Nick – Chapter One

It was 3:07pm. Sunday afternoon. Nick woke up with a startle. His head hurt. While most Saturday nights were similar for Nick, this time had been different, this time things with Rachel had gone particularly bad. After all, that’s why he had hit the town with quite such gusto. No, this was a drunken binge to end all binges, and the ultimate irony? He didn’t have a fucking clue what had happened to him, but he’d find out, eventually. Maybe.

He looked at his feet. He still had his shoes on. “At least I’ve got my shoes”, he thought. He wasn’t sure why this was good, but when you wake up with a hangover this bad, you have to be faithful for small mercies and shoes at least meant he could walk to the shops and get something to make this feeling go away, though he had to admit to himself that maybe the local shop didn’t offer industrial stomach pumps or blood transfusion services. He looked further up his body, albeit slowly, as the delay to focus his eyes properly was a little latent this early in the day. Trousers. He had shoes and trousers – things were on the up. He concluded that he had indeed made it home without too much damage and got out of bed. He looked at the floor, it was covered in the wrappings of something that might have at some stage resembled food. In this town, that kind of thing made for an adequate, if generic late night food purchase and there would be dozens of vendors, all willing to serve literally anyone, even Nick. He lent over and turned on the radio, The Beatles, ‘A Day In The Life‘ played. Nick had a flashback – a crowd of people were standing nearby and staring at him. What had he done? Where had he been? Another flashback – this time, a very loud noise, with no discernible tune. Nick was lying on his back, looking up at a clock. He was just staring at a clock when a girl asked if he was okay. He snapped back to reality.
* * *
Moments later, Nick was sitting on the sofa of his apartment, with hangover curing remedies – dry coffee, gin and crisps and nursing a mug of warm tea. He looked at his phone. It was dirty, scuffled and worn – this was a new phone. He pressed the green button and saw that had had made calls to people all night. Matt at 1.17am and four subsequent missed calls, Ben just after midnight and a text message from Rachel asking if he was alright. “Fuck” – he checked his sent messages.
"wh dy fucn carf if im alrghtt!" – that had been to Rachel, as he scrolled through his phone, he found other messages. A hoedown to Matt, a suggestion that Ben was sexually attracted to geese. Nothing out of the ordinary, then he found a message where he’d told Rachel that they fought like a married couple, so they should just go ahead and get married. She had accused him of being drunk to whit he replied “I’m not drunk – I’m drunken” – even in this moment of hazy panic, he had found time to be pedantic to the only girl in the Northern Hemisphere who regularly spoke to him with phrases other than “Fuck off” and “Chilli sauce?”
He called Matt. No answer. What the fuck could Matt be doing at this time? He was either in the Bridgenorth with Ben, or he was wanking. He reckoned probably not both. Maybe he had been to the pub and was now back at Ben’s, watching porn and smoking those cigarettes Ben had bought in France – Nick and Matt had intended to go with him, but had spent their weekend in the far more productive environment of playing Micro Machines on Matt’s Sega Mega Drive.
He called Ben, half expecting Ben to answer to the sound of bongos, porn, or a post wank lack of breath. He didn’t. He didn’t answer at all.
Nick couldn’t call Rachel, that would be both desperate and stupid, and although this was usually his modus operandi, in this case he would attempt something a little less predictable and think before speaking or being spoken to. No, he would have to ride this one out alone. He would give this his complete and utter focus, nothing would come between him and this issue.
Six minutes later, Nick would take a breather and knock out a few rounds on Micro Machines by himself. He would achieve a level of piss poor play that would be especially hard for any human being with vague notions of motion to beat. This really was a hangover to end all others – in years to come, he knew he’d boast about this day, but he just had to work out what the fuck had happened first.
Another flashback. The girl with the clock had helped him to his feet. Her face was obscured, but she said her name was Emma. She spoke with a highly pitched voice that sounded like she was singing, rather than speaking. “Do you sing like that on purpose?” he asked. She giggled and told him not to worry about Rachel. “How do you know about Rachel?” “You told me all about her. You told me a lot of things” and with that, she ran off into the bacchanalian evening. If that wasn’t confusing enough, Nick had lost the bottle opener, the remote for the TV and a program about the history of TV test cards was about to come on. He sunk back in his chair, grabbed the gin and began to drink. Even with Nick’s slender grasp of basic medical knowledge, he could tell his wasn’t wise and the alcohol quickly drove him back into a stupor. Intoxicated and slow, Nick fell over the coffee table, found the remote and managed to turn off the TV just before the guy managed to actually show any test cards. He quickly fell asleep. He’d wake up eventually, and without much surprise, he’d accurately predict that he would foul himself.
At six, Nick woke up, soiled and banging. Nothing like a cold shower as a combination hangover cure and efficient way to dispose of the product of a takeaway and a body full of alcohol. Another flashback – this time, Nick was stood on a table, in a bar empty of life. Motionless and alone, Nick was just staring at the barren floor, lacking of vaudeville and panic, the venue seemed particularly lonesome. This was beginning to seem familiar – a strange fear became over Nick. Just what had he done? Just who the fuck was that girl? Where had he been? Where, or who, had he done? Why did his arm feel sore and why did he feel like he’d been cheated out of his some great opportunity? Hollow and vacuous, mixed with the quantity of alcohol in his bloodstream, Nick proceeded to be sick in the shower. The spray of his achievement coupled with the downward spray of the shower offered an interesting, if peculier display that would have surely delighted anyone who had stumbled across him that day. Surely, any only a spectator with no level of decency would have asked, nay, demanded a refund at this bizarre act, but Nick, in his unique role of both partaker and witness to his own incident felt nothing but relief and euphoria. As he continued to puke his own guts over himself, Nick had another brief realisation – he’d stormed out of his place without regard for money or carrying his cashcard, therefore, he had somehow managed to get this drunk on less than a fiver. Concluding he wasn’t a lightweight on the magnitude of Fat Chris, he decided he must have been helped, or maybe hindered along the way by his natural charm and good looks, or more likely, he’d found someone he knew and convinced them to buy him twelve hundred rum and cokes.