1995 movie. Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) comes to Las Vegas with the intent to drink himself to death. On his way to terminal alcoholism he meets Sera (Elisabeth Shue) through her job as a prostitute. They form a wary relationship with a non-interference pact and things slowly fall apart.

This movie lacks pity. It would have been unbearable if they tried to push a message but very little is said. It's very much an examination of how people self-destruct. Sera's love strikes you so hard it aches. Very worthwhile movie in the end.

1995 Movie. Nicolas Cage won the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Ben Sanderson.

Elisabeth Shue played opposite him as an experienced yet soft prostitute.

The love story is unique in its foundation of acceptance. If there is one, (and indeed I believe there to be), the message of this movie is full acceptance of a lover's wishes. The two characters do not attempt to change each other, and though this is the final undoing of their relationship, it is refreshing to see such loyalty.

The title of the first novel of author John O'Brien. The movie of the same name was an adaption to screenplay by Mike Figgis. The father of the author is quoted as saying the novel was the suicide note of his son, who killed himself in 1994 shortly after he sold the film rights to the story.

We were where the liquor tasted good and the women all were fast. I was rolling then, but it was a day or two too late. Vegas is a town for the professionally disturbed. I'm only an amateur. When I chose to split on those two aces, I might as well have pissed my whole life away into the parking lot from that 14th floor room with the little overhanging balcony. I could have watched the golden droplets falling through the sultry night sky, dissipating as they raced to beat each other to the blacktop. This would have been much more satisfying than watching the pancaked made-up face of the overage nancy boy grinning as he threw me almost identical red nines and himself a black Jack to go with his little red ten.

The money was one thing. Unfortunately, it was the only thing Meagan cared about. She was the girl I'd decided was worth leaving my family for. It seemed like the idea of the Century to leave that little ranch house in Pasadena and bring Meagan and her hot thighs to Vegas where we'd turn that cashed-in 401(K) into enough to retire to Belize with the little brown monkey butlers bringing us blue drinks until we were ready to eat, screw, and be happy forever.

It was the grin on the dealer's face that pushed me over my personal edge. He reminded me of my wife's grinning face as she was throwing all of my stuff out on the lawn that Saturday morning not too long ago. I yelled from the curb that it was quite likely that I would not be returning if I left the homestead in this manner; a manner all our neighbors were enjoying far too much for such a solemn occasion. My wife reminded me that the locks had already been changed and that she had made real sure there was nothing left in the house which I'd be needing. Her last perfect toss was my Colgate toothbrush which she flipped in a perfect bristle over base arch, hitting me right in the forehead when I took my eyes off the missile long enough to see my little girl for the last time. The neighbors could have left out the applause when the Colgate made contact with my cranium. But I suppose my wife had told everyone about Meagan by now.

Just the night before, we had been in the sedan driving home from dinner at the Western Sizzling. My wife had been trying to remain calm as she discussed with me, from the passenger front seat, the revelation she'd had after a phone call from my best friend, Phil, that afternoon. Gosh darn Phil. Just because Meagan had stopped him at third base and a half a few weeks ago, he had a burr up his butt about our perfect love.

My wife had been going on about how many one night stands Meagan was rumored (she used "known," but I prefer "rumored") to have had, and how I was just the latest in Meagan's tally sheet of middle-aged middle-class businessmen in our little piece of Suburbia. My daughter spoke up from her car seat in the back: "Why does Meagan need so many nightstands, daddy?"

The night got worse for the wear and by morning it was clear that I no longer lived in my house. "So be it," I thought, on my way over to Meagan's apartment to tell her the wonderful news: That I was free, free at last. I was a bit confused about the time it took Meagan to answer the door and the noises I heard in the shrubbery behind her house as she opened the door in a slightly disheveled manner. But when she told me it was a stray raccoon which had gotten in the apartment and which she'd tossed out the back window, it all made sense.

I explained to Meagan my current circumstances and told her that it must be Fate which had arranged for us to be able to carry on with our perfect love out in the open, for God and man to both see with two omniscient and two otherwise very good eyes. She seemed a bit distracted, but I assumed it was because of the suddenness of the wonderful news. Even though I had only known her for three days and two nights, there was no mistaking the connection.

I grabbed her in my most manly embrace and threw her on the bed just inside the next room (the same room where the raccoon must have surprised her). I was a bit surprised to find that she had on nothing underneath her robe. And, that she was already moist. I had underestimated my powers over her, obviously.

After our sporting tryst, I began to make plans for our future together. I had envisioned a nice two bedroom apartment, perhaps in the same complex where she lived and was comfortable now. But my Meagan seemed agitated when I spoke of such matters. She seemed adamant that we should first assess our financial situation (well, MY financial situation, since she was still a struggling college student, after 8 years in an attempt to attain her very difficult degree). When I explained the penalty for accessing the only funds I had available, my 401(K), she did some calculating in her head very quickly (she's so smart!) and determined that it would still be quite worth it, in order to finance what should be the pre-honeymoon of a lifetime. How could I disagree?

And this is how we wound up in Vegas and how I wound up being hauled from Harrah's on the opposing arms of two of the biggest and hairiest guys I had ever before seen. Once we had danced the drag-walk into the parking lot, Vito and Bob were happy to show me their pugilistic skills. Two broken ribs and three front teeth later, I made my way to a pay phone and called my true love.

"Is this Room Service?" she said in that sweet voice. "Where's my fucking lobster and Chianti?"

"No, darling. It's me. I've had a little problem."

"You've had a little problem? I've been waiting on my fucking dinner for almost fifteen minutes now. And I've got a fucking dat . . . appointment with the lifeguard at 8:30. Swimming lessons, you know."

"That's just swell, dear. But I'm afraid I lost all of the money we brought on what I could have sworn was a sure hand at black jack just a few minutes ago. I'm sure we'll figure some way out of this mess."

The connection somehow got lost at that point. It was hard to figure, because there was no electrical storm in the area.

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