The details are murky. At sometime after 2am, at some point post-drunk and pre-comatose, that point where he'd already been sick so much that the next week his ribs would still be sore from the heaving, he and a fellow rugby player (who was visiting from New Zealand) decided to steal a duckboat. Normally this sort of idea would be lofted into the soldily chilly night air and laughed around, what a great plan, etc etc. Drunken tomfoolery. The usual high plans in low places. Heists of all sorts would come to mind. This, though, was not that sort of funny jokey ha ha thing. No, this late into toxicity, it was a dead serious idea, a shove into a momentum that would have taken them somewhere rotten anyhow, so it may as well be in a stolen amphibious vehicle.
The last day of his job at EA. Can you imagine working for something as bizarre as a corporate gaming company? OK, you know how you probably like computers or did at one time, right? And their not as much fun as a game, but hey, they can be fun. But you go work for Dell or HP and they suck all the life out of your interest, leaving you with carefully blueprinted nostalgia for something that never had a soul. Well, imagine that except the starting product is actually fun and the ending product is precisely the same. There's just a much larger fall. By the time he left, he'd been spending most of his time pirating music and movie from torrents and the then-ripe P2P networks. Since his job had been moved to various other states and countries, he marked time, avoided email, and downloaded a terabyte of purloined entertainment. His last day, he left at lunch. I get the call around noon, meet for drinks at Elephant Room. I show up at 4:00, and he's already deep into it, a few co-workers with him. They're not friends, they were just friendly...they knew him at work. So they look lost, and slightly terrified, as he starts to lose his cheery edge and get angry.
My grandparents were on their last RV roadtrip ever. They were on the road to California, and stopped off here to visit. My grandparents are very, very religious. Southern pentacostal crazies, the holiest of holy rollers. When the phone rang at 5am on a sunday, I was already up and making coffee for my grandfather. The voice at the other end of the phone was drunk and hard to understand, and the connection was terrible. I could make out two phrases, one of which was repeated a few times: "Congress Avenue...stuck...come get me hah! BAD THINGS! BAAAAD THINGS!" I got dressed and got in the car, and drove the few blocks to downtown, and started down Congress from the capital, figuring he'd be somewhere south of the river. Six blocks down, I see his car, left front wheel snapped at the axle, parked in a handicap space in front of a group of homeless people. The driver's door is open and he's hanging half out of the car. I pull around, see where he'd curb-checked the opposite side of the road, see the rut his rim had cut into the ground as it veered him into the parking space where he's high-centered the front axle on a barrier. I parked close by. Got to the car, and he sort of moaned. The homeless folks laughed. I tried rousing him, ended up yanking him to his feet. "Hey FUCK let me get my keys!" and I dragged him to my car, secured his car, found a stack of cash that I handed to the homeless folks sitting there, and drove home. On the way, he kept slightly rousing, drunkenly yelling "BAD THINGS!" and laughing maniacally. One arm had a nasty gash that had already scabbed up, there was blood on his clothes, he was a mess. Smelled like stale alcohol and cigarette smoke. Mumbled fierce things punctuated with squealing laughter. We made it home, and I dragged him to the restroom on his side of the house past my breakfasting grandmother and grandfather. My grandfather, a recovered alcoholic, chuckled. He managed to live through that one, but the parts of the night I'd missed had been pretty eventful.
Story 5, Cont'd
After sobering up, he told me what he could remember. He'd been sitting in the bar some eight hours after starting to drink when a few friends had shown...rugby teammates who'd go on to be roommates and life friends. This was a few hours after I'd left. One of his remaining former co-workers had become strangely vindictive, annoying him to the point that they'd thrown some punches and got thrown out of that bar. There's something about losing a bad job. The job sucked, the management sucked, everything about the place was awful, but the worst part was he didn't get to stick it to them. He hadn't done anything to them. They'd cut him before he could do much more than waste their network bandwidth. It was annoying. Years of annoying. So he and the guy he'd worked with had it out. Once the guy left and they'd moved on to a new bar, he proceeded to get really very drunk. Several bottles of whiskey drunk. And at some point there while getting kicked out of yet another bar, they decided to steal a duckboat.
"I don't know who had the idea, but we couldn't not do it. We had to. So we climbed the fence to the yard where they're kept, trying to be stealthy. Ever see drunk rugby players? Not stealthy. We climbed up the first duckboat we saw and tried to smash the window. Ended up finally gettng it smashed, and I reached in to unlock it, which must have been when I cut myself. The Kiwi gets in and says 'It's a flipping Chrysler, I can't hotwire this!' so I starts yanking wires and shorting them, making sparks. By then the guard who must make regular rounds showed up. We ran at him, tackled him, ran past him, and scattered." They went back an hour later, talked the guard down from calling the cops back, and paid him for the damages in cash and weed. The guard says, you crazy fuckers, you really want to go for a ride? He called a guy who drove one of the duckboats, and for more weed and cash they get a private alcohol-fueled duck tour. "These are not BAD THINGS" he shouted, standing. "We are NOT cool motherfuckers. We are paying a fare! We are responsible consumers!" he yelled, then fell over the side. Rescued, the party moved on. The driver got stoned. The passengers threw empties at parked cars. The duckboat plunged into the heart of the chilly night, an ark of Bad Things.
By the time he got back to his car, he couldn't see properly...one eye swollen, more alcohol than blood in his blood. Luckily he didn't kill anyone. Just luck. The same sort of luck that leads to late night private duck tours instead of jail. His car was towed and ticketed, then days later totaled by the insurance company. His arm healed just fine. Today he works for a very large government contractor making sure our world stays free.
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