Even though he had just woken up, Paul felt exhausted. He knew one or two of the yellow jackets he had in a baggie in his top dresser drawer would pep him right back up again. He thought about it for a minute or two, went and got the baggie, carried it into the bathroom and flushed them down the toilet. His headache was still there, but very much subdued; tolerable, but just barely. He knew some Aspirin or Tylenol would probably help, but Paul wanted nothing to do with drugs of any kind – not even ones that were over the counter. He was done with it; or at least he wanted to be. Paul knew this was going to be tough. His party friends were sure to come by in the coming days. Would he be able to turn them away? He had had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends, finally felt accepted within a large group. But at what cost? It wasn’t worth it, he realized. He had two great friends in Tom and Bryan – the best. He knew they’d always be there for him, if humanly possible, through anything. Why would he want any more than that? He knew he had parents and a sister who loved him, even though in retrospect, they should have never left town and left him alone; and she should have watched over him more closely. But then again, he did a good job of keeping the extremity of what he was doing concealed from everyone. No. This was his situation, created by himself and nobody else. He needed to learn to appreciate the people in his life. But above all else, right now, he needed to find a way to make changes in his life. He needed to get away from all the temptation that he was sure would be around in the days and weeks, maybe months to come. He needed to get away somehow. If he could do that, he could work the rest out.
As Paul thought about all this walking out of his bedroom, he couldn’t help but notice how good the house looked despite how long it had been since he straightened anything up. Even the dishes were done – he couldn’t remember the last time he actually did the dishes. Once they were all dirty, he just kept rewashing the same pot to cook Kraft macaroni and cheese in and eating it right out of the pot. Thinking of food suddenly made Paul realize how famished he was. He thought about how long it had been since he had eaten anything – two days at least. He still felt exhausted, like he could collapse at at any second, but he knew he had to get something in his stomach. He grabbed his keys and drove down to a local greasy spoon, 24-hour hamburger place – the kind of place that was always packed when the bars closed or after a good party. At this time of the day however, the place was nearly desolate. The only other customer was a middle aged guy sitting on a barstool at the counter propping his head up in his cupped hands with a half-eaten burger, a half finished cup of coffee, and a half smoked cigarette in an ashtray in front of him. Paul sat down at a booth. When the waitress came over, he ordered two burgers, an order of fries and a tall glass of water. After finishing his meal, Paul paid the bill at the register and drove home. As he pulled into the driveway, he didn’t notice that his dad’s car was parked across the street.
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