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CHAPTER THREE

I could almost visualize the headlines reading Las Vegas Entertainer Starves Eating His Own Pride. Now I've never been one to ask for a handout even when things were rough. This was a bad habit I had acquired from my parents and it sure sounds like good character. But sometimes it is necessary to allow someone to help. It only makes one human.

But who said Wild Bill Cooksey was human? Here's a man with a job, a trailer, two legs and about $50.00 in cash. I can pay the motel day by day and it's only about five miles to work. If no one at work knows the situation, then everything's cool.

After a few hour's sleep at the motel, I walked back to Silver City's parking lot to begin my 6:00 AM unpacking of the trailer. I carted inside the necessary equipment to play the job and the stage was taking shape. By 1:30 PM everything was set up for my return at eleven that night. I locked up the trailer and hitched a ride with one of the casino's local residents who took me right to my motel.

It really feels funny to be without wheels when you can barely remember not having a car of your own. But I laid down and tried to rest until the clock went off at 8:00 PM. Getting up, I knew I hadn't slept very much, but show time wasn't far off. Showering, dressing...finally I was ready to go. I looked in the mirror. Yes, I looked really crazy in my new ZOOT SUIT that Pam had sent me while I was in St. Louis. Now, my stage outfits are not very subtle and even weird people stare at me in a club. I really don't like to change at the job because it takes so much time. So generally, I wear a raincoat over my uniform when going from the car to the stage.

Guess what? I had forgotten it was a five mile walk and I had to exhibit myself in this garb through downtown Vegas and on the sidewalk of the Strip. There was no time to change and my coat didn't cover that much of my outfit. Oh, well, who's going to notice me in all the lights in Vegas?

With my cowboy hat in hand, I made tracks towards Silver City. A few people turned around to glance at the decorations on my pants and sleeves, but no one made any crude remarks. I felt confident changing sides of the street every two blocks, double checking to make sure no weirdoes were following me. Here I was halfway there and my timing was excellent.

What's that policeman doing in front of the bank with those two German Shepherds? Can't I cross the street and avoid contact? No, it'll just look funny and they'll get suspicious. I'll just hold my head up, smile, and keep on cooking. Besides, now I could clearly see this was a rent-a-cop, private security officer. So what's the big deal?

Then came my nearest encounter with a coronary. About fifteen feet from these two, vicious varmints, I became the target of barking such as I'd never heard before. This double-dose of Rin Tin Tin lunged in my direction. Fear had made me overcome my shyness in displaying this outfit and I quickly began backing up. Dogs love to see a person respond to their show of aggression. It proves a challenge as to how fast they can chew off the front and the back of your legs simultaneously.

"Calm down, boys, calm down!!!" shouted this pay by the hour dial-a guard to the two, deaf canines. After continued commands, they seemed a bit more restrained. By then I felt I'd walked backwards to my motel on tiptoes. But all was well and I could continue.

"Hey, boy, what kind of pants you wearing with that cowboy hat?" inquired the man with the badge. Then he laughed and made some unrefined remarks about me being an entertainer and how silly I looked walking down the street in my fairy suit.

Quickly I realized these two German Shepherds were former, disgruntled employees of Siegfred and Roy's animal act. They were just angry because I still held a union card and they didn't. About the time I'd scarcely slipped past these two growling, fanged monsters, the two legged mongrel said, "Hey, boys. I bet you'd like to get a piece of that!" Then he let go of the slack in the leashes and they jumped towards the kid. Instant lightning occurred as I practiced my 100 yard dash. In the distance, I could still hear the FCFH (fake-cop-for-hire) laughing and the dogs barking. Or was it the other way around?

Out of breath, I opened the door to Silver City with 20 minutes to spare. I was greeted by lots of friendly employees welcoming me back from my three week absence. It felt great to answer with the biggest lie of all---"Oh, everything's just wonderful...Couldn't be better."

Who are you kidding, Cooksey? Pride probably kills more people yearly than cancer. But you can't tell people who think of you as special that you're busted. As this book is being written, I'll gladly tell the truth now. Because lying to others is only lying to yourself. Just as I thrive on helping others, I'm sure my friends would have given me assistance if I had let them at this time in my life.

Playing until 5:00 AM nightly and walking home five miles to the motel in my fantasy frocks allowed even more tourists and locals to comment on my striking ensemble, now embellished by the bright morning sunshine. However, for one week I made these embarrassing journeys to and from Silver City. At work I made fun of people in jest. But wouldn't some of them have loved to sock it to me, if they knew my situation?

