Authors: Carl Oliver
Drink in Case of Emergency
By Carl Oliver
© 2014 Carl Oliver
Sunlight gleamed through the glass patio door into the honeymoon suite on the fourteenth floor of the JW Marriott Hotel. The blinding sunlight caused Tyler McGovern to slowly open his hazel eyes. He felt his eyelids resist at first, sticking as if held by some unseen glue. Tyler’s mouth was hot, dry and rough. The tacky eyes, sticky mouth and dull pounding in his head quickly drew him to a conclusion. He was hungover, and from the rumbling in his stomach, this might be one for the record books.
Tyler rolled onto his side and pushed himself into a seated position. He was sleeping on a red sofa in the corner of the honeymoon suite. Trying to remember the events of the last twelve hours, he panned his surroundings and saw his companions spread throughout the room. Four curled together on the bed, one sprawled facedown on the floor, wearing a black tuxedo coat without pants. Tyler paused a moment, trying to shake free the fog in his brain.
Was someone missing?
Tyler swung his feet around to the floor, pushing over a pile of empty beer cans in the process. His black socks sunk into moist carpet; saturated with what he hoped was stale beer. Tyler noticed he was wearing a tuxedo as well.
Was this Armani?
He didn’t have time to check the tags; his stomach lurched a final warning.
Standing and stumbling across the large room, Tyler pushed the bathroom door open and hugged the cool porcelain toilet as the remaining contents of last night’s ‘celebration of life’ spewed forth from his mouth. With eye’s watering, and nose burning from the bile, Tyler’s stomach heaved again and again, emptying his stomach into the toilet. Blindly reaching up and fumbling around on the countertop, he finally found a crisp, clean towel and mopped the tears from his eyes and the dribbling saliva from his lips and nose.
“Fuck...” Tyler mumbled the lie he had told himself at least a hundred times, “I’m never drinking again.”
The full force of the hangover was hitting home now. The dull ache in his head had turned to a full roar, pounding in time with his heartbeat. Sweat began collecting on his brow, and for a moment he considered trying to pass out on the cool tile floor of the bathroom. The overwhelming scent of regurgitated rum filled his nostrils and he felt his gut turning again. Gotta get out of the bathroom, he thought, struggling awkwardly to his feet and up to the sink.
He let the water run for just a moment before splashing it on his face. Pooling it in his cupped hands, he sipped on the tepid water, clearing his mouth of the acrid taste of rum flavored vomit. Glancing up into the mirror, Tyler had two distinct thoughts:
The first thought was that he looked as bad as he felt. The scratches above his left eye were healing; but the butterfly bandages that had been covering them were hanging limp, so he pulled them free. His lower lip was swollen and scabbed, although he couldn’t remember when that had happened. He assumed that it was from last night. The pain was dulled by the throbbing in his head and the burn of stomach acid in his throat, but it felt fresh, and the scab looked new.
The second thought that struck Tyler was that he wasn’t alone in the bathroom.
Through the mirror Tyler could see a single black Converse sneaker sticking out of the edge of the whirlpool bathtub. Stepping away from the mirror and looking in the tub, Tyler found his missing friend, Chris Roberts.
Lying face-down, his head near the drain of the bath, his legs bent at the knee so his feet stuck awkwardly up in the air and out from the tub. Only one foot was still within the Converse, the other foot wore only a black and green argyle sock. The other sneaker was not lost, it dangled in the air from its mate. The two shoes were tied together by the laces. Tyler pieced together what must have happened.
Chris fell asleep first, breaking the cardinal rule of passing out while still wearing shoes. Tyler assumed that someone in the group decided to tie his shoelaces together. This sounded like something he himself would do. Chris, waking to relieve his bladder at some point in the night, would have tripped and fallen on his face. After such a rude awakening, he must have decided it was easier to tug his foot free of the shoe than to attempt untying the knots that bound them together. After relieving himself, Chris must have decided that the tub looked like a safer place to sleep so he wouldn’t suffer from further shenanigans.
