The bars of the cell slammed open and I stepped forward. He was laying on the metal slab that was bolted to the wall in the Drunk Tank. Roused and rickety, He forced Himself up into a sitting position, His festive, multi-colored paper top hat perched crookedly on His head, a thin trickle of dried puke along the side of His mouth. The rest was in dried puddle where His jaw had met the slab.
“You look fantastic,” I said and threw Him His street clothes.
He grumbled first, then cleared His sinuses and spat a fresh load of vomit on the floor. “What time is it?”
He winced and grunted again as He stood. Confetti dusted His sack cloth robe and He was clutching a puky dollar bill. He cast it to the floor.
“Have a good time last night?” I said brightly.
“Yeah, I guess. I mean, I think I did,” He said.
“Cops say they picked you up in the Playhouse parking lot, catching a little asphalt nappy-poo,” I said.
“Creamy,” He muttered.
“What?” I said with a chuckle.
“She said her name was Creamy. Creamy LemonPie,” He said absently.
“Oh, you mean the stripper snoozing next to you outside? Creepy is more like it. I saw her in a cell when I walked in to get you. All due respect, but she had more stretch marks than a roadmap.”
We walked out the lobby of the station. As I went to open the plate glass doors, He said “Wait, don’t I need paperwork or to pay my bail or something?”
“You’re a figment of my imagination Cochese. They don’t charge bail for apparitions.”
We drove home in silence. As we walked into the ¾ house, He made like He was about to dive onto the couch and sleep it off.
“Oh no no no, my friend,” I said. I stripped off my jacket with my running shoes and gym shorts underneath. I knelt down, tightened the laces on my shoes and started flipping through songs on my IPod. “We’re gonna go for a nice, long run.”
“The hell we are,” He said. “Are you nuts, going for a run in this cold.”
“Nope, I’m perfectly sane,” I said. “But you must be nuts if you think I’m not gonna make you pay for all the “fun” you had last night. We’ll make a half-time at the park and do some burpers, how’s that sound?”
The word “burper” must have triggered something and He threw up again all over His clothes. “Why the fuck are you doing this to me?”
“Ah, but that’s the $64 million question, isn’t it? Why does any drunk cost himself the entire next day to recuperate from a few hours of partying last night. Certainly demands the question of why one does it day in and day out, year after year, chasing that first buzz you will never, ever experience again. Of course, I don’t expect you to give me a good explanation to that question, you sick bastard. You still think this is somehow enjoyable. You’ve thought that for years. Don’t really make sense to me. I mean, getting loaded was fun, for a little while. And I guess for the person who drinks like a gentleman three times a year, the four drinks it takes probably are enjoyable. But 4 was never, ever enough for you, and it certainly stopped being a “party” a long time ago. No, sorry my friend, you need to pay and pay you will. In more ways than you could ever expect.”
“Have pity on me, dude, Jesus,” He mumbled and wiped His Mouth on His sleeve.
“Rot.” I said. “How long it took you to throw your life away, it’s gonna take that long to put it back together,” I said. “But honestly, it’s a lot of hard work and frankly, you don’t have it in you. Most addicts and alcoholics don’t. I don’t understand why you do it, nor does anyone else. Someday, maybe you’ll learn, but I’m not taking bets.” I stretched out my calves and thighs. “But I am done with waking up in strange places not knowing how I got there after a dinner of greasy food and a thick haze of semi-conscious stupidity. Thankfully, that period of my life is gloriously over. Sorry friend, but it’s healthy eating and healthy living for the duration for me. Come on Creamy, first dry heave’s on me!”