At the end of my work week, Sunday night brought the first pay check. Oh, at last, I could look for a gas guzzler. My plan was to rent a compact car to ride around in, while seeking my own chariot from a used car lot. So I began my last walk up the Strip to the MGM, turned left and hoofed it to Paradise Road. I'll never understand why they called it Paradise. It doesn't even have a sidewalk all the way. If you weren't 100% sure exactly where you were going on this road, you could get lost...two-three-four. Paradise Lost...Get it?

The sun was up really beaming on that Monday morning, as my dusty shoes stepped into a compact rent-a-car office near the airport to select a VW. All signed up and ready to go, I was advised by the salesman to drive across the street and have it filled up with gas. He even suggested that I look at that old clunker the station owner had for sale.

Chugging across to the Esso station in the VW, I saw the dream of every young man in 1975! Here was a 1959 white Desoto station wagon with optional parts missing. Wow! It was love at first sight!

Inquiring as to the price of this jewel of the West, I was hit with a $250.00 price tag. Nope, I only had $150.00 to spend and I made that clear right up front.

"Good! We'll take it," said the enthusiastic owner. Why did they want to sell it so fast? How about a test drive? I set forth to open the door, but, shrewdly, it had be set only to open by the handle inside. Clever, indeed! Look, it's got push button gears! A modern wonder! Okay, let's start her up. Now that's a good sound for a big motor. Let's take a spin around the block.

Okay, push! Reverse! Slowly, back up! Stop! What's that grinding noise? Oh, the brakes need new shoes? No problem.

Man this baby is a dream! It's amazing the lies your feet will tell your head to get out of walking. This Chrysler calamity was positively the pits. There was more wrong with this car than a mother-in-law can find with a newly wed husband on her daughter's wedding day.

"Why is it so beat up?" I questioned, as if I was an automotive authority.

"We've been using it every weekend to go deer hunting in Utah," replied the owner with a western drawl.

This thing was probably on Marlin Perkin's WILD KINGDOM TV show last Sunday. Or is this the tank they drove off the cliff in one of those John Wayne war films? It's definitely a collector's dreamboat. I'd better take it!

Excitedly, I paid the cash and awaited possession of the title. But there was some problem with the papers. They said some Arab had loaned the car to a friend who then proceeded to make some kind of a trade out with the manager of the gas station by offering the car to pay a debt he'd incurred. Anyway the station owner ended up with the car and a previous second owner's registration card. It made perfect sense to me. He had my money and I had the key. Why was I driving off in this Desoto with a criminal record? Because it had a valid license tag. It moved. And I was tired of walking. Beep! Beep! Here I come!

Now people really look at you like you're important when you're driving a 1959, half-white Desoto. That's why I named my reliable, clunkered friend OLD OFF-WHITIE. In fact, I must have gained many people's respect by the way they were moving out of my path. I finally had a car to match my wild stage costumes and my crazy personality!

When you've got wheels, you're ready to take chances. Let's go places and do things! Even though Old Off-Whitie barely limped along, I immediately started looking for an apartment for me and my family. I had asked around the casino and, strangely enough, I had a stroke of luck. The day shift boss, Fred Crosley, was part owner with his father and brother in an apartment complex called Knottingham Gardens. He arranged for me to get the apartment which Silver City bosses were currently using for "special entertainment" purposes. Pretty tactfully put...don't you think?

With no money down, I moved right into this modernistic residence. It took about two days to cart all my junk from the motel to my new Flamingo Road pad on the other side of town.

Moving has never been one of my favorite pastimes and I have some strange habits in this area too. Instead of packing everything up separately, I believe in the communal system. Throw it all in large, green plastic trash bags. When you arrive, sling all of this disposable Samsonite in one room. Then as you need certain items, you can play a game of hide and seek. It's lots of fun and you don't lose very much.

With all my green bags inside the two bedroom apartment, I knew it was time to send for Pam and the girls. So after the next paycheck, I blew another $400.00 jetting them across country to Las Vegas one more time. Oh, don't worry, Bill. It'll all work out. The money had to flow sooner or later.

The family was all settled in by the third week with a TV, a stereo and all the comforts of home. My mind rested easier knowing they were near me while I was struggling to further my career. I've always had a rough time working towards a goal when I knew the family wasn't fairly well set up in comfortable living conditions.