Tyler sighed as he stepped back out of the bathroom and back into the morning light of the disheveled honeymoon suite. He could see wide dark stains in the carpet around the overturned coffee table next to the sofa, likely from the cans of cola that Tyler assumed Chris had been mixing the rum. Based on the strength of his hangover right now, Tyler knew that Chris was in charge of mixing the drinks last night. Tyler’s stomach churned a little more as he swore under his breath “Shit...I really can’t handle my rum.”
His eyes continued to survey the room. The four generic hotel room paintings had been pulled from the wall and were likely thrown from the window. Tyler assumed this because he couldn’t see any sign of them in the room, and he had a vague memory of Scott Paulson doing this last night. Sometime in the night, Scott had adopted a philosophy about not wanting hotel room artwork be the art in which society was defined by in the future. It was too bland, too safe, and far too reprinted.
Scott got annoyingly philosophical when he drank. Philosophical, was that the right word? He turned into a douchbag, that was the right word.
Finally Tyler looked over to the bed and saw his best friend, Justin Lindel, intertwined with the three women the group had met on...what day was it again? Tyler couldn’t even remember what day of the week it was supposed to be, much less what day of the month it was, not that it mattered anymore.
Dragging his wet socks across the rough carpet, Tyler moved through the carnage that he and his friends had created and toward the patio door which the sun’s light shown through. He pulled the door and it glided quietly open. Stepping into the cool Spring morning air, Tyler looked out over the balcony. The sun glimmered off of Lake Michigan, and he could understand why they had made this particular room the Honeymoon suite; the view was spectacular. His head was still pounding hard enough to make him wince a little as his eyes squinted in the bright light of morning. Tyler thought about how many lucky couples must have shared this same sunrise view that he was taking in right now. Hundreds, maybe thousands of couples woke up as husband and wife for the first time and shared this sunrise together.
Following this first thought, Tyler also had a realization: There was a good chance he might be the last person to enjoy the sunrise from this Honeymoon Suite. Tyler looked down at the empty Chicago streets below, and despite the overwhelming hangover that made every part of his body ache, a small smile crept across his face.
Two Weeks Earlier
Tyler found himself sitting in a comfortable chair on a crowded passenger train. This was strange, because Tyler actually hated trains, as far as he knew. Next to him, an old woman was snoring lightly. Outside the window, the dull pink and orange light on the horizon told Tyler that it was dusk, although he wasn’t sure exactly what time, or how he had gotten on this train, for that matter. A few people in the train car were chatting quietly, but Tyler couldn’t make out any specific words, only a mumbling background noise.
The train moved noiselessly through the evening, and Tyler felt himself drifting off, about to join the ranks of the old woman next to him. As Tyler’s muscles were relaxing into the first stages of sleep, a twitch jerked him awake.
For a moment, he thought it was just a sleeping twitch, but then he heard the sound. A deafening sound of screeching metal tore through the car. Tyler’s mind began began to race.
Maybe it was the brakes? No, they weren’t slowing down, he would have felt that. It sounded like the train car was scraping against something outside.
The sound grew louder, forcing Tyler to cover his ears with his hands. He looked around to see the other passengers’ reactions. Everyone else in the train seemed not to notice the ear splitting noise. They all continued to sleep, read, and chat quietly. Tyler was about to shake the woman next to him, to ask if she could hear it, when the train pitched to the side.
Tyler fell from his seat and into the aisle. The woman next to him fell half into his seat, and half on top of him. Tyler was struggling to get to his feet when he glanced out of the train’s window again.
What he saw made no sense. The horizon he could see a moment ago was disappearing, being replaced by darkness. As his weight shifted he felt a moment of panic as his world was turning, and he began to fall.
In a small, gray, nondescript duplex, an alarm clock was beeping. This isn’t to say that gray isn’t descriptive, it’s just the only word one would use to describe the duplex. Gray, and maybe boring.
