1972. Las Vegas, NV.
Nobody with any sense would arrange for a rock band to have time off in Las Vegas. There were too many varieties of trouble in the neon city, but Shadowlands found themselves with a full day and night in Vegas to do exactly as they pleased.
Sam and the road crew disappeared into the hive of casinos and dens of iniquity without so much as unpacking. Pete, who’d never met a poker game he didn’t like, was escorted into an invite-only game at the Flamingo. Bobby went along with him, claiming to be his financial chaperone.
This left the final three stood waiting for the elevator up to their rooms in an almost-luxurious hotel just off the Strip.
‘What are you going to do?’ JD asked Rosalie. 'Can't imagine this is your sort of town, being so well behaved.'
‘Dunno.’ This was a lie. ‘You?’
‘No idea.’ Also a lie.
‘I want to see Dean Martin’s show at the Sands,’ Liam admitted. Their jaws dropped in time with the opening of the elevator doors.
He was unashamed. ‘I don’t care what you think-’
They stepped into the elevator.
‘No, I mean- that’s what I wanted to do!’ Rosalie told him.
JD nodded in agreement. ‘Are we all secret Dino fans?’
A beat of silence passed.
‘Apparently,' Rosalie said.
They giggled like children.
‘We should dress the part,’ JD declared. ‘Tuxedos and all. Show those old folks we ain't all unwashed hippies!’
‘Do you get tuxes in my size?’ Rosalie asked tartly.
‘Well, something for you,’ he retorted. The elevator reached their floor and they walked down a long corridor lined with doors. ‘Something with beads and sequins and stuff.’
She just rolled her eyes at the thought.
‘You’d better make sure we can get into the show first. You can do it.’
JD nodded. ‘I will too.’
Three hours later, the suited and booted trio walked through the Sands hotel like they were movie stars arriving at the Academy Awards.
Rosalie had borrowed a fuchsia cocktail dress from the hotel’s beauty shop manager. It didn’t fit properly but she didn’t feel like she fit in, so it was appropriate. More than that, it was the worst of Middle America's sparkling, showy lack of taste that she found frankly vile. It was everything about her parents' generation that she despised wrapped in one dress.
In a perfectly fitting dinner suit and immaculate hair, Twain looked born to it, which was both unsurprising and irritating. Liam had already pulled his bow tie loose by the time they were led to a table near the stage. A very good table, in fact.
The mostly middle aged audience made no attempt to conceal their contemptuous curiosity at the young, long haired trio taking one of the best tables in the room.
A woman with hair so high it surely had some internal engineering sneered at Rosalie, her pretty white teeth bared and gleaming in the dim light. She took a drag on a cigarette and slowly blew the smoke in Rosalie's direction. For her part, Rosalie winked back, bolshie in her own discomfort.
JD took a different approach, and held out his lighter to another lady of similar middle age and coiffure. 'Good evening ma'am, may I get that for you?'
The lady fairly swooned at having Adonis light her cigarette, even if he was a long-hair. Her husband, a squirrely man in an obviously-rented tux, was less impressed.
‘Champagne,’ JD demanded as they took to their seats.
‘I forgot,’ Rosalie smirked. ‘You’re one of this crowd.’
‘You’ve either got it or you don’t.’
The lights went down and the orchestra began. No Dean Martin. They played the intro two more times before the star stumbled on stage, crystal tumbler in hand. He looked confused.
‘What’re all these people doin’ in my room?’
The audience’s laughter formed a single united reply. The orchestra played the intro to “Memories Are Made Of This” a fourth time and this time, Dean made his cue perfectly.
‘It’s all a put on, right?’ Liam asked, staring up at Dean, who had only sung a verse and a half before moving onto a joke about Sinatra.
‘Does it matter?’ JD replied.
‘No. Maybe not.’
Dino smiled down at their table, and having noticed them as being outside his usual audience, made a joke at their expense. Bowled over and star-struck, they spoke no more during the show.
Several hours, and a carouse through the gambling floor of the Sands later, they sat at the counter of a strip-lit diner eating greasy burgers. It was late but the diner was busy, mostly with people who worked in Vegas rather than tourists who gambled their money away in Vegas. The cheap radio set wheezed out a local easy listening station: Bing crooning "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral".
‘I’d give a kidney to have stage presence like his,’ said Liam.
‘You do,’ Rosalie replied instantly.
‘Not like him I don’t.’
JD grabbed a handful of Rosalie's fries. ‘It’s a put-on, you said so yourself. If you don't feel it, jtust make it up.’
Liam slammed his glass down on the counter, and the waitress glared down the counter at them. ‘I won’t lie in my songs. I won’t do it. Not ever.’
‘All art is lies,’ Twain replied.
‘All art must be truth.’ Liam sighed. ‘It’s all that matters.’
‘You can tell the truth through fiction,’ Rosalie added, and coughed as she nearly choked on a bite of burger. ‘Isn’t that what all the great novels and-’
‘Not music! Not mine, anyway. I have to be honest. What else is there?’ He looked so desolate that neither JD or Rosalie had the heart to challenge him. It seemed a fair point, if just a smidge overblown.
‘Do it how you gotta,’ JD said through another mouthful of fries. ‘As long as it’s great, I don’t care.’
Rosalie sipped at her Coke. ‘I have just one thing to say.’
‘We must never speak of this night. The others will not let us live it down.’
'What happens in Vegas,' JD began.
'Stays in Vegas.'They clinked their glasses together in agreement and the night was stricken from the record.