The Dance of Jack Daniels – Part 2

Allen woke up in his brother’s room, wearing someone else’s clothes. He looked at the Led Zeppelin poster on the wall, wondering where he was. Next to it was a framed and signed Toronto Blue Jays photograph. Empty cans of beer and a mostly-drunk bottle of Jack Daniels were on the coffee table. Allen slid them out of the way to look at the clock, flaring orange like the Eye of Sauron, searing into his throbbing brain.

The time was exactly twelve noon, yet it felt like he hadn’t slept a second. He rolled over onto his back and ran his fingers through his unkempt hair. Looking down (which was hard, because any movement of his eyes sent pain through his head), he saw that he was wearing a button-up shirt quite unlike anything he tended to wear at the time. It was blue and plaid and rolled up at the sleeves, quite uncomfortable pajama wear to be sure. He rubbed his legs together and felt that he was wearing jeans.

He closed his eyes and tried to remember how he got there. He recalled going to Tyler’s house, he remembered admiring Heather’s tight jeans with the missing pockets on the backside, he remembered the hospital smell of vodka in Ethan’s hands, and he remembered being a cowboy and taking up a shot of whiskey. All of that must have occurred at seven pm the night before. Everything since was gone.

Hammers pounding inside his skull, he got out of his brother’s bed and sat on the edge. The jeans he wore were not his own–they were pre-distressed and trendily torn in the general manner he often rolled his eyes at. He looked around for his phone, feeling the pockets of the unfamiliar jeans. No phone present. So he left his brother’s room and faced his mother and step-father’s sarcastic good-mornings.

“New duds?” his stepdad asked. “Is that what these hippie types wear now? Hipsters I mean?”

“No shame in fitting in for a friend’s party,” said his mom, sipping coffee. They were both in the kitchen, preparing lunch.

“How’s the noggin, champ?” asked his stepdad, slapping his shoulder.

Allen said, “It’s fine, why?”

“Well played,” laughed his mom.

He figured asking them what happened last night would be risky, so he instead asked where his phone was.

“Checked your room?” they offered. He was embarrassed to admit he hadn’t. He wondered if Jackie took his room because Allen slept in his.

Inside Allen’s room there was no Jackie and no phone. Curious, he thought. He changed into his normal clothes (a gamer t-shirt and non-ripped jeans) and showered and felt much better, if still headachey. Looking in the medicine cabinet, he saw a bottle of Tylenol. He lifted the bottle, rattled it a couple times, then put it away again. He deserved to endure punishment, he decided.

“Phone’s not in my room,” he announced on his way to the front door. “Gonna run to Tyler’s to see if it’s there. If Jackie shows up, ask him if he grabbed it by mistake.”

They responded in a noncommittal affirmative.

On the walk to Tyler’s, Allen tried again to bring some lost memories back. He thought about taking the shot, thought about the burning sensation warming him from the inside all the way down to his gut. And then, what did he do? Did he dance? Did he play Guitar Hero? Did he make out with Heather Meadows? He imagined the sensations of all three, the latter he lingered on. He was depressed to realize he had no (recalled) basis for that daydream.

When he arrived at Tyler’s, he rang the doorbell. Tyler’s female parental unit answered.

“Hullo,” she said. Allen was always intrigued by the fact that Tyler’s parents had English accents but Tyler had nary a trace.

“Hi Mrs. Tyler,” said Allen. “Is the birthday boy here?”

Tyler’s mom smiled. “I’ll see if he’s up yet,” she said. “Come on in. You’re the other Alan, right?”

“Allen Kaminski,” he said. He didn’t like being the “other” Allen/Alan. He entered the living room and took the seat he was offered. The house had a different sort of musk, like an old sofa. Every house had its own smell.

Tyler stumbled into the living room a minute later, hair every which way, wearing a wrinkled Iron Maiden t-shirt and pajama pants, no socks. He was carrying a glass of water and sipping gingerly at it. When he saw his mom wasn’t in the room he pantomimed blowing his brains out.

“I hear ya,” said Allen, rubbing his temple.

Tyler pressed his finger into his cupid’s bow in a shushing action. His parents weren’t quite as cool with alcohol as Allen’s were. He plopped down on the musky sofa on the opposite end as Allen.

“I knew getting you drunk would be funny,” he said in a low voice, his face ever-smiling, his goatee like a Guy Fawkes mask.

“What did I do?” Allen asked.

Tyler raised his eyebrows. “Really?” he asked. “Nothing?”

Allen shrugged.

“Buddy,” Tyler said, shaking his head, “you were a fucking king. You’re a pretty funny guy when you’re sober, but you’re like a suave Robin Williams when you’re dunk.”

“I am?” Allen asked. He had no idea. “What did I do? Never actually been drunk–er, dunk before.”

“That’s what I woulda assumed,” said Tyler, sipping more water, “but you’re a charming motherfucker on the Jack. We all knew your stories were bullshit, or at least I did, but goddamn they were funny. Heather was ready to drop her britches when you started singing.”

“I sang?”

“And danced. I thought Heather had a thing for Alan–A.D. I mean–but if she did, that’s bye-bye. Poor A.D. Buddy got trashed, spent half the night singing into the toilet bowl. But yeah, you had Heather and Nell rubbin up on ya. I even thought Lisa got a little friendly, but hey, no worries man. We’re all different people when we’re slizzered.”

Lisa was Tyler’s girlfriend, though she was rather liberal in her affections. Allen kind of liked her, but had no intention of acting on the interest.

“Not sure I believe all that…” he said.

“You really got nothing?”

“Not since the first, y’know, drink.” He was excited so it was tough to keep his voice low. “Next thing I knew, I was waking up in my brother’s room, confused as hell.”

“Poor Al,” Tyler said. “We thought you’d be gone for good when you went home the first time.”

“I went home?”

“Or so you said. Came back in different clothes. They looked good, though. Ladies liked the new look. Can’t believe you don’t remember anything after one shot. Ha ha, hey, you’re new to the boozeahol, don’t feel bad. Your melon must be just about split by now, eh? Want some Aspirin?”

He produced a bottle from his pocket, moving it slowly so as to keep the rattling quiet.

“No, I’ll be fine.”

“Dude, you had like twice as much as I did, and I had a lot. I didn’t see you yackin like A.D., so unless you got it all out this morning you’re probably not doin so hot.”

He was feeling pretty lousy. What harm could an Aspirin do? Everyone else took them regularly, sometimes for basically nothing.

“Yeah, okay,” he finally said.

“Atta boy.”

Tyler gave him two pills and the water. Allen gulped them down, chalky and gross.

And, once again, he remembered nothing that followed.





Day 269’s three random writing prompt categories were, “The surreal life of Allen Kaminski,” “A pack of high-schoolers,” and, “Duck face.”

Yeah, okay, I went well over the 15 minutes, and still it’s not finished. Sue me. We’ll see if we can wrap ‘er up tomorrah.

– H.

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