Standing up from the couch, he swiped at his beer. Too inebriated to catch the bottle's neck with the first swipe, he gave up and slumped on the floor trying to collect himself.

'Is this how things were going to be?' He rolled onto his stomach, placing his nose to the carpet on its left side. His left eye was below the fibers and he could smell his dog's hair as if she had been there yesterday. But she was long gone. She'd been all he had left.

He lost all muscle control and urinated as he started to fall asleep. He had become such a drunk that he never blacked out. In fact, for the last month, eighteen cans of beer and five shots were needed just to get to sleep. Tonight he had met his quota, and more. This is where he would be throwing up tonight. He had big plans for the morning, however...

****

The combination of wanting to vomit, and bowels burning holes in everything below the waist can make the toughest man cry. And he was far from the toughest man. But this morning, he wanted to be a better man. Even though there had been accidents in the night, he dragged himself to the bathroom. His dog's hair stuck to his cheek and he left it there. After what felt like hours of sitting and kneeling in the bathroom, he fought his way to the shower. The water would do him some good, though he was out of shampoo. And soap.

Every orifice he owned expelled in that shower, including his pores, which seemed to leak alcohol. He could feel his body wanting to reject itself. Defecating while vomiting is one of the lower things a human can experience. It would not be his lowest moment. It would be fair to say that the moment would miss his top ten.

After his shower he would terminate his lease in that apartment in Topeka by email. It was a nice place, except that he had lived there. First, however, he would vomit as much as he could. Once he was out of the house the chance of a porcelain goddess without someone else's fluid on it was low.

When the biology work was done, he got onto the internet and booked the two tickets he would need. His savings were cashed, and he would need that two hundred dollars for food and housing until he got his life togeather. The tickets would max out his Mastercard. One would take him from Forbes Field Airport to JFK Airport. The other would take him to Navi Mumbai International Airport in India. Since the death of that dog, goals further than one drug away were considered long term. The purchase of a ticket to New York City would be considered a morning commute for many. For him that ticket was a trip to the top of Everest. The second ticket purchase came after another trip to the john and twelve wishes for a swift passing into death. If the first ticket had represented a mountain, this second one was a trip to the moon. The mornings are always brutal. But he booked that second ticket.

He dressed in a polo shirt and jean shorts. He owned three shirts, each with holes in the armpits, ragged collars, and covered in dog hair. But they were the best that he owned. And he would wear them proudly. The jean shorts had also seen better days. One pair was missing a back pocket and his underwear would be exposed. He decided not to pack those. After racing to the bathroom to dry heave for ten minutes, he drank water straight from the tap. He draught the water from the screen under the spout as if it were the source of life itself. He no longer owned a cup from which to drink, and craning his neck made him want to vomit again. No amount of water could satiate him. And this sudden influx of the clean cold liquid caused his gut to distend. He raced to the toilet and sat upon it while he threw up into the tub to his left. He returned to his packing.

Four pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, the shirts, and shorts were all that were worth taking. He collected some of the cleaner dog hair from the carpet and placed it in a plastic Zip-Lock bag. He got in his 1979 VW Rabbit hatchback and drove to the airport. On the way, he stopped four times at fast food restaurants. Shaking as he ran into each restroom, he expelled from both ends of his body. At each stop, he felt guilty and purchased coffee and potato products dipped in molten grease. Each stop made him feel physically better, but the thought of leaving bits of himself all over town unnerved him. He had not been up before ten in the morning since college at Stanford. He thought about that engineering degree he had left on the wall of his apartment. But he dismissed it as he had not bothered to pack items that he would not need in his new life.

At the airport, he left his car right in front of the terminal. An attendant yelled to him that he was not to leave his car there. The attendant was ignored. He didn't care what happened to that car. He only cared for his new life. And that car was not part of his new life. Presenting himself to the check-in counter, he was relieved when he found that he had remembered his passport. But two one way tickets caused the clerk to eye him with suspicion when he picked them up and didn't check a bag. But he received no resistance. He was white, male, and did not have a criminal record. He would always get by without too much scrutiny. He would have to wait six hours for his flight. His wait would be long enough to devour a Cinnabon, then race to the bathroom for another technicolor yawn next to two business men talking through their own shame.

By the time he arrived in New York, he had sweat through the best of his polo shirts. Not wanting to soil the others, he decided not to change. The ride in the plane was better than he had expected. At no point did he have to leave his seat. But the shaking had started to become apparent. He realized for the first time that he was going to have to withdraw from alcohol. The thought of this was unpleasant. Suddenly, he became embarrassed for all of the stupid decisions he had made. Every bad choice in his life became painstakingly clear to him. But he could no longer blame his drinking. He had been an asshole.

