Because even ‘goody-two-shoes*’ have their days. . .
By Audrey W.
John Gage groaned as he opened his bleary eyes to slits and peered at his immediate surroundings. He was in his bedroom, which was bright with daylight filtering in from between a large gap in the curtains.
“Oh man. . .” he moaned. In his state of mind, it seemed extra bright.
For having slept in, he felt like crap. His head ached, the throbbing increasing as he became more aware; his mouth and throat were both very dry. And he had a strange sensation his bed was going ‘round and ‘round.
The off-duty paramedic wished he could put a foot on the floor and stop one of his problems, but he knew better. Only time was going to cure what ailed him completely and lots of it. He hadn’t felt like this since hanging out with some friends at a party his second year out of high school and the next morning experiencing his first hangover. At eighteen, he’d sworn off ever getting that drunk again. Now at twenty-three, here he was in the same boat.
Man, why’d I hafta listen ta Chet? ‘It’ll be fun’, he said. . . ‘just come along for the ride’, he suggested. . . ‘a couple of green beers and then we’ll leave’, he promised. . .
But a large mug of green beer and an introduction to a cute chick named ‘Chloe’ later, and Johnny knew they weren’t going anywhere soon. She and Chet hit it off right away, which left him to wander and socialize with the rest of the crowd.
A very jovial crowd.
None of which he knew very well. . .at first.
Their Irish-blooded glee was contagious. Before he knew it, he’d downed another mug of beer, a couple of shots of Irish Whiskey, was wearing a green plastic top hat, attempting an Irish jig and eventually singing ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. . .’ along with the rest of his new found ‘friends’.
Suddenly the telephone rang, startling him from his thoughts. Johnny grabbed for it, partly just to put a stop to the excessively loud noise assaulting his ears and aching head.
“Well, top of the mornin’ to ya,” came a cheery reply. “How was the party last night?”
“Do ya hafta yell, Roy?” he nearly whispered in return.
“I’m not yelling. But you could stand to speak up a little.”
Johnny could almost hear the smile on the other end when Roy added, “That must’ve been some party.”
“Man, don’t remind me. . .” he groaned.
“You okay? Or do I need to send a rescue squad over?”
The light tone revealed Roy was teasing, but Johnny knew that it was also his partner’s subtle way of easing his own concerns at the same time. Or at least the older man thought he was being subtle. Gage would never let on it was so obvious.
“Only if they can speed up time to tomorrow morning.”
A slight chuckle and then, “You could always try a raw egg mixed with a glass of tomato juice.”
“Ugh. . .That sounds worse then havin’ the hangover.”
“Well, considerin’ I’m here in one piece and he was drivin’. . . I’d say he’s just fine,” he joked. “Actually, he was too busy with a chick to get into the thick of things. ‘Sides, he knew he had to stay sober enough ta get behind the wheel.”
“Okay, well, take it easy and drink lots of water to re-hydrate yourself. I’ll check back later. Maybe by this evening, everything won’t sound like someone turned the volume up.”
Johnny replaced the receiver on the phone base. As he pulled back away, he noticed he was still wearing his clothes from the night before; a tan shirt and green tie. He could tell by the feel on his legs, he even still had his blue jeans on!
He pushed back the covers and slowly sat up. The motion and upright position, along with his already dizzy state, heightened an additional symptom he’d been able to not think as much about till now.
Again Johnny groaned.
Good ‘ol nausea.
At least he hadn’t thrown up yet.
Then again. . .I might actually feel better if I do. . .
Gage chastised himself. He knew better than to drink whiskey on top of beer. Especially since he didn’t usually drink more than just a couple of cans of beers at a time when he did have alcohol. And now he’d put the whiskey on top of two large mug fulls, which made it more like three or so.
Well, there wasn’t anything he could do about it now. Just remind himself next time how miserable he felt this time. He wasn’t about to go through it a third time.
No way, man. . .
