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“Alright, son. Just blow into the tube and let’s see if you can go home.”
Eric shuffled awkwardly towards the middle-aged cop holding the breathalyzer in front of him. His head was pounding, his eyes were bloodshot, and his mouth tasted like beef jerky that had been dried using hobo flatulence. He slowly approached the officer, partly because he wanted to appear measured and sober, and partly because they had taken his shoelaces and he had to shuffle around in loose sneakers.
He had no way of telling the time, but by his estimation, it must be morning. He had been in this cell for an uncertain amount of time and had spent the last few hours trying to piece together how he had ended up there. He knew how his night had started.
He had left Rachel’s apartment in a daze, filled with too many emotions to handle. He had gone home, had a few cold ones, and let his anger, jealousy, and sadness settle until he knew what he wanted to do. He had texted the group chat a simple message:
“You won’t be seeing Rachel around anymore. Who wants to get blacked out tonight?”
His friends had responded immediately and positively, as good friends should, and within two hours they were seated at a four-top in a high-energy bar while he recounted the story of his bruised pride. And then… he wasn’t sure. His memories became a little more blurry, a little less exact. He knew they had left for a club. He knew they had done copious tequila shots. He remembered giving Jack his phone so he couldn’t send any regrettable texts, perhaps his only good decision of the night.
After that, the memories were merely flashes. Dancing with a girl with to a remixed Zedd song. A conversation about a boyfriend. Being in the club bathroom with said girl. A flash of him on his back on the dance floor. Had he fallen? Had he gotten pushed? He couldn’t remember. Then he was trying to find his way home. He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t have his phone to call an Uber. Flashing lights.
Then, he woke up in this cell. He had sat up in a panic, looking around wide-eyed at the other inhabitants of his dorm-style cage. One of them, a large man with his pants sagging halfway off grinned mirthlessly at him and said words he never wanted to hear again. “You in the drunk tank, man.”
Eric snapped back to the present as he watched anxiously as the breathalyzer beeped and determined his fate. The office read the display and nodded curtly.
“You’re good to go. Follow me.”
Twenty long minutes later, Eric was standing outside the police station holding his shoelaces, belt, wallet, and keys, and wondering how to get home. The officer at the front desk had offered to call someone for him, but without his phone, he couldn’t remember anyone’s numbers. Without knowing what else to do, Eric began walking in the general direction of his apartment. It was already hot in the morning light, and he could feel the stares of passing pedestrians as he trudged slowly down the block in a ripped button down and beer-soaked shoes. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something that gave him hope. A plain building with the words “Library” written on the front.
“Libraries have computers, right?” Eric thought to himself, willing his hungover brain to move faster. “Maybe I can get ahold of my friends and have someone pick me up.” He approached the doors and was relieved when he read the opening hours. Just in time. He walked quickly to the nearest computer, an ancient PC, and fired up the web browser. He logged on to Facebook, and before he could even type out a message to his crew, he saw he had received one during the night.
Jack [2:48am]: Hey dude I jsut got a call from the cops? To you phone… they said the were hodling you for drunk in public and would let you out in the morn. So hit me up when you get out and we’ll come get yo. You fuxking idiot lmao.
Eric snorted with laughter, his first sign of mirth in the last 24 hours. His friends might be drunk idiots, but they were loyal. He messaged back, hoping against all odds that Jack was up at this hour.
Eric [9:08am]: Dude what the fuck. I just got out. I’m at the Westfield Public Library wherever the fuck that is. Can you come pick me up?
Jack [9:12am]: There he is. Yeah I’ll come get you. Hopefully your butthole isn’t too sore. You’re buying breakfast. I’m hungover as shit.
Eric grinned as he responded in the affirmative. Jack was a lot of things, but he wasn’t one to leave a man behind. He must have been sleeping with his phone next to his ear to have woken up for the message.
A half-hour later he opened the door of a 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee to the sight of a shit-eating grin under a mop of bedhead.
“How’s that ass feeling, playboy?” Jack was hungover, but clearly drawing strength from watching Eric struggle.
“Please just shut up and drive,” Eric said wearily as he closed the door. “Do you have my phone and also do you have any idea what happened last night?”
“Yes to the first and hard no to the second, unfortunately.” Jack tossed him his phone, which Eric grabbed gratefully, like a drowning man being thrown a life vest. “The last time I saw you was when you bummed a condom off me for a girl you were going to bang in the club bathroom, you dirty dog.”
“Fuuuck,” Eric groaned. He had looked through his phones and found no clues. Well, that was one of the downsides of handing his phone off for the night. “I think I might have fallen on the dance floor and gotten kicked out? And then got lost with no phone cos I’m a drunk idiot.”
Jack chuckled as he drove. “It’s all good, man, at least you didn’t get charged with anything. Shit, I’m pretty sure Kyle’s degenerate ass lived in the drunk tank our sophomore year and that idiot makes more than all of us.”
Eric nodded morosely as he accepted that he would likely never know what happened that night. Jack made some good points. He didn’t get charged with anything, and to be honest, he was surprised it had taken him this long to have his first drunk tank experience. “Oh well,” he thought. “On to more pressing matters.”
“So where are we getting breakfast? I’m fucking starving. Are the rest of the guys alive yet?” .