The hangover

The intense staccato drumming inside his head woke him, hours later than he should’ve been awake. Blood-shot eyes blearily stared at the crimson numbers on the bedside alarm clock, the information slowly worming its way through his alcohol-addled brain.

“Great,” he muttered, his breath stinging his nose with the acrid taste of stale bourbon. “Guess it’s no work for me today.”

Slowly, keeping his lead-dense head in perfect balance, he pushed himself off his musty, mattress-on-the-floor bed, the dirty green sheets falling away from his lean body. His gray boxers hung limp and sweat soaked from his hips. He slapped weakly at his chest, trying futilely to remember the past forty-eight hours.

Groaning, the stiffness in his joints aching, he shuffled bare feet across the dingy white linoleum to the darkened bathroom door. Carefully, moving only as much as necessary, he shoved the flimsy door open with a swift jab of his naked foot. The light switch, on the pale yellow wall at elbow height, took barely a movement and no thought.

The sudden light was excruciating to his sensitive blue eyes. His face scrunched up in his effort to minimize the damage, but it was too late. Pain exploded in pulsating waves through his skull. He stumbled forward, head down, now, in his quest for the sweet relief of cold water and painkillers.

The ancient vanity was cracked and discolored, almost mustard colored in its age, but the faucet still worked, thankfully. As he turned the tarnished silver handle, he prayed he still had ibuprofen in the large bottle stashed in his medicine cabinet.

With the cool water rushing into the sink, he reached for the mirrored door above the vanity, searching by instinct and feel, not having the energy to raise his head to aid in the search. Long fingers found the edge of the mirror. He tugged, once, and the aged cover clicked open.

He sighed, thinking it was almost over and he could go back to the feeble warmth of his meager bed. But as he pulled open the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet, he felt something small and delicate flutter down onto his curly head.

He kept his head down, now, to keep the tiny slip of paper from floating to the floor. His fingers searched through the tangle of blond hair, finally landing on the prize.

He brought the paper around to his eyes, trying to focus on the hastily scrawled words. When, finally, the note’s contents were absorbed, he still didn’t know what they meant. But the dead weight that settled into his stomach told him he needed to find out. Soon.

It happened again. But this time, they’re coming back.

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