Lauren and I used to go to Vegas a lot one semester. It was about a five hour drive so we would pack our car up on Friday afternoon, spend the weekend in Vegas and come back on Sunday night. On our one of our first trips we met these two guys, Zo and AJ. Zo was Lauren’s guy. He was tall, tan and good looking. He was Italian and was a borderline Guido (this was at the height of Jersey Shore). He had a bad temper and definitely wore the pants in he and AJ’s relationship. AJ was my mine: dark hair, blue eyes and didn’t take himself too seriously which I loved. I always thought AJ probably came from a good family, but got caught up with a bad crowd. They both had really sexy New York accents.
The first time we met them was right outside a Jamba Juice. Lauren and I were walking out trying to figure out what we were going to do that night when a really nice black sportscar pulled up to the curb. I know nothing about cars, but this one just looked ridiculously expensive and everyone turned to look to see who got out. Zo got out of the driver’s side and AJ got out of the passenger side.
“That’s a nice ass car,” Lauren said loudly.
I shrugged and sipped my smoothie. There was something really sexy about them getting out of that car, but you can’t let these guys know you’re impressed.
Zo approached us and said something like, “What, you wanna ride?” which was incredibly lame, but Lauren ate it right up. The four of us started talking and we explained that we were just in Vegas for the weekend. They invited us to a club that night and Lauren and Zo exchanged numbers. Neither of them were my type and I wasn’t interested in whatever club they were going to (did I mention that Zo was wearing Jordan sneakers and a thick gold chain around his neck?), but as we were getting ready that night, I realized that Lauren actually wanted to hang out with them.
“Are you kidding? They’re probably going to rob and murder us,” I pointed out.
“Oh my gosh, stop,” Lauren said. “It’s going to be fine. If nothing else, they’re rich and will buy us whatever we want to drink.”
Turns out, she was right. That night we met Zo and AJ at a club and they had a booth in VIP with some of their friends. They were all so happy to have us. Zo asked us what we liked to drink and Lauren and I looked at each other before saying, “Vodka,” in unison. He called the cocktail waitress over and asked her to bring the best vodka they had on hand and to keep them coming.
“Shit!” Lauren whispered in my ear. “What do you think he does for a living?”
I shrugged. Bottles of top shelf vodka go for hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the club so being broke college students, we were gagging that he told the waitress to keep them coming. Not complaining though obviously. We all danced with each other and had so much fun, but it wasn’t until afterwards when we went to a diner to eat, that we paired off. Zo and Lauren sat on one side of the booth and AJ and I sat on the other.
“You should just move hee-uh,” AJ said in his super cute accent. He was clearly already ready to wife me.
I leaned my head on his chest drunkly, giggling “Nooo, I have to finish school and stuff.” I wasn’t ruling out any possibilities of moving to Vegas after I graduated to become a trophy wife though.
Zo and AJ seemed to be intrigued that we were in college and asked us a lot of questions about it that night. It was obvious that we were in completely different worlds even though I think we were all around the same age. We hung out with them until 6:00 AM and while I actually had fun, I didn’t think we would ever see them again. But somehow every weekend for like two or three months, we went to Vegas to see them. We would drop our stuff off at our hotel then they would pick us in a different luxury car every week. They would take us to clubs, fancy dinners, strip joints, the mall or we would just ride up and down the strip while they played loud rap music and smoked weed. Even though we were only nineteen (I think?), I recall going to the casino and them dropping ungodly amounts of money at the blackjack table. They just kept pulling out stacks of money and were super nonchalant when they lost. It was sick. AJ even gave me a stack of cash so I could play the slots and I considered just pocketing it and going shopping.
But the funny/odd thing was we never really did anything with them sexually. It was so weird. Sometimes Lauren and I would go back to Zo’s condo with them trashed and they wouldn’t even try anything. I remember this one time, AJ and I were in his room (he had a room in Zo’s condo, but apparently had his own home elsewhere) and I was drunk so I hopped on top of him and started making out with him. He seemed distracted and kept looking at the door like someone was going to come in. Then he said, “Come on, let’s go down-steahs.” So I guess he wasn’t that interested.
Lauren and I didn’t ask questions though. We didn’t ask where all their money and cars were coming from when they obviously didn’t have jobs. We didn’t ask about their family. We didn’t ask anything. We just enjoyed escaping Tempe and acting like Vegas socialites for the weekend. We came up with theories though. 1. They were drug dealers. They usually smoked a lot of pot and sometimes did cocaine or took pills or drank some concoction in red party cups. So they obviously they were familiar with the industry. 2. Zo came from a family of mobsters. It seemed kind of far fetched, but looking at the clues, it kind of made sense. 3. Their parents were honestly wealthy and they just took the money and rebelled. Maybe their parents were back in New York and had no idea that they were blowing their money on luxury cars, drugs and alcohol for cute college girls. 4. They were some other kind of criminals. They were really, really sweet around us, but we suspected something sketchy going on.
