Sobriety finds O’Rourke in a desultory funk. Having missed his flight, misplaced
his passport, mismanaged the issue of luggage (collected and stored by
management when he
failed to re-register), Dad is without a room, a country, a change of clothes or
a minimal stock of
toiletries. Temples throbbing like tom-toms, tongue ensconced in fur, beard a
steel-wool outcrop, eye-whites jaundiced and a-crawl
with spider-web-like blood vessels, his outward appearance, in the fuel
station's restroom mirror, reflecting an
inward countenance even worse, marred as by attrition
from lies he told his wife:
"Overslept, Flo. Damnedest phenomenon. Watch alarm could have hack-sawed through my
wrist; wouldn’t have felt a thing. Dead to the world, I was. Crossing that
International Dateline, I guess, finally did me in."
"No, not yet. I also seem to have 'mislaid' my barcode and passport. The former
less a pain to replace than the latter. Long and short of it is, I’ll not be home
Or ever, at my
current backsliding rate. Why does finishing a job commence this onslaught of
existential apathy? Done. With what; with life itself because a contract is fulfilled, a mission accomplished,
like an assignment turned in at school? I
used to feel that work upon completion meant time for R & R, that duty’s drudgery done
was rewarded by fun ‘n’ games. Age has made me lose the knack for
childlike exuberance. Sad, that. Criminal when inflicted on a spirit as young as Flo’s. Better off without me, I do believe she’d be.
Need a break myself from the chore of being a rotten partner—Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, a
drunkard’s rant is dull. Either open my veins and be done with it,
or cut the crap and cope. Who said "aging isn’t for sissies"? Give him a
pint... then send the bugger packing.
Performing what ablutions water without soap (or paper towels) can afford, Dad
attempts to make himself presentable: mostly to the concierge whom he vaguely
recalls insulting, who denied him access to his bags (not surprisingly; it was 4
a.m.), who suggested Dad "walk it off" likewise denying him access to a room
(all booked allegedly), and who might, come to think of it, be off by the time
Dad gets back from his bum’s-rush 'constitutional.'
5:45 on a
Monday morning ought to mean coffee available within a 15 minute walk in any
Emerging from the service station’s cramped (and filthy) facilities, Dad regains
his bearings—Courtney Place—navigates sluggishly, steadily, now speedily upon
spotting his 'salvation'—an establishment not only open but aptly named
"The Espressoholic Café."