphin diving straight into the concrete floor. I managed to do it about 3 times before I landed on my head and cracked it open. I remember standing up and falling over again. Someone must have taken me outside for some fresh air, because next thing I remember I am sitting on the curb, looking at a street light thinking, wow this is a pretty weird part of Avondale.
The second serious head injury occurred when we were staying in a dirtbag hotel located on the old Vegas strip that has been dead for like 30 years, although the nauseating neon lights don’t know it. Old Vegas is just as greasy as the new one, except a little less effort has gone into covering up the sleaze. We were running around the strip, jacked up on the last of the cocaine as well as a few 1-gallon cans of vodka and strawberry RTDs called Strawberitas. Slimy old men with swollen eyes stood on the sidewalks in gangs of twos and threes dressed as babies, pirates, medieval knights, or other such schtick, waiting for a wayward tourist to get too close to them so they could grab them, gruffly force them to take a photo, and extort the unlucky passerby for money. Stages lined the streets where Elvis, Eagles, and Smashmouth tribute acts played loudly to crowds of people trying to dance away the fact that they lost a small fortune in the slots. Instead of a sky, the entire street is covered in a gigantic canopy, onto which is projected the lyrics to whatever trashy pop classic is being blasted at any given moment, karaoke style, in case anyone wants to sing along.


Because this is the greasy end of Vegas, casinos have to do more to try and pull in cash-fodder. Our casino’s advertising gimmick was for the gambling tables to be topped with women dancing either naked or getting pretty close to it. We drank another Strawberita and thought that it would be a good idea to put the entire tour’s profits so far ($42 USD) on the slots. We lost. Another thing I had lost at that point in time was my brother Lachie. I was vaguely concerned because last thing I remembered was that he was talking about going to a 24 hour tattoo parlour to get some flash done. I also realised that I had lost my friend Cam. I figured those two would be together and keeping each other out of as much trouble as is possible.

Blink. I’m back in the hotel room.
I was inside, and Reuben was on the outside of the room wanting to get in. I had the bright idea to lock him out of the room and goad him with calls of “what’s the password”.
The hyperactivity of the narcotics made me quickly tire of the tease, but they also made Rueben extremely quick to anger. Just as I was opening the door for him he let loose a mighty kick that swung the door back and hit me full on the face. I fell back on the stained carpet and lay there for a full twenty seconds before attempting to get up. Immediately a Cronenberg-esque lump started swelling out of my head, bleeding. Reuben, immediately converted back into the sweetheart he is when he isn’t locked out of rooms, was all over me with hugs and kisses and “I’m sorry”s. The chemicals in my body meant that I didn’t feel much pain at the time. I kept saying, “I’m not crying because of this, it’s just the shock”.
Later that night it all hit me at once; the coke, 3 gallons of Strawberitas, too many menthol cigarettes, and the second serious head injury in one week. I needed to throw up. I climbed out of bed as quietly as my inebriated body would allow, trying not to wake Lawree who was in the bed next to me. The toilet was lit by a red bulb that accentuated seeping wet grime spots on the walls and ceiling. The floor was filthy with other people’s scum. My knees crunched as I knelt in front toilet bowl. The vomit was so red from the light and Strawberitas that I first thought it was blood, but blood doesn’t contain pieces of the burger you ate 4 hours prior.
(Unnecessary Narrative Digression: I brought this burger with Cam from a place called “The Heart Attack Grill” and the experience deserves a few notes: you have to sign a form before you enter that waives your right to sue them. The waitresses are dressed in what a uber-horny sexually-pent-up porn-obsessed fourteen-year-old male might imagine nurses wear, and they taunt you into ordering much more than you can eat [although as shrewd operators, Cam and I did not fall for this]. The waitress/nurse’s reasons for trying to tempt customers becomes apparent when someone doesn’t finish their meal and a ritual ensues. The man is brought to a stage at the centre of the restaurant where he is bent over a leather and metal contraption, his hands cuffed to the floor and his ass up in the air. The waitress/nurse who was waiting on his table then steps up to the platform with a red paddle and spanks his ass five times, while the rest of the diners count down the smacks. One particularly brazen customer, upon being spanked, started tauntingly rolling his eyes shouting, “is that all you got?” His waitress/nurse/dominatrix was so enraged by this haughty arrogance that she wound the paddle up behind her head and swung a brutally hard spank on this guy’s ass. No word of a lie the paddle broke in two, one end flying across the room to land on some other table with a smash. The crowd applauded.)
Looking shamefaced at the discharge, I immediately wanted to dispose of the evidence. I stood up and tried to flush but I didn’t hear a sound. I reopened the toilet lid, saw my vomit and gagged hard. I grabbed the lever on the side of the cistern that controlled the flush and tried pulling, pushing, lifting, cranking, slamming, slapping, but nothing could engage the action which would dispose of my vomit. I decided that a broken toilet in Las Vegas was no match for a bit of Kiwi ingenuity and I lifted up the ceramic lid of the cistern. Smash.

I thought I had balanced the heavy lid on the edge of the toilet, but it had slipped off, shattered on the floor, white shards cascaded across tiles to the dripping shower cubicle.
From the bedroom I hear Lawree shout, “Hey man, you all good in there?”

“Yep, all good!”

“You sure? What was that smash.”

“Uh, I think I broke the toilet.”

“Stop stressing man, we can fix it in the morning.”
We didn’t fix it in the morning.


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