Jason’s eyes slowly opened in the diminishing darkness of early dawn. He saw Christine asleep and huddled up against him on the living room couch, then he felt the weight of a hangover and his eyes fell shut. His consciousness was blunted by alcohol as he drifted in and out of a dream like state. He was tired but still cheerful in the hazy aftermath of the party.
Jason finally awakened and slowly looked around. Silhouettes of furniture and sleeping people gradually materialized out of the dimness and the image of the living room came into focus. People were passed out and sleeping soundly on other furniture and the floor, some with blankets or sleeping bags, others covered by their jackets while the approaching morning light bordered the curtains.
Jason looked upon Christine as she slept. Her hair was strewn about her face, and he gently brushed it back. She moved a little but remained asleep. He kissed her, and her eyes slowly opened. She looked back at him and smiled sleepily. “How you feelin’?” he asked quietly.
“Tired,” she said just as quiet.
Jason kissed her. “Even hungover you’re beautiful.”
“We need to go somewhere alone,” he said as he kissed her some more.
“Not now.” Christine tried to sleep.
Jason then looked down on the floor and saw Randy sleeping next to the couch. He was breathing coarsely through his mouth and a small blanket lay across him. Jason marveled at how calm and peaceful he looked while remembering his drunken, belligerent behavior the night before.
The orange glow of the rising sun permeated the room with increasing light. Sometime after midmorning people finally began to awaken. They stretched and shifted around on the furniture and floor. A couple of people got up and began to walk around. Brian went into the kitchen and Jason could hear him looking through the cabinets, find something, then move around the collection of empty bottles and cups which covered the kitchen counter. He then heard the sound of the water being poured into the coffee maker, and the steady flow of the water dripping into coffee.
“Man,” Stu said tiredly, “that was some party.”
“Oh, my head,” Mike said as his head sank into his hands in fatigue. “Feels like it’s been beaten like a drum.”
Someone opened the curtains and the living the room was flooded with a shock of light. People cursed the sudden brightness as they tossed aside their covers and slowly picked themselves up from couches, chairs and off the floor until everyone was up and slowly moving around except Randy. He crawled up off the floor and onto the couch vacated by Jason and Christine.
“Afraid of the light?” Jason said jokingly to Randy then wandered into the kitchen. Brian and Dwayne were looking through the cupboards, pulling out coffee cups and setting them on the counter amongst the clutter. “Some party,” Jason said to them.
“I’ll say,” Dwayne said while he poured a cup of coffee. “Did you see the way Drew was hitting on that high school chick? Still going after the jail bait.” He put the pot back on its burner and made room for Brian and Jason.
“That’s gonna get him in trouble some day,” Jason said as Brian poured himself a coffee.
“He’s got to work on his approach,” Brian remarked.
“I know,” Dwayne agreed. “His approach causes women to depart.”
They laughed as Jason poured himself a coffee. He took a sip and felt the hot liquid hit his stomach and wake him up a bit more.
Stu entered the kitchen. “We made coffee,” Brian said to him.
“Tomato juice for me,” Stu said as he went to the refrigerator.
“Whatever cures you,” Brian said.
“Another beer might help,” Jason said.
“Yeah,” Dwayne said, “hair of the dog.”
“No fuckin’ way,” Stu said as he poured himself a glass of tomato juice. “Alcohol is the last thing I need right now. I need a break from it.”
“Sure, and this time you mean it,” Dwayne said. Everyone laughed as Jason wandered back into the living room. People were slowly moving about, straightening up the room, and talking about the previous night.
“Man, that party was insane,” Mike said.
“Did you see Eric?” Alex said. “What a mess.”
“How about Jim,” Terry said, “stumbling around all over the place.”
“As usual,” Mike said.
“Everyone was trashed,” Stu said as he returned from the kitchen, “even Greg.”
“Man, I can’t remember shit,” Curtis said.
“Weren’t you on keg duty?” Jason asked.
“Oh yeah,” Curtis recalled. “Must be why I can’t remember.”
Todd emerged from the hallway and appeared a little more awake than everyone else. “Morning, everyone,” he said.
“Well you’re looking chipper,” Mike said.
“Best birthday party ever I ever had,” Todd said then walked over to Randy on the couch and shoved him with his foot. “Wake up, you maniac!” he said.
“In a sec,” Randy said sleepily and turned into the couch.
“You’re lucky the neighbors didn’t call the cops on your ass,” Todd said to Randy.
“I think most of the neighbors were here,” Dwayne pointed out.
