The flesh round Zachary's mouth distends; his tongue probes teeth and gums—their taste is unmistakeably foul, hence he grimaces. Eyes averse to opening, nonetheless do, relent, wince shut. The light is too intense; the hour must be late. He farts—the vapours rise, exhuming noxious memories:
Old man Abernathy, Felicia's pompous father, grinning ear to ear.
Proud father (and silent, doting mother) went on and on, while their dear, devoted daughter squeezed my thumb suggestively, unobserved—behaviour none-too-chaste for a blushing bride to be.
Zachary palms his temples, pressing and stretching his features into a comic-tragic mask. Drunk, dead-drunk, he was. And now? Hung over wretchedly.
Been a while.
Zachary's belch allows more fumes to escape. He rubs his day-old beard. His recollections rally.
September first. What else? That jug... at Randy's... drinking. God, we drank!... Then what? Then rode home, I guess. Hit the hay.
His fingers rake his chin. His eyes again wince shut, this time not from the light but rather from a flashback of further goings-on.
Stairs... I climbed the attic stairs... bumped my head. It hurt. The room was hot as Hell. Pitch-dark. Musky scent. Striking matches, I remember, then catching sight of her... in the corner... cowering.