I didn’t ask for any of it. In fact, if I had my way, I would forget it happened altogether. But I just can’t forget it; I close my eyes every night and there it all is, from beginning to end. Since I don’t want it to screw up my dreams, I usually get it to go away by thinking of beer commercials, or what happened on NASCAR the night before, or my guy. But the memory never completely leaves me; it’s right back in my head again the next night, or even at random moments throughout the day.
So, much as I’d like to, I guess I’ll never be able to completely forget the zany mess I went through after Mel’s birthday party two weeks ago. I suppose you just can’t forget something like that. It was an adventure, though. A real adventure. I don’t know too many people who can honestly say they’ve had a real adventure. So I figured hey, since I can’t just forget about it and pretend it never happened, I might as well write the whole thing down…
My best friend Mel is as much of an alcoholic as I am. Every birthday, she seeks out a new bar in hopes that each one will have better booze than the one last year. Sometimes she succeeds, and we get to spend the night drinking ambrosia like gods. Sometimes she fails, and we’re forced to get by on distilled monkey piss. But no matter how good or bad the bar of the year is, it’s my annual duty to take the stands as her birthday drinking sidekick.
I must’ve gone a little overboard this year, because it’s the first year I’d ever drunken away the ability to walk. Mel and Erma—both drunk enough themselves, but not to my level—both had to shoulder me out at the same time while our designated driver started up the car. But try as they might, I still slid off their shoulders and hit the ground the moment we exited the bar. I don’t remember what happened after that; I was out cold.
I woke up the next day feeling like one of those cartoon characters that get their heads smashed with anvils. I was still on the ground, on my back and looking straight up at the sky, and I was pissed at the girls for just leaving me there. It didn’t take too long for the all-too-familiar feeling of my stomach going into reverse to force me off my back, though. I spewed all over the ground in front of me, wiped my mouth with a wet-nap I’d gotten from the bar, clutched my head, and moaned. Then I staggered to my feet and reached into my dress pocket for the quarters I’d thrown in there before the party, in case of a situation when using the bar’s single pay phone would be in order. I was relieved to find that nobody had picked my pockets while I was out.
It was only right then, as I had finished up checking my pockets for the coins and was imagining all the cussword-littered phrases I would holler at Mel over the phone, that I realized I wasn’t in front of the bar anymore.
“What the hell?” I examined my surroundings the best I could with a throbbing head. I had no earthly idea where I was anymore, but it looked like one of those dusty-meadow-type places I see when I go visit my friend Justin way out in the countryside; wide, grassy farmland and little ramshackle houses scattered here and there. It was the kind of place where you run into two kinds of people: overly-friendly farming types (like Justin) or crazy rednecks. I was livid. Obviously the girls had decided to take advantage of me the one time I’d drunken myself out cold, and they just piled me into Sunita’s car and dumped me out here in hick town. I was more furious than any had ever seen me and probably ever would, and I swore to myself that if I ever laid eyes on either one of them again I would beat their ass then and there. “Goddammit, goddammit!” I hollered, kicking the ground in front of me to punctuate each cuss. I spun around and blindly kicked something behind me—some kind of old-timey Greek statue of some sort—before I leaned over and spewed again after my stomach decided to protest my outburst.
That’s when this gravelly voice out of nowhere said, “Look, lady, I don’t know why you’re so fired up, but there’s no need to kick other people about it. Go and kick the guy who pissed ya off, will ya?”
I stumbled backwards, landing on my ass, like a cartoon character. “I…what?” I blinked a few times just to clear the haze and all. I’d watched enough TV to know what was going on here: my hangover was so bad that I was hearing talking statues. I never hallucinated during a hangover before, but I’ve hallucinated while drunk many, many times. Oh, well. What else was there for me to do but talk back until I snapped out of it?
“Sorry,” I said, just as casually as if I were at work and a talking statue asked to find a book the library didn’t have in. “I really needed something to kick and I didn’t know you were…you know, animate.”
“I can see up your dress.”
Whoops. I was pretty…sprawled out at the moment. “Look harder, you might see something real interesting,” I said, closing my legs and sitting up on my knees.
“Don’t flatter yourself, girl. You’re not my type.”
“Too fleshy for you, am I?” As fun as it was trading smartass remarks with a statue, I really wanted to know where the hell I was. But I didn’t think my hangover-induced hallucination would be able to answer that.
The statue asked, “You want something to stop that vomiting?”
“Yes, please,” I replied. I’d have given anything to get my stomach to stop churning, even if I was only imagining that it stopped. “And can you get me something for my head too? It feels like an elephant stepped on it.”
So that’s when the statue stepped off of his pedestal—one foot, then the other—and walked off, presumably to get some Tylenol or something. He was surprisingly fast for how I’d have imagined a statue to move; I figured all that stone would weigh him down, I guess. But he moved with the same walking speed as a human, making the sound of two stones rubbing against eachother as he did so. I clutched my head with both hands and waited patiently for the imaginary Tylenol.
