When I came to I discovered the furniture had been removed from the room. Gone the bed frame, the nightstand, and the fire truck lamp. The walls were bright white. My face registered no surprise.
I stepped from the bedroom as if to meet an opponent, and the bareness of the living room leapt at me. A ring of dust spread where the La-Z-Boy had been. I kicked off my one remaining slipper.
"Well," I said.
"For God's sake," I said.
I went into the kitchen and found the furniture stacked up at crazed angles. Sofa cushions in the sink, La-Z-boy on the stove. I climbed over cabinets to reach the refrigerator, found a glass of tomato juice, and poured it down my throat thick and pulpy. I put the dirty glass in a desk drawer. My fish-white feet were bare.
When I tried to say "Good morning," my lips stuck together.
What had happened the night before I couldn't remember. The only thing I heard was the sound of Jane's voice -- which, in memory, was soft and repetitious.
I remembered that I was in love. I ran out to my car, a 1957 Nash Rambler with peeling paint and no hubcaps. I got behind the wheel and drove eighty miles an hour to a shopping mall downtown. In the parking lot of the mall I drove forty in circles, round and around, reading a biography of Jane and me. I propped the book on the dashboard and steered with my knees. My bare feet punched the clutch and accelerator. The biography was interesting but was written in a dry, academic style, so I threw it out the window. I turned on the radio. It was Jane's voice. I said, "All right."
Tires swirled rubber across gray, steaming asphalt. I was in love with nowhere to go. The mall was a long brown block I was speeding past.
Realizing I was thirsty, I went to a drive-thru liquor store called Stop and Sop. The microphone at the drive-thru was disguised as a plastic beer bottle
"Hello," I said.
"Murf, murf," said the lady.
I told her she'd better articulate herself or else.
She said, "From this blanket of ashes, our Life, springs not one but a thousand dancing angels, their hearts dappled flags of moonlight, their wings slim and silvery."
So I said, "From infancy to the grave we march a ragged line, huddling under our broken cloaks -- attenuating our treasure, our warm wilting hope, our bright final flower."
I drove up to the window, revving the engine. The lady leaned out in her red and white uniform.
"People are precious as prizes," she said.
I told her that was only alliteration.
She gave me five bottles of whiskey and I peeled out of the parking lot, swerving the tires everywhichway to leave good-looking skid marks.
On the freeway I did eighty. I rolled down the windows and threw out the cigarette lighter and the lid to the glove compartment. I ripped out the rearview mirror. When I polished off two of the bottles, my driving improved. I said, "Oh yeah."
I got home the next morning and remembered the furniture. The white walls whirled. My stomach jumped like an angry, barking dog and I spun, throwing up in every direction. When I finished, I regarded the abstract, brown-red splashes on the tile. I thought, Pollock.
Brushing my teeth, I began to grow tired. The mirror showed a face heavy with its immense, gruesome smile and I remembered I'd been in my pajamas all night and day. I noticed I'd dribbled some toothpaste on the collar.
"Nobody knows," I sang to myself.
I went into the kitchen, singing, and threw my car keys on the drain board. I climbed onto the couch, which was balanced on the counter, the cutting boards and spice jars. I squirmed around trying to get comfortable. The shades were up and sun streamed through the window and pounded my face. I felt my brain moving at eighty miles an hour: I was alone in my day-old pajamas and my songs were the only thing I knew. I sang myself to sleep with a knife-like voice.