Especially since sometimes we would go to this really huge house a few miles outside the city. We don’t know whose house it was, but there were always different people in it. The house didn’t have much furniture in it so it looked even more massive. Usually we would stay in the living room while they hung out with their friends and participated in illegal activities. Lauren and I would take selfies and gossip about our classmates.
Everything changed one weekend. We rode around the strip on Friday night while they smoked (we always declined to smoke with them, but probably got a contact high anyway) while Lauren and I shared a fountain drink spiked with vodka in the backseat. Eventually they took us to the house where a couple of their friends were already hanging out.
Lauren and I piled into one of the lone chairs in the gigantic living room and watched Zo and AJ and their friend snort coke through a dollar bill. This was nothing new to us. There was loud rap music playing, but everyone was really chill and relaxed.
Suddenly the front door flew open and some black guys stormed in. One of the guys started yelling things like, “Where is it?” and “Where are they?”
Zo and AJ just started blankly. Their friend stood up and started arguing back and one of the guys was getting in his face and bumping chests with him. Zo got up to try to break up the impending fight and the guys started to push him. AJ continued to sit there.
Lauren and I looked at each other like, “What are we supposed to do?” and then things got louder.
Zo and one of the guys started throwing punches at each other so everyone jumped in. So basically there were like nine guys all fighting each other. It looked like a riot. The fight started migrating across the room and Lauren and I jumped up so we wouldn’t get caught in it.
Zo got pushed into the glass coffee table and it shattered under him. It looked like something out of a movie. One of the guys leaned over him and pulled him to his feet by his collar and I saw that his face was bloody, but at least he wasn’t dead.
“Holy shit, should we like call 911?” I asked Lauren, but she was busy screaming and crying.
One of their friends came running from upstairs waving a handgun with a naked woman trailing behind him. “What the fuck is going on down here?”
All we could hear was yelling and arguing and Lauren and I cowered in a corner trying to go unnoticed.
“I want to go home, Reese,” Lauren cried. Clearly we had no business being here and needed to stay in suburbia where we belonged.
“We’ll go home soon,” I said as calmly as I could.
I looked up and saw AJ and one of their friends escorting Zo out of the house while the friend with the gun seemed to be negotiating with the black guys. I didn’t know if we were supposed to follow Zo and AJ outside (they were our ride), but we were too afraid to move.
The friend with the gun pointed his gun at one of the intruders and said something like, “I’ll blow your fucking brains out, don’t move!”
I don’t pray a lot, but I literally sat in that corner praying we would make it out alive. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I was thinking the worst like one of the intruders was going to pull a machine gun out of his waistband and light the whole room up. What would my parents say when my dead body was found in an abandoned house in Vegas?
When they all started arguing loudly again, I yanked Lauren up and dragged her out the front door before they could start shooting. We found Zo and AJ in the driveway and it appeared that AJ was trying to calm Zo (who was bleeding all over the hood of their car for the weekend: a new, white Mercedes) down.
“I’ll fucking kill him. I swear I’ll murder him,” Zo was grumbling. The look in his eyes was frightening. He actually did look like he was ready to murder someone.
A lot of things happened in the matter of about a minute. We heard police sirens off in the distance, then we heard a couple of gun shots in the house and Zo, AJ and their friend hopped in their Mercedes and sped off. They didn’t say a word or even acknowledge us, they all hopped in the car and fucking left us there. Lauren started bawling.
The intruders ran out of the house and sped off in their car and then Zo and AJ’s friend, the one who had the gun, ran out with the naked girl. She was now wearing just a man’s jacket.
“Come on, come on, come on!” the friend said to us as they ran to his SUV. Lauren and I didn’t know what else to do, but follow. We all got in and he drove off.
We drove in silence for what felt like hours until he stopped at a gas station on the strip. We pulled in right next to Zo and AJ. Without a word, the friend we were in the car with rolled his window down and handed a leather duffle bag to Zo, who was in the passenger seat (which was weird because he was always the one driving). Then they drove off without even looking at us. Uh…okay.
Luckily their friend was nice and pretended like nothing happened. He asked us if we wanted to get something to eat or anything, but we declined and asked if he would drop us off at our hotel. I don’t think we even knew his name (or if we did, I forgot it now). Obviously once we were back in the safety of our hotel room, Lauren and I were shaken up and couldn’t sleep. Like what the fuck did we just witness? Was anyone dead? What was even going on?
So we did the only thing we could think to do: drink. We polished off a bottle of vodka until the whole situation was funny. And then we passed out.
Zo and AJ started calling us around seven o’clock the next morning. I personally refused to answer any of their calls, but Lauren did. Zo wanted to apologize about what happened the night before and offered to take us to breakfast. Lol seriously? After they left us at that abandoned drug house to be killed/arrested for suspicion of prostitution? I told Lauren to hang up the phone.
We didn’t go to Vegas for a long time after that. Zo and AJ called us every weekend for a month or so acting like everything was normal. It was weird. That kind of stuff must not be a big deal to them. What were we thinking hanging out with them every weekend anyway? I’m so glad nothing seriously bad ever happened.
It’s kind of sad, but we never saw Zo and AJ again. I hope they’re okay.