From my hard disk I unearthed a fragment of fiction that I apparently wrote around 2002. Have a read if the mood strikes.
I was more like tired-drunk than wasted-drunk. It had been a bedlam party, but it was early morning now and the energy was mostly spent. Only three of us were still upright. I’d sat myself at the kitchen table and set up a surveillance of the living room: empty pizza boxes stacked up solemnly like an ancient pagoda, with beer cans and flattened paper cups strewn on all sides of it like worshippers struck dead. That’s a great metaphor, I thought. But Alyssa and Ken were talking about something else, so I ended up forgetting it before I had a chance to share it.
“I got one to top that,” said Alyssa at the other end of the table. “Parking lot bumps.”
She nodded sagely at us. She was just stewed enough to forget that she was wearing rock star shades indoors, so I imagine Ken and I appeared as through a glass darkly; but as always when drunk she was unflappable and not a bit sloppy to look at. She’d get this tranquil Queen of the Nile look of cool superiority after just the right amount of alcoholic intake, and then meticulously sustain it for the entire night. She wore an old-school leather jacket with “Animal Rights Now” hand-stenciled on it, that crunched when she leaned back.
Ken, on the other hand, was collapsing all over himself. He was barely hanging on to the table, and yet his grip on the table was the only thing keeping him in his chair, so that watching him was like looking at one of those balancing rocks in the desert that you’re sure would topple at the slightest touch. I imagined cartoon X’s over his eyes. He blinked a couple of dozen times and said, “Na-a-aw. What?”
"Those cement bumps in the parking lot,” Alyssa said, “to where you can, you know...” She waved her hand in a complicated and indecipherable gesture.
“Park?” I suggested.
“Park your car, to where the tire hits the little bump. There’s a name for those things.” What was the name? We all fell silent a moment, each trying to come up with the name. It eluded us.
Ken roused himself to comment: “You shouldn’t run your tire into those bumps. You’ll fuck up your...” He ran out of words, closed his eyes, belched with his mouth shut.
“Alignment.” I was the sentence-completing guy tonight. Officer on duty, sentence completion precinct.
“Cars. You and your terminology.” Alyssa continued, “My point is, those what-you-call-it bumps. I went to the store and there was ads on each bump.”
“Shit!” Ken’s incredulity was a trifle greater than the situation warranted. “You’re shitting me!”
“For a pain reliever.”
I hadn’t heard of ads on parking lot bumps before, but I believed it. “Supermarkets are ad-crazy now. The ATM at the store across the way shows commercials.”
“Uh, well, they all do that,” said Alyssa. “The worst are gas pumps. They show commercials right at the pump, on the little screen.”
Ken nodded and took a pull at his beer, which, given the state of near-disintegration he’d reached, seemed a reckless act. “I seen Letterman there,” he agreed. “The little gas pump screen was showing Letterman.”
“So it’s TV, basically,” I said.
“No, listen,” said Ken, and farted. “It’s a screen. A little, you know, whatever it is.”
“Electronic screen,” said Alyssa.
“TVs are electronic screens.” Not that I really cared, but I just had to be right. I always had to put in my little comment. “But I totally know what you mean.”
Alyssa lit another cigarette. I happened to know that she only smoked when she drank. She’d bummed that cigarette from me. You’ll grow trees in your lungs from smoking menthol, I’d warned when I gave it to her. “Yeah, but I still think the parking lot bumps was the worst. I was tripping out.”
“That reminds me of another one I saw at the supermarket,” I offered.
“TVs aren’t electronic. They’re electric.” Ken was fading fast.
Alyssa clicked her tongue and probably, behind her shades, rolled her eyes at this further intrusion of terminology. I decided to press forth with my anecdote no matter who was or wasn’t paying attention, and he that hath ears to hear, let him hear. “You know those stickers that they put on bananas. They always put a little sticker.”
Ken folded. Having got off his last shot about the TVs, he was now sliding toward the floor. Alyssa said, “Whoa there, tiger,” and laughed a bit as she pushed his head forward, reversing his slump so that he came to rest face-down on the table. He was a big, well-built guy who didn’t look like he ever felt pain. The type who, in a movie, the hero hits him in the face with a metal trash can lid and he just grins.
“So,” I continued, “they usually show the brand of the bananas or whatever. Like, that lady with the fruit hat. But I saw they’re starting to put ads for other food.”
“Oh, god,” Alyssa said, clicking her tongue again and leaning back from the table. Her leather jacket crunched.
“It had ads for other food.” I was trying too hard; she wasn’t really laughing. “Like an ad for milk or something.”
“Got milk?” quoth Alyssa. “Got suffering?”
“Huh.” I tried to think of something to say to that. “I don’t think ‘Got Suffering?’ would be a very effective slogan.”
“Wouldn’t sell many ice cream cones,” she replied archly.
Ken stirred. “F-fuck that.” He wasn’t yet properly comatose, contrary to appearances. He raised his head shakily. “Man, fuck that. That’s our fucking bananas. That’s fucking... fucked up.”
“That’s exactly what I was saying,” I agreed. I believe I was smirking.
Ken tried to pound the table but missed and barked his knuckles on the edge in a way that was sure to hurt in the morning. “That’s the last of the last straws, dude. They’re sticking shit on our bananas. That’s like some 1984 shit.” Having delivered this condemnation, Ken slipped abruptly off his chair and cracked his jaw on the corner of the table on the way down. I wondered if I should help him up. Alyssa just laughed. I didn’t get up to help him.