He stirred a bit to the steady hum of the air conditioner and a familiar throbbing in his head. He knew better than to open his eyes and reached blindly for the bottle on his nightstand. He was cold and wet with his own sweat, his body working hard to rid itself of the night before. No bottle. Damn.
Last night. What was last night? His head was in a fog, his mouth like a cotton field in a dry, hot summer. Forcing his eyes to open, he tried to focus on the kaleidoscope of unfamiliar surroundings: a ceiling fan torturing his already dizzied head; a sky light slicing through his throbbing temples. Black stilettos on the floor, red ones, too; their respective owners tangled together beside him. Shit.
His last solid recollection was of working. He had ridden with John for the Tuesday Broker Tour, they stopped for drinks. Slowly he turned to find a clock, squinting until the numbers came into focus. It was 12:37; Wednesday afternoon.
He sat up too quickly and felt the tidal wave of nausea in his stomach. Hair of the dog, hair of the dog. His regular morning mantra. With mounting desperation he stumbled toward the door in front of him. Closet. Before he could turn around, the wave in his stomach rose to his throat and splashed onto a pile of women’s shoes. Where in the hell was he? Wiping his arm across his mouth, he turned back toward the bed where the Stiletto Twins were beginning to stir. He weaved a path to a collection of bottles across the room, then leaned against the dresser and into the bottom of a Bombay bottle, barely enough to steady his gaze. He slid down the dresser, knees to elbows, and rested his head in his hands. His phone; shit.
He found his clothes in a pile on the floor, his phone nearby, plugged into the wall and fully charged. Thirty-eight text messages and 17 missed calls shifted his brain into high gear and his fingers began to scroll. By the time he finished he had learned it wasn’t Wednesday after all. It was Sunday afternoon and he had lost three and a half days.
He looked around for something familiar and found nothing. Not even the Stiletto Twins rang a bell. He gathered his clothes from the floor and eased his way through the bedroom door and down a hallway to the bathroom. After dressing, he splashed his face with cold water and helped himself to the Listerine near the sink. He swished and gargled, then swallowed a few swigs, hoping to steady his hands.
Further down the hall he found the kitchen, littered with empty bottles and the sweet stench of liquor and faint perfume. A dusty mirror displayed the residue of last night’s score. He wiped it clean with his index finger and rubbed it into his gums as he slid a rolled up twenty into his pocket. He found two beers in the refrigerator and sifted through some mail on the counter. He didn’t recognize the female name or the address of an apartment in Spring Valley. He was thirty minutes from home. Lovely.
He took a last look around then squeezed through the sliding glass door into the desert sauna of mid-afternoon. He didn’t know where he was going but he sure hoped there was a liquor store along the way.