Hangovers can be held responsible for many forgotten things, for example; the location of your car, the whereabouts of your phone, and sometimes; the location of your eyebrows, and even, on very rare occasions; your own location. Charlie wondered this now. He didn’t recognize the ceiling. This isn’t normally something he would notice, and for the life of him he couldn’t remember what his own ceiling looked like, but this definitely wasn’t it. He decided to sit up to get a better idea of his surroundings. The messages from his brain to his body normally get around quite quickly. Not today. Today his brain was so dehydrated that every thought had to pack extra precautions and hike around his body like an old rambler through mud. Long gone were the days when electric thoughts could swim freely through a youthful, well watered, nervous system. Eventually his body responded to his wishes and he lurched out of bed. His head spun, the room joined it.
Keep had fallen asleep on the stairs. It’s amazing how comfortable stairs are when you’re drunk. But when you wake up you feel like your bones have seized together and you spend the next month walking around like a severe motorway pile up. Keep squirmed onto his back and half slid down the stairs. He groaned with pain but managed to stand up and walk to the fridge. He stretched and straightened his back. He grabbed a bottle of orange juice from the fridge and began replacing all that had been lost in his brutally battered and poorly treated system. He drank the whole thing and threw the empty carton into the sink. Miraculously he was already thinking relatively well and didn’t feel at all sick.
He peered over the breakfast bar. Simon was still asleep. A little oasis of spit had formed on the floor against his cheek. Keep was only slightly disappointed to discover that he hadn’t pissed himself. He thought about waking him up but decided to leave that to Charlie.
Charlie appeared, as if by magic, at the bottom of the stairs. A thunder cloud crackled above his head. Keep smiled.
‘Good morning!’ he said.
‘Breakfast?’ asked Keep, ‘I can cook us all something, if you like?’
Charlie didn’t respond. He managed himself into the kitchen and looked at it. It was a kitchen alright, that much he knew, but how to make it work?
‘Coffee,’ he said.
The kettle had just finished boiling so Keep happily made them both coffees.
‘Simon?’ enquired Charlie.
‘He’s still on the floor. Do you want to wake him up?’
Charlie grunted and walked out of the house.
‘Where are you going?’ said Keep.
Charlie slammed the door. Keep opened it and went outside after him.
Charlie was standing half way down the drive in his t-shirt and boxer shorts.
‘Where the fuck am I?’ he said.
‘Simon’s house,’ said Keep.
‘Where does Simon live?’
Charlie turned around and went back in to the house. Keep followed. Charlie went over to Simon and woke him up by shouting loudly and shaking him. Simon’s eyes sprang open and a look of primal fear grabbed his face.
‘What!? What do you want!?’ he shouted.
‘Where do you live?!’ shouted Charlie.
Simon looked around in a panic, ‘here!’ he responded.
‘Charlie,’ said Keep, ‘everything ok?’
Charlie stood up and stared at Keep. He started to approach him menacingly.
Simon gathered himself into a more or less vertical standing position and put a hand on Charlie’s shoulder.
‘Sit down,’ said Simon. His body felt like a volcano and his voice was ashen and brittle.
Charlie grappled with the idea for a moment but sensibly obeyed and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. Simon opened a drawer and took out a pack of cigarettes. He took one out and put it in Charlie’s mouth. He lit it. Charlie sucked on the fag obediently and a fog cleared in his mind. Simon was clearly used to dealing with Charlie in this frame of mind and Keep nodded in appreciation at Simon’s wherewithal.
Simon sat down in the chair next to Charlie.
‘I don’t think I’ve been this hungover before,’ said Simon.
Charlie finished his cigarette and let it drop out of his mouth on to the table.
Keep pulled out a chair and joined them.
‘I feel like a derelict building. Oh god, how do you fix this?!’ said Simon, holding his heads in his hands. I say heads, plural, he felt like he had more than one. He tried to keep them up with his two hands.
‘You just wait it out,’ said Charlie, ‘or drink.’
Simon looked at the bottle of whisky on the table and considered it for a moment.
‘No, Jane would kill me.’
Keep and Charlie looked at each other and then Charlie lowered his eyes. Having realized Simon hadn’t remembered yet he thought he would do what all good friends would do and asked for a lift home before he does.
‘Can I have your car?’ asked Charlie.
‘No, you can’t have it, why would I give you my car?’ asked Simon, through the immense pain that came with the construction of each word. Thinking and conveying said thoughts into speech, in this state of mind, is a bit like trying to piss after having your cock glued shut.
‘Take me home,’ said Charlie.
‘Simon?’ said Keep to Simon.
Simon looked up in response. Charlie glared at Keep.
‘Do you remember anything from last night?’
Simon frowned for a second and then thought back. As soon as he did so everything from the night before blossomed like a metaphorical flower of horrible memories and he sagged in his chair and started, once again, to sob.
