The first day on the job didn’t go too well.
After determining Jessie had moved out and was never going to clear out her voice mail I went home, overserved myself and passed out on the couch.
I woke up at 6 in the morning with a sudden jolt that propeled me off the couch and onto the floor. The TV was still on but the sound of the local morning news broadcast was over run by my alarm clock in the bedroom. When I went to stand up, I knocked over a platoon of empty beer bottles from the coffee table. They scattered wildly across the floor as I righted myself and tried to straighten out my spine.
Moving like a mortally wounded Quasimoto, I lumbered into the bedroom, shut off the alarm clock and collapsed onto the bed.
Nights that ended in haze of muddied stumbling through the house and mornings that began in uncertain, painful lurches were becoming normal.
I rarely slept in the old queen sized bed anymore. I felt so alone laying in such a large piece of real estate on my own every night. My back was slowly softening as I lay there thinking about this tutoring job.
The experienced drunk knows to always leave their essential items in the same place every day. If they do not follow this simply act of discipline, they will spend countless hours searching for their phone, their wallet and car keys. Mine were sitting in a neat little pyramid between the microwave and a stack of unopened mail on the kitchen counter. I picked up my phone and made once last attempt to call Jessie.
The voice mail was still full. Thanks a lot.
As soon as I got home I should have taken notes of what I learned creeping around Jessie’s apartment complex. The contact information I left on her door was gone on the third sweep I made, right? That goofy Indian guy said she moved in with her boyfriend but he didn’t know his name. I’m getting sloppy and that’s not going to help me out.
I guess I could have gone by the apartment manager’s office and asked them if they knew anything. However, the place seemed a little too corporate to give out any information on her. They definitely wouldn’t let me check her mail box or open up her place.
Feeling somewhat defeated I decided to call Byrd Services and just ask the boss man if he knew the name of the guy his daughter was dating.
I’m sure, in hindsight, if I had been totally sober that morning I wouldn’t have called Mr. Byrd. I learned later that he would have looked upon the call as the first sign of incompetence.
Lucky for me, his secretary Cyndi answered the phone.
“Why hello there Lazlo,” she said, her voice a huge bucket of sunshine blasting through the phone. This was not a woman who woke up in a pile of beer bottles.
“Hey, how are?” I said, trying to sound alert and ready for action. As I tried to move the conversation forward I felt my hands start to sweat while a dull knot began to develop in my throat. Don’t barf on the phone. Do NOT barf on the phone.
“Um, is Mr. Byrd in?” I asked.
“You know hon, he’s not,” said Cyndi, throwing even more of that great blinding beam of cheer into my ear. “He’s at a meeting would. You like to leave a message?”
“Well, I guess.”
I was trying to figure out how much I could say to Cyndi with out blabbering my way out of a job.
“I went by Jessie’s apartment yesterday,” I said. “I tried to leave a couple of messages with her but her voice mail is full.”
Cyndi’s tone darkened. It still sounded cheerful but there was a hint of concern mingled into it now.
“Was she at her apartment?” Cyndi asked.
I tried to chuckle through my response in a poor attempt to sound casual.
“She’s…. well, this neighbor. He’s an Indian. He said he thought she might be at her boyfriend’s place.”
All of the cheer was gone from Cyndi’s voice now.
“She’s at Theo’s?”
“Yah… you got any contact information for Theo.”
“No,” Cyndi said curtly. “His last name is Turner.”
“Okay… I think I’ll just go over to Theo’s house to introduce myself and, you know, get this whole thing rolling. Thanks.”
And then, like a light bulb coming back to life, Cyndi’s morning sunshine voice returned.
“Well, no problem Mr. Gusto. You call me anytime you want, okay?”
“Sure,” I said.
Her response implied that she had already decided not to tell Mr. Byrd I had called or that his daughter was shacking up with Theo.
The sense of dread and failure was gone after I hung up, but my head was still fogged from the previous night’s drinking.
I tried to go for jog to sweat out the booze. I went two blocks and vomited all over the road.