“See?” Randy said. “I wasn’t the only one being loud.”
“But you were the loudest,” Cheryl said.
“Yeah, what a night,” Randy said as he slowly moved himself upright until he sat up.
“And then you got into a screaming match with Gina,” Cheryl accused.
“You and Gina got into a very loud argument,” Rachel added. “Don’t you remember?”
“Really?” Randy said.
“Yeah, really!” Cheryl said angrily. “How fucking drunk were you?”
“No more than anyone else,” Randy said.
“She was in tears!”
“Damn.” Randy flopped back down on the couch. “All we were doing was talking, and then out of nowhere she started tearing me a new one.”
“Talking?” Todd said. “You two were louder than the party, which was pretty loud.”
“Our quarters game was interrupted,” Terry said.
“And Gina was really hurt,” Rachel added.
“Well I’m hurt, too,” Randy said.
“Please!” Cheryl said loudly. “Can’t you think of anyone besides yourself?”
“Seriously,” Randy said defensively. “She yelled at me first.”
“What did you say to her?” Mike asked.
Randy appeared to search his memory. “You know what, I just don’t remember,” he said. “I think I blacked out when she started yelling. Maybe she’s on the rag.”
“What can she possibly see in you?” Liz said contemptuously.
“You too? Damn,” Randy said. “Look, no need to stress. Gina and I will make up, we’ve been through this before.” He looked around. “So where’d she go anyways?”
“She left with Tina,” Cheryl said, “bawling her head off, as if you cared.”
“Jeez, of course I care, I’m not all bad. Speaking of balling,” Randy said to Todd, “did you get your birthday gift from Lena?”
“Of course,” Todd said, “which is more than I can say for you.”
“You guys are awful,” Cheryl said angrily.
“Yeah,” Liz agreed. “What would Lena say?”
“I think we could all use a bonghit,” Dwayne said.
“Amen,” Brian said, “take the edge off these hangovers,” he said as Dwayne pulled a worn cellophane bag from his pocket, unfolded it, and pulled out a chunk of cannabis. Brian pushed the bong in front of Dwayne on the coffee table, Dwayne placed the green substance into the bowl, and then handed the bong to Cheryl.
“Who has a lighter?” Cheryl asked, then Stu handed her a lighter. She lit it, held the flame to the bowl, inhaled for a few seconds, then pulled the bong away while holding her breath. She passed the bong to Liz. She inhaled, then passed it to Brian. He inhaled until the bowl was finished then passed the bong back to Dwayne. Dwayne pinched off another chunk, placed it in the bowl, passed it to Alex, he took a hit, then passed it to Randy. Everyone began to gather in the living room around the bong smoking circle and chatted about the party. Some were drinking coffee, a couple of others were sipping beers. Brian pulled out another bag of cannabis and contributed to the circle of smoking. Person after person inhaled from the bong and created a haze of smoke that settled over the living room.
“So what’s for breakfast,” someone finally asked.
“Is there any of that cake left?”
“Well,” Todd began, “we might have a couple eggs in the fridge and some month old danishes. Otherwise I know of this excellent breakfast place where we can go, it’s just up the street from Andy’s Pet Shop. They make the the killer Bloody Marys.”
“Hope they can kill hangovers,” Randy said.
“Well let’s go,” Mike said. They finished smoking, put on their shoes, straightened themselves as best they could, and piled into their cars. They drove to a nondescript, rectangular building with a band of windows around the middle and parked in the front lot. Hungover and stoned, they slowly got out of their cars and trudged into the restaurant. They waited at the cash register next to a front counter where people were eating and reading newspapers. A staircase led to an upstairs lounge.
A middle aged waitress approached them. “And how y’all doin’ this morning,” she drawled.
“Oh, all right, could be better, what a night, you know,” they all said.
“I’ll bet it was,” the waitress kidded. “How many?”
Todd tried to count everyone. “A lot,” he said. The waitress grabbed a pile of menus, and led them through the semi crowded restaurant to a large, round, smooth table surrounded by a wraparound Naugahyde seat. Everyone slid onto the seat until they were all sitting around the table. Randy placed himself in the middle. The waitress handed everyone a menu.
“And what would you all like to drink?” she asked.
“Bloody Marys all around,” Randy said.
“Damn, Randy, what do you got, a cast iron liver?” Mike said.
“I’ll have coffee,” Rachel said.
“Same here,” Christine said. Jason turned over the upside down coffee cup in front of him as did others. A busboy came over and placed a glass of water in front of everyone.
