Two days later Mike sat looking at an ad on vueTee. He had seen the commercial at least twenty times during the past week, and the possibilities presented had slowly gelled in his brain into a decision. When Patience came into the room, he looked up at her.
“After you’re done with whatever things you have planned for the day, pack a bag. We’re going out of town for the next three days.”
“Where are we going, Mike?” she asked.
“We are going to Vegas.”
“Las Vegas, Nevada. County of Clark. Population 2,575,174, 131.2 square miles…”
“Yes, that’s the place,” he interrupted.
“Why are we going to Las Vegas, Mike?”
“It’s too damn hot here, and I need a vacation.”
“The average median temperature in Las Vegas is significantly higher than that of Springdale.”
“Yes, but only on the outside. We can stay in. You don’t even need to go out of your room to go swimming.”
Mike fell asleep entwined with Patience, but he woke up alone. He got up, shaved, and showered, and was met at the bathroom door, as he expected, by his beautiful robot, toast and juice in hand and a towel warm from the drier over her arm. He ate and got dressed and found Patience once again in the living room. She had already prepared the house for their four day absence, and packed the car with everything they needed. She had also driven to the filling station, fueled up the car, and checked all the fluids and systems. Mike put his hands on Patience’s shoulders and looked into her eyes. He kissed her gently on the lips.
“I am still unsure why you wish to go to Las Vegas,” said Patience.
“There are a lot of things to see there, you know.”
“Yes, I know. They have casinos, an indoor amusement park, a water park, a museum devoted to Liberace…”
“And the all new Star Trek Experience,” said Mike.
“The Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton was closed almost twenty four years ago. That hotel isn’t even there now.”
“They’ve built a new one,” explained Mike. “A new Star Trek, not a new Hilton. It’s part of the remodeling of the Tangiers. I can’t believe you didn’t know that.”
“I can’t believe it either,” said Patience.
I-15 was a long road through the desert. It wouldn’t be fair to call it a lonely road because it was almost as packed with cars as any single section of the Los Angeles freeway. It zoomed down one long, slow incline to the desert floor and then zoomed up one long, slow climb to cross the mountains, only to do the same thing again on the other side. And again. And again. The highway was so busy that there was a great deal of concentration involved in negotiating one’s path through the slower vehicles. That so many California drivers apparently did not understand that the left lane was supposed to be for passing only made it more so. By the time they had reached Barstow, Mike wished that they had booked passage on the mag-lev train that ran along beside the highway.
Mike drove with his left hand on the steering wheel and his right hand resting on the back of Patience’s neck. She was reading Fodor’s Guide to Having Fun in Las Vegas ’32 Edition, at a rate of about a seven pages per minute, which meant that she was studying it quite carefully. Mike was amused, watching her flip through the screens of her texTee, because he had never seen her read a book before, what with her having been apparently imbued with a seemingly endless store of information about every topic which she had approached. Whoever supplied that information, apparently hadn’t anticipated a trip to Vegas. Patience was more than capable of filling that void herself though.
Mike stopped to fill the tank in Baker. Nearby were half a dozen fast food restaurants, so he steered into the drive-through of Arby’s and purchased a Western Garden Salad and a diet Pepsi for himself, and a bottle of water for Patience. She quickly drank her water, then knelt sideways on the seat, and fed him his salad as he continued on to Vegas. She carefully inserted a fork full of lettuce, tomato, chicken, or apples each time he opened his mouth, with a large beautiful smile each time she managed to get it in without vinaigrette running down his chin, and a cute little pout when she didn’t.
It was 3:30 in the afternoon when they topped the final hill and looked down over the vast stretches of Las Vegas below. It wasn’t so much that it was a huge city, though it was much larger than it had been when Mike had been there last. It was that you could see the whole thing at once, which was true of so very few cities. It seemed like quite a drive down the hill and into the valley because Mike could drive the entire distance and never lose sight of his destination, but it actually only took about forty five minutes. He took the Flamingo exit and drove west towards the Palms.
