SEMI-FICTION : Demon in and Empty Office (part 1)

I like myself when I’m drinking. I hate the dude that wakes up with the hangover. At night I am a debonair playboy that keeps beautiful young ladies laughing at my wit. The next day I am a just a jerk that needs to lose twenty pounds and have his colon cleaned. At the party,  I feel as though I will have Hemingway’s literary legacy. The morning after I cringe when I see what I have written to people in texts.

My television, angry that I have made it work late at night, screams and wakes me up at 5am by showing me a laughably earnest rant by Mark Ruffalo in some generic Oscar bait that the left leaning film critics and SJWs in the Hollywood community heaped undue praise on. They have an insatiable need to make half the country feel guilty for shit they have no control over.  Luckily for me, the remote control shuts Ruffalo’s rather punchable face up quickly. I flip to one of the twenty four hour weather stations and hope the attractive Asian girl will be on, wearing something professional and form fitting. She tells the rumpled mess staring at her breasts that it will be a beautiful Sunday in early May. As the next seventeen hours will be wasted in the guilty swamp of my hangover, I thank her for the extra condemnation and turn the television off.

An unseen phantom shoves an ice pick into the base of my spine, sending a blitzkrieg of pain up my body until it explodes in my skull. Passing out on the couch doesn’t have the charms that it once did. Everything was easier in your twenties. Your forties is the reckoning, the bridge between young and old. You could man up, exercise more, eat healthy and enjoy the next forty years, reaping the benefits of a better lifestyle and medical advances that the free market brings to us. On the other hand, you can continue to drink like a college freshman, eat whatever the fuck you want like a teenager and exercise with the voracity of the fat Buddha you made in 8th grade ceramics class. If I chose the latter, there would probably be no worrying about saving for retirement. All tragedies seemed to have a bright side.

I run to the bathroom and throw up.

I clean myself off. I open my medicine cabinet and leave the door that way as I brush my aching teeth. I would rather not have to look at my drooping face and decide staring at ointment for Athlete’s Foot will be better for my psyche.  I rinse with mouthwash and lament that it can help with halitosis, but can do nothing to alleviate my shame.  I couldn’t fester like a leaky wart in my apartment all day. The sound of the neighbor’s children playing outside would be a scientific rebuke of my reality. I see a massive mathematical formula on a chalkboard in a spacious university auditorium. A cold sea of people mock and feel sorry for me at the same time. A cocktail of compassion and disdain was not something I could keep down right now.

I contemplate something for a moment and realize I didn’t remember getting home the night before. This was something that, unfortunately, I had felt many times before. I understand that I would be forced to approach my smartphone in the same manner a SWAT member creeps up on a bomb that needs to be defused. Half looking away as if the device might suddenly detonate and decorate the walls of my bedroom with the gory remains of my unremarkable existence, I pick up the phone and nimbly navigate to the messages section and delete whatever lurked there.

The only reason I risk having to read the drunken communiques from the previous twelve hours was because I needed an app on my smartphone to get into my office. I always have work to catch up on, so I decide to knock some shit out when I am sweating out the excessive intake of booze from the shindig the previous night. Doing something productive would also help me feel like a slightly more aromatic piece of garbage. Once in the building, I could always stash the smartphone in the Data Center. I didn’t feel like having to see the texts sarcastically asking if I was “alive”.

You know what you are getting when you invite me to a party. Don’t be shocked when I deliver. Time and time again. I’m the Tom Brady of drunken recklessness. Frank Reynolds is my hero. If you don’t know that name, just realize that the sun always shines in one of Pennsylvania’s largest cities. This article isn’t a thesis on popular culture. You want that check out the authoritarian typists at Ain’t It Cool News. I would never link to that site, a cornucopia of bad writing, bed wetting and stifling of the Talkbackers, who are more knowledgeable and talented than the staff there. It’s a movie site run by a less masculine Elizabeth Warren.

I step out of my apartment into the early morning, the eastern sky is tinted pink as the sun is about to make its appearance like a pop star comprised of hot gas and light. From the darkness up in the trees, the birds chirp to each other in their unbreakable Morse code. They are no doubt gossiping about the ways I made a fool of myself. Everybody knows.

As I walk towards my four year old Hyundai parked at the curb, I notice that the paint peeling on my passenger door has gotten worse. That was a few hundred dollars I didn’t feel like spending to get it fixed. I reason that, with all the issues that I have, a car door that looks like someone burned it with a blowtorch is the least of my problems.

Muttering curses to myself as if a socialist was in the White House, I get in the car and drive away. Needing a fix of caffeine, I step into a convenience store and I hear the hum of the flickering flourescent lights and buzzing of flies around glazed donuts. Avoiding conversation with a a vagrant looking dude who wants to discuss religion, I pay for my coffee and walk into the parking lot.

There is a young, hulking cop drinking a bottle of water and studying my passenger door. He looks up at me and offers me no greeting. I clutch the smartphone in my right front pocket. There is a good chance that the web browser is resting on one of the local sites for ordering hookers. One could never tell where conversations with a bored cop could go and what he would want to poke around in.

“What’s going on with your door here?” the cop asks, but not really asking.

“No clue,” I answer, trying to sound as conversationally calm as possible,” It just started peeling. A guy I work with thinks it was in an accident. I bought it certified pre-owned,  so I am thinking of trying to trade it in.”

The cop bends down and touches the door with a hand that looks to be as dangerous as the business end of an iron mace from the Middle Ages. He pops up with a look on his face like he just caught a whiff of a nasty fart.

” Looks like you might have pissed somebody off,” he says and glares right at me. ” You piss anyone off?”

“Not that I know of.”

He points to me with his round face. “Where you headed?”

“Work.” I don’t like where this is going.

” You work on Sundays?”

“I’m working this Sunday,” I say. Stubbornly, I add,” It’s not against the law to work on a Sunday, is it?”

“That might depend on what your job is,” he shoots back, chugging his water. ” What business are you in?”

“I work in IT,” I tell him. Just to rob him of the pleasure of asking me another question, I inform him  of the company and its exact location.

Unimpressed, this ex-Guido with a badge continues. ” You alright? Rough night last night?”

My stomach churns like a blender full of dead mice. ” I had a couple of drinks.”

How long does it take for booze to get out of your bloodstream?

“What time you get home?” he asks, studying my face like a librarian who thinks I have an overdue book at home.

“Midnight.”

That was probably a lie. I hope it sounded like an answer and not a question.

” Be careful,” he says, nodding his head. ” Have a nice day.”

” Take it easy,” I manage. I get in my car and, trying to remain as casual as possible, start it up and pull out of the parking lot. My heart sinks as I see the patrol car pull out of the parking lot in the rearview mirror.

Proving their must be a God, the squad car goes the other way.

To be continued…………………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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