“And who all is having a Bloody Mary?” the waitress asked.
“Me,” Randy said.
“Me, too,” Todd said.
“Anyone want to split one with me?” Mike asked.
“I will,” Dwayne said.
“I was talking to the ladies,” Mike said. “Get your own.”
“Fine, I will,” Dwayne said. “I’ll have a Bloody Mary,” he said to the waitress.
“I’ll have an iced tea,” Cheryl said.
“Me, too,” Liz said.
“All right.” The waitress wrote onto her order pad. “I’ll be right back.” The waitress left and everyone began to look at their menus. Jason and Christine looked at the same menu.
“Sounds like she’s from Texas,” Randy said.
“Ask her,” Todd said as he opened his menu. “Let’s see, what do we want.”
“Something fried and greasy to soak up the alcohol,” Randy said.
“Oh, that’s healthy,” Cheryl said.
“Anything with protein,” Christine said. Randy gave Jason a knowing smile. Jason looked back at the menu in front of him and tried not to laugh.
The waitress returned with a pot of coffee and filled all the empty cups. “I’ll be back with the drinks,” she said then left.
“The corned beef hash is really good here,” Todd said.
“That sounds tasty,” Curtis said.
“Anything with hash sounds good,” Brian said.
“Did you ever notice how everything on the menu looks good when your hungover,” Alex said. A few minutes later the waitress came with the drinks the took their orders.
“Are you from Texas?” Randy asked her.
“Georgia,” Randy said, “so how come you moved out here?”
“Why, to be a movie star, hon,” the waitress said.
“See, you were way off,” Todd said.
“Yeah, but they’re close to each other, aren’t they?” Randy said.
“Young man, there are four states and about a thousand miles between Georgia and Texas,” the waitress said.
“Yeah, Randy,” Mike said, “don’t you know your geography?”
“Farthest east I’ve been is Nevada,” Randy said.
“That’s because Utah won’t let you in,” Todd responded and everyone laughed.
“You’re just too wild for them,” the waitress said to Randy and everyone laughed some more. She took the rest of their orders then sauntered away.
“You’re in rare form this weekend, Randy,” Alex said.
“This is nothing,” Randy said. “Remember that Day On The Green?” he said to Todd. “We sneaked in a bottle and got so fucked up at that show it took us hours just to find our van.”
“I thought we took BART to that,” Todd said. “You must have crashed in some complete stranger’s van.”
“Really,” Randy said. “I think I scored that night.”
“What was the lucky guy’s name,” Mike said and everyone laughed.
“You know what,” Randy said as he picked up his Bloody Mary, “I’m always happy.” He took a long drink.
They talked more then after a while the waitress returned with their orders and covered the table with plates of eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast, pancakes, and other fried foods. Jason devoured his breakfast as everyone ate, drank and traded recollections of the previous night. Jason felt his strength returning as he nourished himself, and everyone else became less tired and more lively. Someone said how they were going to have to do it again, and everyone agreed.
* * * * * * *
After they ate, gathered together their cash, paid and left, they said their goodbyes out in the parking lot and drove off to their own, separate ways. Jason and Christine left together. “Let’s go to my place,” Christine said, “my roommates are gone so we’ll have the whole place to ourselves.”
Jason was feeling more awake as they drove to Christine’s apartment. He put his arm around her and held her close as he drove. She rested her head on his shoulder then softly traced her hand up and down his thigh. He felt a rush of anticipation and drove a little faster.
They arrived at Christine’s, parked, and went inside. He quickly grabbed her and amorously kissed her all over. She slid out of his grip, took his hand, and led him into her bedroom. They embraced and kissed each other deeply as tugged at each other’s clothes. They fell onto her bed and writhed around passionately. He reached under her blouse, ran his hand up her back, and pulled her closer. She gently pushed away from his hold. He looked upon her with puzzlement. She looked keenly into his eyes, and he was mesmerized into stillness.
“You know what I was thinking about,” Christine said softly, then looked away serenely. “Last night, seeing all our friends, everyone together having a really good time, everything just felt so right, almost perfect. It was like no other feeling I ever had before.” She looked back at Jason. “And I thought about us, and how lucky we are to have each other.” She pulled him a little closer. “We are so incredibly lucky, to be here in this time and in this place, with all our friends, our families, living together in the most free time ever in history, and with our whole lives ahead of us.”
They looked into each other’s eyes with complete trust and an unending openness that joined them into one. They were then drawn back to each other into a passionate and heated entanglement.
©2016 Robert Kirkendall