SKANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
When I woke up I knew two things with complete certainty. I had blacked out and I had pissed the bed. In that order, I was hoping. I don’t think I had reached the point where my drinking resulted in the loss of bodily functions when I was conscious, or at least semi ambulatory. However, one could never tell. I was having a shitty year, even by my bargain basement standards.
Maybe I no longer felt I had the time to walk to the shitter in between beers or shots of whiskey? The places I had been drinking in lately, the release of bodily fluids outside of the drug den bathrooms was no reason to put your drink down for a closer look. As I farted in my soggy underwear, I realized once again it wasn’t the things I said or did in an alcohol fueled blackout that killed me—it was the things I thought I might have done.
Drinking is the demon of stolen memory and unruly bladders.
I could feel that I still had shoes on my feet and I was still wearing my clothes from yesterday—jeans, black button down that hid my growing beer gut nicely and blue puma sneakers. Friday was casual at the Chinaski Tool Company in Westbury. I had wanted to look unintentionally handsome yesterday as there was a Happy Hour after work for Kara Sepelowski, who was leaving for a job in New York City.
My name—in case whoever is reading this gives a fuck—is Fergus Riley. My friends call me Gus. Gus was a name I didn’t always deserve. Gus was a name for stand-up guys. Men. Honest mechanics and courageous cops were named Gus. My recreational drinking was turning into a vocation. I always felt scared and honesty was becoming tougher than an Iron Man Triathlon.
Friends, like dollar bills in my checking account—seemed to be disappearing faster than the idea of an honest politician. I was thirty five and most of my friends were in serious relationships, working towards promotions, getting married, having kids.
I wearily rubbed my face and could feel sharp stubble on my fleshy cheeks. With a growing horror I wondered how many of the self-important cunts and cocksuckers I worked with snapped my picture last night? I couldn’t wait to see those making the rounds on the company email. There would be a dozen pictures of me standing next to more attractive and taller co-workers, with my chin trying to multiply, the jaw line of a jellyfish, eyes sleepy from overwork and drink, graying hair sticking up like I had mistaken an electrical outlet for a Newark hooker’s business box.
Always with a drink in my hand.
I liked Kara and she liked me. We had a connection over old George Romero movies. She was a huge fan of Dawn of the Dead. I loved it, as well. However, I related more with the insane lead character in Martin. I substituted a corkscrew and wine bottle for tranquilizers and razor blades, but addictions were all the same. The wine I drank was the same color as blood.
Kara was petite with a nice figure. She had a dimpled chin and a warm smile. Her short blond hair always smelled nice. I could always catch a whiff of it when I worked on her computer, mapping network drives or cleaning out viruses I had intentionally put there. I liked spending time with her and that was the only way to guarantee it. She was unassuming and funny. Kara had the nice quality that she was almost embarrassed to be cute.
She was several years younger than me, but she wasn’t just out of school. She was definitely within acceptable dating age. Kara wasn’t engaged and I wasn’t sure if she had a boyfriend. I didn’t want to know. I could see she didn’t have any pictures of one on her desk. Most women in my office had well placed photos of boyfriends, babies or husbands amongst the knick-knacks on their desks. I think they put them there like crucifixes or garlic. They thought it would protect them from the suave office gigolos who prowled the aisles between the cubicles like vampires picking off victims in Victorian England.
When she told me she was leaving the Chinaski Tool Company for greener pastures, I hoped the look of disappointment didn’t show on my face. Weird thing was as soon as she told me the news, she looked even more beautiful than she was before. It was like some minor ailment she had disappeared–an insignificant blemish. She was smiling when she told me and her excitement devastated me. My old man had died earlier in the year and Kara taking another job hit me harder.
Maybe I am a piece of shit, but my old man cared about his cigarettes and vodka and club sodas more than he cared about me in recent years. They found his body when they went to padlock his house for not paying the mortgage. There was a bad smell. His corpse was in the middle of piles and piles of empty packs of Marlboros, plastic club soda bottles he used as ashtrays and cheap vodka bottles. I always told myself I wouldn’t end up like him.
That’s why I don’t smoke.
My large studio apartment was as quiet as a tomb. I couldn’t hear anything except for my heart that was pounding against the front of my skull, irritating my eyes. My face felt like it was close enough to kiss a bowl filled with powdered bleach. My lips were chapped and my teeth felt like they were on fire. NASA would have to develop some scientific instrument for there to be an accurate measurement of just how much I hated myself.
The silence was always too judgmental for my fragile psyche. I looked at the time on my cable box. 3 AM. God—that magical dude who exists for clergy and drunks to offer hope of a better existence—only knew what time I got in. A vision of Kara laughing at one of my jokes ripped through my mind and I felt like I was going to puke.
If I tried to shut my eyes again, guilt would rattle me until I was groggy and awake. I supposed I had things to do anyway. I would have to pick up my car from the bar. That meant a walk to the ATM and a cab at the Baldwin train station.
I scanned my apartment for my wallet and keys. Drinking was the demon of hiding items of responsibility. I would need to find my iPhone and all the embarrassing and incriminating texts sent and received. Fucking technology couldn’t let anyone enjoy a good drunk in obscurity.
I needed to shower before I got diaper rash.
I groaned as I stood up, reached for my sticky remote, and turned on the television set. The local news was on and some refurbished mannequin with fake looking blond hair and artificial tits was mentioning that more animal remains were found in a field in the Patchogue-Medford area. That was right around route 112. A lot of hookers advertised that they set up shop near route 112. Besides the prostitutes, I couldn’t think of any reason to go to Patchogue or Medford.
I didn’t understand Suffolk County.
