The Hangover

May 30, 2020 at 9:27 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly, That's not funny...)

The day before my birthday has always been a big party day. On my twentieth, I spent a day and a half getting ready by going to a Judas Priest concert and then drinking in the park. My 21st was a work night, a Saturday night, and I did work, but I was in a bar seven minutes past midnight, already drunk. I’d stay up way too long, then wake up wondering WWWWWTF I’d been doing?

It’s been years since I’ve had a hangover, which is why it seemed weird that I woke up in a mild panic, trying to remember what happened last night? I hate that sense of dread.

* * *

I’d planned a four-day weekend, taking a rare Saturday night off. I texted Dizzy at lunch, “Four days! If I can only make it until midnight.” Three hours to go.

She wrote back, “You can do it!” A cat meme reminded me to keep hanging in there.

It had been a quiet night. Lottery sales had finally slowed down. It was the end of the month, and even with a $1,200 stimulus check there was not enough money to keep the old ladies gambling through the month. I’d listen to music, read the paper, deciding I’d do as little as possible to get through the shift. I was due a sanity break. When I heard the beginning of a ruckus, I got up from the milk crates to take a look. I saw the beginning of a march heading the wrong way up the Avenue, so I hurried and locked the door. As the swarm crested the intersection, a hooded figure ran toward the store, demanding entry. I shook my head, and turned to leave. He slapped the door HARD, but went away.

Seemed like a good time to go to the bathroom.

I walked slow, giving my old bones the benefit of a leisurely shuffle, as opposed to a purposed march. I have embraced washing my hands, as it gives me 20-40 seconds of not listening to a smelly, mentally ill panhandler pretend they don’t know how to use a food stamp card. As I scrubbed, enjoying the Pantera earworm crashing around my cranium, I heard two or three loud bangs. Oh man, sounds like the new trashcan just died. I moved a little quicker.

The masses had moved past, a few lingering back. I opened the store door, and the new trashcan was fine. But the A-board from Hop Sing’s restaurant, and its list of daily specials, had been put through the restaurant window. There was a gaping hole, and the OPEN sign was hanging out of it. Folks were aiming for the store’s lights, so I hurried back inside, locking up. “Nope,” I’d shake my head at them. I have a hard enough time getting one naked woman out of the store. A bunch of unruly males? Fuck that. I would sit there for a minute and let things quiet down.

I called Officer Tommy at Clean & Safe, told him what’s going on. “There’s all kinds of shit going on downtown right now. I’m not coming down there to check on that. You might call the owner and let them know.” We wished each other a happy weekend, if and when we got there.

Another phase of protesters went by, and a tweaked-out teenager began beating on the door. I called 911, who took my name and address, then told me that the cops were busy and present all over the neighborhood, and, unless I was being physically attacked right that second, to remain locked up and ride it out.

Sounds good. I listened to some more Pantera, then decided I’d better let Eva Braun know about the window before she saw it on the news. A text got a worried phone call, and soon Master P was calling. I was told to just keep doing what I was doing, so I kicked back and enjoyed the quiet.

Except it wasn’t quiet. There was a lot of shit going on outside, but I didn’t want to unlock to look. I heard via text message that the dumpster on the corner was on fire. (Dr T says hi, and I can borrow his couch if I can’t make it across the bridge.) Danke!

Giggles called, letting me know that MAX was no longer running, and that he’d be late. The way people were behaving, any wait at a bus stop would be a heart-stopping experience, perhaps literally. I may just stay late and take up Dr T on that couch offer.

Hell, it may all be over in half an hour. As Bachman-Turner Overdrive would say, let it ride…

I cleaned up, counted my till out and locked it in the safe. (I wasn’t opening for business, and Giggles can start his own shift.) I sat near the door, being visible but trying not to look interested. If we look bored, maybe they will go somewhere people get excited about mindless violence. I’m just sitting here, silently judging and cursing you.

Not one person approached the door that I would let in. The sound of Giggles’ key was as musical as anything I’d heard all day.

I updated him, but he knew more than I did. The dumpster was indeed on fire, and the restaurant window was not only broken out, at least three people were wandering around in there, munching and drinking. Wow. I hope any of Hop Sing’s extended family made a break for it.

How would I get home? I’d heard buses weren’t coming downtown, and my stop was near the Justice Center, where the march/riots began. Lovely. I was dialing Transit Tracker when the phone rang. Giggles answered, it was Master P. They talked for a minute, and then Giggles handed me the phone.

“I am up near the Pink Store; I can give you a ride home if you can get up here, but I’m not coming down there. I’m not afraid for my safety, but I’m driving my wife’s Mercedes, and it’s more of a target than a Datsun.”

It was about ten blocks away. I made sure he had the proper phone number, then I got ready to go. Pfft. I had been ready when Giggles walked through the door.

I wanted to take a picture of the Hop Sing window, but as I stepped out my ears were met with a 110-decibel announcement: “This is the Portland Police. This is an unauthorized gathering. LEAVE THE AREA NOW OR YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ARREST.” The hint of smoke in the air was nothing like I’d smelled before. After two breaths, my dentures were hot and I began to sweat. Tom Jones began running down my face. (“Snot unusual..”) Shit, I just got tear-gassed.

I got around the corner, ahead of the marching stormtroopers. I’d forgotten all about the window. I just wanted to be in a car and out of here.

Master P had the car running. I piled in, and we looped the edge of the riots before getting on the I-405 and getting the fuck outta there. We followed a trooper to my house, and I was delivered intact to my door, with the caveat that my four-day weekend may get interrupted. But they would try not to… I thanked Master P numerous times. He probably assumed I meant the ride, but I meant EVERYTHING.

