|College kids get drunk and bad things happen.|
When I was in college, I had a friend named Jimmy Z. Jimmy Z was a big drinker. When he drank, he was also a big puker. The biggest, most copious puker anybody ever saw. One night, Jimmy Z puked on the ceiling.
I lived in a house off campus. I didn’t have a car, and the house was five miles away from the school. So a lot of times, I hitchhiked to school, or took the bus, or even walked. Sometimes I got stuck on campus and slept in the dorm rooms of people I knew. Jimmy Z was one of those people.
Jimmy Z and I went out drinking one night at various dorm room parties. We got drunk. Jimmy Z got very drunk. I went back to his room with him.
His roommate was home and trying to sleep. The roommate admonished us about the light, and the noise. Exams were coming, or something along those lines. Jimmy Z’s roommate is a doctor now.
Jimmy Z and his roommate had bunk beds, roomie in the bottom bunk, Jimmy Z on top. Jimmy Z climbed up there. He had some trouble managing it, so I gave him a push on the ass for a boost.
There wasn’t much room on the top bunk. It was tight like a crawl space under a house, or like a drawer at the morgue.
I turned out the light, and lay down on the floor to wait for morning. I had to work in the morning. I was a cafeteria worker.
A few quiet, dark moments passed.
“Pat?” Jimmy Z said. There was sudden urgency in his voice.
“I think I’m gonna puke.”
“I mean right now.”
I didn’t answer, so he went on: “I need you to get me something.”
“Anything. Something to puke into.”
It sounded like he wasn’t going to make it to the bathroom down the hall. I stood, and started pawing around the room. There wasn’t much. Books, pens, paper. Clothes strewn everywhere.
Finally I found a plastic cup. It was a small beer cup, meant for keg parties. It would probably hold about eight ounces of fluid. Not enough. I handed it up to him.
“It’s too small,” he said.
“I know. Hold onto it for now. I’m still looking.”
But it was too late to keep looking. A sound came, like a fast-moving freight train from the depths of Jimmy Z’s nether reaches. It rumbled up through his throat and out into the room. It was a horrible sound, like Satan speaking through Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Jimmy Z puked into the cup. He aimed it perfectly, expertly, like a man diving from a high place into a bucket of water. Not a drop of the puke went anywhere but exactly into the cup.
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The only problem was he had filled up about seven ounces of the originally allotted eight. The cup was almost at capacity. He was crouched over it, holding it in one hand, just inches from his face. He spoke into it like it was a microphone.
“Jesus, you gotta get me another cup.”
“Okay, just hang on.”
“I can’t hang on!”
The sound came again, worse than before. I stood frozen, my mouth an O of horror. The sound was so terrible, it was almost beyond the range of human hearing. All but the splash at the end.
There was this splash, like the sound of somebody big cannon-balling into the pool on a hot summer day. The force of it drove the puke out of the tiny cup in a fan shape, spraying vertically into Jimmy Z’s face, spraying past his face, up into the air, up, up, up, but there was nowhere for it to go. It hit the ceiling.
“Omigod,” he said. “Oh my God!”
The sound came again. And again. And again, but now with diminishing force. There was puke all over the ceiling. It hung down in thick, gooey stalactites. A smell started to come from inside that dank space – Jimmy Z’s upper bunk. It was almost enough to make me puke. I took a step back.
The roommate, the future doctor, rolled out of bed, took his pillow and blanket, and without a word, left the room.
Jimmy Z looked at me. There was puke all over his face. It was a sad, sad face.
“The cup was too small,” he said.