You Know You've Gotten Really Drunk...

    By the time Friday night of the third week rolls around, Carl has almost given up on me.  He raises his eyebrows and pleads, “Come on, buddy, let’s go down to Slim’s.”

    I shake my head, no and he moans, “Damn it, Ryan!  Let’s go have some fun!  You haven’t been at Slim’s in so long everybody thinks you’re in jail again!  They keep asking me when you’re getting out!” 

    “That’s nice.”  I reply.

    “Well, damn it, man, they haven’t seen an obituary so what are they supposed to think!”

    I know Carl’s right.  Moping around like a half-kilt steer hasn’t gotten me any closer to figuring out how I’m going to live through the next ten months of Avery’s enlistment so I haul my ass off the couch and out the door with the full intentions of getting drunk.  Not just half-assed drunk or staggering drunk.  No, I decide to get knee-walkin, pecker-wavin, take-no-hostages drunk! 

    We walk in Slim’s and everybody starts buying me beers and telling me they’re glad I’m out.  I try to correct a couple of them but they look at me like they think I’m lying so I decide, what the hell, and I just drink up.  After about the sixth or seventh beer, I come to the conclusion that Budweiser is going to take too long to get me to the state of mind-numbing euphoria that I’m seeking so Carl and I get a twelve-pack to go and head over to Brisbane to buy a gallon of white liquor.

    You know you’ve gotten really drunk when instead of waking up the next day…you come to.  It’s somewhere right between being anesthetized and embalmed.  I feel much closer to embalmed when I come to on top of a pile of feed sacks with Carl groping around the floor at my feet mumbling something about the mail not running.  I try to raise my head but my neck just wobbles so I let my head fall back down before I ask Carl, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

    His hand briefly enters my line of sight and it flaps a time or two before it drops off the horizon.  It briefly registers with me that Carl’s hand looks like it has been dipped in shit but I just don’t care.

    I close my eyes to try to get my balance but Carl just won’t shut up.  He keeps mumbling, “man overboard, man…uhh…overboard,” and every time he gags my stomach churns.  I finally give up on re-passing out and push myself up to a sitting position.  Carl’s head bobbles just below my boots, so I half-roll, half-slide off my perch until I come to rest beside him on the dirt floor.  He half heartedly flops his hand a couple of times and starts mumbling again, mail not running…mail not running, and by the third or forth time he says it, I realize he’s saying, nail not funny.  I lean forward to try and focus on his hand and sure enough, he’s got a nail sticking out of his palm.  I shake my head and instantly regret it but then the world looks slightly clearer and I reach out and pull his hand over in my lap and on closer inspection, it’s covered in blood and a lot of dirt but at least it’s not shit.  I look around the floor and spot a hammer lying near what appears to be a dead body.  I decide to take it one problem at a time, so I crawl over and pick up the hammer and drag it along beside of me until I get back over to poor ole Carl.  His little beady eyes look up at me with so much gratitude that I hate to have to do it to him but I pin his wrist under my knee and pry that damn nail out with the hammer.   I’m sure it hurt like hell because Carl jerks up to a sitting position and thwaps his way across the floor like a walrus fleeing into the sea.  He runs out of room when he slams into the wall and he just huddles there and quivers.  I start to call out to him but then I remember the dead body and I finally attempt to try to stand.  After swaying back and forth like a possible jumper on a bridge, I shuffle my way over and kick it once.  I almost lose my balance and the dead body doesn’t move so I kick it a little harder.  It heaves once and rolls over.  My god, its ole man Kennedy and he’s puked all down the front of his shirt and big chunks are stuck in his beard.  I wheel and grope my way to the door before I kneel down and start spewing.  I puke until my guts turn inside out and then I puke some more and they twist up inside of me and start to expand and retract like an accordion.  When the dry heaves pass and I’m sure that I’m still alive, I climb to my feet and stumble outside.  I raise my hand to try to shield myself from the shards of sunlight stabbing my eyeballs like ice picks.  I finally blunder into the truck and feel my way up to the door.  I pull it open and beer cans topple out around my feet.  I reach for the twelve pack box in hopes that one little soldier might have survived but no, that’s too much to wish for.  I give up and crank the truck and back it over to the barn door. 

