I was awake but could only muster enough energy to open one eye. My head was pounding and I didn't have the will to move but had the frantic feeling that I'd die if I didn't do something besides lay there. Memories of the night before came in bits and pieces, a sure sign that something or a number of somethings had taken place which I probably wasn't going to be too proud of. I remembered Howard and I lifting a to-kill-ya toast but, if I recollected right, our chairs tipped over backward as we were gulping and we fell over on our backs. We must have been sprawled on the dance floor because a lot of folks seemed to be hiking a leg as they went by but we just laid there and laughed. I guess we figured on falling down sooner or later anyhow and since it had already happened, we might as well lay there as anywhere. There were also vague memories of a woman but she disappeared in the haze with the rest of the night. I groggily felt the other side of the mattress in case there was a lump lying next to me.
My head was still pounding unmercifully and I had been lying there for some time contemplating whether to get up or just pass away quietly when Howard opened the door and slowly crept in. He looked like a man on his last leg. He staggered across the room and, with a pained expression, opened his mouth to speak although it took several tries before anything more than a whimper came out.
"Better pee on the fire and call in the dogs," he said. "I believe I'm sure enough kilt this time."
It was difficult but I was able to turn my head enough to see him as he sat on the foot of the bed.
"Damn boy," I said weakly. "You got to watch walkin' through the pasture when you're drunk. You must have fell face down in a cow patty."
"You ain't exactly no beauty queen yourself, drizzle-britches. Would you mind shootin' me? I'd do it myself but my hands are shaking so bad, I'd probably miss."
"You're on your own pardner. Don't believe I could squeeze the trigger."
I was still in the same position with my head turned and one eye open as if any movement might finish me off. I was holding my head in my hands. I think I was trying to corral anything that hadn't leaded out yet.
"Where's Shorty?" I asked.
"Throwin' up on the porch."
"Throwin' up behind the house."
"Did Jose come back with us?"
"Threw up behind the barn. Passed out in the corral."
It was a chore just to breathe but I managed to roll over and sit on the edge of the bed. Forcing myself upright caused me to be overcome with dizziness but I managed to steady myself before I fell over. I knew if that happened, I might never rise again. I wondered how I could feel this bad and still be conscious but here I was anyway. With a little luck, I thought maybe unconsciousness might overtake me again in a minute or two. Anything had to be better than this.
"Don't figure Jose'll get trampled, do you?" I asked.
"Doubt it could make him feel any worse."
Momentarily, Howard and I crept to the front door and opened it only to slam it shut after being blinded by the morning sun.
"What...in...hell...was...THAT!?" I asked.
"I believe it was the sun but I think there's two of them. Why can't we have a hangover on a cloudy day, just once?"
We eventually made it outside and after getting somewhat use to the six fireballs hanging in the sky, saw Shorty sitting on the front steps. In a few mintues, Luther came around the house and sat down in the dirt. Jose straggled in momentarily from the corral and I didn't notice any blood or hoof prints on him so he was none the worse for wear. We all sat around, each dealing with his own pain and knowing from experience that it wasn't going to go away for a long while yet. My mouth felt like it was full of dirt but figured somebody ought to say something. Since I was the resident mouth, I figured it fell to me.
"I tell you boys, I ain't no world traveler by any stretch of the imagination but I been to three county fairs and a hawg-callin'. I ain't never seen anything like this. Yall remember if we had any fun?"
"I don't know anything about no fun," Shorty answered. "But yall are the noisiest damn people I ever heard."
He suddenly leaned over as if about to heave but nothing came up. It was an odd kind of sound. Not exactly human. Kind of like a pissed-off prairie dog.
"I could hear a rat pee on cotton," he added painfully.