I Woke, All Alone (Aftermath of an Alcoholic Evening) (novel excerpt)

It was definitely sometime in the early morning. Of what hour, Harry wasn’t certain. He tentatively climbed to his feet and searched his pockets for a pack of cigarettes. He found one, though there were only a couple left, both of them crooked but not quite broken.
                He had woken upon the dew-covered grass in Buckinghamshire Park without any recollection of how he had actually gotten there. The last coherent memory he possessed was of pouring around half the bottle of Coke out in the gutter to make room for the whiskey. Everything after that was somewhat of a blur. He raked the depths of his brain for any clues of what happened after that, and found only a series of stuttering images. Blurred streetlights, a bloody tee-shirt, cigarette burns, and an elderly man’s voice, shouting threats of calling the police. It must have been one hell of a night, that much he could gather.
                There was no sign of Adam. Harry figured that he must have actually made it back to the house. Either that, or he had gotten himself arrested or abducted by the mothership.
                Harry walked towards the fountain that had just about caused him to get his ass kicked twelve years before. Though he couldn’t hold too much of a grudge against the nubile water nymph, if it wasn’t for her he would never had met T-Bone. Harry had a flashback to the liquor store, where they had run into him, and he was pretty sure that he had given them the whiskey free of charge. That guy had a heart of pure gold.
                He stopped over the fountain, cupping his hands and dipping them into the murky green water that lay stagnant and pungent. He splashed his face and sucked a deep gasp of air into his lungs. It stank like shit, but it helped his aching head.
                Shit’s been kind of weird around here lately
                        The sentence just seemed to pop into his head, which surprisingly, wasn’t such a strange occurrence for Harry. He found, at times like the twilight zone between waking and sleeping (or times like the present: a hangover) he would often be visited by these phantom voices. He wasn’t sure if it was a common phenomenon, it wasn’t exactly the type of thing you ask somebody. But this time seemed a little different.
                It took him a few seconds to click, but he did. It wasn’t a totally random sentence that just happened to pop into his jaded mind; it had been spoken by T-Bone the previous night.
                What did he mean, “shit’s been kind of weird around here lately?” Like how? As in a plague of zombies? Or maybe the mothership really had decided to pay a visit to the small town of Eltham, Massachusetts. Though, deep down Harry knew that he was just conjuring up ridiculous scenarios to avoid tackling the subject head on. Both himself and Adam had had strange dreams, and the goat that ran out in front of the car, they could definitely fall quite comfortably into the category of weird shit.
                All would be revealed in time, whether Harry wanted it to or not.

Harry found Adam passed out on the sofa in front of the television wearing nothing but a pair of cotton boxer shorts. In other circumstances, he would have seemed quite pitiful, but considering that he had not only made it back to the house, but actually managed to undress even partway, Harry thought he had done quite well for himself. He prodded his friend in the side with a finger. Adam moaned and swiped out blindly.
                Harry repeated this action several times until Adam eventually regained consciousness. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. ‘What the hell happened last night?’
                ‘That’s what I was intending on asking you buddy,’ Harry laughed. ‘I woke up in the fucking park with absolutely no recollection of how I got there. I remember the liquor store and then going to the gas station for Coke and snacks, but after that everything is pretty much one big blur.’
                ‘You woke up in the park? Wow.’
                ‘Yeah I know right. So what do you remember?’
                ‘Not much, but my I feel like somebody hit me in the head with a bag of bricks.’
                ‘We’ll go find some breakfast and some coffee soon man.’
                ‘Oh shit. T-Bone. Man, I was so fucked up.’
                ‘It’s okay, so was I. I’m sure T-Bone didn’t care, he did give us a bottle of Jameson’s, or at least, I think he did.’
                Adam laughed and slid his legs off of the couch. ‘You must have been so confused waking up in the park.’
                ‘Tell me about it buddy. Anyway, I’m gonna go hit the shower and get changed. See you in a bit.’
                ‘Yeah man, that sounds like a good idea, I think I’ll do the same after you.’
                Harry grabbed a change of clothes from his suitcase, and then headed to the bathroom.

There’s nothing like the blast of hot water against the skin of a person who has been visited by their old friend ‘The Hangover’. It washes away and cleanses the sins of the nighttime, leaving one baptized in the morning light that cuts through the bathroom window. Or, that’s how Harry looked at it anyway. At the very least it left you feeling a hell of a lot better than when you first turned on the faucet.
                He toweled off, sprayed some deodorant over his naked body, and got dressed. He found himself wondering why is it that people have housewarmings. The concept seemed a little messed up, yeah he understood the appeal of alcohol in an exciting new environment, but more often than not, you would drink more than you should have and thus, ended up in a state like he had woken to the next morning. So, the first day in your new home would be spent feeling ill and on your death bed. You may as well have moved into an infirmary instead of a house.
                He opened the bathroom door and headed back into the living room. Adam had fallen back asleep. He couldn’t say that he blamed him. ‘Hey Adam, shower’s free.’
                Adam stirred and sat up. ‘Okay.’ He looked like the living dead.
                ‘We’ll head down to the diner when you’re ready.’
                ‘Okay man.’
                Adam shuffled off to the bathroom, leaving Harry on the couch to smoke a cigarette and try to find the missing puzzle pieces of the previous night.