Meanwhile, back at Silver City, the nights in October seemed to start off great and then sort of poop out. The cold weather had its effect on people wandering around at 3:00 AM, even in Las Vegas. But the good part was, word spread fast about my crazy antics, and when I got to work many people were waiting for me to go on. The crowds grew and this soon came to the attention of Major Riddle. He had evidently noticed some change in the casino business. Luckily for me, he had contributed some part of this success to the entertainment in the lounge.

I remember wearing my pink furry suit to work one night during the week and I was approached by Don and Steve of the advertising agency handling Silver City. They briefed me on how the Major wanted them to videotape a television commercial about the lounge. Having had my own TV show produced in Florida in '72 and '73 by the Gulf-Western cable affiliate in Daytona, I was keenly aware that this could immortalize my mug in Vegas. What had I done right?

"Action!" "Roll'em!" The camera shot footage for an hour. I did every face and comedy bit I could think of. We placed the audience where we wanted them, to create the effect desired for each part of the commercials. I really thought we had done everything possible to capture the wonders of the lounge and of course, MR. WONDERFUL. Leaving work that night, I was on Cloud Nine.

Five days later, someone asked me if I'd seen the TV promo that was running for Silver City. They said I really looked strange. But how was this possible with all the shots Don and Steve had taken?

Henry Fonda knew more about GAF cameras in his cameo TV commercials than Don and Steve knew about videotaping. If you look very carefully at the end of any motion picture filmed in Las Vegas, you will never see Don or Steve's name mentioned in the capacity of producer, director or theater usher. Get the picture?

After staying glued to the TV the next whole day...suddenly...during the evening news came a commercial for Silver City! It flashed on and off so quickly that I couldn't believe what I saw. It was a full 30 seconds, but where did they get that footage? I didn't remember any of what I had seen.

I tried to be objective, like a tourist turning on the TV and accidentally seeing this promo for Silver City. Here's how it must have seemed to a viewer who was not personally involved.

Silver City Casino, the fun spot on the Strip----great food at reasonable prices---super lounge entertainment with fifty cent drinks!!! Major Riddle brings back Vegas as it used to be.....Featuring 12 hours of entertainment like Wild Bill Cooksey.

Now here's where they had inserted me, jumping around on the stage with my guitar inspiring an audience sing-a-long. Consequently, here we are in Vegas with gambling, booze and sex and what songs would these clowns have me to sing? "Give Me That 'Ole' Time Religion" and "Amen".

It's amazing more people didn't go nuts trying to figure out what this was all about. Why would anyone have an evangelist in a powder puff fairy suit and cowboy hat, jump around with a guitar singing religious songs in the midst of a new casino located in the middle of the Strip? Advertising cheap booze, night life fun and a wild time, Silver City Casino looked more like a free-for-all church whose doctrine was Thou shalt do whatever thou shalt desire. With my long hair and goatee, I was being shown as the hippie choir director trying to inspire a bunch of street people and convicts seated at cocktail tables with their fifty-cent libations to join in another chorus of "Shall We Gather At The River?" This audience could have passed for the Nevada State Prison's Death Row Field Trip committee.

Absorbing the commercial, I was hardly aware of the news program that followed. And I promise you before another five minutes, they ran the same thing again on the next commercial break. I thought I'd die! Where were all the pictures of my hats and wigs and crazy games I'd done with the audience during the videotaping? The real nitty-gritty of my act was probably erased and this was all they had left. Later I was told that this was the only part on which the sound was audible and fit the video timewise. Are you kidding me?

What kind of image would people have of Las Vegas now? Well, maybe since the commercial was so bad, Major Riddle would have it pulled off the air. Listening to it made me sick. When they'd run it in the midst of several promos at one time, you could hear that big hum that stood out like a sore thumb! The picture and sound quality were pitiful! Oh, God, please take it off!

Surely you jest. The Major loved it and to everyone's surprise, he bought lots of air time on three stations. I was told it ran for four and one-half months over 200 times a week. That's almost as much as a local Coca-Cola spot. This was the most viewed disaster since the Watergate trials!

To make matters worse, no other casino or hotel runs this type of spot showing or describing the entertainment. I still laugh to think of a Frank Sinatra or Wayne Newton leisurely getting in bed at night, turning on the TV and being exposed to my screen debut where I'm devoutly singing to the saintly demented. Then in total shock these Las Vegas Kings must have realized that alien mutants had invaded the sacred lounges of their beloved Strip. As they watched Vegas entertainment quality sink to an all time low, Sinatra and Newton had to have seen that this city's future was questionable at best. Can you imagine their response? Well I can, but I'll leave it out of this book in good taste.

