Larry leaned over and whispered, "Marcy?"
He touched her face, "Marcy?"
She flopped a hand into his face. Pushing him back she groaned, "Too early."
He kissed her on the forehead. Marcy grunted and flipped over, curling herself into a tight ball. Larry smiled what felt like his first genuine grin in years. She was real. This was all real. Then the tiny people in his skull entered the industrial era, and began a mechanized assault, using double ended jackhammers to simultaneously attack his brain and punch a hole through his temples.
Stumbling his way to the kitchen he tripped over a body splayed out on the floor. Scanning the small apartment he recognized several figures draped over furniture like Dali's clocks. He looked at the body on the floor, Loco Ludo. That meant it was sometime in September or October. Loco Ludo only ever drifted into Chicago around the Fall. It was close to the end.
At the kitchen sink Larry filled a tall glass. He drained it in a few seconds, and repeated this process until he no longer felt the desire to chug. Soon enough the water cooled his enflamed brain. Around about a liter of H20 later he felt fine.
Chuckling to himself Larry went to the bathroom. He took a nearly two minute piss then looked at himself in the mirror. He was himself, yet not entirely. His eyes, though bloodshot, no longer resembled a dog begging to be euthanized; his stomach didn't hang over his pants like a sack of mud; he saw a wolf unchained.
Stepping out of the bathroom someone punched Larry in the balls.
"That's what you get for taking so long," George C. said.
"Sonuvabitch," Larry groaned, doubled over in pain.
George C. pushed him out of the way announcing, "I gotta poop." -- once inside George started singing, "Gonna take a big ol' shit, and Ima not gonna flush..."
Larry shuddered, shivering off the pain. Others around the apartment began to stir. Sophie D. sat up on the couch, said something that might've been a swear -- "barglecunt" -- then dashed to the kitchen sink to throw up. Loco Ludo got up off the floor, and left through the fire escape without saying a word. Jeanie X. slapped herself in the face until she woke up enough to raid the fridge. She then set about making breakfast for everyone. This mostly involved reheating any leftovers from last night.
George C. exited the bathroom with an odd expression on his face. He patted Larry on the shoulder, "It was so black I think I shit out a goth kid. Success!"
The drummer sauntered off to find a beer. It didn't take long for the other band members to join him. A part of Larry thought, 'That is just reckless behavior.' This thought was soon accompanied by the notion, 'It sure is, and yes you should do the same.'
Jeanie X. blew her nose into a napkin. Seeing it covered in grey and red she tossed the mess at Sophie D. The bassist slapped it out of the air.
"Ewwww," Sophie said, "What were you doing last night?"
Jeanie shrugged, "I dunno. Felt great though. Right to the end I mean. Then the room was all like a kaleidoscope, and I saw Elvis beating up Reagan."
George C. carefully considered this vision before biting into a cold slice of pizza covered in bacon bits. Larry went to the fridge and pulled out a beer.
Sophie asked, "Getting ready Larry?"
Larry furrowed his brow, "For what?"
She shook her head, "For tonight."
Still unsure Larry said, "What's tonight?"
George remarked, "Dude, usually you remember shit afterwards. You're getting old."
"I guess I've just had a lot on my mind lately," Larry said.
Sophie said, "You're drink-fighting tonight."
Larry snapped his fingers, "That's what day it is."
Jeanie climbed up to sit on the countertop, "You're taking on Malcolm Brennan."
Larry nodded, "That's right. The King."
George cast a dismissive wave, "King my ass. Condescending asshole is what he is. He once saw me nose blasting, said cocaine is no good for children, and had his goons take it from me. Then they went out to the bar and just gave it away like they were being generous. Too bad it was just coke. Couldn't do much harm."
"Not judging by that mess," Sophie said pointing at the grey, red napkin on the floor.
"That wasn't coke, I swear to god," Jeanie said, "At least not only cocaine. There was definitely something else in there. Like pineal gland or orphan tears."
"You all talk too loud," Marcy growled. Everyone stopped what they were doing to shout hello, good afternoon at the top of their lungs. Marcy smirked and gave them the finger. Shuffling across the room in a t-shirt four sizes too big for her, Marcy muttered, "You kids enjoy ya eating. Ima shower."
She stepped into the bathroom closing the door behind her. The hiss of water soon followed. After a moment the door cracked open. Marcy stuck her head. Pointing at Larry she said, "You. Come here."
As Larry headed over Sophie began making classic porn bass notes with her mouth. Inside the bathroom Marcy grabbed him by the shirt front and kissed him hard. He could taste last night still on her tongue, from the rusty twang of beer to cigarettes and scotch. And he loved it all.
Malcolm Brennan considered himself a king. The man was larger than life in more ways than one. From his size 51 waist to his ability and desire to make buffets regret any all-you-can-eat mentality, Malcolm Brennan believed in excess. He once bet he could eat a horse. He won.
Larry didn't care for royalty. He belonged to a ragtag group of underground gypsies more admired for their tenaciousness than success. They were known as the Roger's Park Rogues formerly The Lincoln Square Squatters formerly the Humboldt Park Hobos, and briefly the Bucktown Bum Smugglers, but more often than that long winded title, they were simply LSDelight and Company.
One night Larry watched Malcolm playing aristocrat in a small dive. The king flashed wads of cash which he threw at the waitress instead of handing to her. He bought rounds of drinks, but only for specific customers, making a point to announce his arbitrary reasons for excluding others from the King's Round -- "He's too ugly to have this pretty a woman. I am balancing the universe to make things fair again." Whenever someone put a song on the jukebox he didn't like Malcolm unplugged the machine.
The exact particulars of how the initial challenge went down will forever be a part of underground folklore. Perhaps it's even better if the real details go unknown. After all, the legend claims that Larry poured an ashtray into a shot of whiskey, downed the contents, and puked on Malcolm to shut him up. The truth is Larry went outside to smoke a cigarette. He saw the king puking on his own shoes. A group of Malcolm's friends came outside, and the king immediately claimed:
"This cunt puked on me like the lil bitch that he is."
Larry tried to calmly explain, "I came out here, and found him like this. It ain't my fault he can't hold his liquor."
"I can hold more than you boy."
Things soon devolved from there into a gathering of Chicago's finest misfits to witness the ensuing drink-fight. Standing outside the Lighthouse Larry looked at the friends he'd lost ten years ago. They reminded him of punk rock pirates.
Marcy said, "It's not too late. I'll flash a little boob, lure his highness out back, and bam! we give him a boot party."
"That's why I wore these." Sophie D. lifted up her one foot in a combat boot and brought it down hard.
Staring into the sky Jeanie said, "There's a teddy bear somewhere not getting hugged."
George wrapped an arm around her shoulders, "You really need to lay off the hallucinogens."
Jeanie said, "You're right Pink Whale."
Larry turned to face his compatriots, "You guys are the best, and I know I'm going to win." -- adding in the back of his mind, 'This time.'
PART 3: REGICIDE, AND THE BIRTH OF BEERFINGER