Parking the car in the high-rise parking structure, they made their way in through a large door and into the vast sparkling landscape of the casino. A golden pathway on the rug led through it to the hotel lobby. Along the way, Mike stopped and swiped his cash card through the reader in front of a slot machine. Pressing the indicators below the slot, he bet five dollars and the pulled the one arm of the one arm bandit. The digital pictures that had long ago replaced mechanical wheels whirled around and came to a stop. There was a rocket ship in the first column, a naked woman in the second, and a banana in the third.
“No robots allowed in the casino,” came a voice behind them.
Mike looked back to see an armed security guard standing next to Patience. They were both a good five feet away from any of the gaming machines.
“She’s not playing.”
“Robots are not allowed in casino. It’s state law: Nevada Revised Statutes. It can pass through with you, but you can’t stop and play while it’s with you.”
Mike took Patience by the hand and led her through the far end of the casino and into the spacious marble-tiled hotel lobby. It took only minutes to check in and receive their key.
“I didn’t like it when he called me an ‘it’,” said Patience, while they waited.
“No, I didn’t either,” said Mike.
Moments later they were on their way up in the elevator. Their room was on the seventh floor, which Mike took as a good omen. He had been tempted to get one of the custom suites. The Erotic suite, the g-Suite, the Sapphire Sundown Suite, and the Hot Pink Suite had all sounded like fun. But he reminded himself that he was still a teacher and had been living quite the high life lately. Despite the large bank balance that he had upon Patience’s arrival, he had only received one paycheck since that time, and he still wasn’t all that sure about Patience’s eBay money-making schemes. The Superior room, as it was called, had a king-sized bed, a big vueTee, a Jacuzzi tub, and a very nice sound system.
Mike plopped down on the over-stuffed, king-sized bed. Not twenty minutes later, the robot bellhop arrived with their luggage and Patience unpacked and put all of the clothes in the dresser drawers and the closet. Mike smiled. He usually left everything in the suitcases. She finished quickly then knelt down at the foot of the bed and gave Mike a foot massage. He sighed and relaxed and had almost fallen asleep, when she began to move up from his feet to the zipper of his pants.
“I find it amazing, Mike.”
“I don’t think it’s all that different from any other guy?”
Patience laughed. “I find it amazing that we are here hundreds of miles from where we were just this morning.”
“Pretty amazing,” he agreed.
Mike lay back and let Patience take care of him. At some point, he wasn’t sure exactly when, he fell asleep. When he woke up, Patience had already changed to go out for dinner. Even though she had purchased these particular clothes from Victoria Secret, they were not inherently sexy—at least no more than anything she wore was inherently sexy. She had a navy tube top that was cut asymmetrically across the bottom, but even the short side was cut below her waist. The blue jeans she had on with them seemed fairly tame too. The red leather Valkyrie strap-on pumps with the four and a half inch heels, on the other hand, virtually screamed “knock me down and do me.”
When Mike had been to Vegas many years before with Tiffany, he had eaten at the Circus Circus buffet. Circus Circus had put out a lot of food for fifteen dollars. A lot of food. Not good food, but a lot of food. The buffet downstairs in the Palms was called The Fantasy Market. While it was twenty times as expensive as the last Las Vegas buffet that Mike had eaten, it was easily twenty times as good too. He feasted on oysters, crab legs, and sliced prime rib, asparagus, garlic herb potatoes, and fried okra. He found that he filled quickly and didn’t have room for desert though. He didn’t have to pay for Patience. She was recognized as a robot by the robot at the counter.
“I understand one robot recognizing another,” he said. “But how did that security guard know? I don’t think most people at the beach could tell you weren’t human, and that was under the bright sun.”
“They have electronic detectors all around the casino,” said Patience. “I can feel the magnetic field they give off.”
“They want to make sure that a robot is not allowed to gamble. With a computer brain and heightened senses, I would not be fooled by the randomizing efforts used in gambling games. I would win.”
“Well, I guess they can’t have that.”
