A – 1

“What’s that awful smell?” Henry thought before he opened his eyes. He had been dead asleep a few seconds ago, but as soon as his eyes focused he new something was not right. As he slowly rose to sit up on the bed, he spied the source of at least one of the components of the offending odor that woke him. It was an ashtray on the night stand, overflowing with cigarette butts. Another component of the stench seemed to be originating from the bed itself, the sour stink of sweat and dander.
“Where…?” his thought trailed off in his head as his brain suddenly became alert and tried to process his environment. His head nearly spun off as he looked about the room. Nothing looked familiar to him. Then it hit him.
“This isn’t my bedroom” He thought.
As he scanned the room again, a feeling of dread came over him and he felt the first throb of a headache.
“What the fuck happened last night?” He asked himself.
The room was small and unkept. There were clothes of varying levels of cleanliness in piles around the floor. Next to the bed was a cheap night stand on which sat the smelly ashtray, as well as an assortment of change, a glass of water, a reading lamp and a generic alarm clock radio that could be well over twenty years old. Nothing looked unusual, but everything was unfamiliar. As his headache grew, Henry held his head in his hands and tried to recall the previous night.
He felt a wave of nausea hit him as the memories unclouded in his mind. It was a stream of vague but regretful things. A dark and loud bar, strangers’ voices, a youthful bartender pouring shots of something colorful, a drunken drive to parts unknown, and Lisa’s face.
“Oh shit,” Henry cursed. “I need to get out of here!” He thought.
Henry sprang from the bed and realized that he was stark naked. He grabbed the nearest pair of pants he assumed were his, and as he put them on observed something strange on his leg. The dark of the bedroom and the shock of being in that unknown place had kept him from noticing earlier. It was a tattoo, a big one. It took up almost his entire calf, from knee to ankle. Then he saw his arm. In a state of awe, Henry pulled his pants up quickly and sought out the bathroom.
“How did this happen? How drunk did I get? How am I supposed to explain this?”
The bathroom was a shabby place as well. It seemed hard to believe it was a young women’s apartment, either she had a male roommate or was a complete slob. There was an abundance of hair clippings and soap scum in and around the sink. The toilet’s porcelin had yellowed and so had the seat, one of those one-time plush but now flattened and cracked toilet seats that pinch your ass when you sit on it. He was beginning to think this may not be Lisa’s place.
It took Henry a few minutes of confusion and intense staring in order for the image in the mirror to make sense. It was him, his reflection, only different. His hair was shorter and less balding. His ears had huge holes in the lobes and hung limp. He was also covered in tattoos, both arms and legs with a few more here and there. A strange depersonalization hit him and suddenly he felt as if he were looking at a stranger.
“Who is that? Who am I? Is that me or am I me?” He pondered for a minute or two.
Then, as suddenly as the feeling came, it went and his mind was filled with more pressing issues.
“What is going on? How did this happen? I must be dreaming.”
He pinched himself but did not wake up from the dream. He threw water on his face, smacked himself hard and looked back at his reflection, but nothing changed.
“Still here,” he sighed.
After a long drink straight out of the faucet, Henry remembered the he was in someone else’s home and might not be alone. He stuck his head out the bathroom door.
“Hello?” He asked loudly. “Is anyone here?”
There was no reply.
The combination of headache and nausea had grown enough to overpower the search for answers. Henry was familiar with the typical hangover, but this was something beyond the normal experience. He wasn’t sure if the normal cure of aspirin, water and crackers would work on this one, but it was a start.
He opened the medicine cabinet above the sink and saw some tylenol in the back. As he reached in to grab the aspirin, his hand knocked a prescription pill bottle off the shelf and into the sink. Henry reached down to pick it up and his eyes were immeadiately drawn to the contents.
“Vicodin? Nice! This will help.” He thought, as he turned the bottle to read the label.
Hydrocodone w/Acetaminophen 5/500mg
Dorsett, Henry C.
6901 Seaward Rd. Apt 7 Madison, WI 54777
Henry stared at the label, dumbfounded. He read the label three more times.
It made no sense. His heart was pounding as hard as his headache, and his mouth became dry as a desert.
A million thoughts raced through his brain trying to think of a rational explanation of how any of this could be possible, but nothing made sense.
“What the fuck is going on?” He asked himself again.