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Backup – Part 5: Weary Wanderer

By October 6, 2014Backup Novel

The was a loud static hurricane of noise blasting deep into my eardrums that i became all too aware of so very quickly when the  voicemail reminder on my phone blasted though my restless dreams and forced me awake. I couldn’t figure out where i was at for a moment or where the hell this sound was coming from. The big problem was my eyes were closed tightly because the first time i had opened them the light from the sun blinded them painfully.

It turned out i had fallen asleep on the couch. I was asleep on my back and had the hood of my sweatshirt pulled over my head so far that it covered my eyes. As far as i could tell Bob wasn’t here anymore, he did tend to leave at very odd hours of the night, something i never really did understand. You would be sitting there on the couch with him enjoying a few beers at 3am and suddenly you’re waking up from a slight doze at 4am and he has disappeared and the apartment would suddenly be neat and clean again as if he had never been there to begin with.

After a few minutes and several piercing beeps on my phone reminding me of a missed voicemail (as well as that fucking persistent hurricane loud static) i had just too much noise to bear. I pulled my hood off of my eyes and opened them very slowly, with what could barily qualify for a squint at first. Even that slight break in the seal of my eyelids was almost too much light for me to handle. From what i gathered from the first and very brief glance Bob had decided to utilize the sun as the medium of delivery for his practical joke. He left all of my window blinds WIDE open to give my hangover its maximum effect. He had unplugged the video game console from the tv and turned up the volume so that the static from no signal would sound like a hard hail storm on a tin roof. And the final piece of his masterfully thought out practical joke? A note on the table that said, “Get a job you bum! Love Bob”

Clever. To think he came up with an ironic joke while that fucked up. I just shook my head which i immediately regretted doing as it caused an immediate burst of pain in my temples, eyes, and the back of my head. I sat still for a moment with my eyes closed again and waited for the pain to pass. After few shallow breaths though gritted teeth i could feel the pain decrease. I have heard a lot of different home remedies for a hangover but nothing really works on them that I have experienced successfully yet. Mainly getting some bread in my stomach and sipping on room temperature water was my solution.

And with that in mind i made my way gingerly to the kitchen for my bread and water. I made sure to shut off the tv on the way in. Suddenly the whole apartment was deadly quiet. I could hear the occasional wine or roar of an accelerating engine from the intersection next to the building but otherwise it was quiet. It was quiet enough that when I opened the fridge I cringed at how loud the suction sound of the breaking seal was. The light clicking on sounded like a firecracker with one sharp POP as the springloaded door switch popped out. The bread bag’s annoying crinkle agitated my head even more. It’s a wonder how crippling a night of forgetting who you are can be to you the next morning as your brain punishes you for what you’ve done.

I ended up putting on my sun glassesand closed the blinds. I also stuffed some headphones into my ears but didn’t turn on any music, it was mainly to drown out any extra noise that cropped up while i was sitting cross legged on the couch. I stared at my blurry reflection in the blank powerless screen of the television in front of me. I felt alone. The hightened hearing from my hangover induced sensitivity to sound, even though it occasionally tortured me when a car outside squeeked its tires, mainly it made it very obvious just how empty and quiet my apartment was.

I just sat there staring at my blurry copy. Occasionally taking a small sip of my water or a bite of bread that i carefully chewed too long. Every bite and swallow was a chore. Each successive piece of bread made me feel better for a moment, and then the acidic aftertaste would surface and my stomach would turn. I just had to eat enough that my rocky stomach would settle and i would be okay. Just getting to that point was never an easy thing.

Eventually my stomach decided to give in and allow me the mobility i deserved to have without feeling a constant urge to vomit. I stood up slowly and took great care not to unsettle my stomach. I figured i should probably shower and go outside for a while. Maybe take a walk and see where i could end up at. It had been a few years since i was able to get away from my job and i figured the cool fall air might help me get though my hangover. At the very least it would give me some time to evaluate my situation and make a plan for what i needed to do.

