Denver

By
I woke up in a fog from the night before. I can’t really remember too many of the details, but I do recall that at one point I thought I would be fine to drive. I don’t think I ended up going anywhere, but like I said, I can’t recall. I hope that one of my friends was smart enough to stop me from making a stupid decision. I get like that sometimes when I drink too much. Last night I was drinking vodka, straight up. Overall though, it wasn’t a total loss, I did get a chance to meet some new people.
One of the new characters I met called himself Doug. Do you remember that cartoon from the 90’s “Doug”? I used to love that show, and so did my new friend Doug, we talked about it for what seemed to me like hours. I wouldn’t know how long it really was my time perception is terrible when I’m sober, so after a night of partying, it’s way off. There was this girl I met there too, Marylou. She was a real down to earth kind of person, you know, the kind you can talk to for hours and hours about all that intellectual stuff. Who else was there? Well, there was Ron Hays, Jim something-or-other, and I think someone named Karen LaPoint too. I remember these names only and not a face or story to go with them. I really do hate not remembering things when I should.
Today is going to be a new day though, full of being sober. I really think that I can do it this time around. I know that even with Howard coming out there will be more temptation for me, but I will be strong. I will do it, I know I can. Today, later, maybe I will even throw away my bowls and bong, which would definitely stop me from getting high s often. I am excited now, knowing I will be clean for the first time in I can’t even remember how long. My old buddy Howard is coming up from Atlanta and wants me to show him some museums and everything else there is to do around here. Denver seems like it’s a boring place, but really, there’s a ton of things to do. At night there are the bars, but during the day you can walk around for hours exploring. When I first moved out here that’s all I did for a week straight, parks during the day and bars all night. After about a week though, I got tired of only partying, but now Howard is finally making it out.
Howard and I, back in Atlanta, lived together and we decided that it would be cool to try out Denver for awhile. He didn’t want to up and leave, with his job and everything, so that’s why I’ve been out here for good two weeks already.
Anyway, as I sit here I’m dreading having to get up and navigate through the clutter on my bedroom floor to get to the kitchen for a nice, petite, breakfast. I do finally sit up and successfully make it out, to find that the rest of the house is trashed too. I had almost forgotten that the party was here last night, and that there were way too many people. People I didn’t know, and people I don’t want to know, now. They completely trashed the place, and as I look around to evaluate the damage I see my favorite lamp, broken, a smashed table, and my coffee maker, of all things, broken too. I can’t make it through a normal day without coffee, much less today.
I pick up some jeans I find on the floor, not mine, and throw them on and then my sandals and then head out for a new coffee maker. I hop into my car and the gas light is on, still. I had been driving around for about three days with it on, so I figure I should stop at the gas station before the store. I fill up my tank, then grab the cheapest coffee maker I can find. I almost forgot that Howard’s flight is scheduled to arrive today at 3:37. I turn around in a McDonald’s parking lot and head for the airport, there isn’t much traffic so I do make it there on time.
“Howard! Hey man, how was the flight?”
“You have no idea how glad I am to be on the ground again.” Howard had always been afraid of heights, and especially airplanes.
“Right, I almost forgot about that whole thing” I apologize and we head for the car.
“You hungry?” I ask.
“Starved. They didn’t serve us anything, not even peanuts.” He says.
“What do you feel like getting?”
“Whatever, really. What’s good around here?” I tell him about all the really great restaurants and we decide on this tiny Thai place around the corner from our house. We sit down at a table in the farthest back corner of the restaurant and order two glasses of water. It’s an overall dim restaurant with deep red walls and elegant Thai music as the background noise. As we browse over the menu we discuss our plans for the day.
“I’m too hung over to do anything to day. I’m shocked I actually woke up in time to get you, to be honest.” I confess.
“That’s fine with me, I’ve been up for almost forty-two hours now and---“
“What?”
“Yeah, I guess it’s the speed. But I could fall asleep right now, so I’m fine with just going home and sleeping for the rest of the day.” Howard and I finish up our Pad Thai and go home and sleep for a solid thirteen hours. When I get up Howard tells me he’s already been up for an hour or so and had the chance to see the sun rise over the Rocky Mountains. We go out onto the porch to sip our coffee and watch the sun finish rising until around 9:30.
Howard has an honest look about him, the kind of guy you see and can tell immediately that he’s very shy. He tends to hide behind his brown curls without noticing but will then push them back when he realizes. He and I have always been great friends, since junior high at least.
“What’s on the agenda for today?” he asks.
“Museums?”
“Yeah! Alright, want to go now?” When we are on our way one of my buddies, Greg, from Denver calls and asks me about my plans for the day. Greg is this guy I met at one of the bars when I first got out here. By looking at him you probably wouldn’t guess that he is into drugs so much, he has short blonde hair, very innocent looking. I tell him about Howard and my plans and he says:
“Well, that’s just stupid; you can do that any day. Just come over for a little while, and have some real fun over here. There are already some people showing up for the bonfire tonight.” Howard agrees, thinking it will be nice to get to know some new people around here. Just after we are arriving at Will’s house I warn him that some of the people by saying:
“They’re a bunch of druggies, so just don’t expect them to be very coherent, even this early.” We head in and as I suspected, there are bowls going around and we see a few people head to the back too.
I see Marylou as we go into the backyard,
“Hey Marylou, this is my roommate from Atlanta, Howard.” As they finish making their introductions Greg comes over.
“Hey there, you crazy kids! Where are your drinks?” Greg asks.
“It’s 10:00 am, we haven’t started yet.”
“Well let’s change that,” Greg says. He was just standing there, but he was fidgeting, he was always fidgeting. We were standing in silence for just a few moments, and then Greg went up to the keg, that was already tapped, and jumped on top of it. He announced to everyone: “Hello to all! I hope you are having a wonderful time this lovely morning!” then he hopped off and that was it.
Later on I notice that my phone was missing. I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I ask everyone; it vanished. I am in distress because my phone has everything in it, important dates, memos, and numbers, also a few things that should be seen by the general public.
I go to bed and try to sleep off my worries, but it does no good. I wake up in the morning feeling just as miserable as the night before. In the early afternoon I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize, on our house phone.
“Hello?”
“Paul?” The caller’s voice was deep and mysterious, one I had not heard before.
“Yes?”
“I have your cell phone.”
“Oh, thank God. I’ve been looking everywhere for it!”
“I know” he says.
“Oh—you do?”
“Yeah, and if you want it back you’ll do exactly what I say.” You see, those things on my phone that can’t get out are text messages, very important, confidential, texts.
“Have you gone through it?”
“Of course I have, I know all your secrets now,” as I stand there in pure disbelief I wonder why they would do such a thing.
“$300.00--- or I tell Howard.” Click. Crap.
Back in Atlanta, when Howie and I lived together, his girlfriend used to come over a lot, even if he wasn’t there, if you catch my drift. On my phone there are texts as well as pictures from her that Howard cannot find out about.
I get another phone call from the same number, this time though Howie gets to the phone before I do, but he doesn’t suspect anything.
“$300.00 it is” I say before hanging up. He said to leave it under a bench in the park. When I get there I notice a suspicious guy eyeing me. I leave the money as discussed, then walk out of eye shot. When I lean around a giant oak tree I see that the same man gets up and grabs the bag. He sets down the phone then walks away.





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