Bored. So bored. I head out and cruise towards downtown. The Victoria Street strip. Bought up by a business man, revitalized half way, then the funding dried up. What was left was a decent half mile of bars, art houses, restaurants. Much better than the 40-plus dive bars near where I live. I pass by a large bar called Grand Central. Perfect.
I walk in and I see people my age. Many people my age. Like the light from the sun after a swim, the refreshing feel of twenty year old faces brought new energy to me. I saddled up, slipping my jacket over the chair and began to order. After about half an hour of downing Jack and cokes, watching hockey and making small talk with those around me, I make my way outside and have a smoke. There, a man, Anglo, but speaking the oddest form of English I’ve heard yet, begins to chat. We stay out there for a good twenty minutes. A former trucker and security guard, we have a lot of stories to pass on. Some cunty looking chicks pretty much demand a lighter and he offers one over. A quick light and they go to their small circle, making the patio a little bit louder.
We go back in, he pays his tab and leaves while I start on beers. I can feel that urge coming on. The drunk urge where you know you’ve had enough and you can still drive home fine, but the buzz tells you to keep on going. To down it until it comes back up. I gave in. After another beer, I head out to the patio again and meet several guys talking about hockey. Apparently, my knowledge of hockey is bolstered by alcohol because we talk for a good while on trades, teams, how a Canadian franchise hasn’t won since 1993. This is where I meet the Cook.
The Cook was an employee at Grand Central who got off shift, or had a day off, something. We became quick drinking buddies at the hockey talk when the group of guys, including one very female looking male, departed. From there he ordered a shot, another beer and, eventually to my car to light one up. The spins hit me hard. He asks if I’m driving. “Fuck no,” I say, laying my head back as far as it can go in a futile attempt to stave off the world’s axis.
“Alright, I know a space you can park and sleep it off,” he says, slurring.
In my greatest feat of driving, I move a block down the road and park, getting out of my car and standing in the rain, my arms and head on the roof, the spins in full force. The Cook is talking about staying at his place, but I don’t understand nor care in my state. I stumble over to the parking median, sit on a concrete slab, turn and start exhaling all my drinks.
“Where are you keys?” he asks.
With my head down and rolling, “In the ignition, left the heat on…”
As my poor companion fumbles drunkenly in my car, trying to prevent me from driving, which I had no intention to after returning two pints of Blue to the Earth, I hacked more.
“Where’s your phone?”
“I don’t know,” I lied, thinking he may want to steal it. He asked again and I patted my pockets and found it, thinking whatever, just go away.
As he begins to call his ride, I make it back to the car and promptly put myself in the backseat. I laid down and occasionaly looked around for him, but due to hazy eyesight, I couldn’t see him through the rain and fog. Fucker stole my phone, I thought, then returned to trying to pass out.
Eventually, he returns with my phone, which had to be no more than a few minutes, but felt like hours. He puts it in my hand, which I thank him for, then says “Have a good night,” when his ride appears. My keys were jammed into my passenger side seat, between it and the console, so he wouldn’t hide them on his own. Looking for them when I wake, hung over, in downtown Niagara Falls was not something I wanted to do.
Sleep was sparse, waking up to hot bile returning, then turning around and trying to rest. About five hours after I he had left, I saw grey light from the morning sun touching the overcast over the city. I looked at the time. It was past seven. To wake myself up, I had a smoke or two, getting any small focus I could. My blood was still intoxicated, but I needed to get back to my own bed and finish off this long, good night. I took side streets, a few under the speed limit, not touching anything but the steering wheel and avoiding the usual speed traps the NRP sets up for rush hour. I made it to my bed in twice the time, but alive, coherent and ready to get real sleep.
Before passing out, I smiled, still tasting the acid, telling myself. “I’ve gotta go there again.”