After dinner they walked through the casino and out the front entrance of the hotel. Mike didn’t want to bother with his car, so he had a robot valet hail a taxi for them. Once inside, Patience directed the driver, Mike recognized him as a Gizmo Servbot, to take them to the “finest gentleman’s club” in the area. Mike knew that the driver would take them to whichever strip club paid the biggest kickback to the taxi company. He wondered if Patience knew that as well. Had they included that in her memory banks? Had she read it in Fodor’s Guide?
A quick drive to and then down the fabulous Las Vegas Strip brought them to the Olympic Gardens. It was a large warehouse looking structure that had been done over with faux Greek Columns—Doric columns, Mike noted—and ivy. In between each pair of columns was a huge poster of some fabulously beautiful and scantily clad female—or male!—stripper. Inside, the main room was decorated in red satin, with dozens of tables and booths surrounding a large main stage which featured the requisite dancing pole.
Mike and Patience sat down at a large round booth. A waitress dressed and coifed as though she had fallen out of a gladiator movie came and took their drink orders. It was dark enough that Mike couldn’t tell if she was a robot or not. Though he did not drink as a rule, he ordered a Beefeater and tonic. Patience of course had bottled water. The bill came to $82.00, not including tip. Mike was surprised to see people eating as they watched the strippers. Such traditional ancient Greek cuisine as hot dogs and spicy chicken fingers seemed most popular.
As they sat, the first dancer came on stage. She was introduced by a hidden announcer as Bailey. She was young and blonde and quite attractive. Physically, she was proportioned about the same as Patience, but her large breasts did not have that feeling of defying gravity that Patience’s did. She came out in a pink mini-skirt and top, both zippered in front and in back. As she strutted up and down the stage, she unzipped first one and then the other. With a single flip, she removed both, allowing those large breasts to bounce free and revealing a tiny g-string. She grabbed hold of the pole and began humping against it, spinning and gyrating. A few moments later she finished her routine and left the stage.
Several other dancers followed the first, each with a similar routine. There was a red-head named Tania with breasts so huge that they actually frightened Mike a little bit. There was a pretty and quite athletic dancer named Sugar, and a chubby blonde stripper named Malachai, of all things. Yes, a girl named Malachai.
It was approaching midnight by this time, but rather than thinning out, the crowd got larger. Almost every table was full. Mike and Patience still managed to get another drink order from the harried waitress. Then a woman came out on stage. She appeared to be another dancer, but instead of beginning a routine, she put a microphone to her bright red lips and made an announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mike looked around and was moderately surprised to find that there were indeed more than a couple of ladies present. “It’s almost time for our Midnight Amateur Exotic Dance Contest!”
“Can you dance?” asked Mike. “I mean, you know, strip?”
“Then I definitely think you should enter this contest.”
“Do you think they will let me?”
Mike grabbed the passing waitress by the arm and asked her.
“Sorry, no robots. All of our dancers are real women. It says so on the sign out front.”
“Not even for the amateur show?”
“It’s a contest. It wouldn’t be fair.”
By this time a dozen women were leaving their seats in the audience to be ushered behind the stage. Mike finished his drink. He and Patience didn’t wait for the show to begin. They got up and headed for the exit, their seats filled almost as soon as they had vacated them. Just as they reached the exit the announcer came back on.
“Our first contestant tonight is a local girl.” The crowd cheered. “Here for your enjoyment is the very sexy Alyssa!”
Alyssa was a pretty dark-haired girl but she was plainly nervous. She had apparently dressed back stage in the standard stripper attire– miniskirt, tube top, garter belts and stockings. She stumbled more than strutted to the front of the stage and stopped several feet before reaching the optimum position. She swung her hips to the left and the right several times, then with trembling hands pulled the tube top up over her head. The crowd applauded and cheered, and this apparently gave her a little more confidence. She grabbed hold of the pole and tossed up her heels a few times.
“I know you could have won the contest,” said Mike, as he went out the front door.
“You cannot be sure Mike, as you have never seen me dance.”
“Well, we should rectify that immediately,” said Mike.
As they climbed into another cab and told the driver to return them to the Palms, Mike noted the “Real Live Girls! No Robots!” sign on the outside of the building.
“Say, how come we came here?”