Tyler McGovern’s arm swung blindly at this alarm, missing on the first few tries and flopping against the nightstand like a fish out of water. Finally, his hand connected and silenced the hated machine.
Tyler had hated this alarm clock ever since it was handed down to him in ninth grade when his brother, Rick, went off to college. His brother had, of course, also hated the alarm clock and was glad to be rid of it.
“No classes before eleven anyway.” Rick had said sarcastically as he plugged the alarm clock into the wall outlet beside Tyler’s bed. Their mother had made Tyler keep it because ‘We don’t waste something that’s perfectly good in this household.’
Because of this long standing family rule against wasting electronics, even hated ones, Tyler had suffered through his high school years with the machine, and by the time he went off to college he was so used to it he brought it along with him.
So it had been, for the last twelve years, that every single morning, Tyler’s first thought of the day, was remembering that he hated his alarm clock. It was nothing out of the ordinary that the clock did. It kept time well enough, it never went off early or late. It just had one of those sounds. A noise that was in the appropriate pitch and decibel range for the human ear to generate perfect and absolute hatred. Like the sound of nails on a chalkboard, or listening to someone defend the merits of a musical genre you despise. The one redeeming benefit to this hatred, it made the clock exceedingly effective at actually waking him up for the day.
Pulling his feet over the side of the bed and to the floor, Tyler sat for a moment on the edge of the bed. Rubbing out his crusty eye boogers, Tyler realized that he felt less and less rested as the week went on, despite getting the same seven and a half hours of sleep every night. It wasn’t the first time he had realized this phenomena. Unbeknownst to him, it would be the last.
Tyler felt the dry, rough carpet between his toes as he pushed himself into a standing position. Stretching his arms overhead, Tyler felt a small and familiar pain in his neck that had been there for several months now. He assumed that it must be due to the mattress or pillow he was using, and he kept intending to stop and pick up a new organic, fair trade, bleach free, cruelty free pillow. But, as with most nagging problems, he remembered it only long enough to bug him, and never did take care of it.
Tyler moved to the bathroom and went through his morning routine. First, sit down on the toilet for his morning piss. He was never sure why he got in the habit of sitting for this particular emission, but he blamed it on feeling exhausted. Second, a quick shower with his organic essential oils and shampoo. Next came brushing his teeth with his Electromax™, electric toothbrush, because it’s what his dentist (and 9 out of 10 dentists) recommended. Finally was the task of dressing for the day.
Standing in front of his open closet doors, Tyler began this arduous first decision of the day; a decision that took him an average of 3 minutes and 25 seconds now, not that anyone was keeping track. It was always difficult to dress up an average frame. He really needed to go to the gym, Tyler reflected, that would make choosing clothes easier.
What to wear? Sea green dress shirt? No... he had worn it last Thursday, he didn’t want to get into a pattern. What about the blue sweater with a dress shirt beneath it? No...he had meetings today and didn’t want to be too hot, a sweater wouldn’t work. How about a yellow polo? Yeah...it was Thursday, it would be a good ease into casual Friday, and Beth had complimented him on it last month.
Tyler had a simple rule with the clothes in his closet. If he didn’t get a compliment on a shirt in the first three times of wearing it, he returned it. He remembered seeing the tip on a fashion show on TV, and had stuck to it since. It was one of eight rules he had with items of his wardrobe.
Shuffling into the kitchen, Tyler stared into the refrigerator, imagining what his stomach wanted for breakfast. Nothing peaking his appetite, Tyler moved away from the ‘fridge and along to his pantry. Looking at his cereal boxes, he weighed his options. He always stacked his cereal with the nutrition labels out, to help him make healthier decisions (another tip from TV).
Should he go with the whole grain nutee-o’s, the multigrain snappy-pops, or the vitamin enriched sweety-loops? Tyler struggled with this decision for a full minute before pulling out the snappy-pops. He had heard somewhere that multigrain was just a buzzword and that it wasn’t actually that good for you, but he didn’t care. It “felt” like he was making the healthy choice.