'She bit me!' a voice screamed. 'She fucking bit me, man! What the hell is wrong with this place?'
The voice screaming was my friend—my partner in crime. His name was Dawson. Ralph Dawson. Or at least that's what he claimed it was. I didn't really care anyway. We were sitting in a bar in the middle of nowhere drinking whiskey and discussing random nonsense and smoking cigarettes and cigars and just enjoying ourselves in a crappy, small desert town in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly this petite blonde woman walked up to my friend and began chatting with him. At first she appeared to be harmless, just another sleazy redneck trying to find a warm body to wrap herself around during a cold and lonely October evening. She was flirting with. Dawson was an easy target—he was drunk beyond repair; tall, brown-haired and—apparently—handsome. But then, suddenly, out of nowhere, she bit him in the cheek. Obviously my friend screamed out in pain, cursing and shouting and spilling his drink in the process. He was going mad... raving mad.
'You stinking whore!' Dawson yelled as he rose his fist in the air to deal a blow upon the young girls untainted face.
'Don't!' I rose from my chair. He stopped the punch mid-air and just looked at her. 'Let's just go; this place stinks anyway.'
He lowered his arm and brushed away his long, brown hair with the other. 'Yeah... you're right,' he said. 'The bitch doesn't deserve to be touched by a handsome fella' like myself.'
I could see the fear in the young girl's eyes as we got up and left. She was obviously on some drug fueled crusade, trying to find the answer to why she ended up where she was by chewing acid and shooting up and clinging onto whatever crossed her path. Tonight, she had lost it. It would probably take a long time before she could process what had just happened. She had probably, for some reason, received signals from her brain telling her she was in danger—that she was being attacked by a giant, demon-like creature covered in thorns and oozing of pus. So in her mind she was just defending herself, protecting the only thing she had that was of value left in this world—her life.
A cool breeze stirred outside. I lit a cigarette as we crossed the street and started our drunken stumble toward the motel where we were staying. Dawson was carrying a bottle of Wild Turkey that he had snatched from behind the bar just before we left. 'This could get in handy,' he said as we passed through the front-door of the motel. I said nothing, I simply nodded in agreement.
When we entered our room all I could think about was getting some sleep. It had been a rough day, and the incident that occurred only a few minutes before had gotten to me. I was shook up and I needed sleep. But I ended up spending the night drinking with Dawson and smoking cigarettes instead. It was dawn when I was finally able to get some sleep.
I awoke with a major hangover around noon the next day. Dawson was nowhere to be found, his bed was made, and he's shoes weren't in the room. I got out of bed and entered the bathroom. When I looked myself in the mirror I noticed that I had note taped to my forehead. It read:
'Scoring some M. Back by 5.'
Drugs. They had been a big part of my life during my adolescent youth, just after my father had died. I had done nearly anything out there, from alcohol to the most depraved and irresponsible drugs known to man. I stopped doing drugs years ago when my recreational use began to border on obsession and abuse. I shook my head and headed into the shower. After I had gotten dressed I headed out to find something to eat.
The best way to cure a hangover was to pour ridiculously large amounts of black coffee into your system. Also, a few beers helped the healing process. This was the last valuable lesson my father had taught me. The waitress—a beautiful young woman—brought me three beers, a pot of coffee and a newspaper. As I scanned the headlines I began pondering the reasons for this journey—and why the hell I chose to undergo this mission with a man like Dawson.
I had met Dawson two weeks ago at some hospital which name I can no longer recall. He was there for an ordinary check-up. I, on the other hand, was there to get my death-sentence. The doctor gave me two months—three if I were lucky. He wanted to start treatment right away, but I refused. Dawson was there to pick up the pieces, and whatever remained of my very being.
During one night of drinking I uttered that I would've like to drive across the country at least once before I died. I told him I wanted to drive from coast to coast with the road and myself as my only companions. Nothing but gravel and concrete and the scorching sun. A decadent and depraved journey, by all means. But is was my journey. A long forgotten dream. I wanted to see the light one last time; I wanted to feel the warmth before I go... before the curtains close on me. That's what I told him, and it had left him silent—speechless.
He took a sip of rum and looked at me. 'Man... it's got to suck knowing that you're going to die,' he finally said.
'We're all going to die, Dawson.'
'I know... I know. But I mean, it must feel different when you know your—how should I put it—expiration date. Doesn't it?'
I didn't say anything. I simple raised my glass and nodded.
'Take the trip,' he said after a few moments of silence.
'What?' I asked him, surprised by his sudden statement.
'Take the trip. Just do it, man. Do you have money? Rent a car and drive across the country. Find that last sensation of warmth. Live while you have the chance. I mean, I think it's a good idea.'
'Hell yes. Only one problem, though.'
'What's that?' I asked him and took a sip from my Bloody Mary.
'You're not going to do this alone. I'm going with you,' he said and pounded his fist on the table. Then he called the waitress for four glasses of rum with ice and four Bloody Marys. 'Hell, man,' he continued as he lit a cigarette, 'you can't expect me to let you do this alone now, can you? I mean, hell, just think about it! The women, the parties, the booze, the landscapes—'
'—and the drugs!' I interrupted, and downed the remaining whiskey in my glass.
'Shit,' he said, 'I almost forgot about the drugs!' The waitress arrived with our drinks. 'To life,' he said and raised a glass of rum. 'To life and living it the way it should be lived if you only have two rotten months left on this godforsaken junkyard, also referred to by the name of planet earth!'
I laughed. 'Hell yes! There is only one way to go out when you have nothing to live for, and that is by getting twisted and travelling across the country in an real car and by screwing whatever Looney Tune that comes by. By God, man. This is it—the beginning of the end! Cheers!'
'Cheers!' he said, and we downed our drinks.
The next morning I rented a car and the rest... is history. Two days later we checked into that rotten hotel in that small desert town where hell would soon break loose.
How the hell did that happen? Was I really that drunk? A part of me was ashamed when I thought about it all, but I knew this was the only way for me to go out. Most people, when facing death, usually prefer to spend their last days, months, years, whatever, with their loved ones. I, however, didn't have anyone. So why not spend it with Dawson? It made a lot of sense now that I thought of it.
'More coffee, sir?' the waitress asked me.
I looked at her and shook my head. 'No thanks,' I said. 'I better get going now anyway. Could I have the check, please?'
'Of course,' she said and smiled. She hurried off and returned a few seconds later.
'Thank you,' I said and left the money on the table, grabbed my coat and left.