Orphans of the Sahara - On the Loose in Las Vegas
The unimaginable happened that Fourth of July in 1960 when Annie's mother left her overnight in the parking lot of a Las Vegas casino. She finally learned how to be a kid. Even her overactive imagination couldn't foresee the cavalry just over the ridge, about to come to her rescue. Orphans of the Sahara is a mix of the Goonies Meet Ocean’s Eleven. More
Seven-year old Annie’s relationship with her domineering mother, Ida, is contentious and predictably unpredictable. As they breeze down the Las Vegas Strip on the Fourth of July in 1960, Annie is excited imagining all kinds of possibilities on their rare family vacation. The trip takes an unexpected U-turn, though, when Ida abandons her daughter, leaving her to babysit her two younger children in the Sahara Casino parking lot, so she can gamble all night. Annie is stunned. Petrified and sobbing, her face presses up against the car window as her mother is swallowed up by the bright lights of the casino. Even her much needed overactive imagination can’t foresee that the cavalry is just over the ridge, and about to come to her rescue.
Orphans of the Sahara is a mix of the Goonies Meet Ocean’s Eleven, set against the neon backdrop of the Las Vegas Strip. Annie is lured away from her siblings, Cassie and Max, by the Orphans of the Sahara, a pack of parking lot kids, who lead her on a roller coaster of a night. Despite the glitz and glamour of showgirls, magicians, and the Rat Pack, all is not magical. Pushed far out of her comfort zone, she picks up fallen nuggets off the casino floor, out-runs security guards hot in pursuit, and leaves the Strip without Ida. None of these transgressions are as difficult as facing the reality that she’s just like her mother for ditching her siblings. Around midnight, guilt drives Annie back to her car where Cassie is choking and turning blue. The absence of her sister’s breath is deafening and sets off her panic button, but it still isn’t enough of a red flag to stop her from leaving again as soon as Cassie is safe. Running through the dark parking lot, her heart breaks for all the frightened kids. Annie knows just how they feel, petrified.
Gus is a sixty-five-year old security guard at the Sahara, slumped down on a dilapidated school bus near the back fence, with a gun pointed at his head. Haunted for years by his wife’s abandonment, he’s angry with negligent parents, with who knows how many stranded kids he can’t reach, and for having to babysit them all in the first place. Saddled with wrenching guilt over his failure to help everyone, he prays for the courage to end his despair.
Trey is the twelve-year-old leader of the Orphans of the Sahara, who takes his job very seriously. Even though he comes off as a bully, he is determined to change their reputation as conniving street kids. He wants people to see them for who they really are—good kids who have been tossed aside by their selfish parents. Trey has to be extremely selective when recruiting potentials from the parking lot. The Orphans must stay under the radar of the mob. He sneaks around in the shadows and focuses in on Annie, hoping she’ll pan out as a future Orphan.
The lives of these three characters in Orphans of the Sahara collide as they head out into the desert on the dilapidated school bus to escape the mafia, where the Orphans are left to fend for themselves again. After a night of fireworks, the bus returns to the casino, fully loaded. Not only have each of their moral concerns about child abandonment united the three protagonists, but they have also deeply impacted each other’s lives; Gus discovers his purpose, Trey gains compassion, and Annie learns how to be a kid.
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