New York, like Washington DC, always has someone protesting something. It just so happened that people were protesting something that he had always wanted to believe in, but had been too apathetic to do so. He spent seven days camped out in front of the building owned by people who had done millions of Americans an injustice. The guilty party should be punished for their crimes. Within an hour of his arrival, he met some like-minded people who let him leech power from their laptops to keep his cell phone charged. He had one month of paid service left. After that he hoped never to use one again. But until then he would surf the internet, try to blog, and tweet his experiences. Most of the first day was spent, not with his brothers in protest, but in the port-a-john. He wanted to be counted, but he couldn't leave that blue box due to his withdrawal. He had stopped throwing up, but the diarrhea had him concerned. And the involuntary shaking of his hands was disconcerting. But by the second day, he was only leaving his compatriots once an hour or so to relieve himself. The shaking persisted, however, he was confused easily. A Wikipedia search told him that this was normal. He had to press on. Though he was sure if someone offered him any drug, he would take it. Luckily for him, no one did.

By the time he'd reached his seventh day of protesting, many of his physical ailments had gone away. It is a testament to the human body that it can take as much internal damage as it does. His hands still shook and his bowels still produced what he jokingly called "the 1.5." The joke was only told in his own head. He didn't know anyone well enough to share his bowel issues. But he had made friends with humans for the first time in over ten years. He wrote their information down in an email to himself. After he returned from India, he might call them. He told these new friends that he was getting over the loss of his best friend. He told them that he had been an alcoholic, but when "she" died, he lost control and was only now picking up the pieces. He couldn't admit that the female in question was a dog. And he hated himself for this weakness. His new friends fed him and gave him clothes for the next leg of his journey. He headed East without thinking twice about leaving them. He had to follow through with his plan. The plan had gotten him this sober. He had loaded his phone with mp3's of bands that his new friends loved. One band in particular made uplifting music that carried a lot of weight with him. They were from the same town his parents were from and for one reason or another, he found that comforting.

The flight to India was easier emotionally with the new music as its soundtrack. He still cried for most of it. He cried for a lot of things over those 16 hours. He cried for his failed human relationships; relationships with everyone from his parents, to his sister, and to the girls he had let down with his drug abuse. He cried because he felt sick. He cried for the music and its self-doubting lyricist. He cried for the plight of the pilot and flight attendants who had to work on flights like this, filled with people like him. He cried, mourning the loss of the rush that comes from chasing liquor with pot. He cried because he had forgotten to terminate his lease, and because he had left such a mess for his landlord. He cried for letting his boss down. He cried for the money he owed. He cried for his dog. He cried for her the most.

He arrived in Navi Mumbai International Airport and headed straight for Dharavi, a place he had only heard of because of two movies that made it to "the armpit of the Midwest." He had hated Kansas for as long as he could remember, but he didn't have to worry about that anymore. He was now on a different continent. He had landed in India. Even with his meager amount of American currency, he was able to procure many Rupees. He found a second floor hole to live in for less than a bus ticket and lay in bed for three days. He only ate fruit and bread for fear of dysentery, and drank nothing. He paid for bath water to be run daily. He could feel the last of the toxins leaving his body.

By his third week in India, it had been over a month since alcohol or hormone injected beef had crossed his lips. His mental state began to improve. He spoke daily with the woman who brought his bath water. She taught him Hindi as he tried to clear her of an accent. She wanted to work in the call centers to feed her family. But no one could understand her English.

Her name was Akuti. "It means princess," she told him often. She was anything but. He fell in love with her anyway, even though she was married. She was happily married.

It took months before he was able to consume the food and drink that was available, and he never exhausted the money he had brought. Within weeks he was fixing the local shanties for meals and rent. Once his Hindi was acceptable, he taught the locals English for extra money. He was free. He would fall in love with a beautiful woman. He would move back to America with her. He would repent to those he had committed offence against. Life would become bearable again. He would buy his first born a dog.

****

In the morning, he awoke from his reverie in a puddle of urine and vomit. Though the hairs of his late best friend remained, her smell was soiled by his self-abuse. He had lost her to cancer the year before. That dog had been his last friend. His family was dead or wrapped up in their lives. No one counted on him, and he had gone out of his way to be introverted and hateful to those around him. That is why his plan would work. No doctor had told him he had only six months to live. He had not been given a death sentence. Nothing in his life had changed sufficiently to warrant this sudden need for betterment. Despite his failed attempts at alcohol poisoning, his body was healthy. But he needed to grab that life by the long hairs and pull.

\r\n

He made it to the bathroom to urinate. He leaned against wall and didn't bother to aim. What made it into the toilet created bubbles that, as they popped, hurt his throbbing brain. He sat on the bathmat. It too was soiled with his shame. He thought to himself of Laozi and his very Confucius-esque saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." He whispered to himself. He had a lot of vomiting to do before buying plane tickets. And he really needed to terminate his lease.

Comments:

Well that was depressing...Very very good, but still depressing.

Well yes. It is depressing. I wrote everything up to New York one night a year ago. Then the rest Monday night. I liked the idea that the guy dreamed about something, then had to live it. I though it was good enough to post. So here it lives.

Or here it dreams.