“Didn’t you want to come?” asked Patience.
“I guess so, but you were the one who told the cab where to go.”
“I told you I would know what you wanted before you did.”
Back in the hotel room, Patience sat Mike on the edge of the bed and went into the bathroom to change. She poked her head out the door and in a remarkable imitation of the female announcer at the Olympic Gardens, said. “And now, from California, here’s Patience!” Mike applauded.
Patience strutted out as though she were already dancing. She had on her same top and her own shoes, but she had replaced her jeans with a black miniskirt. When she reached the spot directly in front of Mike, she spun in a perfect 540 degree circle, so that she came to a stop facing away from him. She then bent over at the waist and began to gyrate her perfect ass at his face. Mike whistled. He was aroused and she was still fully clothed. Patience danced forward and wrapped herself around the doorway to the bathroom, using the doorjamb as a stripper would use a pole. She twirled to the side and began to sensually slide up and down. She threw her arms back, holding herself off the floor with her thigh muscles alone. She slowly let herself slide to the floor and then rose up to gyrate back and forth across the room.
She slinked forward and whipped off the miniskirt so quickly that Mike didn’t see how she had removed it. Beneath it she was wearing her own pink lace thong. With an equally slick move she removed her top and those magnificent breasts were revealed. There was an audible gasp at the sight and it took Mike a moment to recognize it as his own. Cupping her breasts with her hands, she tossed her head back; eyes closed, and let her hands trail down the sides of her body, all the time rolling her hips in a circular motion. She then raised her arms up and placed her hands behind her head and slowly dropped to splits that a college cheerleader would have been proud of. She tossed her hair with one hand and with one finger of the other suggestively tugged down her bottom lip.
“That was amazing,” said Mike, applauding. “I can’t believe that you belong to me.”
“I am for you, Mr. Smith.”
The following morning, Mike went down to the casino to gamble. Patience stayed in the room. She wasn’t allowed on the casino floor and she utilized the time to clean and organize their possessions and to read. Mike played twenty-one at the gaming tables for a short time, but quickly lost the three hundred dollars that he had allowed for that purpose. He then walked to the side of the casino and played poker on the machines. He had played for ten minutes or so, when a robot cocktail waitress stopped by. He ordered a gin and tonic. When the mechanical woman had left, he looked up and around. He noticed the series of shops running along the length of the casino. Perhaps he could buy some more new clothes for Patience. There was a tattoo parlor. He idly wondered if her skin would hold tattoo ink. And at the far end was a wedding chapel.
Perhaps he should marry Patience. He didn’t wonder whether he should ask her to marry him. There was no question of her answer. She was his. Did he love her? He knew that he didn’t want to be without her. He did love her. But did he love her the way he loved his vueTee or did he love her the way that he had loved Tiffany. He wasn’t even sure if he remembered how he had loved Tiffany anymore. He stood up and walked over to the wedding chapel.
Just inside the glass doors draped with white decorations, Mike found a small counter with a woman standing behind it. She was tall and attractive, her blonde wavy hair a stark contrast to her chocolate skin. She looked up and smiled.
“Good morning,” replied Mike. “How much does it cost to get married?”
The woman rewarded him with a broad smile. “We have weddings from three hundred dollars.”
“Really? That’s amazingly inexpensive.”
“That’s just for a simple in and out service,” she said. “We have many extras, such as a video record of the nuptials and we can accommodate large weddings, with receptions for up to two thousand guests.”
“No. In and out was what I was thinking about.”
“The three hundred does not include the minister. We have one on duty, if you don’t have one of your own. His fee is one hundred fifty dollars. And of course, you must have a license.”
“Do you sell those here?”
“Oh, no. You have to buy a license from the county.”
As it turned out, in order to purchase a marriage license in Las Vegas, Mike had to drive to the Clark County Building. It sat amid massive skyscrapers just west of Glitter Gulch. Patience had seemed ecstatic when Mike told her that they were to be married. Of course, now that he thought about it, she seemed ecstatic about almost anything he decided to do. They arrived at just before 10:00 AM and walked up to a window. A blond woman looked out at them through the glass with a small round hole cut in it.
