A ray of warm light bathed his face. Stairway to Heaven?
A dark figure in front of the light, looking down at him. God? St Peter? Dad?
As the clouds cleared slowly in his throbbing brain, reality kicked in. It was the damn cat standing by the open window again.
Mr Ming was his Siamese cat from hell.
It was the cat's breakfast time otherwise it never sought his company. It had a habit of staring at him till he took care of its needs.
Just sitting there and staring, too good to miaow like a normal cat. Cold fury in it's eyes.
He turned his back to the window and pulled the covers over his head. There was no way he was getting up just yet.
As he lay there, his mind started running over it's usual Sunday morning check list, How did he get home? No Clue. Is this home? Of course, where else would the fetid feline be. Did he change for the night? He slowly felt down only to be comforted by the warm familiarity of his pajamas.
Was Susan there with him? He looked around. It didn't appear so.
Wait a minute, his pajamas didn't have a pocket in the front. Slowly reaching back he realised that the bloody thing was back to front. At least he'd worn it. A smile played at the corner of his mouth. He hadn't been so successful the previous week.
His tired brain started focussing on his body. His head hurt, he needed more sleep and then a nice long cold bath. His mouth felt like an ashtray... dry. The muscles in his right leg felt a little sore, dehydration of course, no cramps yet though. No nausea.
All in all, negligible damage.
Good, so he didn't get so drunk the previous night after all, he thought.
It had been a good saturday night, started late and ended really late. Well it was good till Susan walked out of the bar. She was awfully crabby last night. Wonder why, he thought.
Waves of sleep hazed up his thoughts.
He really couldn't remember the conversation last night but could vaguely remember her flying off in a rage after calling him a rotten name. Uncharacteristic.
Did she slap him? Nah! Not Susan, there were others who were capable of doing that but not Susan. Must call her later. Much later. Need to sleep now, he thought.
Through the corner of a sleepy eye he caught the cat walking past the bed slowly, swishing it's tail slowly, throwing him a look that could only mean instant painful death.
No dice, Ming the bastard wasn't gonna to get his breakfast anytime soon.
The cat was a remnant of a past relationship. The ex-girlfriend wanted to get far away from him, so she did, to Paris. She loved the cat but not that much, so it remained with him.
Why him? Why not her pimply sister? Probably because she thought that the cat would irritate him the most. She knew
Ming and he lived in a barely tolerated truce. It had been two years this way and two years can be a long time between a man and a feline he hated.
His throbbing head reminded him of the need for sleep.
He closed his eyes resolutely, Susan came into focus again. Sweet Susan. They had a great relationship, if you can call it that. Known each other since high school, friends through their early 20s, lovers through their late 20s and now a comfortable amalgamation of both. She understood him or at least she didn't judge him.
Her eyes were a little puffy last night, wonder why.
Sleep slowly resumed it's embrace. His mind was shutting down quickly, one light at a time.
A baby! That was she said last night. She was going to have a baby! His eyes flew open. Susan was going to have a baby. BLING. All the lights in his head went on in a flash!
Was it him? he thought. Of course it had to be him. Susan was way more loyal to him than he ever was to anyone.
That his memory was very fuzzy, the music and the booze don't make for a good listener. What did I tell her? What do I do? he thought. The dull throb in his head became a more sharper pain.
A kid? Have I had a hand in creating a kid? his mind screamed. He sat up. Everything around him seemed to freeze. He felt like he could even hear the cat swish it's tail in slow-mo. A baby? A father? Me? I can't live with a damn cat! How can I manage a little baby! If there was a panic button in his head, his brain was jumping all over it.
The headache was relegated to the background, instead his mind was busy, did he have the money to bring up a child? What would he teach the kid? Did he have to marry Susan? Gawd! Marriage??? Fuck!!
Heavy thoughts weighed down on his every move. He felt trapped like Houdini with a memory problem right in the middle of an escape act.
A little voice in his head said, of course she has to abort. How can she think of keeping this baby? But then he knew Susan, the girl has been waiting to have a child ever since she was 15. No way she was going to back out of it.
His Catholic parents, may they rest in peace, seemed to frown at him from right near the ceiling. His dead grandfather seemed to laugh at him from somewhere below the floor.
He stepped off the bed and slowly made his way to the window. What did he tell Susan? He must have really upset her. An unusual feeling ran through his body, remorse. Is this what it feels like?
As he stood there random moments of his life came into sharper focus, he knew that sometime in the future he would end up with a family, just hadn't thought about it a whole lot.
Somehow he'd like the idea of being a father kept growing on him as he stood there.
He was sure that he'd be an awful dad, but he realised there was a need to be a dad somewhere deep inside that seemed to make it's presence felt.
He felt a little calmer.
A rueful smile played on his lips. Whaddya know?
He knew his life would change. Change was not a stranger, he had experienced it first when his parents had died when he was 17. From then on, he had dodged his way through every twist and every turn life had to offer. He'd adapt.
He had to call Susan. He had to tell her that he was with her all the way. It was time. Time to settle down, time to grow roots.
Somehow he felt a little free, a little like the time his parents were around.
He sat down on his bed and reached for his phone.
The phone rang for what seemed to be eternity. She finally picked up.
Hey you up pretty early for a Sunday aren't you, she said brightly.
Hey, he replied. Not sure how to read the sunniness in her voice.
About yesterday, he began. What about yesterday? she asked.
Well about the baby, what did the doctor say? his voice seemed to be coming from a deep hole in the ground.
Well, the doctor is saying that the baby is due next April, she said, Why whats the hassle?
Susan, he said, taking time to speak, as if gathering his courage, I'm sorry for yesterday, I'll support you in any decision you take.
His voice felt a little strange even to himself.
There was a pause in the other end of the line, then Susan said What decisions? What are you talking about?
He was confused, It's about our baby, you mentioned it last night and, and I said something that upset you so much you got up and left!!
Again, there was a silence then suddenly he could hear her rumbling laughter.
He was even more confused. Do hormones make women do this? he thought.
You drunk asshole! I'm not pregnant, I told you my sister was going to have a baby!, she hollered, then added, Now I know why you kept blabbering and asking me if it was yours! And you Moron, I didn't leave because I was upset but coz I had to go pick up my sister from the airport early in the morning, remember? Of course you don't!
He felt like someone had punched him in the gut.
Oh Ok then..I'll call you later he mumbled.
As he kept the phone down he could still hear her laughter and could feel the blood rushing to his face.
He slowly leaned back on the bed. Fucking Martinis! He closed his eyes slowly as he felt the dull pain in his head surface again.