I even tried hiding at work on stage while performing. That's difficult. Denying I was the same guy on TV became my lifestyle. I hated it sometimes when people just looked at me and laughed in a grocery store or at the mall. Everyone made fun of the poor quality commercial exhibiting me as a ridiculous spectacle. I fought this problem for weeks.

Now I confess sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees. My stupidity had made me forget the first law of advertising---Get the attention of your audience and then pitch your product! Everyday more and more people acknowledged that they had seen me on TV. Good or bad response made no difference, because they hated this commercial and wanted a chance to heckle this monster who appeared in their home 200 times a week. These people were quite surprised to find the complete opposite type of entertainer than they were expecting. Many became loyal fans because the contrast of seeing me on TV and in person was so great, they felt guilty about coming to Silver City with hostile feelings toward me.

Hey, it didn't matter! Major Riddle had the right idea. When this commercial with the hum and the bad picture came on, it singled itself out from the rest. You could probably even imagine kids telling their parents, "Hurry Mom, turn off the TV because that terrible Silver City thing is on again!". Worse than this, some kids may be in therapy for years because they grew up trying to use me as a role model. Perfect timing made this the most effective part of the Major's campaign to get his new casino rolling. But better still was the fact that Wild Bill Cooksey was being exposed more than he could ever hope to be.

With every week I worked, more and more people were recognizing me in stores and out on the street during the daytime. Believe it or not, I felt I was becoming a pseudo celebrity in Las Vegas with all the local residents waving at me in public, acknowledging my appearance in that silly commercial. The business at the club was picking up and I perceived I was making progress towards my goal of becoming more than just a passing fancy in Vegas. The video exposure helped make me an established part of this entertainment Mecca.

Back at the apartment the family was trying to adjust to my schedule. They were doing a lot better than I. I can never show enough gratitude to my wife, Pam, for all the years she tried to keep the kids quiet while I slept. She'd play games, take them out and anything else to make my insomnia bearable.

During this period, I became mentally excited at what I could accomplish while things were going well in Vegas. After working for six straight hours, you'd think I'd collapse when I hit the bed. My computer mind would invent new games to play on stage, more jokes and parodies to do. And the real pits was that my head went over every little detail of each idea! What if? Suppose someone said this or that? Questioning every idea to include perfection in my act, I also went over the entire six hours I'd just finished minute by minute in my brain. Why did I do this? Maybe I should have done this part of the act before or after I did the thing I used to do in Florida on Saturday nights right at midnight!?! When you're in Vegas, your material has to be tops because people are forever comparing you to other entertainers making $l00,000.00 a week. A laugh is a laugh and people don't worry about what it really costs to produce the yock. They just laugh and demand something funnier to follow.

More than anything, I believe I just loved the pressure. The challenge was doing something I knew no one else would even attempt for the kind of money I was making then. But, unfortunately, my patience wore thin and it began to show everywhere. The very thing I had hoped to escape by leaving Florida was closing in on me again. Mental strain and being naturally hyper had me saying and doing things I couldn't believe.

Being edgy all the time is no fun, especially when you holler or snap at your wife and children. At work I could feel the pressure so much that when I'd cut someone down in jest, I really enjoyed it. The ego trip helped cover my depression. I knew there were very few people capable of exchanging verbal battle with me. And here I was in Vegas slaying people with the fastest, most enduring comebacks locals said they'd ever heard.

But at home I had to take sleeping pills five nights a week. Never could I get enough rest to feel good anymore. I felt guilty about not taking Pam and the girls to various places in the daytime. What image could the children have of their father? The old crank gets home around 6:30 or 7:00 AM when they're getting up. Daddy grumbles about how tired he is and how bright the sun is outside. Then he goes into a room, shuts the door, turns on the airplane noise, blackens the room with tin foil and tries to go to sleep. Maybe that last part was the best time of their day.

Now children are children and they only want to be themselves. Caprice and Sunshine had always been well-behaved and would generally do as they were told. But why should they have to be mutes until four in the afternoon? Why should they have to stay inside or around the apartment all day? And what really tore me up was to think what they must have thought about me while many times, about noon, I'd burst out of the bedroom shouting and screaming about how I couldn't sleep. The pressure was heavy!

When I did get up, it was almost dark. We'd go to the store and by the time we ate, it was bedtime for the kids. This was no way to live even for the sake of being together in the same town. And if you think it was rough on the children, how about the woman I was married to? That's a great way to get nothing out of life. We surely couldn't be husband and wife when she had to be with the kids every minute and I couldn't sleep in the same room with anyone else. Again, my feelings of guilt were definitely pronounced.