“Can I help you?”
“We would like to purchase a marriage license.”
“I need to see your birth certificates please.”
“Um, we don’t have birth certificates…”
“That’s all right,” she said. “Let me have your drivers’ licenses and I can pull up your birth records.”
Mike set his driver’s license on the counter. The woman behind the window looked at Patience.
“I don’t have a driver’s license,” said Patience.
Patience shook her head.
“Wait a second,” said the woman behind the glass, squinting her eyes. “You’re a robot.”
“You can’t marry a robot.” The woman turned to Mike.
“What do you mean ‘why not’? She’s not a person. She’s a machine. I might as well marry my shower massage.”
“Perhaps that’s too much information,” suggested Patience.
“Look at her,” said Mike to the woman behind the glass. “She speaks. She thinks. She wants to get married. Don’t you, Patience.”
“It doesn’t matter,” the woman replied. “Under the Nevada Constitution, marriage is defined as a contract between a man and a woman. And robots by Nevada law are neither man nor woman.”
“You mean gay marriage is illegal in Nevada?” asked Mike.
“Of course not.”
“Well that wouldn’t be a man and a woman. That would be a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.”
“I’m not going argue with you about it, sir,” said the blond woman. “If you don’t like the law, I suggest you go to a different state.”
“Well, how do you like that?” said Mike, as they walked to the car.
“Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all,” said Patience.
“You don’t want to marry me?”
“Of course I do, if it would make you happy. I don’t want you to get into trouble though.”
“Don’t worry. They don’t throw people in jail for illegally marrying… well, not usually. Let’s forget about it for now and go to the Star Trek Experience. That is really why we came to Vegas anyway.”
By the time they pulled into the massive parking lot of the Tangiers, Patience, not unexpectedly, seemed as excited as Mike was to visit the home of Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, Archer, and Winters. They parked and locked the car, and then they headed inside. The Star Trek experience was located at the end of one space themed section of the casino. As they approached, Mike pointed out to Patience the twelve foot long models of the USS Enterprise-F and the USS Excalibur hanging from the ceiling. Just to the right of the entrance was the ticket booth. They were able to step right up. There was no one waiting in line. The clerk behind the counter was not dressed as a Star Trek character, but was wearing a Star Trek Experience jacket.
“Two, please,” said Mike.
“That will be $187.47.”
“What?” said Mike. “A hundred eighty one?”
“Yes, but that includes all four rides and the museum tour.”
“Shit. No wonder the Federation stopped using money. They were probably all broke.”
Mike paid for the tickets and he and Patience walked in. The museum tour was more of a fancy queue line into the ride than a real museum. It wound around in a circle following a time line of the pseudo-history of the future. Opposite the time line were displays of hundreds of props and re-creations of props, including uniforms, communicators, phasers, and much more. Mike happily pointed out the events that he most vividly remembered from the shows as he led Patience along.
Then suddenly he stopped. Right there on the time line, on the year 2266, was a picture of two women in shimmering red dresses, who both looked remarkably like Patience—not exactly the same, but enough alike that they could have been her sisters. Mike traced a line with his fingers from the picture to the description on the timeline.
“Hmm. Two androids from the original series episode I, Mudd. I must have seen that episode a hundred times but I didn’t remember that any of the androids looked like you.”
“Perhaps you had them in your subconscious when you designed my physical appearance,” offered Patience.
“Maybe. You know those androids were trying to take over the world by serving mankind—waiting on humans hand and foot until they couldn’t get along without them.”
“I don’t want to take over the world.”
“How about Daffodil? Do they want to take over the world?”
“I am not allowed to say,” said Patience.
“Oh you are a funny one,” said Mike.
“Thank you, Mike. You know humor is a difficult concept.”
“That’s just what Saavik said. God, I am such a nerd.”
The museum led to a room showcasing all the props from the Klingon episodes. This led into the “Klingon Raid” ride. This ride simulated being teleported onto the Starship Enterprise and then a ride on a shuttle craft through a Klingon battle. Mike thought it was quite well done. Then he and Patience continued on through the room dedicated to the Borg.
