Continued from: Nocking the List: Part 6 — Avon Fraulein
The sheets clung to his sweaty chest and back. His ankles itched beneath his bunched socks, and he wondered how he could’ve climbed into bed with them on. He hated wearing socks to bed. Or clothing other than his pajamas. But he felt the binding constriction of his clothing—denim wrapping around his legs, collared shirt around his neck. He floated in some murky state, fragmented dreams drifting away from nauseated reality. It seemed like a small fissure was edged into his brain, and sweaty fingers massaged his temples as he prepared to open his eyes. He wished he had a bottle of cold Gatorade at his bedside to wash out his dry, filmy mouth. The gentle ticking of his clock sounded uncomfortably loud, and his mind drifted to the stories of torture he’d read in his military history books—sensory disorientation: POWs and terrorists alike driven to the edge of madness. He counted off the tick-tick-tick rhythm, his semi-conscious mind painting a cartoonish dog walking on hind legs, steps keeping pace with the clock. Thin ropes of saliva fell from the dog’s jowls, a dim, almost muted sunny summer sky and the silhouette of a bloodhound from some far away memory was above him. He felt a tongue lapping across his chapped lips just as his eyes jolted open and the lurking dog dissolved back into his childhood.
The ringing phone was like a saw vibrating through his head as it split the quiet of his room. He rolled over and adjusted his eyes against the light peeking through the blinds, hoping the persistent ringing would cease. He sat upright, the world taking a sudden, rogue-wave lurch, and he felt there was a good possibility he would puke onto the floor beside his bed. He choked it down, smacking his lips to try and rid his mouth of its rancid state. He picked up the receiver just to get it to stop ringing, still smacking his lips. “Hello?” he managed in a whisper.
“Carl. Where the hell are you?” It was Ben Walter, his supervisor.
“I… I’m sick. I’m real sick. I can’t make it in today.”
“Were you ever planning to call and let us know?”
“Sorry. I… I was out dead to the world. Must be the flu or something.”
“All right. Get some rest. And you best be here tomorrow. You’re out of sick time.”
“Yeah. All right.”
Carl hung up the phone and rolled onto his back, groaning, “What the hell …” His mind trying to piece together what had put him in this state of sickness, trying to cognitively trace back to the last thing he remembered from the night prior, the last thing he…
He heard the far-off voice of a woman calling.
Carl put his head in his hands and said, “Oh shit.”
To Be Continued