Hoover Dam | by Michael Prihoda

You go to Las Vegas.

You see Jerry Seinfeld. I don’t mean actually see. Or I guess I do. Perform, I mean. You paid to see him.

You bring back a magnet of the Hoover Dam. This is what really cements the trip. It’ll be on your parent’s fridge until they move into someplace smaller. The cozier ecosystem they’ve always promised since everyone moved out.

You find a mall there that is all old shipping containers. Stacked like a corporate Tetris. A maze of profit. Everyone else, they are the mice. You? Just someone about to blow twenty bucks on the slots at the Flamingo.

You are adamant in not visiting the Bellagio or the MGM Grand or the other one from that movie you all loved, maybe still do.

You see one of those places where Elvis will marry you. The real Elvis? Maybe he’s not really dead. Maybe this impersonator is so spot-on, it’s actually Elvis himself frozen at his prime, plying his days as one of a thousand other re-enactors.

You think that would be nice. To have Elvis marry you. You think that would be nice to marry someone. To have someone marry you who would agree to let Elvis, the real Elvis, do it.

Somewhere else you see Merlin will marry you.

You also see a lot of ads for hookers. Are you still supposed to call them that? Candys and Stellas and even a Mable. Must be some clientele. A purposeful throwback to before Aids and reliable pregnancy tests.

You think it might be nice to find Mable, convince her you are the person she has always been looking for, that in finding you the only sensible recourse would be to find the nearest Elvis, get hitched, screw each other’s brains out somewhere with impeccable lighting and even better pillows and wake-up phone calls from a sex goddess, and decide there would be no better place to raise a baby Elvis than beneath all these lights. All this glamour. This city for which you will make up all the nicknames. All the ones that matter. All the ones that have any meaning.

You think all this while standing on the Hoover Dam. You are looking at all that water. You see a body mount the railing of the traffic bridge they built to span the gorge downriver of the dam, to provide a view of the dam without being on top of the thing. The body straightens, bends over, tumbles. It is amazing how quickly it falls. How difficult it is to keep it in your sightline during its descent.

You rush to the gift shop before word gets out. Before a panic ensues. Before everything shuts down.

You come back from Las Vegas bearing a magnet of the Hoover Dam. You make sure to get one that doesn’t include a view of the bridge.

You don’t think of Mable anymore. Somehow, you know it was Mable who went over that railing. And she took Elvis with her.



Michael Prihoda is a poet, editor, and teacher living in central Indiana. He is the editor of After the Pause, an experimental literary magazine and small press. In addition, he is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent of which is The First Breath You Take After You Give Up (Weasel Press, 2016).

Twitter: @michaelprihoda