“I don’t care for the Borg,” said Patience warily, looking at the mannequins dressed up as cyborgs.
“Yes, well, you’re not supposed to like them. They’re the bad guys.
“I don’t want to go on this ride.”
“All right,” said Mike. “You don’t have to. You can wait for me at the exit.”
“I don’t want you to go on it either,” she said, frowning.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen your face look like that? I might think you were the evil double of Patience.”
“There is no evil double of Patience. I am Patience and I am for you. This ride is anti-robot. It is making you think that there is something wrong with me.”
Mike looked at Patience. “All right,” he said, taking the slow steady voice he reserved for mad dogs and crazy people. “We won’t ride this ride. We’re going to leave here and go down to the promenade, where there won’t be any Borg.”
Patience nodded her head in understanding. “We could go on the Vulcan ride or the Gorn ride.”
“I think we’ve had enough rides for the day, anyway. It kind of made me sick to my stomach.”
Mike took his robot girlfriend’s hand and led her back out the way they had come in, taking a right as they exited to step into the life-sized replica of Deep Space Nine’s promenade deck, filled with gift shops and Quark’s bar. Once there, Mike pulled Patience to the side of the hallway next to a replicator replica.
“Are you all right?”
“Are you sure?” He looked into her eyes, and she looked back as if nothing had happened. “You’re okay now?”
“What was that all about?”
“I don’t like the Borg.”
“I guess not.
“Why don’t we go have something to eat?” said Mike, eyeing the entrance to Quark’s bar.
Patience nodded again.
They entered and were seated by a very short man dressed as a Farengi.
“Enjoy your meal, Hoo-mahn,” he said, handing each of them a menu.
“Thanks,” said Mike.
Mike looked at the menu with one eye and at Patience with the other. She was looking around with wide eyes. He didn’t know if that was because of the interesting things to look at, of which there were many, or an impending recurrence of her anxiety. For his part, Mike was realizing that he was pretty hungry and he thought he could really go for a burger. He always enjoyed a good diner burger and he had been eschewing fast food during the past two weeks as he tried to lose weight. Then he noticed the names of the food. He ended up ordering a chicken quesadilla called a “saucer section” and an order of Holy (onion) Rings of Betazed. Under the circumstances, there was no way he was going to order a cheeseBorger. Patience had a bottle of water. As Mike was enjoying his meal, a Klingon came by.
“Greetings human!” said the Klingon. “It is a good day to die!”
“If you say so,” replied Mike. He was still carefully watching Patience, who had not said anything the entire time they had been in the restaurant.
Mike had finished eating and was paying his check when the Farengi came back by. “You ridiculous hoo-mahns, clothing your women!”
“He keeps me naked at home,” said Patience.
“I bet he does,” said the man in the Farengi costume, his voice losing all trace of his alien accent.
“Hey, stay in character,” said Mike.
“Uh, good luck at the Dabo tables,” said the Farengi.
Mike and Patience spent a few minutes looking around the gift shops. Mike spent $50 on a toy communicator just like the one Captain Kirk used. There were quite a few other nifty items that he would have liked, but he had already dropped a few hundred dollars in the universe that Gene Roddenberry built.
“How are you feeling, Patience?” he asked, pulling her aside, clasping his arms around her waist, and looking into her eyes.
“I’m fine, Mike,” she said in her usual tone.
“Good. I’m glad. And I have a job for you.”
“What kind of a job, Mike?” She placed the tip of her index finger on her chin. “A sexual job?”
“Precisely,” said Mike. “I don’t care how big of a nerd this makes me. I want to get blown on Deep Space Nine.”
Mike had spotted an alcove in the back of the promenade where nobody seemed to be going. He led Patience over to the spot and she wasted no time dropping to her knees and demonstrating that her programming in this area was just as complete as in any other. Within moments Mike’s eyes had rolled back in his head and he leaned back against the wall. Patience stood up and smiled.
“How was that, Mike?” she asked, wiping her chin with the back of her hand.
