There’d been many graphic photos, but they were the only ones who’d shown up to the press conference in the hot park. Mayor Gottlieb flipped through his notecards and shook his head and asked them where they were from.
“Community Eye, sir,” Shane said.
“Community Eye? Public access?”
“Yeah. Channel 18,” Gabby said.
He looked at his notecards again then back up at them. “Ah, fuck it,” he said and walked away from the beat-up wooden podium. Shane thought it looked like it’d been taken from a school cafeteria. Gottlieb must’ve remembered it was his because he turned right back and looked at them like they’d planned on stealing it. He carried it on his back across the patches of yellow grass and loaded it into his Town Car. He was supposed to address the recent front page spread in The Laughlin Gazette about a cockfighting show openly held at the abandoned GoldSky Casino.
“What an asshole,” Shane said and packed up his camera. Gottlieb looked like a real mayor though, he thought, with his full head of white hair neatly parted.
“No, but seriously. Screw him,” Gabby said and paced in circles around Shane, and he knew she wouldn’t let this go. They rode back to the house in Shane’s Saturn and got stoned and watched Cops. It was their favorite show, and Gabby liked to imitate the way the drunk people talked, but she was quiet and still fuming. Shane thought they should move to a place where there was more action, more people. A place where they filmed Cops. The mayor was right. No one watched Community Eye. There was no community in Laughlin. The airlines left after 9/11, and the emptying out happened so fast, while they were doing nothing and getting stoned and chubby in their little house. Gabby was the only person from their high school he still talked to. There used to be a high school.
He was almost asleep on the couch when Gabby got excited. “How many people in Laughlin do you think even know who the Mayor is?” she asked. “I bet nobody, right?” she said before he could answer. She went to her room and came back with her backpack on, glowing with spite. She said they were going to do a survey showing that nobody knew who Gottlieb was because fuck him.
They drove downtown and walked down the boardwalk between the river and Casino Drive. The river was too blue for Nevada, reflecting off the gold and silver buildings. Most people in the casinos didn’t even realize Laughlin had a mayor and were annoyed by the question. The slot machine zombies threatened to throw their drinks at them and burn them with cigarettes if they didn’t go away. They kinda reminded Shane of people he’d known in the past, like people from high school, but they seemed a little too old.
They headed back down the strip to where they parked at Harrah’s, the last major chain casino left. Gabby said she was no longer so cute that people were always nice to her. Shane played with her long brown ponytail and told her he thought she was still pretty cute, cuter than him at least, patting his belly. They’d talked to 20 people in total and two knew of Gottlieb. “We can just multiply it,” Gabby said. “Two out of 20 is the same as 10 out of 100. We’ll say 10 out of 100.”
“Ten percent,” Shane said.
“Yeah, Shane. Good.”
Gabby said the survey should be in The Gazette so more people would see it. There was a stack of copies sitting outside the entrance of Harrah’s. The guy who’d written the article about the cockfighting show was named Ed Herman. Shane called the contact number on the back and Ed answered, and Shane told him he’d really liked the cockfighting article.
“They’re having another one on Saturday night,” Ed said. “They asked me to advertise it in the paper. Twenty dollars at the door.” Turns out Ed was The Gazette. He’d once had two employees but had to let them go a few years back. He said he’d talked to the mayor many times and agreed he was an asshole. He said he would put their survey on the front page of Thursday’s paper.
“I thought The Gazette came out on Tuesdays,” Shane said.
“It did. I just put it out whenever now.” He said he’d mainly been producing the paper the past few years because people told him it couldn’t last. “Fuck ‘em. I’m going to keep making it until every casino is closed and I’m the only human being left in this dumb town.”
Shane held the phone against his chest and whispered, “He sounds lonely.”
They planned to meet Ed at GoldSky that Saturday. Shane didn’t tell Gabby, but he was kind of excited to see a cockfight. Just once, he thought. They’re mindless chickens. It’s not like it was dogfighting or anything.