I was in bed Monday night when Travis showed up on my doorstep at 2 AM, looking like shit. I had Keaton come over and we had Travis tell us the story of how he got there. It involved a sketchy chick named Lola he meet in a park near where he’s living, a cheap motel, and a joint that was probably laced with angel dust.
“Then what happened? Did you at least get to hook up?,” I asked Travis.
“Yeah,” he said, “but then it got weird. I mean, she started acting weird, and I started acting weird too. It wasn’t a mellow feeling anymore. I don’t know how to describe it…but I wasn’t enjoying it. And then I kinda was. She said we should get out of the motel room and she had me call and uber to take us… She said there was this great place where we could get something to eat, but then she couldn’t remember where it was…and she thought it was fuckin hilarious because we couldn’t tell the uber driver where we wanted to go. So he finally dumped us on an abandoned street corner, I think it was in Rosemead. Then she was all over me again and said we should go back to the motel, but we didn’t know where we were. So I called lyft, just in case uber had a record of the fact that the driver had thrown us out of his car – but neither of us could remember where the motel was. Anyway, as far as I can remember, she then started freaking out about how we were lost…and that got me freaking out. We had this huge fight out in the middle of fuckin nowhere…and then she wanted me to smoke another of those joints. She said it would calm me down. I was totally freaked out by this point, so, when the car came, I took it all by myself. She started laughing when I told her to fuck off and she wouldn’t let go of the car door. Finally I told the driver to drive and I think we just left her in the gutter.
“Only problem is I didn’t know where to go. I was afraid of going back to Las Brisas, especially as it was past curfew and I must have still been visibly fucked up, which would really get me in trouble. They’re pretty strict about their no drug policy. And I didn’t want to go home and freak my parents out. I thought of going to Dylan’s…but, same thing, he’d have freaked out.
“So I turned to you guys again. I’m sorry…I probably should have called or texted rather than just showing up…but I lost my phone. It’s probably the last car I took, since I must have used it to pay. I have no idea where it went after that.” He stood up and checked his shorts pockets, just to be sure. No phone.
“And how’d you get that?,” I asked, pointing to his torn shirt.
“I’m not sure how that happened, either. I mean, I know I fell in some bushes somewhere, but I don’t remember when or how. Do I still have leaves in my hair?”
“Yeah, you got a couple,” I said, picking them out. “Did you hurt yourself?”
“I can’t tell.” He moved around some. “My arm’s sore, but who knows where that came from when I can’t remember half the night.”
“Important thing is you’re alright, hoss,” said Keaton. “You did some stupid shit and had a pretty fucked up night…but you’re safe here and bubba’ll take you back home in the morning. I’m sure they’ll understand. You haven’t been a problem for them in the past, have you?”
“No,” said Travis, shaking his head pretty vehemently. “I’ve been a model citizen.”
“Then I’m sure it’ll be ok with them. Once you apologize and shit,” I said. I figured it would be, too; I wasn’t just talking to make Travis feel better. I mean, this Las Brisas place is a mental health facility. They’ve got to have dealt with people who have bipolar disorder like Travis before…and, after he told his story, it did seem to me like he was having a manic thing. Okay, a manic thing and a sex thing. I’m not sure, but it seems very possible to me that manic things and sex things can be the same thing.
Travis yawned a huge yawn…it wasn’t a normal yawn, but, then, he was coming down from whatever shit it was he smoked.
“I’m sorry, but I’m crashing here. I gotta go to sleep or I’m gonna pass out on your table.”
I looked up at Keaton, meaning ‘my couch or yours?’.
“I gotta work in the morning, bubba, so you’re gonna drive him back. He might as well crash in your apartment.”
“That ok with you?,” I asked. “Keaton’s place is better decorated, though.”
“Fuck you,” said Keaton. We all laughed, then we had to literally help Travis to the couch. That’s how ready he was to pass out.
And then he was out like a light, and kind of stiff too. I wanted to get him a pillow, but there was no way to get it under his head.
“So he’ll wake up with a stiff neck in the morning,” Keaton said. “That’s probably not going to be the only thing that hurts. You got a blanket for him?”
“Yeah,” I said, going to the linen closet and getting Travis the blanket I use for the few weeks it gets really cold in Pasadena.
“You sure he’s gonna be ok?,” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Keaton. “I reckon so. He seems to be at the end of his run. We just gotta hope that the mania will have worn off along with the drugs and that he doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night and run off someplace else.”
“Where’d he go?,” I asked. Me and Keaton have kind of become his last resort.
“No way of telling,” said Keaton. “But I reckon he’ll be fine. Get some sleep yourself, bubba. We need you looking good for the cameras. Didn’t you say they were filming you with Matteo tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” I said, letting Keaton out. I checked on Travis after I put the cereal bowls in the sink, and he looked like he was breathing normally. I got back into bed, but it took me a while to fall asleep. I was worried about what was gonna happen to him when I got him back to the place he’s staying. The person I spoke to on the phone seemed cool enough, but that was the nighttime staff…maybe the people in the day are stricter.
