Chapter 21, "I Use My Brain to Make a Decision"
I woke up to a pounding headache. There was pounding in my ears, pounding in my feet, pounding in my nose. There was even pounding in my liver. Sitting up felt like forcing my head through a minefield littered with explosives and woodpeckers.
"Gaaaaaaahhh," I pronounced carefully. Where the hell was I, anyway? This didn't look like my cardboard room.
"Mmmmmrrrufrugh..." If I could find Lou, I could ask him for some contraband Advil. I forced myself out of bed and wandered in a zombie-like state toward the door. Upon approaching the door, I considered it carefully. In my headache-y state, the knob looked complicated and confusing. What sort of sadist would invent such a counter-intuitive device? Instead of attempting to turn it, I chose instead to bang heavily upon it's wood-like surface.
It opened, revealing a woman. "Frig? You awake?"
Oh yeah. I remembered now. I was at the Winston's. And also I was going to die horribly.
Well, life sure sucked right now, that's for sure.
"It's a good thing you're up, sweetie, because the phone is for you." She thrust a black object in my hands that normally, I would have known exactly how to use. Now, however, I just stared at it blankly.
Mrs. Winston looked on expectantly. When I did nothing, she decided to try assisting me. "You put it to your ear...say hello..."
I did as she instructed the best I could. "Hlllurrrrmph?"
"Frig, ye scallywag, squawk!"
I'd know that voice anywhere. "Lou?"
"Avast, aye, squawk! Run with the goop, run with the goop!"
The voice was like a frying pan to the face. "Lou, listen...I'm pretty sure I have a hangover. Can you talk quieter?"
"FRIGGEN' GORGEOUS," Lou said in an oddly robotic voice, "IT IS THE TALLYBONKERS. AS YOU JUST HEARD, WE HAVE LOU."
"Lou, I'm...I can't...headache."
"IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR BELOVED HOBO AGAIN YOU WILL DO AS WE COMMAND."
"It hurts, you see, my head. I'm...pain." I really wished that he would just speak more softly.
"MEET US AT THE PARK DOWNTOWN IN THIRTY MINUTES SO WE CAN EAT YOUR BRAIN OR WE WILL KILL LOU."
This made no sense. Why would Lou want to kill Lou?
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
"I just...need some Advil."
"OKAY. WE WILL SEE YOU THERE."
The phone line went dead. Mrs. Winston, who had watched the entire conversation, assumed an expression as if to say, "What was that all about?"
Then she said, "What was that all about?"
"Advil," I spluttered.
"It was about Advil?" Mrs. Winston gasped audibly.
"No, I need some Advil."
"Oh, it's in the bathroom, sweetie." She pointed balefully down the hallway. I scooted in the general direction of the pointing.
In front of the bathroom stood another challenging doorway. This time, instead of trying, I gave up and sat down on the floor. My brain felt like it wanted to focus on something, but it hurt too much to figure it out.
I thought about pizza, how nice pizza would taste right about now, and how it had been a while since I ate last. Hungry. Hungry and headachey, and geez I was miserable, and - HOLY CRAP THE TALLYBONKERS WERE GOING TO KILL LOU.
I leapt up quickly and suddenly, which made my head throb in an agonizingly painful way.
The tallybonkers were going to kill Lou unless I went to the park and let them eat my brain. And Xlormp hadn't tried to contact me at all, he was nowhere to be found. And Mr. and Mrs. Winston were pretty useless other than for making and consuming alcoholic beverages.
There was only one thing for me to do.
I had to save the hobo. I had to get my brain eaten.
I thought about Xlormp. He was green and sexy. If only...if only I could see him again before I became a complete loony...but no, there was no way, he was somewhere on a spaceship and I wasn't.
I had to write him a note.
"Need any help with the Advil, dear?" Mrs. Winston asked from behind me, making me jump.
"Freakin' wilikers, don't do that!" I shouted with volume.
"Sorry," Mrs. Winston said apologetically. "I just wanted to make sure you found the Advil okay. It can be tricky to locate when you're hungover."
I shook my head. "No, actually...Mrs. Winston? Do you have a pen and paper?"
She seemed confused, probably wondering what a pen and paper had to do with Advil. But she rummaged around in her apron (because she was wearing an apron) and produced a piece of paper. However, she had no pen.
"Will purple crayon work, dear?" She besotted, holding up the wax scribbling utensil.
"Yes, thank you." I took the implements of destructive note-writing and set to work:
I'm going to have to go get my brain
eaten after all. Sorry."
That sounded good enough. I added some hearts and swirly curly-cues for emphasis.
"Mrs. Winston," I said groggily, cramming the note into her hands, "I have to go to the park."
She seemed alarmed by this. "But you're supposed to stay here, where you're safe."
"It's really important, is the thing." Shoot, I would have to come up with a really, really clever reason for leaving. "I have...um...a soccer game."
The human woman's face lit up. "I didn't know you played soccer!"
I nodded. "Oh yes. I play it all the time. Every Monday."
"Why, I used to play soccer all the time too, when I was a younger person!"
This sounded like helpful adult nostalgia. Hooray!
"Go, go play your soccer, you crazy kid," Mrs. Winston quivered sobbingly, wiping a tear from her eye. "But come back right after, or Xlormp will kill me. Probably literally."
"Thanks!" I smiled, gleeful for my quick cover-up. Trying not to think about the death that awaited me shortly in the future, I turned towards the exit. "Um, Mrs. Winston...can you get the door for me?"
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