I didn’t have to wait too long before I heard the rubbing-stone sound that marked his return, though I was a bit surprise that I still hadn’t come off it yet. He held a flask of some clear, bubbling liquid in his right hand. “Aw, no,” I said, “I don’t need alka-seltzer. Did you bring me anything for my head too?”
The statue leaned way down—more stone rubbing on stone—to hand me the flask. “I don’t know what alka-seltzer is,” he said, “but this should do the trick if you drink it down.”
Well, if you can’t trust your hangover-induced hallucinations, who can you trust? I took the flask and gulped the fizzy stuff down, much as I really hate having to one-gulp anything that fizzes; the bubbles went up my nose and the fizz burned my throat, so that when I finished I was coughing. Still, I managed to splutter out, “Thanks.”
To my astonishment, both my headache and my stomachache disappeared as if I never even had them in the first place. Oh, good, I thought, I’m finally coming off it. I looked up, expecting to see the statue back in place on his pedestal, looking down at me with the cold, stony—and rather condescending, I always thought—eyes that were becoming of a statue. But instead, what I saw was the statue twisting his upper torso back and forth—producing those rubbing sounds with each twist—like I do when stretching for the gym. He was looking down at me like I was something really interesting he was examining under a microscope.
My first instinct, of course, was to back away and run screaming down the dirt road. But that would make me look like a pussy, and what good would that do? So instead, I just said as casual as could be, “This isn’t a hangover-induced hallucination, is it?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“So you’re really talking to me, and moving around and everything?”
“I don’t see what’s so offbeat about that.”
“Oh my god.” I pressed my palm to my forehead and shook my head. “Where the hell am I?”
“Obviously not anywhere familiar to you,” the statue replied.
“Obviously.” I stood up, shook my head again, and handed the empty flask to him. “Do you have a name?”
He returned to his pedestal and stood with one hand on one hip. “Doesn’t everybody have a name? Do they not have names where you’re from?”
“Of course they do,” I said, momentarily contemplating the absurdity of not having a name. “But where I’m from, if a statue has a name it’s carved into its pedestal, and I see that’s not the case with you. Oh, and by the way, the statues don’t talk and move where I’m from, either.”
The statue shook his head. “Well, then, so far I don’t like the sound of where you’re from. So, if they have names where you’re from, then what’s yours?”
“I asked you first!” I said. “Oh, fine. My name is
Lynn Falkbridge. Now what’s yours?”
Edmonton Mumford III.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” I said. “I hope you’re okay with me just calling you Al.”
The statue nodded. “That’s fine.”
So we were finally getting somewhere. “All right, Al,” I said, as polite as could be. “Now, can you please tell me where I am?”
“I can tell you that,” Al said, nodding. “You are in Hickory Dickory Hamlet.”
Aw, shit. Now that stupid nursery rhyme would be stuck in my head all damn day. “Is there any relation to Hickory Dickory Dock?” I asked, chuckling at my own reference, which is what I do when I really hope somebody gets my reference. But unfortunately, Al didn’t get it. “Not that I know of,” he replied. I couldn’t see where else they would get “Hickory Dickory” from. “Is everybody here a statue, then?” I asked. I glanced at the shacks dotting the meadow and imagined crazy redneck statues bursting out of them, brandishing stone clubs and screaming at people to get off of their property.
“I’m the only statue around here, Al said, which really ruined my funny mental image.
“So, did somebody build you,” I asked, “or do the statues around here all have little statue babies?” I’m not even going to touch upon the mental image that gave me. Al rolled his stony eyes at me. “Somebody built me, of course,” he said. “But don’t ask me to remember who it was.”
“Was it somebody in one of those houses over there?”
“I don’t rightly know, Lynn Falkbridge.” Al returned to his original position on the pedestal. “If you want to know about the people in those houses, why don’t you go over there to those houses and ask them?”
I looked over at the shacks again. “Because I don’t exactly want to go knock on some random guy’s door without knowing whether or not the random guy has a shotgun,” I told him matter-of-factly.
“Well, then,” Al said, “I’ve given you all the information I have, and I can’t give you anything else.”
“Well then at least give me one of your arms to use as a shield if you expect me to go over there and as those people for help.” I was only half joking, and also half wondering if statues like Al could feel pain from being shot. “How do you handle being shot?” I asked him.
He gave me a snarky but for the most part good-natured grin. “I’m not letting you test it out,” he said. I could tell he was half joking too. I said, “Oh, boo, you’re no fun. Well, here’s hoping I don’t run into any crazy hicks, then. I guess I’ll be seeing you.” Though the truth was, I didn’t actually plan on seeing him again. I just wanted to know where I was, so I could figure out how to get home to holler at the girls.
Al gave me one of those cheesy fake salutes. “I guess so, Lynn Falkbridge,” he said cheerfully. Then he reached out and patted me on the back—a surprisingly delicate gesture. I saluted him back and began heading down the dirt road, towards the hick houses. For such a smartass, Al was a pretty nice guy. I usually get along the best with smartasses, anyhow.
How many people can honestly say they’ve met a statue who was a pretty nice guy?