The front door of the building squeeked open, it was poorly maintained and was covered in handprints and dirt. The door would get caught by the wind and blow open sometimes, letting in a good gargage bag size amount of leaves into the hallway. The management decided that instead of fixing the spring that held the door shut they would just put a little hook latch on the door. The problem was no one, myself included, cared enough to latch the door shut when they went through it.

The wind tugged the door out of my hand and it slammed open. Leaves shot down the hallway. I just stared at the door for a moment and then walked off.

Besides the rather gusty wind constantly pushing me around it was a perfect day. The sun was shining bright which did bother me a little but with my hood pulled far over my head and my sun glasses on it wasn’t that big of a deal. The sky looked like a computer desktop background, there were small clouds drifting across the sky, occasionally blocking the sun making keeping my eyes open a little more bearable but it wasn’t exactly something you could get used to, by the time your eyes adjust to this the cloud would move on and the day would brighteb considerably again.

I wasn’t really paying attention to where i was walking, which makes sense considering I wasn’t really in my own head. That voice inside your head that we call our thoughts? He was gone. I was wandering like a mindless drone with a destination but no memory of where it would be that i was going. My body was acting on impulse, my direction was determined by the path of least resistance. Wherever more than a handful of people were i would avoid. This brought me through abandoned playgrounds, shadowy alleyways, and side roads that only the residents that live there use.

My mind didn’t register where i was or where i was going. It just made sure i didn’t bounce off anyone or trip over any bumps or dips in my path.

I probably wandered for a few hours. The sun was hanging low in the sky when i became aware of myself again. Instead of blue and filled with clouds the sky was now pink, orange, and gold. The clouds were gone and the wind was now a pleasant breeze and less of a minor hurricane.

It took me a few seconds to find my bearings, i had walked so long i wasn’t really sure where i was at. It definitely wasn’t a part of town that i frequented. But after a few seconds of looking around i noticed a subway entrance about a little ways up the road from where I was standing. I glanced across the street from the subway and realized that i somehow had ended up in the neighborhood of that coffeeshop again.

I hesitated for a moment, i wasn’t sure if i should go in or not. It wasn’t the financial aspect, i could care less about having no income right then. It was mostly that i was wondering if Jane was in there. The nice barista girl from the day before, i wondered if she would think i liked her if i showed up again two days in a row. Looking back i’m kind of glad that i was more worried about a girl liking me than the hell i had flung my life into.

There was a slight gust that snapped me out of my internal debate, i could smell the coffee waiting for me, the wonderful aroma was oozing out of the front door, like a fishing net set to capture the money of the many caffeine addicts that were housed in this city. The welcoming smell of coffee brought me off the fence and into the coffeeshop. As i pulled open the door another blast of the coffee aroma splashed over me, accompanied by the warmth of the heated air inside. It actually seemed bright in there, which i thought was strange because of how dim it seemed the day before. The music style had changed, it was still obscure but it had less of an acoustic/electronic sound and more of a soft rock flair to it. Instead of my acquaintance Jane smiling behind the counter reading some magazine there was a kind looking guy with a yellow red and green beanie on. His brown hair poked though its open weave. He was wearing a white polo and a black apron with the shop logo printed proudly across the front. He was facing away and seemed to be occupied with a blender that needed scrubbing. The door made a low whistle as it swung shut from the wind blowing by. Hearing this he turned around to great me.

“Hey how’s it going?” He had a tenor voice that would on certain words dip temorarily into bass. He smiled when i shrugged at his first question and asked his second, “what can i get you? Its happy hour right now so any alcoholic beverages are half off.”

“Wait you guys have alcohol?” I was incredulous, i never saw anything about alcohol on any of the signs.

“Well technically beer and wine,” he clarified, “but we can make mimosas and smoothies with champagne in them is that’s what you’re into.”

I laughed, “I’ll just take a beer, whatever’s cheap.” He turned away to a fridge i hadn’t noticed before with a glass door obviously displaying all of their alcohol. I had either been lost in my head or I had been distracted by Jane’s face but i never saw it until that moment. It’s funny how your eyes can have selective sight.

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