The blue of the Las Vegas sky and the force of its sun never change throughout the day. It could be 8 a.m. or 6 p.m. Either way it’s bright and hot as hell. The lego-like horizon of the strip stares over the rest of the city in a stupor of superiority, full of its VIP rooms and ten-thousand dollar call girls.

All I know is that it is very bright outside and very dark in here. We’re at a smoke-filled dive bar, silent but for the occasional tapping of the slot machines screens, laid out flat atop the circumambient bar like psychedelic placemats. The men all wear polo shirts with desert motifs tucked into khaki shorts. White socks, white shoes, lots of moustaches. The three women, including the bartender, all wear leathery skin and bleached jeans, the inevitable destiny of anything attempting to survive the Nevada sun.

“What do you have besides the Bud and Bud Light on tap?” my friend asks. Like a barn door creaking open from a slow breeze, the bartender answers, and she obviously takes pleasure in this answer, “Bud in the bottle, and Bud Light in the bottle … and we’ve got Corona too if you prefer the imports.”

We push the lime wedges down the throats of our Coronas and head over to the air hockey table. We are the two least likely people in the world to be drinking in a Las Vegas dive bar on a weekday afternoon, and yet here we are. She was two years younger than me in high school, a difference which at one point actually seemed measurable. Like half of my high school, she headed to Santa Cruz for university, where she studied ecology. She now camps out in the desert surrounding Las Vegas five days a week and counts tortoises. During the weekend, I presume, she practices air hockey.

After this summer she will move to Arizona and spend five years studying a lizard. I ask her about this lizard and she tells me more than I could ever remember. All I remember is that the said the creature is crepuscular.

  • Crepuscuwhat?
  • Yeah, you know, mostly active during dawn and dusk.

I didn’t know, but I sure like that word. I fancy myself rather crepuscular as well. The days and the nights are when all the excitement happens, sure. The business deals, the brainstorming, the dinner dates, and movies. But give me the silent slipping of time when the sun first extends its warmth and then paints the sky in retreat any day. The snapping of newspapers, the brewing of cafe, the march of commuters. The crepuscular life.

Lately I’ve been telling myself that I must close the lid of my laptop by 10 p.m. At least two hours before I go to sleep. Or else I don’t sleep. It is excellent advice if I may say so. Yet last night, once again, I completely ignored it. I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. trying to figure out the latest release of Gengo.

At 1:30 a.m. (that’s 5:30 a.m. Buenos Aires time), I finally dozed off. At 2:30 a.m. the phone startled me awake.

Remember when you used to spend the night at a friend’s house as a child, wake up in the morning, and for the briefest moment you wonder where in the hell you are? That happens to me at least once a week. Where in the hell am I and why is the phone ringing? And for that matter, what language am I supposed to answer it in? I chose wrong.

  • Alo? Quien habla?
  • Umm, hello, is this Samuel?

She was licking her glossed lips, her fingers slipping down the elastic of her panties, that was the tone of her voice. The first syllable of every third other word sounded as if she were licking it like an ice cream cone.

  • No. Jesus, what time is it? Who is this?
  • This is Veronica. You sound sexy. Would you like a little company tonight?

I sigh, hang up the phone, and fumble for the cord to pull it out of its socket. My heart is racing and I don’t fall asleep again until well after three.

At the corporate cafe I slide into the corporate purple plush chair and decide to drink my entire corporate cup of coffee without opening my laptop, without pulling out my phone, without reaching for the newspaper. Just drink. Silently. Feeling the caffeine molecules stir my mind awake. Observe. Reflect.

Across from me a gay man with a closely shaven head, just beginning to bald, arranges two chairs so that they face each other. He steps back, his posture perfect, and rearranges the chairs again. He sits, crosses his legs, and the tip of one shiny black leather shoe taps to the corporate music licensed by the corporate cafe’s own corporate record label.

15 minutes later a lean Vietnamese man with shiny, silky hair greets the man with the closely shaven head, who pretends that he couldn’t care less about his visitor. The man with the closely shaven head is the only person born in the United States who enters the corporate cafe all morning.

There are Latin Americans, Africans, Russians, and many many Asians. Somehow they have all come here, to Las Vegas, to this surreal hallucination in the middle of nowhere. Something built out of nothing, built out of what Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler call our collective inner Homer Simpson.

I wonder what Las Vegas will become in 20 years.