‘Good work, retard,’ said Charlie getting up, ‘you deal with him, I’m going home.’
Simon looked up at Keep through teary eyes.
‘How come you’re so damn chipper? Don’t you feel like shit? I feel like shit.’
Keep rummaged through his jacket pocket and pulled out a bag of pure white powder. ‘God’s personal stash,’ said Keep with a smile, ‘the Wizard’s Dandruff. Want some?’
Simon was angry and upset and yes, he did want some cocaine!
‘Yes,’ he said.
Drugs; Charlie was not a fan. Charlie was a man of alcohol, and, as a wise man once said “alcohol is not a drug, it’s a drink”. Keep was to drugs what Einstein was to classical physics. He even had a lab. The lab, as all good labs should be, was in the basement of his home; The Basement, which is why The Basement was not, if you follow. The Basement is Keep’s bar; it is on the first floor. The lab, which doesn’t only cater to drugs but also fulfils Keep’s curious scientific mind, is located in the basement. His apartment is on the ground floor. Keep’s other scientific interests include, zoology, chemistry, physics, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, ecology, and anatomy. He also has a love of words, his favourite word being; Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, which is the word given to the phobia of long words.
‘Whoa, Simon, are you sure about this?’ asked the ever thoughtful Charlie.
‘Yes, I’m sure.’
‘Have you done drugs before?’
‘No, but there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?’
‘Come on Charlie, he’s a big boy,’ said Keep.
Charlie decided to stay a bit longer. He had no interest in doing drugs but was very interested in watching Simon do it. This would be a day of Kodak moments for Charlie. He opened a fresh cold beer from the fridge and smiled at it. The beer smiled back in its own, cold, crisp, refreshing, soul curing, hangover killing, delicious, sparkling, and fantastical way. Charlie supped his hangover into oblivion. His mind was clearer now. His eyes sparkled with delight and he watched Simon lower a ten pound note, which had been installed into his left nasal passage, onto a pure white line of that evil moreish dust.
Simon inhaled. Particles of magical powder rushed up through the note and settled on the back of his nasal passage where they began to infuse with the tissue causing the synthetic compound, known to science as C17 H21 NO4, to affect his brain in a curious way. The reuptake of dopamine in his brain became impossible and so dopamine flooded his system. The dopamine played havoc with his emotions, his ability to experience pleasure and pain, and his ability to control movement. His pupils dilated, his heart quickened, and a feeling like a buzz saw swimming in a sea of sugar ran through his body at the speed of light. Something new in the drug caused Simon to hallucinate.
Simon’s head flew back.
‘YAAAARRRRRRR!!!’ he shouted in one long breath.
‘Is that normal?’ asked Charlie.
‘Wait for it,’ said Keep.
As if by force a smile scraped its way across Simon’s face. His eyes widened and his pupils marched across his whites and turned them into black holes. The result was quite spectacular.
Simon saw an angel. It was sitting on Charlie’s head watching Simon with mild interest.
‘Hello,’ said Simon.
‘Hello,’ said Charlie.
The angel fluttered off Charlie’s head and landed on the table in front of Simon. Simon stared at it.
‘Can you see me?’ asked the tiny angel.
‘Yes, I can see you,’ said Simon.
‘Who?’ asked Charlie.
‘I’m going to feed you,’ said the attractive bird-like angel.
‘Ok,’ said Simon.
Charlie tried to share a miffed expression with Keep but Keep was laughing with silent hysterics.
The angel leapt from where it stood and dived into Simon’s mouth. Within seconds it had swum down Simon’s throat and into his stomach.
‘AAAAAAAHHHH!’ Screamed Simon, clutching his throat.
He fell backwards off his chair and started wrestling with himself on the floor. Keep burst out with uncontrollable laughter. Charlie wanted to join in, in fact a childish grin had already adorned his face, but he wanted to hold back until he knew Simon wasn’t going to die.
‘Keep, you twat, what did you give him?’
Keep tried to calm down and wiped a tear from his cheek.
‘Oh dear,’ he said, ‘this is fucking funny.’
‘What did you give him?’
Simon was still writhing around on the floor.
‘Err, not sure, I discovered it two days ago by accident. It’s really quite a remarkable drug.’
‘Is he going to die?’
‘Probably not. It doesn’t seem to be lethal. I don’t think it is.’
‘Doesn’t seem to be?’
‘None of the rabbits have died.’
Charlie likes puzzles; he turned his frown into one now and showed it to Keep.
‘One of the sheep did though. But then he was an unusual sheep.’
‘What are you talking about?’ said Charlie.
‘It would be easier to show you,’ said Keep, ‘can you help me get him to his feet.’
