Chapter 7: Aftermath of Apocalypse

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The aftermath of a Pandora's Box party has certain similar features, no matter how different the parties are.  The house is a disastrous mess, of course.  There is a universal, unspoken agreement that there will be mass sleeping in.  Any cleaning that involves loud noises does not commence until noon at the earliest.  And while it is not always easy living in a large group house, one nice aspect is that, post-parties, someone always seems to get up early, or has never gone to bed, and either makes food for the house, or runs out and gets donuts and coffee, or in some other way provides that key post-party sustenance that we all needed.

Today, the early riser was me, miraculously.  I hadn't slept well, tossing and turning not just because of the second-hand pot smoke and beer that I had absorbed practically through osmosis, but also because the “facts of the case”, as they say, kept rolling around in my head.  (We will draw a veil over the question of how much of my tossing and turning was, well, Sara-related.) I wondered what else Tosh had figured out based on the Pinwheel Man's info; I wondered what else he may have found out in the last few days that he hadn't related to me; I wondered if he had managed to pick up anything during the party.

Too much wondering; not enough sleep.

I never had enough disposable income to buy the house food, and I wasn't enough of a cook to whip up a meal for 15 (there were always extras in the house after a party); my talent was more in the direction of tidying.  So for the next hour, while my mind was uselessly spinning its wheels, I gathered up garbage in Hefty bags, collected plates and glassware in the kitchen, rinsed same, and shoved them into the dishwasher (which would not be activated until after noon, of course), pushed furniture back into its proper position, gathered up towels off the deck and from by the hot-tub, (small task but absolutely critical) brewed the first pot of coffee of the day, and made sure no illicit substances were laying around in case any representatives from local law enforcement had come by,.  (They never came by during a party any more; for one, we warned our neighbors in advance, and for two, after one memorable visit while a number of housemates were sunbathing nude, Lucas had had a word with a local lawyer friend, who had a word with the local sheriff's office about leaving us to hell alone unless something dangerous was happening—particularly when city council members were over.  If you take the hint, Sheriff, wink wink, nudge nudge.)

I heard the kind of coughing that only happens when someone takes way too big a load off of a bong, and figured Tosh had decided on the “hair of a dog” solution to his hangover (if any). Who was I to scoff at his self-medication in such a case?  Not my worry.  I climbed the stairs, in hopes that he might enlighten me a bit and put a stop to some of my brain's useless lap-running.

As I suspected, he was sitting by the fireplace, sparking up another hit, his eyes still watering a bit from his coughing jag.  

“Water?”

He shook his head, concentrating on the flaming bud in the bowl of the bong while he sucked.  He took his thumb off the carb and took in a much smaller lungful than he must have done earlier.  Giving his lungs a break, I guess.  He held it in, then exhaled up the fireplace, looked over at me, and gave me that grin.

“You got info, I guess?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Well?”

He set the bong down, nodded, but held up a hand palm out.  ”Okay, so, what do we know?”

“We?  Seriously?  Dude, I've been studying all week; you're the one who's been out talking to people.”

He gave me that now-familiar surprised look.  ”Zack man, what about the shell?”

“What about the shell?”

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