Somehow we managed this up until a week before Thanksgiving, when I put the family back on the plane to Florida. I would be following only a week later, to perform for five weeks at the Clearwater Beach Hilton where I'd appeared many times before. Pam and the girls were going to get everything straight in Daytona so we could spend the holidays together in Clearwater.

With all these loose ends sewed up, my flight was abound and I was on my way back to my home state. This would be the first real taste of glory I'd enjoyed since my successful triumph in Vegas. No, I hadn't stormed Caesar's Palace, but when you've had as much popularity and good fortune as I'd recently experienced in Vegas, it was like hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series. The guy who struggles to make it in the big leagues and just makes the team is a superstar anywhere else, because the competition is on a much lower scale. It's not the talent that makes the act better in smaller areas, but the aggressive ambition to strive and make it in the big leagues. So many times I've seen super talented artists who are just dying away in a forgotten town. I guess they'd rather be a local legend than to take a chance and set the world on fire. It's their choice.

We all checked into our adjoining rooms on the first floor at the Hilton. This is a beautiful place to relax if you know the meaning of the word. Guess who didn't?

This job was divided into three parts. The first week I was to appear upstairs in the plush, prestigious Glass Frogg nightclub ten stories up which overlooks the entire beach. While doing my regular marathon show, I was also allowed to engage the services of some fine musicians and friends from Daytona. The group was called Dale Ellis and the Rogues. The next three weeks I worked downstairs in the Frogg Pond lounge as a Single. This room had been owned entertainment-wise by Jim Stafford and myself for the last six or seven years. It's still a magic room which has boosted many careers by the legends of what unique events occurred on stage during performances by people like Stafford and Yours Truly. Frogg Pond stories would fill volumes of books, if I could remember them all.

The third part of the job was a New Year's Eve bash in a special banquet room for 250 guests at $35.00 per person. I had been successful doing this for the two previous years, and I'm sure they didn't want to miss the guaranteed revenue.

Now if you think it's difficult in Vegas in an apartment, what do you think happened in Clearwater with the family? It really was a lot easier, because we'd been through this a number of times before.

With a TV in each of our adjoining rooms, sound covered all the regular problems. Pam could take the kids out to the beach or tour the hotel while I slept. By getting off at 2:00 A.M. my schedule was a little more human.

The week upstairs was great because the band played a few tunes before me. Then they brought me on with a big intro and I must have looked like an animal out of a cage. We'd do about an hour together and I'd tastefully have them leave one by one while I continued the show with my usual comedy bits and routines. Everyone said I could never pull it off by doing a continuous show in this big room with a tradition of 8 to 10 piece groups doing two shows and three dance sets with breaks in between. If the audience came up ten stories to see Wild Bill Cooksey, then they were going to see a show.

It really went quite well and I'm sure the Rogues band had headaches trying to figure out what I was doing. I did enjoy the week with them, but I think I'm naturally born to work alone. Spontaneous ideas are easier to perform since there is no one else to instruct but yourself. However, one day when I get rich, one of my luxuries will be to have a band back me on special occasions. I'd probably just settle for someone to haul my equipment in and out of where I'm working.

Moving downstairs where I'd appeared in some nine, prior engagements, the Crazy Man was on his favorite stage. It was home to me as I absorbed all the best wishes of my loyal Clearwater followers. They were proud to have been a part of my earlier career before my Vegas victory. To share glory with friends is a cherished experience. It was not that big a deal in Vegas, but to them, part of my success had to be attributed to their encouragement of my talents through the years. Rightfully so, all my supporters deserve the credit for keeping my dreams alive, both then and now.

Soon we had the Christmas tree in the room and Santa Claus had brought all the goodies right to the Hilton. It was a special season because it was Sunshine's first Christmas. It will not be easily forgotten. But already my mind had turned to thoughts of my return to Vegas which was less than two weeks away.

New Year's Eve was wilder than ever when after midnight I proclaimed that everyone would march around the swimming pool and knock on doors to wake up guests. The management must have frowned on this action, but who could stop a madman leading 200 people all over hotel property shouting and singing? The real fun began when I ordered everyone up to the tenth floor where the Glass Frogg nightclub had 400 customers already jammed together celebrating. Where would 200 more people fit? Who cares? It's New Year's Eve and my name is Wild Bill. When we reached the elevator, we were not allowed to board. It seemed the elevator was out of order with 400 people on the top floor partying. Don't tell Cooksey's screaming mob, "No!". Because they'll find a way!