Keep opened the door to his lab and the musty smell of science ran at them and escaped out of the building. The very air of a lab, or at least Keep’s lab, has a life of its own. It’s been subjected to gases, explosions (both expected and unexpected), smells, delusions, and stagnancy. It has been hot, cold, confused and surprised. This lab has been used to its full potential, and just recently it had been rewarding Keep for his efforts. A table in the middle of the lab had the usual array of chemistry paraphernalia; test tubes, Bunsen burners, beakers, froth, elaborate framework, tubes, corks, teapot etc. A curved low oak door concealed a room full of various kinds of live stock in various states of mind. Glass cabinets were pregnant with carefully labelled bottles. A bookshelf in one corner played hypothetical chicken with physics as it held, beyond all likelihood, twice as many books as it was capable of.
Keep put his jacket on a hook and invited Charlie in.
Simon was still on his way down the stairs, he was trying to figure out how the wallpaper was playing such beautiful music, and how the pattern of the wallpaper was able to leave the walls and hug him. The music was actually his phone, it had been patiently collecting missed calls and frantic answer phone messages from an anxious casting director for about half an hour now. He decided he didn’t mind how it was happening and hugged the wonderful wallpaper back with all the love he could give. Charlie grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the lab. Simon hugged him. Charlie pushed him off and he landed on the floor.
Keep took a large corked bottle out of one of the cupboards and filled two beakers.
‘Are you going to show me an experiment?’ asked Charlie.
‘No, it’s whisky,’ said Keep, handing one to Charlie.
Charlie accepted it.
‘Is it safe to drink?’
‘Yes, it’s just whisky, I promise.’
Charlie looked around and tried to figure out what was going on.
‘Are you… What’s, err… I don’t understand,’ said Charlie.
‘I dabble with science.’
‘I think dabble is an understatement. What’s in here?’
Charlie opened a door.
‘Don’t open that!’ shouted Keep.
‘A fucking horse!’ shouted Charlie.
‘Close it!’ Keep ran over and slammed the door, ‘you do not want that thing loose on the public.’
‘Why? It’s just a horse. It’s a horse. There’s a horse in here? Why do you have a horse?’ said a clear minded Charlie.
‘Just don’t open or touch anything.’
Simon stood up and ran upstairs.
‘Can you get him,’ said Keep, ‘I’m going to quickly sort something out in here, there’s something interesting I want to show you.’
‘This better be good,’ he said, and went off after Simon.
Keep opened the small oak door at the back of the room and led out a fairly mellow sheep. The sheep’s eyes sparkled. Using a soft vibrating device Keep extracted a healthy portion of semen and then put the sheep back. The sheep had a wonderful life. It dabbled with drugs, had lots of sex with soft vibrating machines, slept a lot, life was perfect. All the sex and drugs made it feel warm and fuzzy. The sheep let itself tumble over in its pile of hay and went to sleep.
Keep heated the semen in a beaker until it was dry and then ground it into a white powder. He then opened a container marked with the words ‘pure cocaine’ and mixed it with the dry bovid love juice.
Charlie came down the stairs with Simon in tow.
‘Right,’ said Keep, removing his safety glasses, ‘this is a fresh batch of what I gave to Simon, it is 100% natural and organic. It cannot kill you, and will not give you a come-down.’
‘Why are you telling me this? I don’t do drugs.’
‘It also gives you full control over your hallucinations.’
‘That’s interesting. How come Simon doesn’t seem to have any control over his?’
‘He doesn’t know he can control them.’
Those words found their way into Simon’s magical world and settled on a purple beach somewhere in the back of his mind. Simon went to the beach and stared at the giant 3D words and smiled. They read ‘YOU ARE GOD’. Simon turned around and found himself in Keep’s lab. He looked at Charlie, and with barely a thought, turned him into a giant baby.
Charlie was looking at Simon. He was a bit worried about the way Simon was looking at him.
‘Baby want a bottle?’ said Simon.
‘No,’ said Charlie.
‘I think he’s just figured it out,’ said Keep.
Simon turned Keep into an Asian plumber, for reasons even I’m unsure of, and fell to the floor laughing. He remained there for some time.
‘At least he’s happy,’ said Charlie.
‘If people found out that a drug existed that gave you the ability to control your hallucinations, your fantasies, and not have a comedown, then it could make me very wealthy indeed!’ said Keep.
‘The whole world would go insane and everyone would die,’ said Mr. Optimistic, otherwise known as Charlie; the somewhat unlikely voice of reason.
‘I want you to try it,’ said Keep.
‘I gathered. But why?’
‘You present a good argument,’ said Charlie, ‘Ok, but only a bit.’
Keep cut half a line of the mystical new drug on the lab table and handed Charlie a rolled up bank note.
Charlie inhaled. The drug rampaged through his system and set Charlie’s mind alight.
‘I have an idea for a book!’ Charlie shouted, and ran upstairs.
Keep quickly gathered the new batch in a pot and stuffed it in his pocket. He grabbed Simon by the collar.
‘Come with me!’ he said, and both men ran up stairs after Charlie.