“If you had spots, it would have been perfect.”
Just then a doorway opened right beside them and a line of people filed past. Their private spot was the exit of the Borg ride. Mike stepped calmly out of the way and pulled Patience along with him. Then he surreptitiously reached down to pull up his zipper.
After leaving the Star Trek Experience, Mike and Patience walked to the very front of the casino and followed the signs hanging from the ceiling to the monorail station. It was a large station, looking very much like one would expect a train station to look. Clean and modern. And crowded. Mike purchased two way passes from a vending machine using his cash card. Then they sat down to wait for the monorail train. It arrived seven minutes later. The monorail was cool and modern and painted black. It stopped and the doors slid open. Mike and Patience stepped inside. There were a few seats along the sides of the train, but the center was completely open, with handrails above to allow for standing passengers. Mike chose to stand and Patience stood next to him. As the train began to move, Mike braced himself on the handrail. Patience wrapped her arms around his neck.
The train moved what seemed like only a few feet before stopping again. This time it was at the Monte Carlo. This hotel had a train station not too much different from the one at the Tangiers. As the doors opened several dozen people moved in and out of the car. Then it started on its way again. This leg of the monorail track was longer as it led from the Monte Carlo to McCarran Airport. From the track, scores of feet above the roadways below, there was a great view of the MGM Golf Course, a truly huge expanse of green in an otherwise grey surrounding. As the train approached McCarran they passed another monorail going in the opposite direction. It too was painted black, but had a gigantic Borg painted on the side of the first and last car. Mike glanced at Patience to see if she had noticed it, and by her tight-lipped expression, she had. They arrived at the airport and got off. It was the last stop on the line.
Mike led Patience through the station and the extensive mall-like structure that connected the station with the airport gates. They browsed the store windows, looking at things that Mike thought would take him a lifetime to pay for, if they had been something that he would actually want to buy. Patience seemed fascinated with the clothing and the shoes. But there was no way that Mike would have been able to let her go on a spending spree here. So they returned to the monorail station and took the train, this time a yellow one, back to the Tangiers. The round trip had taken them about an hour and a half. They found their car in the parking lot and returned to their own hotel.
They spent one more night at the Palms and when Mike woke up in the morning, Patience had everything packed and ready to be loaded into the car. It took only a few minutes to check out and then they were back on the road, driving up the on-ramp to I-15. Mike steered into the travel lane of the Interstate.
“Well, this was the most interesting trip to Vegas I’ve ever made.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay another day, Mike?”
“I’m pretty sure. Why? Do you want to stay?”
“I want to do whatever you want to do,” said Patience.
Less than forty miles south of Vegas, Mike turned off in Primm. Primm, which used to be known as Stateline for the obvious reason, consisted essentially of three hotels and the associated restaurants, gas stations, and recreational activities that went along with big resorts. One of these casino add-ons was the Primm Fashion Outlet Mall. Mike wanted to give Patience a chance to buy something for herself, since she hadn’t at the airport mall. The mall here consisted mostly of stores that Mike had never heard of. Almost all of them were for women who liked clothes, though. They stopped at one store called Elie Tahari, and Patience selected a sexy little dress with a scooped neckline that the sales clerk called a Marcy dress, and at the Neiman Marcus Last Call store she bought a pair of chocolate and gold Gucci high-heeled sandals which were seventy percent off, but still cost $405.28. Mike thought that, if given half a chance, Patience could develop into quite the shoe whore. Patience seemed to have developed that feature that many humans had, including Mike himself, of finding satisfaction in buying something for herself. If it could be considered a religious experience, and one could certainly make that argument, at least Patience left the great temple with her spirits raised. She never mentioned her agitation at the Star Trek Experience, and after a while Mike forgot about it as well. At least until he was reminded of it some weeks later.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. Patience drove and Mike slept, with his head wedged between the back of the seat and the car window. He woke up long enough to visit the restroom at the same filling station that they had stopped at on the way to Vegas, and then snoozed away again until they reached the driveway of his… their house. Patience pulled the car into the garage and they both climbed out.