Three in the morning, just returning from a drug run to the convenience store down the street. Mucinex, throat relief spray, NyQuil, everything they had in the smoke-filled Allsups.
Back at home, walking up the steps and a pile of cats jump from somewhere to somewhere, I don't know what they were doing or where they were going, but they were in a terrible rush about it, and they didn't mind making enough noise to scare the piss out of me.
Inside, I immediately peel off my clothes, and if you've ever been to an Allsups, you understand why. It's a particular smell, distinct and dominant, and it hangs around until you wash it out. I'll have to deal with it in my hair until a more reasonable shower hour. Even with the stuffy nose, the scent is overwhelming.
I break open the safety seals, peel back plastic, drink and swallow, everything red and green, Christmas colors. "Stay hydrated," people told me. "Take vitamins," they told me. "Get plenty of rest." These are the things people tell you when you mention that you're getting sick. Like it helps. For all the good it has done, I might as well have knocked back shots of hard liquor and stayed up all night indulging in video game playery.
But they never tell you that. They never say, "Oh, you're getting sick? What you need to do is drink plenty of Jim Beam and play Wii until the sun rises."
Wake up shortly before three, coughing up a taste I'm plenty unsure about, my throat aching and itching. I try to go back to sleep, but the coughing won't stop, and the pain that accompanies it is enough to annoy me into action. Not excruciating by any means, but that doesn't make it less irritating.
I can't say I'm surprised by any of this. I knew I wasn't making it out of here without catching something. Too many late nights, too many kids coughing into my face. My sister swears that there's no way I caught it from her kids--citing the fact that I would have been sick days ago if I was going to be sick because of her kids. Maybe she's right, maybe her adorable little germ monkeys are innocent, but that doesn't change the fact that I knew it was coming in one form or another.
The NyQuil's kicking in now, to the sounds of Dangerdoom singing to me about Space Ghost. No Robitussin, which would have been my first choice, but the Quil's not bad for a runner up. Licorice-love taste, evil-green color, the syrup warms me and makes me feel a little weird, like when your aunt with the big tits hugs you.
The Mucinex is because my princess says it's the stuff, and although she's hundreds of miles away, probably sleeping comfortably, I can still hear her voice asking if it's safe to take two different medicines together. In my head, I tell her stop asking me questions like that, and then I wash down the pills with a swig of the Quil.
The throat spray sprays wild the first time I try to use it, numbing the side of my mouth like you wouldn't believe. The second spray hits me in the back of my throat, just above the aching spot, but just right for my gag reflex, and I have to take a deep breaths before trying again, giving myself a little pep talk about how there's no need to puke.
The third spray isn't so bad, probably because whatever almost caused me to gag a second ago is now numb to everything. Generic Chloraseptic. Maybe it's because I delivered pool supplies at one point in my life, maybe it's because I was a plumber for a while, but that name just doesn't seem like a good one to me. Makes me think of crates of highly corrosive chlorine liquid and congested septic tanks leaking all kinds of nastiness.
I think about saying forget about the spray-top. Just unscrew it and knock back a couple swallows of the wicked stuff, but the voice of my princess is in my head again, telling me to quit being an idiot.
The Quil has kicked into the next gear, making it hard to type, making it hard to think, making it hard to stay awake. The ache in my throat is persistent, though, and the runny nose doesn't seem to give much of a shit that I'm tired.
But I'm going to give this sleep thing another shot, I guess, even if it's for no other reason than to say "Yes," when people ask me if I've been getting plenty of rest.