I got inside, remembered it was Friday and not Saturday, and tuned into the upcoming repeat of the 10 o’clock News. Except it was already on. No wait. This is LIVE TV. My work area was being live-broadcast on Channel 12!

I got into my crash gear, rolled a joint of Nine Pound Hammer, and smoked the stresses of the week away. I munched a cheap frozen burrito, as I was going to dine out as a birthday treat/special occasion thingy. Fuck it, I will do something special tomorrow. If I feel like it. I love not having obligations.

Except I couldn’t let my obligations go. My eyes kept drifting back to the TV. Oh shit, they just busted the windows of the bank by Pioneer Square, and are setting the bank on fire. (Once more, thanks Master P for the ride!) The crowds would move around, and it was kinda fun to watch my neighborhood on TV.

But it made it so much more personal.

As I started to feel the indica’s effects, I curled up on the bed, watching with one eye open. Hmm, I recognize that color scheme. It was the drug store kitty-cornered from ours. People were breaking the windows, and going inside. Soon they were dragging items from the pharmacy into the street, and setting them on fire.While I’m no great buddy of Giggles, I wish him nothing bad, and I felt like I should have been there with him.

Piece of Shit

I watched the crowd, looking for people I recognize. (If I do, I will turn you in, you pieces of shit.) I had to laugh when I saw one young man I recognize. He’s an amputee that looks like mass-killer Jeremy Christian, and lives near the store. When I saw him in his wheelchair next to the window of the pharmacy holding a prosthetic leg, I had to laugh. If the Oregon Health Plan won’t gitter done, take matters into your own hands. Or feet.

Except Wesley wasn’t stealing a prosthetic leg for his own use. He was using his own prosthetic leg to defend the pharmacy (and himself) against the shitbird hooligans destroying so many people’s lives. He’d stand one-legged, face to face with a young man brandishing a baseball bat. Mr Baseball stepped inside the pharmacy, then swung his bat at Wesley’s head. He missed Wesley, but took out the ceiling to floor plate glass window between them. Then everyone ran, toward my store.

Of course there’s no sleeping now. I watch as the news crews follow the mob, and am as relieved as appalled when I see them breaking into the pawn shop a block over, instead of hitting us. Thieving cocksuckers walking out of smashed windows and doors with thousand-dollar guitars while his pig girlfriend brags about it on Instagram. Idiots misspelling gibberish on historic statues. Hey, unbroken glass! Shaking my damn head.

I watched until the metaphorical test pattern. By 5 AM, I was asleep. (But not until after my bro-in-law sang “Happy Birthday” through my bedroom door at 4:20 AM.) I was up by 9 AM, awake and panicky like I’d been on a bender and needed to make sure I wasn’t on PDX Mugshots. The news was back to nonstop coverage. The mayor is pissed, and I hope the rest of the world is, too.

I’d made big plans to do nothing this Saturday, but I needed to see my second home. I love downtown, and I had never felt more under attack than when I was watching Wesley standing there, fighting for Right with his fucking leg as a club. I had to see for myself.

But first, I needed an attitude adjustment. Sister had saved a jar of the best weed we had grown last year; it was actually some I’d given her, but she knew how much I liked that strain so she saved it and gave it back to me. So I got more stoned than usual and watched the SpaceX launch. If anything had happened there, I think I would have crawled into a hole and died. But Bob and Doug McKenzie are having $20 beers on the Space Station, and I’m here on planet Earth trying to get half as high. I’d have high-fived myself, but my shoulder is just about healed…

MAX trains were all fucked up, but I got downtown eventually. Old Town didn’t look much different. Nothing pretty to break here. But as we got up around the Upscale Mall? Holeee shit…

I had not seen that many people downtown in months. People in bright green vests scrubbed graffiti. Cars cruised the streets, looking and jamming intersections. There really were truckloads of broken glass. I smoked a bowl here and there, making my way to the store. I passed Matteo, our pet homeless person. He sits on the corner, lives on dollar sodas and panhandles cigarettes all day. We all love him; he looks like a perpetually stoned Sasquatch, and comes up with the best obscure lines. (“My lawn mower needs butter!” while handing me a $5.)

Five Finger Discount

“Morning, Matt! That was a helluva party you threw last night. Can we try to tone it down it down a little tonight?”

He laughed. “Yessir! I was gonna clean up, but I kinda forgot all I’d done.”

I noticed he was wearing brand new shoes. I wonder if they came from the mall…

“Carry on, youngster!” I always salute, or give him a Fonzie-like thumbs-up.

“I love you, grandpa!”

Honestly, I thought I would heard that first from one of my grandkids, but WTF. A 40-year old schizophrenic can adopt a grandpa, I guess.

Foxy was working day shift; we caught up on gossip and I decided to get back to my four-day weekend. Master P cruised by, honking and looking happy to see us holding down the fort. He wasn’t driving the Mercedes this time.

I’d contemplated Killer Burger for my birthday dinner, but it was closed, even though it was relatively unscathed. The cornhole virus has most eating joints jumping through more hoops than I want to make them do, so I will go home and find another frozen burrito or something.

Except the MAX I’m on only goes to Gateway, so I might as well get off and go to Freddy’s. That’s when mine and everyone’s phone starts screaming like an amber alert. Everyone on MAX received the mass-text that the city is going into lockdown at 8 PM. I can’t go out for dinner tonight, even if I could find a place to visit.

Fine! Fucking fine. I bought pizza, ice cream, and a Sunday paper on Saturday. Fuck. You. Criminal. Shitbirds.

I miss the nice people… But they will be back, and the slimy cocksuckers trashing my town will get what they deserve.

And on that happy note, I will leave you with my first favorite song, which was the number one hit record of 1971. I still have a concrete frog named Jeremiah. He’s about fifty years old now.

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