Tom Paines Scar Vegas takes place in a cheap Las Vegas hotel in the late twentieth century and shows the depressing life of a lonely ex-con. Traveling from Texas to Las Vegas for his sisters wedding, Johnny Loop emerges as a simple, unlucky, depressed cowboy. Time after time it seems that Loop gets the short end of the stick. His dysfunctional background shapes his attitudes and interactions with others. Ironic, but a depressing ending leaves him helpless, alone, and frustrated. Sadly, it becomes obvious that he is not going to be able to turn his life around.
Loops relationship with his sister is complex and distant. Their conversations often are awkward and sad: How come you never tell this guy you got a brother? You was in prison. So, I says. Lot of people in prison. Im your only family. So she says. The sky is white and sick with heat. Nice dress, I says(128). Avoiding what they are trying to say, they often change the subject. Clearly they regret their weak bond. At the same time their efforts to improve their relationship are feeble. The lack of interest in each others lives further alienates Loop: Were are going to polish the floor with his face.
On the seventieth the team goes into a huddle. Lucas and I lean against the wall(134). Ironically, Loop should be as concerned, if not more, over the pervert flashing his sister. However, he chooses to stay out of it. His lack of action is not necessarily a sign of maturity, but more a lack of caring. The weak relationship along with a number of other factors further isolates Loop. Johnny Loop is a lonely aimless man fresh out of prison. Right from the beginning he is struggling not only with his money, but also his physical condition: The Cowboys cracked my ribs but they are taped firm.
I am now in Vegas after frying across the Texas panhandle in July top down because the top was broke up good when I was thrown through outside Amarillo my first real stop after Galveston(123). This murky past conveys his rough background and his inherent unluckiness. By the time Johnny Loop actually gets to his sisters wedding he has already hit what he thinks is rock bottom. His complex but distant relationship with his sister along with his background leaves him alone and worn down. As a result many of his attitudes are pessimistic and self-loathing.
These attitudes are seen in his separation from the wedding activities: Lucas Fairweather, he says. Tight End. Johnny Loop, I says. Dead end(131). He is worn down to the point where he doesnt seem to care anymore. His acceptance of his bad luck and pathetic life leads to a destructive habit of expecting the worst and therefore often receiving it. Loop obviously has received more than his fair share of bad luck, whether he experiences as much as he would like to believe is unclear. His negative attitude and anticipation for the worst leads him to interpret what might be considered good luck as bad: Luck aint something that dont happen.
Lots of things dont happen. Luck is something that happens. When you been fingered out(133). These destructive thoughts allow him to further ignore the positive side of things and focus on the negative. In addition to perceived bad luck, it is clear that Loop is very unfortunate. Though it through this conditioning and these expectations that he feels he is ready for anything: “I ain’t never surprised. This world ain’t never sprung nothing on me. Some people get themselves hit by lightning and other strange things but that ain’t me at all” (124).
These feelings of routine and his non-shallot attitude towards his luck are a sign of general acceptance and unwillingness to change. At the same time they are a chilling forecast of his terrible but some how fitting nightmare. Loops reaction to losing his kidney is very unusual, but at the same time revealing. His response to losing his kidney at first is very out of character for him: Ive seen three cases this year. On the black market your kidney might be worth a hundred thousand or more.
Some people are desperate. No kidding, I says. A hundred thousand? Consider yourself lucky to be alive, Mr. Loop, says the Doc. They might have taken both kidneys(140). Ironically, he seems proud to have been chosen, and that his kidney is worth so much money. But this pride and joy quickly fades as the reality sets in: I see it looks like a long angry yellowish mouth with silver braces. It looks like a greasy mouth that might open and my ugly insides might vomit out all over the floor(141) His description of the scar communicates his true frustrations and anger with his isolation and his dead end life. Beating the odds and the value of his kidney are of little comfort to him when he is sitting alone in the hospital.
What he truly seeks is love and a real shot at life, but sadly it seems that he will not receive either. Loop started off at what most would consider rock bottom. His downward progression at first seemed to be directly related to his attitude. His weak relationship with his family, lack of friends and bad luck supported this negative outlook and he began to expect the worse. Ironically not even Loop could have expected to have his kidney stolen. While lying in the bed he confronted with what he had become and what he had left. Loop has nothing, no friends, family, money, or direction. Sadly it is very unlikely that any of this will change.