The Reverse Marvin
Raspberries and orange juice; what better way to clear a hangover this summer’s morning? It’s the mid-noughties, tourists will throng Winchester’s historic high street but for now I am sat on a bench outside M&S next to my best mate. Both of us pale shadows of ourselves. A trickle of people amble by. The sun is rising. Alcohol sweats impregnate last night’s clothes.
After munching my way through the punnet and quaffing the litre of OJ in a desperate attempt to rebalance my vitamins after a heavy night on the ale, I say my goodbyes and hit the road. A 35 mile car journey awaits. It will not be completed in one.
The classic delayed hangover. Feeling ok was but a false dawn. I am not ok.
The temperature is ratcheting up inside the driver’s seat. I am struggling for air. Windows open. Sun beating down on me like a curse from the Gods. The price of sin. Sweat gushes out of me like The Hoover Dam bursting.
Why are there so many people on this motorway. Why now?
I just need to get home. To sanctuary. To my bed. My stomach is choppier than the North Sea. I’m 15 miles in. Traffic is slowing. Families on holidays. Heading for Bournemouth’s busy beaches. Two lanes now. The beauty of the New Forest on the horizon. This beauty passes me by. The horror of my hangover only in view.
I don’t think I’ll make it. Must think. But so ill. I can’t throw up in here. In this car. My parents’ car. I am better than that. I am.
Surely, I am?
A glimmer of hope; a service station, just up the hill. A few hundred yards away. Move traffic. Move! My stomach turns. A convulsion. No, please God, no. Not here. Another convulsion. Not now.
Gridlock. It’s so hot. So so hot. Sweating. Toilets tantalisingly close. A minute away. I can see them.
I can…. I can…. I can’t make it….
I turn to my right. An estate car draws parallel. In the back; a boy, so young, like I was once. A boy untainted by alcohol. A boy; full of hopes, dreams, innocence, like I was once, looks at me, momentarily distracted from his parents’ chat. We share a moment. He fixes his gaze and watches as…
…as I heave, throwing up a horrific red and orange stew, caking the dashboard and steering wheel with putrid vomit. It looks like I’ve been assassinated, shot in the head from the back seat. A ‘Reverse Marvin’ for Pulp Fiction fans. Only there was no bump in this road.
I hope that boy is ok now. I wonder if he’s ever spoken to his parents about his ordeal? Forgive me.
His dad drives on, to a better place than this services. I pull in. I get out flicking dismembered raspberries from my soaked, steaming jeans. The stench. Oh, the stench. It’s like Normandy.
Is this what I have become? A reflective pause.
Entering the salvation of the toilets, after a few funny glances, I clean myself as thoroughly as possible then return to the car to do my best, crawling around as I scoop up this red, sticky, bloody mess, like Vincent Vega and Jools Winfield under Mr Wolf’s watchful eyes.
Tossing my jeans in the bin, I drive home in my boxers. It’s strangely liberating. Slipping in the back door and up to bed, my parents are none the wiser. Hopefully.