Funny, how I can see everything from here. My notepads, folders and assigned books stacked up like firewood on the shelf above my bed, Seven Plays among them. There are pictures of my foreign girlfriend taped to the wall. A half dozen Prince Graphites leaning up against the dresser on my side of the room. I can even see the tennis courts out the window while sitting at my desk. Coach said he had nothing to do with locating me this close on the third floor of Clark Hall, so call it fate. Fact is my dorm room reminds me a lot of the balcony overlooking the courts inside Evergreen Racquet Club where I grew up. Home away from home, so to speak. Seven indoor courts, all visible from the large balcony above plus one you can’t see behind a dark green curtain, Court 8. There are only six courts outside my window, one with OREGON painted in bright yellow against a green backboard. It is the OREGON court I’m focused on as my roommate, Dave, recounts the events in question.
Dave has tears in his eyes as he speaks. He’s trying to keep it together, trying not to break out sobbing. I’m afraid of what I might do if he does. Laughter is my biggest concern. Ridicule that could push him out the window or off the roof. Send him running into on-coming traffic. I look down at my hands, as if to repent. My hands are full of cuts. Nothing too deep. More like scratches. Painful, to be sure, but not requiring stitches or any medical attention. Still, both hands are trashed. And I have absolutely no idea how it happened, just like everything Dave has said I did to him in his sleep. That everything would include, by his account, my pissing first on his head and then all over his bed while apologizing for doing so. There is no denying Dave’s story. One because both his bedsheets and pillowcase were soaked clean through with urine when I woke up hungover out of my mind with them thrown on top of me and a note on my desk stating simply: Wash my sheets, asshole. Two, Dave may fancy himself a writer but I know he’s not making this up. It has happened before.
Only a few months prior to heading off to school, I got equally shitfaced after losing at an important tennis tournament in Indianapolis. Shitfaced enough to piss on a fake plant in the middle of the night in the hotel room I was sharing with my mother. She said I kept telling her it was okay when she woke up and tried to stop me. Sleep pissing, let’s call it. Unlike wetting the bed, sleep pissing involves waking up hammered to go to the bathroom, but not quite arriving there before release. Hence, mistaking a fake plant or your freshman roommate asleep in the bed next to you for the toilet and reliving yourself accordingly.
“I’ve basically been pissed on my whole life,” Dave says. “So this is big.”
“Big?” I say.
“It’s big, okay. Big as in I muster up the initiative to travel half-way across the country from Minneapolis to go to a decent school to satisfy my parents, who don’t agree that writers need to live and write rather than waste time studying writing, only to room with some asshole here to play tennis.”
When you piss on someone without their permission you sort of have to let them have their say.
“I’m sorry, Dave. But you have to know it wasn’t your fault.”
“You pissed on ME! On my head.”
“I pissed on the bed next to me thinking it was the toilet.”
“‘I’m sorry, man. Sorry.’ You said, ‘Sorry, DAVE!’ You said my name while pissing all over me”
“You knew it was me. Dave.”
“I don’t think anybody knows anything when they’re that drunk.”
I hold out my hands. Dave looks at them
“You see them?”
“My hands are cut to shit. I have no idea how this happened.”
Dave doesn’t either.
“I headed over to another dorm to meet some guys on the team boarding there with clean hands.”
“So I went over there, we had a few beers and smoked a little weed and that’s the last thing I remember before waking up to a room smelling of piss with your sheets on top of me.”
“You were drunk. I get that.”
“Drunk? I’m talking about forgetting an entire night. I’m talking about cut up hands to pissing on you in my sleep. But it wasn’t personal. It was my problem. Not yours.”
“Last night was big for me,” Dave says, dismissing my hands, my explanation or anything else I might have to add. He grabs a book I’ve noticed he’s been lost in the last few days and shoves it into his backpack. He walks out without another word
I try to piece the night together. All I know is I am a freshman at The University of Oregon. I came here from Bloomington, Illinois because it is the best school as far away from home as possible to offer me a tennis scholarship. I have been here for a few months. So far so good. It looks like I will play number 1 or 2 on the team. There’s a guy from New Zealand who seems to be my only competition for the top spot. My real fear is flunking out. Having never applied myself to much beyond hitting a tennis ball, partying and getting laid, I don’t have any idea what kind of student I’ll be. I do know I had a writing teacher my senior year in high school who claimed I had “a gift” and encouraged me to pursue it in college. I don’t honestly know what that was all about, but I will say Seven Plays has been something of an ear-opener. Will see where it goes. For now, I’d just like to know what the hell happened to me last night.
Dave’s gone, so I can breathe and give it a little more thought. I definitely remember partying at a dorm on the opposite side of campus where a couple of older kids on the tennis team share a room and a lot of athletes live. One is from Hawaii, one from Northern California. I know we were drinking beers when a couple other students stopped by who live on the same floor. I know someone had a pipe. I know there was some dork from Young Life talking to people partying in the hall, trying to recruit them to the cause. Backup punter on the football team, I think. Not sure if he ever tried to talk to us directly or if we were just making fun of him. After the punter, the night gets fuzzy real fast. I remember one of the guys in the room had a picture of Ronald Reagan on his desk, which became a source of serious argument. After that, all is lost.
Except I can’t stop looking at my hands. Doing so reminds me the shirt I woke up in was also ripped around the bottom. It has blood stains on it, where it looks like I used it to wipe off my hands. As I study the shirt in more detail images of barbed wire enter my mind, like a dream. Images of me running along a barbed wire fence, looking for an exit, any kind of opening. There is a creek, maybe a river on the other side. One I can hear but not really see. I am trapped. Trapped inside some factory. Maybe a mill. Some rural industrial setting. No. My hands tell me it’s more like a camp. Like some kind of creepy fishing camp, call it a lodge. Lodge with stacks of dead trees lined up in rows, the smell of fish, the sound of flowing water out of sight. I’m running along a barbed wire fence and will never find an exit so must have eventually climbed it. Or maybe I just picked a fight with the Young Life punter and cut up my hands on a broken beer bottle.
Wonder what Dave’s been reading.