Every star in heaven was out that night. Every single star from the brightest and most glaring to the softest and faintest. Together they made interwoven skeins, almost like smoke but shiny, in an arc across the blackness of the universe. I carefully tilted back my head and looked up. Amazing, I thought. Stars all over. Some were lone rangers, sparkling in solitary splendor while others gathered in groups and patterns and sparkled together like choral singers. Others were so far away and so faint that they were like silvery dust. I thought maybe somewhere out there intelligent life was looking down here at me. Me, the fuckup.
I had no idea how I was going to get home. I was out in the boonies somewhere, sitting in a ditch by a gravel road that obviously didn’t get much traffic after dark. I couldn’t see much, but I had the impression of trees on the far side of the road and a pasture on the near side, an impression based mostly on smell. The near side smelled of damp grass and manure and the far side smelled like the ravine behind my house: leaves, bark, moss, dirt. I saw no lights which meant there was no farm nearby or, at least, not one with anyone up late. The one bit of good news was that most of my spewing had gone all over the inside of the Mustang and not on me. I had some puke on my sleeve from wiping my face and some on my knees from I don’t know how, but my chest was clean of vomit. And my hair. So at least I wouldn’t be covered with puke when I found someone to help me. But I probably stank from the skunk weed and the cigarettes. Icky.
I negotiated my way very carefully out of the roadside ditch mostly by crawling. Once I felt the gravel under my hands, I carefully hoisted myself upright again and stood swaying, but balanced, until I felt more or less stable. Then I started to walk. I had to go slowly because the road was rising and falling beneath my feet, and my toes kept catching on the gravel. My knees were as wobbly as Jello. I was aware of my bones, my joints, and my head bobbin’ along at the end of my neck. I had to conserve my energy, too, because it was going to be a long walk home.
But it felt good to be upright and to have enough control to move. It actually felt good to shamble along. And I liked the clean, cool feel of the night air sliding by my hot forehead and sighing in and out of my burnt lungs. The air, scents, stars, and blackness all mixed together around me and inside me, healing me. All I had to do was keep moving and I’d be okay and I would never, ever screw myself up with too much booze again. And then I saw the coyote.