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Las Vegas

The Trick

Behold: William’s father slices his mother in half. He shackles her to the bottom of a water tank. He packs her inside a cannon and lights the fuse.

Woe and Wonder

On a Saturday morning in early June, just before the heat spikes, I set out with my eight-year-old son from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. We start the way I drive to work—north on Spencer Street past rows of midcentury ranch houses; left around the playgrounds of William E. Orr Middle School; then right on East Katie where, just past Algonquin, I see two burned-out truck trailers at the edge of the Boulevard Mall parking lot. One has holes in its sides like white paper someone held a lighter to, blew out the flame, and burned again and again. Still, standing on its wheels and struts, it seems positively stalwart compared to its companion, collapsed on its belly—a gesture of abjection, it feels, but also prayerful? Inside the trailer shells I glimpse blankets and bottles and a plywood shed. I don’t dwell, though. I’m on my way to get waffles for my boy.