I absent mindedly touched my left knee and dull pain pulsed down my leg and settled in my foot. When I removed my hand the pain went away. Fucking phantom drunk injuries!! I never knew how I got them. They were just part of the deal, like the hangovers and the drinker’s remorse.
I yawned and a sickly phlegm smell emanated from my mouth. I hoped Kara didn’t get a whiff of that nastiness when I was probably talking too close to her face. With my right hand I reached into the back of my mouth and yanked a piece of slimy white meat from in between my molars. Disgusted with my existence, I flicked the morsel of whatever onto my floor. The ants would take care of it.
Something banged against the window that was over my bed. I spun around and faced the window, half expecting to see an ominous shadow visible through the burgundy curtains. I didn’t see anything. Was it the wind? I couldn’t hear any leaves blowing around the backyard.
My apartment was an extension of a large old house. It was nice because I didn’t have anyone living above me. I just opened a gate on a big white fence that completely blocked the view of the street, walked up a driveway and I was in my apartment. It was nice and private. Every once in a while, I would see my landlady sweeping up the patio or stuffing trash in a garbage can.
She was in her sixties. She had no family and she was a drinker. That was a bonus for me, that understanding.
There was another bang on the window. This time it shook the glass in its frame. It was a sharp ping. I knew that sound from when I was a kid. It was from happier times when the world wasn’t pushing me around, shoving me through the entrances of various bars and forcing Tullamore Dew down my throat.
It sounded like one of those colorful rubber balls. They usually sold them from large bins at the local drug store. I remembered holding these decorative rubber globes in both hands like I was some giant monster holding galaxies hostage. Then I would bounce them off the ground, giggling with delight as my dog tripped over it as he tried to bite the damn thing.
Who the fuck was throwing it against my window? What the fuck had I gotten into? I immediately thought this had something to do with my drinking binge earlier. It always did. I wasn’t a mean drunk. Mean drunks got no business drinking. It didn’t mean the booze didn’t cause me problems.
There was a knocking on my door. The sound made me flinch like a wasp whizzed by my nose. I stared at it for a moment like it was one of those monoliths from 2001:A Space Odyssey. My God, it’s full of bars. That’s just my life, not the line from the flick.
There was another knock.
A prostitute I didn’t remember calling?
Another gentle tapping.
Landlady? Perhaps a concerned and self-righteous friend?
Two more quick knocks.
With an invisible hand crushing my guts and pushing waste through my bowels, I slowly walked over to the door and opened it just enough to see who it was. I could feel the crisp October air push into the stale stench of my apartment. I had plans to clean it up and decorate it nicely.
I had plans for many things. It was easy to plan. The doing part was my problem. Drinking is the demon of procrastination.
There was nobody there. I swung the door open and stepped out into the night, the moonlight illuminating the backyard—with its weeds, rusty furniture and dog shit—like a streetlamp. I looked to my left and saw that the large gate was still locked. I wondered how long it took me to navigate opening that motherfucker when I came home? With its bulky door and uncooperative latch, sober it could be a bitch. However, drinking made some things easier for me.
Like making a fool of myself, for instance.
I turned back towards the apartment and stopped in my tracks. Someone had scribbled something on my front door. Defacing the white surface of the door like graffiti, someone had written on it in what looked like red or burgundy crayon. I groaned when I saw what it said.
DRUNKY SKUNKY LIKES DIRTY CUTE FEET
“Great,” I moaned, hating the sound of my own voice. It was so pathetic, like an accountant who steals from the elderly. “What the fuck did I say last night? Work is going to be fun on Monday.”
I took a few steps towards my apartment and what sounded like a small someone spoke from behind me in a high voice.
“Hi fartbag,” they said.
I turned around and was hit in the nose by something. By the time I had muttered “fuck” I heard the ball bouncing on the patio and rolling to the gate. I looked at the ball. It was blue with yellow and white stars that swirled. It looked exactly like the one I had in 1987.
I heard a little girl giggling.
I looked at her standing and staring at me, smiling. She was about six years old and fairly plump in a cute way. She had an upturned nose that probably got her called “piggy” in the playground, or there were a few “oink oinks” every time she walked to her desk. She had blond curly hair and rosy cheeks. She was wearing a worn out blue dress and saddle shoes.
Her sleepless eyes looked so fucking old. They were dull and glassy like a junkie’s. The purplish bags under them reminded me of bruises that old people always seemed to have. She was sad and creepy at the same time.
“Do you have a kid in there?” she asked.
“No, I don’t,” I answered simply. I was trying to be as nice as possible, so I raised my voice a bit as if I were talking to a toddler. I was also trying to not sound scared.
“It smells like you have a kid in there,” she said flatly, her eyes growing wide, “Can I come in?”
“Sorry,” I said, my heart hammering in my chest. “I don’t feel well. I don’t want you to get sick.”
“Drunk isn’t contagious,” she said sternly. I was pretty sure she was right. I think the taxpayers had given scientists billions of dollars to prove it.
In this bullshit politically correct world, I would rather be offended than lied too. However, it still pissed me off. I wasn’t going to let her get away with that.
“Go home to your parents,” I said, shooing her away with my hand. “I don’t need your old man coming by here accusing me of being a child molester. Go annoy someone that likes you.”
“Cars from bars swallow children,” she said, almost chanting it. “Be careful out there. More jokes, more drinks, more death, more black magic.”
She repeated it.
“I get it,” I cut her off quickly, “You need to stop listening to your father’s Black Sabbath records. Go home before I call the cops.”
“The cops,” she said, mocking me as she started to walk away. Then she was gone.
When I was back in my apartment with the door closed, I couldn’t remember if I actually saw her leave.
“I need a drink,” I said to myself.
TO BE CONTINUED………….