He woke up before dawn, as he often does after a night of drinking.

With a full bladder, he struggled out of bed and headed for the bathroom, but the bathroom wasn’t there.

Wait a minute. This isn’t my bedroom.

His eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light of early morning.

Where the hell am I?

He could barely make out the outline of the bedroom, larger than his. The drapes were open and lights from the city skyline flowed in over the balcony.

I don’t have a balcony outside my bedroom. Where the hell am I?

As his eyes adjusted more, he saw an open door on the opposite wall.

The john. Thank God.

He shut the door, turned on the light, shielded his eyes from the brightness and found the relief he needed for his aching bladder.

Nice bathroom. Clean. A lot cleaner than mine.

He opened the medicine cabinet, looking for aspirin, Advil, anything for his throbbing head. No aspirin, just some medicine for menstrual cramps.

What the hell.

He washed the pills down with water from a dirty glass.

He turned the light out in the bathroom, gave his eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darkness, and opened the door quietly.

Yep. There was someone in the bed. He couldn’t make out much in the dim light. Looked like a brunette, a little on the heavy side.

Christ. How did I end up here? Hope I remembered to use a rubber.

He couldn’t find any of his clothes in the bedroom and wandered naked into the kitchen, where he found his underwear and socks. The rest of his clothes were scattered in a line from the front door, through the living room and into the kitchen.

He dressed quickly, trying not to make a sound. A cat wandered in and started rubbing against his leg. He stifled the sneeze. He was allergic to cats.

He peeked back into the bedroom. The form in bed hadn’t moved. He checked his pockets. Wallet? There. Cash? Still in the pocket. Car keys? Not there. Where the hell were his car keys?

He looked around the living room in panic. No keys. He shrugged and let himself out the door and into the hallway, found the elevator, punched in the lobby, and walked out the door.

His car was parked across the street. He ran over to it. The door was unlocked. The keys weren’t in the ignition, he looked in front of the seat and found them laying on the floor.

Thank God. I left the car on a street in Washington and didn’t lock it? Christ, I was drunk.

He fired up the car and let the engine warm up, leaning back in the seat and trying to recreate the night before.

He had met some friends at Nathan’s, in Georgetown. They shot some tequila and his friends left him alone. He vaguely remembered talking to two women at the bar. What did she say her name was? He didn’t remember. After that, everything was a blank.

Putting the car in gear, he drove two blocks and found Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington.

Well at least I know where I am. I can find my way home.

At 5:30 a.m. on a weekday morning, Washington is still waking up. Traffic is light and he didn’t have any trouble getting back to his home in Alexandria. A quick shower, change of clothes and he was back on his way to work. The menstrual cramp medicine had worked wonders No headache. He’d have to remember that.

By 8, he was in the office, drinking coffee and reading e-mail. A co-worker stuck his head in the door.

“When did you finally leave last night? You were still beltin’ ‘em down when we bagged it.”

“Not long.”

“Really? Deb said she saw you there a couple of hours later talking with some brunette. Says you left with her.”

He fumbled for an explanation.

“Just walked her out to the car. Then I went home.”

“Oh really. What was her name?”

“Don’t remember. I’m not sure she ever told me.”

“Deb says it looked like the two of your were ready to get it on.”

“She’s wrong. It was no big thing.”

He finished his coffee, wondered – for a brief second – who she was, then put the previous night out of his mind and went to work.

–Doug Thompson
Washington, D.C.