"Hey, the stairs!" I yelled. "Everyone up the stairs. Come on, let's go!"

Now you know I was crazy to even suggest such a thing. Who in their right mind would follow such a stupid suggestion? Obediently, Cooksey's army of 200 plodded their way up the manual elevator. Unfortunately, many mature fans were sidelined on the third, fourth, and other floors with minor coronary attacks. But the stronger ones surged onward.

Bursting open the tenth floor doors, I was quickly greeted by the hired help asking me to restrain the fast approaching herd of buffalo behind me.

"Don't tell me---tell them!", I sarcastically suggested, pointing to the carnivorous celebrators who had scaled to the top of Everest never to be denied their trophy.

We had drums, cymbals, an accordion, a trumpet and noise makers and we set our sights for a march through the crowd in front of the stage and around the dance floor.

If you could have seen the people's faces as we pranced through, you wouldn't have believed it! I was determined the Glass Frogg was going to acknowledge all these party soldiers with constitutions strong enough to climb ten flights of stairs. We climbed, we exhibited and we conquered!

Downstairs, I marched back on stage, picked up my guitar and never stopped playing until 5:00 AM. Those people got their money's worth and I couldn't have sung another song. I packed it in and bid farewell to the Hilton the next day. Pam, the kids and I, returned to Daytona where I prepared for my flight back to Vegas.

Pam and I had some serious talks about the future. Caprice would be starting school in the Fall and we would be forced into staying put at one location for a while. My work does not allow for that and Pam knew the facts. So we agreed to try it apart, adjusting to a new lifestyle that we knew we'd have to face sooner or later. The time had come for Pam and I to set proper priorities, which meant the future of our daughters had to be placed above our own personal desires.

"We're now approaching Las Vegas," announced the pilot. "We hope you had a pleasant trip and will fly Delta again with us next time."

On that cold night in January, I again relocated in the MAGIC CITY. As I walked down to the baggage department, I looked to find my friend who was scheduled to meet me there. What would I do if he didn't show ? Oh, he'd be there. No problem.

Finally, after waiting for over an hour, I hit the panic button. A security guard had informed me that due to recent bomb threats around the country, no luggage could be left in the airport overnight. Well, that was just great! There I sat with 22 trunks and cases and no transportation!

Walking around in madness, I passed a counter advertising delivery service. Okay! Now I have a chance. Quickly, hailing the attendant, I filled his head full of all my problems.to date. Shaking his head, he pointed to the sign to his left giving the delivery service's business hours.

"I'm sorry, sir!", exclaimed the attendant. "But we couldn't possibly deliver your baggage until tomorrow morning. Besides the company van is already locked up in the warehouse and the boss has the keys."

Needless to say, I panicked again. Making a last effort midnight call to my friend's house, I realized this was not my day. My mind began to think wild things like calling the apartments where I was supposed to stay. The new manager of the complex answered and listened to me try and explain my predicament. Here I am pouring out my problems to a man I'd never met. But for some reason, he listened patiently to my every word. All I remember before I hung up the phone was him telling me to stay right there and he'd bring his camper.

Man, my head was spinning and I was running around the loading zone when he drove up.

"Hi, I'm Chris," said this large, middle aged man with glasses as he walked toward me.

Both of us knew the mission at hand and proceeded to load his not-so-large pickup camper with my 22 pieces of luggage. In a matter of a few minutes, we were on the way to the apartments. Out of nowhere had this knight arrived and now was taking me to safety. This Chevy truck was no white horse, but I was no princess either.

After unloading all the stuff into my new downstairs apartment, I went out to the back parking lot to check on my Desoto gem that had been sitting there dormant since Thanksgiving. As you probably guessed, Old Off-Whitie started right up. What a jerk I'd been! I could have taken a cab here and picked up my equipment from the airport in my own vehicle. But then again, the way things were going who can be sure my trusty wheels would have started earlier. That would have been just too easy.

Well, OLE' BILL was all resettled back in Vegas without the family. And now I had a brand new set of goals. Step one had been accomplished by establishing my name in Las Vegas as an entertainer on the Strip. Few performers are fortunate enough to be able to almost call the shots as to when they return to a gig and for how long. This town has a tradition of being cruel to the best and I was very thankful for the opportunity to now work on gaining the attention of fellow members of my industry, as well as the general public. Could I do it? After what I'd been through in the last six months, why would I doubt my abilities now?

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