January 18, 1980
I arrived in Las Vegas after four days of buses and transfer stations. When I woke up this morning, after 5 good nights of sleeping in a bed, the discomfort and soreness in my back had dulled away. I’ve been staying in the Marina Hotel and Casino, and spending my days trying to appear as a tourist.
The plan that Dr. Troy and I had discussed was pretty simple. I would spend the week as a tourist, spending a reasonable amount of time in the casino. I had a daily limit of how much I could lose, which was 500 dollars, luckily I have actually managed to make all the money from the bus fare and the stay in Provincetown back, which I hadn’t expected. Today, I’m taking supposed to go place a 5000 thousand dollar bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The payoff isn’t going to be great, because they’re favored to win, but I’ll then have 15 grand to get myself set up.
It’s been a tough few days, because I honestly haven’t known what to do with myself. I’m not really a gambler usually, and so going and spending all this money has been a bit strange. I quickly found the way to spend money so that it’s not eating up my whole day has been card games and not slots, but ultimately I’ve had better luck with those too. It turns out I do well in poker because I have very little idea what the rules are, the other players haven’t been able to read me.
The weather is much nicer here than it was in Massachusetts, and most of the midwest for that matter, but it’s still a mild 70 degrees, and it hasn’t been hot enough to lure me outside to the pool. Cold water doesn’t really sound refreshing or relaxing to me.
I’ve taken to walking around the strip once I’ve done my share of gambling for the day. This is my first time in Las Vegas, and it seems a fair bit different than what I’ve seen on TV, I guess a lot of the iconic ‘Vegas that I’ve seen in things hasn’t been built yet. When I asked a man which way to the Luxor, he assumed I was drunk. I quickly decided I wouldn’t ask about the Eiffel Tower or Caesar’s Palace. After the first day of walking I found out that Caesar’s Palace does exist.
After leaving the friendly warmth of the Inn in Provincetown, I’ve had very few conversations beyond those with people working. It’s been taking a bit of a toll on me, because when I first arrived at Hal and Ken’s all I could think about was getting warm, and not only did they help me with that, but we could talk about different things, and I hadn’t accounted for how much human connection I would need right now. As the days have passed, and I’ve become more acclimated to my surroundings, my brain has come out of a fog.
When I settled into the hotel on Sunday afternoon, I had a chance to look in the mirror, and I really hadn’t done that. I look as though I’ve aged quite a bit since traveling back. I’ve lost about 35 pounds, and what had been a little bit of stubble is now a full fledged, scraggly beard. By my ability to grow facial hair, I estimate it as being about 30 days growth. I think while the trip mentally appeared to be an instant to me, it seems to have taken my body quite a bit of time.
This is something that Dr. Troy and I hadn’t accounted for. If the process does actually take time—at least as far as my cells and the particles in my clothing are concerned— there wouldn’t necessarily be any noticeable difference over the course of a twenty minute trip, but compounded over 30 years it seems to have exacerbated greatly. This made me have two realizations; first, I’m extremely lucky that I had the physical strength to pull myself out of the water, as it is I can still feel the lack of strength in my limbs; the second realization is that if Dr. Troy attempts to use the machine on anyone else, he will have a limit on how far. I’m guessing another 5 years of travel may have killed me.
With all of the lonely hours wandering this vacant city filled with people, I have not been able to stop thinking about the ramifications of these conclusions. Looking at myself in the mirror, I realized why I was feeling so alone, because no one was going to just sit down and chat with a man who looked so gaunt and clearly like a junkie as I do. I’ve been going to the buffets and trying to eat, just trying to get up to weight so that I don’t look terrifying.
I’ve noticed that a lot of my cognition, had been affected by lack of nutrition, which is why the longer I spent here, I began to feel the fog lift. The food was turning my brain back on slowly.
This morning when I looked in the mirror, my face had started to fill in and didn’t appear as sunken and sick. I’m still too thin, but the ‘junkie’ look was no longer apparent.
This morning when I took my walk, I was approached by a prostitute, and even though I had passed one every day on my walk, this was the first time one had solicited me. She was pretty, and had a similarly ‘too-thin’ look, and I considered it, but I didn’t want hourly companionship, I wanted someone to talk to, I wanted someone I could hug, and laugh with. I was deeply craving emotional response that I felt I really hadn’t had—even in Provincetown— for months.
I had felt this emptiness before for a long time now, before traveling back, but it was fresh and it was deep. After I got the news that my parents and sister had all died in an accident, I threw myself into my research. Dr. Troy had been my Ph.D. advisor, and after a couple weeks of me insane hours, he told me about a project he was working on.
My specialty had been the research of tachyon particles, and obviously the idea of time-travel intrigued me. When Dr. Troy said he was working on a time-machine, I assumed he meant on a projection. Much of the power-sources and other elements involved in theoretical time-travel was not within humanity’s grasp yet, if ever. He said he’d been working on it for sometime, and he’d figured it all out, that it wasn’t as difficult as everyone had thought, that the methods proposed were why there wasn’t enough power, but that they weren’t the only methods.
I started working with him on it right away, he was already really close, but I was able to help lend a hand on some of the calculations, help to double check his work, and troubleshoot in the testing process.
Working with him, had taxed my brain so hard that I hadn’t had time to think about my loneliness, and in the moments that we weren’t working, we would drink, and it would help to not focus.
Now that I’m here, I don’t want to drink, and I don’t have any work to do yet, and I feel even more alone than being dropped in the ocean by myself in freezing January winds. Two more days, and then I’m done with Las Vegas until next year’s Superbowl—if I need the money.