Annie’s Diner hadn’t changed the tiniest bit since both Harry and Adam had set foot in it years before. The scratched up tables still stood in the upholstered booths, the off-white walls were still fly-specked and stained, and old Annie was still serving up the best coffee in town.
                They ordered (two plates of bacon and eggs, and coffee) and the elderly woman recognized them.
                ‘Great Caesar’s ghost! If it ain’t Harry Goddamn Edwards and Adam Goddamn Jones! Ain’t seen you boys for goddamn years, what you doin’ back in this old shit hole?’  
                ‘Still swearing like a sailor Annie.’
                ‘Damn right, but you didn’t answer my question did you, you little snot-rag.’
                ‘You know, just decided to spend a little time back in the old town.’
                ‘Idiots. How’s your parent’s?’
                ‘They’re good, mine are over in England at the moment and Adam’s are still down in Florida soaking up the sun.’
                ‘Lucky for some. You shouldn’t came back boys, nothin’ but trouble ‘round here lately, somethin’s a-brewin’ I tell ya.’
                ‘Hopefully some coffee.’
                ‘Smart ass. You’ll get your goddamn coffee soon, right now we’re tryna have a little pow-wow ain’t we?’
                ‘We sure are Annie. So what do you mean, something’s brewing?’
                ‘I mean things have gotten a little strange around here, stranger than normal that is. Folks have seen dead folks walkin’ the streets at night, crap like that, and there’s just a feelin’ in the air – like the calm before a big storm hits, y a know what  mean.’
                ‘I think I do Annie.’
                ‘I had weird dreams before I came here,’ Adam stated, rubbing his beard.
                ‘See, see I told’ya. Strange happenings son. All started since Frank Holstein - that historian fellow, found that tunnel thing in the library grounds. Said he was lookin’ for artifacts that pre-dated the new library buildin’, he found an underground room or somethin’, though folks think he’s holdin’ somethin’ back. As I said, strange fuckin’ happenings. Bad news, I tell ya boys. You’d do well to just pack up and go back south.’
                ‘Tunnel? We hadn’t heard anything about that yet.’
                ‘Yeah, was in the paper and all. Always said that Holstein was a kooky Sonofabitch.’
                ‘I think I remember him. Tall skinny guy, little chin-beard, horn-rimmed glasses? He came and gave a talk to our class once on “The Mysterious Origins of Eltham”, I think the teacher expected something a little more accurate.’
                ‘Yeah everyone knows this town’s history is as loose as a two-penny fuck.’
                Both men had to stifle giggles.
                ‘Ain’t no laughin’ matter boys, no not at all.’
                ‘Sorry Annie. Guess we haven’t really grown up.’
                ‘I could’a told ya that, but you’re right. Now go park your pimply asses in a booth and let me cook you some breakfast.’

Annie’s coffee was still the best coffee that Harry had ever tasted. And her bacon and eggs weren’t anything short of amazing. The remnants of his hangover had dissipated completely with the last bacon rind and bitter mouthful of strong coffee.
                Harry drained the raining dregs from the bottom of the chipped white mug and sighed. ‘Man, that did that hit the stop or what?’
                ‘Mmph, it sure did.’ Adam agreed, swallowing a mouthful of buttered toast.
                ‘But on a slightly more serious note, what do you make of what Annie said about things being weird. It’s not the first time we’ve heard that since we’ve arrived back here.’
                ‘At least she didn’t think we were gay.’
                ‘Good point. But still, I can’t shake the feeling that things are gonna get a lot weirder in the coming weeks.’
                ‘Yeah, me too man. Like, I just don’t know what to make of it all yet, ya know.’
                ‘Yeah, I know buddy. Trust me. I’m actually a little freaked out. Hopefully T-Bone gets in touch soon, we can sink some beers and try to piece things together.’
                ‘What did she say about that historian guy?’
                ‘That he found a tunnel or something in the grounds of the library, and shit got strange from then on. Or something like that anyway.’
                ‘We could always pay him a visit.’
                ‘Man, we’re beginning to sound like the fucking Hardy Boys. But seriously, I think whatever’s happening is – or already has, affected us.’
                ‘Yeah, and if shit gets too whacked out we can always call Scully and Mulder.’
                Both men laughed and waited for Annie to refill their coffee cups.