The lights assault my eyes, as they blur past me. Vegas is a beautiful city at night. I had had a table with my friends at the club with bottle service. Slowly, I remember us drinking the vodka shot by shot until the girls had enough.
“Were done, I’m already too drunk. I want to be able to shop tomorrow afternoon,” Megan said and her friend Kelly nodded in agreement.
The other guys and I laughed and jeered, egging the girls on to do one more shot. They refused and went off to dance. After an hour or so passed, I saw them leave the club, removing their heels on the way.
I noticed my good friend Ryan had passed-out on the cushioned bench around the table, parallel to me. I continued drinking, sipping my vodka shots, determined to finish the little vodka left in the bottom of the bottle. It was expensive after all to get bottle service.
A concerned bouncer who had been watching me with deep dark eyes, set two glasses of water down in front of me. “Sir, you need to drink both these glasses,” he said.
“Umm, no. I want more vodka. I’ll pay for another bottle,” I slurred.
The bouncer shook his head, “You need to drink these glasses now sir. I don’t want you to get alcohol poisoning and die in my club.”
I sighed grabbing both glasses, I downed them one at a time.”Gees, I was thirsty,” I told the bouncer.
“I’m calling you and your friend a cab at the back door entrance,” he said nodding at Ryan. ” I don’t have to, I could just throw you out. But, I get this feeling you’re running from something, trying to drink it away. So tonight, I’ll be nice,” the bouncer said. “I get it man, but you’re a grown-up and even in Vegas, you have to have limits.”
Another bouncer came to aid the first bouncer, guide us out to the cab. I leaned on the first bouncer’s shoulder and the other guy half-carried Ryan out the door.
The cab driver looked nervous, “I don’t want anyone throwing-up in here,” he announced. But the bouncers ignored him.
“Where is your hotel?” The first bouncer asked me.
I had to think a moment, everything was such a blur and it was difficult to think. I was so tired and mad at her. Why’d she cheat on me after ten-years marriage? Why’d she leave me for him?
“Um, we’re at Caesars,” I stammered, then reached into my pocket, pulling out a wad of bills; I tried my best to count out $100.00 exactly. I gave it the cab driver. He nodded, “okay where too?” The bouncers shut the cab doors and the driver took off down the Las Vegas strip.
The lights of Las Vegas were beautiful, brilliant, and blurred. But they also made me nauseous. I closed my heavy lids, and opened them as I tried not to sleep. But I couldn’t stop myself and I fell asleep quickly.
Ryan was shaking me. “Come on Blaine, wake up. You’re 6’4″ and two-hundred-some pounds, I can’t lift you alone. You need to help me.”
I blinked in the bright lights at the entrance to Caesars guest reception. It would take us forever to find our rooms because the hotel was so huge and neither of us were well enough to remember where our room was specifically.
Ryan’s hands shook and his face was pale white. He ran and threw-up in a garbage can. He apologized five-minutes later to a man near by helping guests at the front entrance and gave him a twenty, and thinking this man would have to clean the garbage can up.
I was slowly, stepping out of the car, but my legs nearly collapsed and I groaned in frustration. I reached into my wallet and pulled out eighty-dollars. I could count money now at least, though my head felt like someone was hammering my temples.
“Here,” I said to a couple of men upfront working for Caesars. I gave them my cash and asked,”Help us back to my room, please.”
Two silent men grabbed the cash splitting it and they smiled at me now. “Of course sir, do you have your keycard?” I nodded, pulling it out of my pocket. I gave it to the men and they called for two other men, one whom I leaned heavily against as we made an endless journey to my room. Sometime in there, I fell asleep.
It was 3:00 pm when I awoke in my hotel room. Immediately, I went and threw-up in the bathroom several times before I felt better. I took a shower and washed away the smoke and putrid smell of vodka and vomit. I called room service to put some food in my stomach and help me recover. I ordered some French toast, coffee, and orange juice –two orders –one for Ryan as well, when he awoke.
I saw him lying on the bed and I tried to shake him awake. I thought he only needed more sleep. He wasn’t a big guy, so perhaps the vodka hit him harder than me.
A day later, Ryan still wasn’t up and I asked my friends what we should do.