Johnny carefully eased himself to a standing position and slowly made his way to the bathroom to get some aspirin, carrying a pillow and dragging a blanket from his bed behind him. He was sure if anyone saw him, they’d say he reminded them of Linus from the ‘Charlie Brown’ cartoons. Once in the room, he glanced at the toilet.
Maybe if I lean over it, somethin’ll give. . .
But after a few minutes of waiting, Johnny gave up. He was just going to have to deal with almost feeling like he was going to vomit, probably the remainder of the day.
"I'm not so sure I wanna see what corn beef and cabbage looks like when it comes back up anyway."
With his headache still pounding, he walked to the livingroom. Gage left the blanket and pillow piled on the couch, then continued on to the kitchen, where he got a glass from the cupboard and filled it with cold water from the faucet. After downing the two aspirin, he returned to the other room and laid down on the couch, the blanket spread over him up to his armpits. He rested his head on the pillow with a sigh, then stared at the blank television screen across the room.
Man, I forgot to turn it on. . .
But he sure didn't want to get back up just yet.
Something green on the floor near the coffee table caught his attention. It was the top hat from the party. That reminded him he still forgot to change his clothes. And take a shower, for that matter. That certainly couldn’t have hurt.
Then again. . .the way I feel. . .maybe it could’ve. . .
Johnny closed his eyes, draped his left forearm across them, and hoped to fall asleep again for hours. . .and hours.
The sound of incessant knocking on the door woke Johnny up. He opened his eyes to a very daylight filled livingroom and bolted upright, nearly toppling off the couch in the process, along with coming close to throwing up from the swift movement. He paused a few seconds to work through the sudden intense nausea. Meanwhile, the knocking continued, overlapped with a familiar muffled voice.
Did I over sleep? Am I late for work?
Johnny certainly hoped not, as he still felt like crap. Too much like crap. In fact he still felt as bad as he did when he lay down. He looked at the watch on his wrist and blinked until the face of it cleared in his vision. Either he’d slept nearly a whole twenty-four hours or Chet Kelly had come by just awhile after he’d closed his eyes. It had to be the latter.
“I’m comin’!” He winced at the loudness of his own voice. It would make the trip a lot easier if the room hadn't started to spin again somewhat.
Once at the door, he opened it and stood to the side, his hand still on the knob for support. He motioned for Chet to come in.
“I can’t. I just wanted to see how you were. You know. . .since you were kinda out of it when I dropped you off. And I must say, you look terrible, John. Heck, you’re even wearing the same clothes from last night!”
“I’m okay. . .just a little hung over.”
“All right, I’m a lot hung over.”
Chet shook his head, his gaze on the floor just inside the door. He then looked up at Johnny and again shook his head. “You know, you should’ve left the party sooner. Maybe you wouldn’t be in the shape you’re in now.”
Johnny’s mouth dropped open. “Just how--”
“Well, I gotta go,” the fireman interrupted. “I’ve got a date with Chloe.” He leaned forward a bit and in a sly tone added, “You know, she can tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. And that’s not even the most amazing thing she does with--”
Johnny put up a hand. “Spare the details, would ya?”
“”If your sure you don’t wanna know.”
“Suit yourself. So I’ll see ya tomorrow at the station.”
“I’ll be there,” he assured.
As Chet turned to leave, he noticed the green hat on the floor.
“You oughtta put that back on,” he pointed out. “It goes with the tie.”
With that he left while Johnny stood watching. As soon as his car was gone from the lot, Gage closed the door and made his way back to the couch on somewhat wobbly legs, mumbling.
“He gives me a ride to a party, stays longer than we agreed and tells me I should’ve left sooner. . .and on top of that, he gets the girl. Man. . .”
After getting another drink of water, Johnny settled in on the couch again. He looked up at the ceiling, wondering how many hours it would take to get the mental images of Chloe, her knotted cherry stems and Chet out of his mind.
That’s even worse than the hangover. . .
Now he truly was in misery.
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