King of the Castle

(June 12, 2005)
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He couldn't explain why, but it was Dolan's opinion that cigarettes tasted better the second time around. Specifically, when he awoke on Thursday morning, face-down in his ashtray, he wasn't half as disgusted as he would have expected. Of course, waking up in the half-comatose state of the post-binge lush on a weekday tends to weaken anyone's sensibilities. He retched a couple of times, dislodging a number of butts and several other small objects from his throat - the penny was particularly unusual - and rolled onto his back, feeling like a slow-motion replay of his usual self.

Something was moderately awry. It took a moment of perplexed squinting, but he couldn't help but notice that the ceiling seemed a lot nearer than usual, looming overhead like a concerned parent. "I'm fine, relax" he mumbled confusedly, the pointlessness of this statement taking several seconds to sink in; the stucco took it in stride with quiet dignity, though, so he didn't feel too embarrassed. He reached up and traced a swirl, its edges twisting into a vague smile as his vision blurred. "Don' laugh at me..." he muttered, pulling back his arm - and found that his withdrawn elbow was met with resistance only from the hangover-enhanced air. Dolan shifted his eyes to the right - a cheerful pain spiralling across their sockets to remind him that even the tiniest motions were a terrible idea - but could see nothing; with a heavy sigh, he lifted his head by the slightest margin possible, and glanced downward.

Dolan had a wavery memory from the night before, one which involved his mounting the couch via every definition possible and declaring himself, "The king of the mo'fucking castle! Lord of the land and poss'bly the dance! Minister of the, uh, ministry!..." His audience had laughed heartily, both because of the words and because they'd issued forth in what resembled a castrated banshee's scream, if a banshee were to shotgun a dozen bottles of Molson in succession. Unfortunately, they also seemed to have acted accordingly once he slept the sleep of the dead drunk.

He teetered timidly atop an impressive stack of stuff balanced on that very couch, one which swayed lightly in time with his breathing. A quick once-over covering everything he could reach - which wasn't all of it, he was pretty sure - suggested that somewhere underneath him lurked: at least two folded futon mattresses; a snuggle of pillows (that being their proper group label, if you must know); one or more broken lamps; a hot plate, apparently turned on, since he drew back his arm sans some of its hair; innumerable shoes, most of them his but many unidentifiable; the lumpy, rolled-up poster he loved more than most people (the one of the woman's torso, hundred-dollar bills covering the breasts that made her chest-waist ratio dubious at best); and his ashtray, serving in the buried pillows' stead. This pile held him a good seven feet off of the floor, and after experiencing a moment of stunned awe - How the hell did they get me up here? This is practically Yertle-style turtle-stacking! - he realized that he had no idea how to get down, short of rolling off the side and colliding with the coffee table below. His aching body and as-yet-unmarred nose begged him to think of something better, but Dolan's mildly pickled brain wasn't coming up with much.

You see, it's rather impossible to stand up or even rise into a crouching position when one has no more than a foot and a half's clearance between one's floor and one's ceiling. He could slither off of his throne in one of a variety of directions - except, unfortunately, the only one that'd really help. Dolan cursed his decision to place the couch in a corner of the room (the better to leave room for the hookah) in several aesthetically pleasing ways, banging his heels against the wall until his head threatened to launch away from his neck in response. He paused, then flopped back, spread-eagle, onto the top mattress, his eyes half-crossing. His left hand struck something small and plastic, and he realized that someone had left his cellphone next to him. Well, at least the bastards have some common sense... he thought as he attempted to summon the phone into his hand without actually using any muscles. This wasn't quite as effective as he'd hoped, so he summoned it with a certain flailing corporeality instead, and started calling his way through his phonebook.

Forty-five interminable minutes later, he had dialed the last number and had been laughed at in much the same way he had while still in the 'A' section. The consensus was, to paraphrase a set of friends united in their sadism but divided by their need to pun and lob incestuous insults in highly original ways: "You're the king of the castle, so why don't you find your own way down? Asshole."

Dolan was starting to suspect that he'd managed to irritate his dear friends at some point during the largely hazy night. He seemed to recall smacking his serfs around with an empty beer bottle, but did his best to convince himself that such was only a beautiful, alcohol-induced dream. He pleaded and whined in a not unimpressively whiny and pleading manner, but to no avail; soon he was out of options, and in the same mess. (Admittedly, he was a bit worse off by then, since his bladder had decided that enough was enough somewhere around 'G,' but for the most part his predicament remained stable.) All that remained was to take the plunge, so with a weary sigh, he did: with a great surge of energy (well, okay, it was a whimper and a mild push), he flipped over the side of his glorious lookout, spreading his arms and curving his back as he plummeted.

(A good lesson to consider here is that if you ever get really plastered and someone builds you a stairway to heaven, you might want to request a viable escape route.)

He landed, face-first, in a second ashtray placed strategically next to the coffee table - moved exactly three feet away from its usual perch, he couldn't help but notice. Dolan decided to enjoy the rich tobacco flavour while waiting for the world to stop spinning, though this was at least partly because he was a hung-over oaf who'd just fallen seven feet onto a hardwood floor. He couldn't explain why, but the cigarettes were even better the second third time around, tinged with a dash of humility.