    Carl’s still huddled up against the wall, whimpering like a kicked dog.  I try to talk to him and get him to stand but he’s got his good hand wedged in a crack in the wall and he’s holding on for dear life.  Finally ole man Kennedy shuffles over and helps me pry his hand loose and we drag Carl by one arm over to the pickup.  He still won’t stand, so I grab his feet and ole man Kennedy grabs his shoulders and we heave him into the back.  I look at ole man Kennedy with new respect.  He’s sure recovered a lot quicker than me and he has to be every bit of seventy years old.  And, although much of last night or however many nights we’ve been here is lost forever, I’m pretty sure ole man Kennedy out-drunk both me and Carl.  Then I remind myself that he brews moonshine for a living and that would put him in the professional drinker category.  That makes me feel a little bit better.  I humbly nod thanks and stumble over and climb in the truck.  I drive until we get to the bridge at Roaring Forks and I pull over.  I climb out and drop the tailgate and tell Carl, “Come on, Carl, get out and get in the creek.”

    He just mumbles and starts crawling closer to the cab so I grab his feet and drag him out.  He catches onto the tailgate with his good hand and I try to reason with him, “Carl, you have to get out!  You’ve pissed all over yourself!  Now, don’t make me hurt you!”

    He holds up his hurt hand and whimpers, “Bad Boo-Boo,” but I keep tugging and finally he gives up and half slithers to his feet.  I reach out to steady him and he takes one step in the wrong direction before I get him aimed at the creek.  I notice he’s only got one boot but I just shake my head, there’s no way in hell I’m going back for it.  The bank isn’t too steep and we make it down to the water’s edge before Carl changes his mind and tries to make a break for it.  I catch him before he gets halfway back up the bank and I drag him back down to the water.  When we get waist deep, I let him go and he flounders around and screams he’s drowning so I shove his head under the water.  He comes up thrashing and spewing so I shove him under again.  When he comes up the third time he looks about half sane so I let him go.  I wade on out in the middle of the creek and dive underwater.  I suck in a mouthful of water and gargle it around a time or two, not caring how many people have pissed off the bridge cause it can’t be any worse than what’s living in my mouth right now.  When I feel like I’ve got enough sense to drive, I wade out and climb up to the truck.  Carl’s curled up in the front seat with his hurt hand wrapped up in his t-shirt and his back looks like a mountain lion has caught a hold of him.   I crank the truck and we drive home.  
    Kayla’s truck is sitting in the driveway and I shake Carl and say, “Carl you better put your shirt on,” but he just climbs out of the truck and wobbles toward the house cradling his hand.  Kayla meets him at the door and I hear him mumbling, “Nail…hand…not funny”.  She looks at me like she would like to set me on fire and then she steers him in the house like a mother hen herding her chicks.  I follow them in and she takes Carl in the bathroom and I hear her fussing over him.  I surmise that she is the mountain lion that got a hold of his back and that Carl is in good hands so I go to my bedroom and quietly close the door.

vwhitlock   vwhitlock wrote
on 5/25/2008 11:37:45 AM
Thanks! Yeah, we all have days that we are better off not knowing about..

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/25/2008 10:23:59 AM
Yeah, I remember days like that. Well, I don't actually remember them, but people keep telling me about it. Good story. I like the details.

Novel / Novella
writing vwhitlock
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Rating: 10.0/10

This is a chapter from a book that I have been working on. The characters, Ryan and Carl, are thirty-one year old roommates and the setting is rural, western North Carolina. Ryan has fallen in love with a girl in the military and Carl is attempting to help his buddy get over the blues.