Puke on my Fingers

I wake in the trunk of my car covered in puke. I don’t remember puking. I don’t remember getting in this trunk but it’s where I live. It takes a minute to learn but I’m happy to know I haven’t shit my pants. I’d jack one to a Pop-Tarts box but I’m filthy enough as it is. I roll from the puke and drift back to sleep. Later I wake hot but thankful the yak doesn’t yet stink. I hear t-ballers practicing in the field ten feet from my car. Dammit. I don’t know how I’ll get to the front seat without them noticing the thirty year old man covered in sick. I reach in the trunk for my phone and find undies full of puke. It’s starting to come back to me. Waking in the middle of the night. A desperate search for a bag to fill with vomit. There was no bag but lots of dirty laundry. I puked into my underwear.

The previous night I got drunk and tried crossing a bridge over the Colorado River to downtown Austin. I didn’t make it. I’d started my night with a comedy show at a coffee shop. There I drank not coffee but beer. Afterwards I went to my car to pour wine from its native box to a can of Rockstar. I filled it, drank it, then filled another. I made the quarter mile trek from my car home to the bridge that would carry me downtown. There I hoped to enact my weekend ritual: Search for pizza and beers to scoop off trash cans. I eat a lot of half chewed food, drink a lot of half drank drinks. Sometimes someone has stubbed a cig in their beer and it’s down my throat before I notice.

I didn’t make it to downtown because I came across a drum circle on the pedestrian bridge. I don’t know their purpose but it drew me in. It seemed most arrived on bikes. They didn’t look homeless in the way many drum circles do. The kind I’d see in downtown Portland or aside treelines in Austin. Here there was a man and woman with their dog. A white haired hippie. A shirtless man in a bike helmet stood while hammering away. Another shook maracas. Palms rapped against drums tucked between legs. A dozen more formed a circle, filled the air with the ebb and flow of their basic beats.  A woman circled the circle, dancing to their rhythms. Her dog sat at the edge in its cage. I was kinda drunk so hung back and watched. I looked off to downtown lights, the train bridge peppered in graffiti, the still waters of the river below. I slurped my wine then decided I needed more. It was early. I could run to my car, refill, then make it downtown.

I topped off my wine can then returned to the circle and parked nearby. A woman sat on the other half of my bench. Her face was painted in makeup making her look younger than her years. Maybe early thirties. Older than me but not old. Pretty. No sign of a drink in her hand. She didn’t seem scuzzy enough to offer up a hit of the shit I held. I don’t remember how but we started talking. I think it was me that started.

There’s gaps of time lost to alcohol but I recall speaking on a separate bench far from the circle. We’d switched locations to look at the water and listen to drums. I’ve been living by a motto of “No one knows me here.” It’s freeing for social interactions. Still, I haven’t approached a real live woman in ages. I’m shy. Keep to myself. A solo ghost flitting across the country. Fucking people off the internet then disappearing to the ether.

The new motto has helped me fade from that life. Still a solo ghost. Still sticking to strangers. But now they’re in front of me rather than a screen. At least sometimes. But I’m rusty. I remember the woman going back to the drum circle and I don’t know if I bothered or just bored her. I wonder if guilt is appropriate because I hate bothering anyone. I don’t remember. I know I hit the point where it was hard to form thoughts, my tongue to speak clearly. I normally don’t get so wrecked but there I was. I left the bridge in retreat to my car. Too drunk to make it downtown. The lit city scrapers so close but me too gone to get there. Now I’m in the car, it’s morning, and I’m covered in puke.

I get out of the trunk and assess the situation. There’s puke on my shoulder. It’s a mix of orange and green, evidence of the vegetables I’d eaten. I search my mind and find a few memories, specifically making myself yak in the park by my car. Finger fucking my throat ’til eruption. An attempt to make the alcohol exit me. The poison I imbibed. I brush the puke off my shoulder and get out the car to check the trunk. A porridge of puke is pooled to the pillow. It’s thick, creamy, and colorful. I’m thankful I didn’t roll into it. I use napkins to scoop the sick. Shake the full load from my undies. I spray my trunk with Febreze ’til it’s as if this never happened. Then I smell my fingers. They reek of sick. It’s a smell that’ll stay for days. A reminder. A reprimand.