It was a painfully familiar feeling, but not as painful as it used to be.
I’m long past hangover headaches and I pretend it’s because I’ve begun to take better care of myself, hydrating properly, eating well and taking vitamins to ensure I can bounce back each morning. That’s definitely not it, though.
More likely it’s because my brain cells have grown used to the morning exercise when all they want to do is rest from the debauchery of the night before, but I digress.
In this particular instance, the extent of my hangover was a tinge just behind my left temple, but it was further aggravated by the fact that I had slept on the ground the night before and had been stirred awake at 7 a.m. by older men who, somehow and for some reason, always manage to wake up way too early.
I put my uniform on and walked, barefoot again, to where breakfast was being provided. I badly needed a soda, but was still resisting them as part of a personal challenge developed a few weeks before, so I had tea.
Breakfast was free and much more than a muffin and coffee. Sausage, a biscuit and gravy were welcome sights during this blurry trip to the dock, but there was a weird aroma and flavor to the sausage. The texture reminded me of the new ADA-approved playground surfaces.
In the middle of chewing I learned it was deer sausage.
It’s not that I’m against eating deer. Actually I’ve developed quite a hatred for deer recently, but the texture and taste didn’t ease the tension in my head, it just added a bit of nausea to the experience.
I returned to our Civil War-era campsite and laid on one of my fellow campers’ cots.
I dipped my tricorn hat over my eyes and tried to sleep it off as the sprinkling rain pitter-patted on the roof of the tent. Ordinarily it would help me sleep, but this time it just pricked at that sensitive cavity behind my temple.
I was roused eventually for the battle reenactment and a couple other skits, but when I returned to the campsite, I was tired.
I told those I was camping with that I was heading home. The constant throbbing behind my temple, lack of substantial food and Monday’s advance had me convinced I wanted to sleep in a bed that night.
I took off my kerchief (Yeah, let’s all reflect on that. I was wearing a kerchief. I know right? Awesome.) and was debating how best to disrobe at camp without being seen when I realized I had been seen.
She smiled at me. The redhead Kirk had mentioned the day before.
I had scarcely taken notice of her. I was there for rum and piracy and didn’t really feel like pursuing any buxom redheaded pirates, but here she was, smiling at me.
It wasn’t a stare by any means. More like a stolen glance that I stole three more times before telling Kirk that I wouldn’t be leaving any time soon. Not, at least, until I decided how far that stolen smile would take me.
I offered to watch a clothing shop for a couple of my new friends when she walked by.
I didn’t have anything ready for her, so I just went with what I knew: she and I were the two most attractive people on the whole god damn island and I owed her, at least, a drink.
I fought through some small talk to deliver a “So are you going to let me buy you a drink,” reiterating a question that was never asked.
She said she would be at Queen Anne’s Revenge, so I decided I would meet her there.
I next saw her on the way to dinner. She gave me a nip of whatever she was drinking and I again voiced my plan to meet up with her at Revenge, but neither of us went.
Instead I caught her at the Dockside, exactly where I was, drinking Kraken straight from the handle. I chased her a bit more, but before long our rum-soaked ride had us joined at the wrist, admiring pirate ships, being seduced by Captain Ginger, who opted to strip his effects to entertain us and attending a serious pirate funeral on the dock.
My fellow campers had left me during my chase, taking advice I had originally given them about getting home before Sunday, so I rested on the front porch of a historic house, feet soaked by the rain that held off until my pirate had left in her friend’s Sebring convertible.
I stirred the next morning with that same familiar tinge — the shadow of a headache. I was being run off the porch even while the morning dew was still settling.
I glanced at my phone to see that it was 7:30 a.m. and that I had a text message from a number I didn’t recognize.
And all of a sudden the tension behind my eyes faded away completely.