Erik Larson

Jul 3, 2009

The Morning

Neil Williams’ eyes squinted in the light diffuse through the window of his studio apartment and at once he felt that sinking feeling of sobriety after so long as King. Reasons. Problems. Worries. And a headache.

He could never eat, after a night like last.

Without eating came withdrawal, and with withdrawal, more beer. This hopeless cycle Neil had come to accept, but the price he paid for being King was obvious enough. He was no fool.

She was fast asleep and he instantly hated her. Playing her part in his failures and still here. The ones that stayed, they were the worst. Fucking bitch. There was beer in the fridge and that was the only thought that brought with it less than full depression.

After a six pack of beer he could face her, well enough to get her out of his place without incident, anyway. She’d want to go get coffee or something like that, but she was a fool, and it would be hours before he could see her again as King.

He could never eat, after a night like last, and so he’d drink the beer, poured in a cup, sitting on his patio and wait until part of the King would show. Then, he could eat. And maybe she’d have left, or at least he could talk to her.

Somehow the apartment complex had deposited the trash dumpster directly across the way from his patio. Late at night, raccoons would sniff into it, and he would watch them on his patio. Surly bastards. Walk across the street with your shirt off and a slosh of whiskey and stare them down.

Three messages on his phone. Don’t look until that first beer. No, don’t look until several. The world was full of perky imbeciles organizing and arranging their lives as if they might be King through nervous energy and schedules. But you can’t be King that way. King is King.

She rises and starts talking but by now he’s into his third beer and her image and the sounds she emits have become bearable.

“What’s up?” she says. Geez. It will be a while before he’s King again.