“Well, sometimes you really need to sleep it off. We’re not so young anymore, hangovers can last two-days. He’s breathing so he must be fine,” Kyle reasoned and my other friend Maison seemed to agree. We went down to the casino to play poker.
On the third day we asked reception to call a doctor for us. It was expensive but my friends and I were worried about Ryan. He was cold and his chest barely moved, his breathing was so shallow.
The Doctor was tense upon inspecting Ryan three-hours later. “I’m sorry gentlemen, your friend died earlier this morning, about the time I was called to your room. If only you’d called sooner and emphasized how badly he was doing,” the Doctor chided.
“Ryan had alcohol poisoning so badly he went into a coma. He has no heart beat and isn’t breathing as you indicated earlier. It’s tragic but I guess you’ll understand me now when I say, watch your alcoholic intake; in Vegas especially.”
I started to cry in front of the Doctor and my friends. I didn’t know how I could tell Ryan’s family he’d passed on. He’d been the one who said we needed a boys trip to help me get out the funk of my wife cheating and divorcing me.
I remember him saying, “Blaine you need to get out and have some fun. Come to Las Vegas with me and the guys. Forget about your problems for a while. I’ll forget about mine too,” he said. He never told me what his problems were and I never asked, I thought regretfully.
Now my good friend Ryan was gone. I closed my eyes imagining lights blurring past me. It wasn’t only how I felt when I was drunk. It was how I felt all the time these days. As if I had no control as all the pretty lights rushed by.
When I did have time, I made the wrong choices. The lights were my escape, but I needed to pay attention now, to move on in my life as Ryan would have wanted. I couldn’t drink the pain away.
“Ahhhh, coffee. I love it. Would you like some?” Peter asked the woman. He didn’t remember her name.
“I don’t drink coffee, thanks Peter,” Sally said her throat feeling raw.”I could use some water, or orange juice if you have any?”
Peter peered into his fridge. It was bare. “Um, Susan, I have cranberry juice is that alright?”
“I guess. And my name is Sally, Peter.”
“Oh. Uh. Sorry Sally, I drank a lot last night.” Peter said.
Sally shrugged. “Whatever Peter.”
“Actually, you’ve been calling me Susan since your third beer last night. I kept correcting you every time but you kept calling me her name. Who’s Susan?” Sally questioned.
Peter appeared nervous. “She’s no one. Just an old girlfriend.”
“Ah,” Sally remarked, “I understand now. Got any whole wheat or multigrain bread for toast?”
Peter wasn’t listening. He drank his coffee remembering the morning Susan left.
“Where are you going?” Peter asked Susan.
“I’m leaving Peter. I’ve had enough. I can’t take this anymore.” Susan said. She had all her possessions boxed up and had hired a mover to load up the furniture she purchased.
“You have to have seen this coming.”
“No, we had one fight and now your leaving me?” Peter asked.
“It wasn’t one fight, it was many fights over three-years. You never understood. It always came down to the same thing.” Susan remarked.
“What, what did it come down to?”
“You Peter. It came down to you. You always did whatever you wanted, demanding I tag along. When it came to doing what I had to do for a work event or visiting my my friends, you never showed up.”
“Time and time again, you told me to quit my job. That I shouldn’t be spending so much time working or visiting my own friends.” Susan said, “I’m not putting up with your controlling behaviour anymore.”
“No, Peter. I have a life. My own life. I’m tired of explaining things to you.” Susan said frustrated.
Peter was speechless as the movers came, taking the furniture Susan bought, and all of her things away.
When Susan and the movers left, Peter felt the gnawing emptiness of his condo.
” Peter is there bread for toast?” Sally asked.
“What?” Peter asked lost in his head.”Oh no, sorry haven’t been grocery shopping this week. There’s cereal?”
Sally sighed. “It’s fine. I’ll drink my cranberry juice and be on my way.”
“Leaving so soon? Want to. . . ”
“No, Peter I’m fine. I don’t think I can handle being called Susan again.” Sally remarked.
When Sally left, Peter remembered the emptiness he felt without Susan. Sally reminded him, he was a failure with women. Peter returned to bed to sleep off his hangover.