I set the alarm for 9, like I usually do. I lost some sleep, but I thought I might be able to lay back down after taking Travis home.
I reckoned Travis was gonna be hard to wake up after his adventures and whatever shit he had in him, and I was right. He was still breathing and everything, but when I tried to wake him up…nothing. I tried prodding him…still nothing. I actually got a little scared, since I have no experience waking people up from nights spent with druggy losers named Lola. I finally gave both his shoulders a good shake, and he came to…
…with no clue of where he was or how he’d gotten there.
“Hunter!?,” he said, sitting up with a start. “What are you doing here?” Then he looked around. “Where am I?”
“You’re in my apartment. You don’t remember coming here last night?”
I could see he was making an effort to remember.
He shook his head. “Nothing. How’d my shirt get torn?”
“I don’t know. Neither did you. Do you at least remember Lola?”
“Lola? Oh, fuck…yeah, her I remember. Did she drug me or something?”
“Keaton thinks you smoked a joint laced with PCP.”
He was sitting up and holding his head by this point.
“Keaton was here too? What time was it when I woke you guys up?”
“Around 2, but it’s cool. Once you’ve had breakfast and cleaned up, I’ll drive you back…”
“Yeah…probably to get kicked out. On the other hand, the pressure to be sane at Las Brisas is pretty minimal…and I’m sure I’m not the first person to have gone AWOL like this. Although I’m sure they’re gonna give me a drug test and shit.”
“Look at it this way, I said: if they do do a drug test, you’ll at least know what you took…and to stay away from it in the future.”
“I guess,” said Travis, not sounding convinced.
“You should call them and tell them you’re on your way. And all I can feed you is cereal and a cup of coffee.”
“I haven’t had a decent cup of coffee in weeks. They don’t give it to us. Some bullshit about caffeine being a trigger.”
“Well, mi café es tu café,” I said, going to the kitchen. I’ve got plenty of shirts I can lend you, since that one’s a little too fucked up to show up in if you want to make a good impression. They don’t have to know all the details…well, as many details as you remember. You weren’t too clear even last night about how you tore your shirt. Best hypothesis is that you feel in the bushes outside here.”
“Fuck, man,” said Travis, with a note of panic in his voice, “where’s my phone?”
“That was a mystery last night, too. You probably left it in the lyft car you took.”
“Lyft? Why would I call lyft? I always use uber.”
“You want to know the story you told us?”
So I told him.
“If I were you, I’d call both lyft and uber. People must be leaving their phones in their cars all the time.”
While the coffee was steeping, I went to the bedroom and came back with an old tshirt.
“Here,” I said, “put this on. I should have given you something better to put on last night.”
“It’s ok. I don’t remember anyway.” He laughed and switched shirts while I got the Fruity Dino Bites out.
Travis had a couple cups of coffee and a big bowl of cereal. He seemed to have an appetite as well a headache. I took the appetite as a good sign.
After he’d eaten I got him to call Las Brisas. It was a long call, and I could tell that he was trying to give all the right answers.
“It’s going to be ok,” he said, after he hung up.
“What did you tell them?”
“That I was out with Dylan and some friends and that it got late so I spent the night here with you. I left out most of the real story, although it’ll come out if there’s a drug test. The part that sucks the most is that I’m going to have to go into a 14 day quarantine because I spent the night off-campus and I might have picked something up while I was out.”
I felt a little insulted, given how careful I am about COVID…but then I thought about that Lola chick…and who knows what all Travis could have picked up from her.
“You should shower and I’ll give you something clean to put on,” I said. “You should look like you came from a night at a friend’s house, not a night wandering around Rosemead with a sketchy chick who feeds you drugs she makes you pay for.”
“Good point,” Travis said. “You wouldn’t happen to have a toothbrush, would you?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” Joyce gave me a few of the toothbrushes she always keeps on hand for guests. “I can give you a mask, too. You’re gonna need one.”
I just threw on one of my rattier pair of basketball shorts and an old tshirt to drive Travis back. From the way he explained it to me, I wouldn’t be able to go in with him, even to help him explain, so it didn’t matter how I looked. The one thing I did have him do while he still could use my phone was call both uber and lyft and ask if any of their drivers had his phone. It turned out that uber had it, which made no sense based on what Travis told us…but it’s the kind of thing we’ll never get an explanation for. Maybe it’s just as well he doesn’t remember everything…or even everything he told me and Keaton last night.
Uber said the driver would take the phone back to Travis for the price of the trip, so that was taken care of at least.
Travis was pretty quiet in the car; I think he was still feeling bad about having showed up in the middle of the night. I told him I was just glad that he was ok…and that he always had a place he could come to. I reckon I could have lectured him about going to motels with sketchy chicks named Lola, but he was probably beating himself up about that pretty well on his own. I dropped him off – the place looked like it might be kinda nice, actually – and headed home and back to bed. Tuesdays are one of my long days at the Sharpmans, and I needed to be rested if I was gonna have all the energy I need for Jacob…and all the patience I need for Matteo.