It was still raining when a sharp poke in the ribs woke Drinky Drunky Thom, the Drunk from his weird New Year's Day sleep-off. "Wake up, Tommy," a too-loud voice said with an exasperated, no-nonsense authority. "I done told you - you can't sleep here."
Thom wasn't sure if he was hungover, or still drunk. He strained to lift his head, and to force his eyes open against the raindrops. "Ugh. Morris? Leave me be."
It was Morris - Morris the Personal Trainer, more specifically, and it appeared that he was in no mood to let Drinky Drunky Thom be. "Get up," he said. "You best be movin' on, now."
"Aw, come on, Morris. Can't you take it easy, just for one day? I don't feel like doing jumping jacks, if you know what I mean..."
"I ain't about to try to get you to do a jumping jack, Tommy," Morris said humorlessly. "I mean, you can't stay here. You're lucky to still be in one piece, after what you pulled last night..."
"What I pulled... I don't even remember what town I'm in, Morris," Thom groaned.
"...so I'm tellin' you - you best just move on. You get me?"
Thom was a drunk, and truth be told, he was still more than a little bit inebriated, but he wasn't stupid. He moved on, as quickly and quietly as he could, avoiding any contact with the ten angry eyes that watched him go. After four minutes' walk down the Southern Pacific tracks leading west out of North Palm Springs, he ran into his oldest friend.
"Hey - Drinky Drunky Thom!" the geezer sang, off-key, "should old acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon..."
"Ow," Thom moaned, "my head. Just stop, Sy. I'm begging you to stop."
"Aw, what do you know about anything?" Crooner Sy scoffed. "After last night, I shouldn't bless you with the merest sound from my gilded pipes..."
"Yeah, yeah... Wait. What about last night?" Thom asked. "I can honestly say I don't remember it. What happened?"
Crooner Sy stopped, and regarded his friend skeptically "You really don't remember - or you sort of don't remember?"
"I'm serious, Sy. I remember toasting to a happy 1934, and that's about it."
Sy thought for a moment. "Ha! Serves you right! And now I don't have to bother taking back all those nice things I said about you. See you in another two years, you drunk - if you live that long."
"Aw, come on, Sy. You gotta meet me halfway, here..." Sy didn't have to meet him halfway, or a quarter-way, or any way. He took off in the opposite direction, singing the Stanford fight song, and didn't look back.
After a few minutes, walking the mainline in the chilly rain, Thom the Drunk spotted Yum-Yum Sinclair Snowballeater, about a quarter-mile ahead of him and also heading west. It took considerable effort - especially for a drunk such as Thom - but eventually he caught up to his fellow hobo.
"Hey, Yum-Yum - wait up," he spat, panting and coughing. Yum-Yum paused, glared at Thom over his shoulder, and resumed trudging westward. "Say," Thom offered, "whaddaya say we find us a saloon, and listen to the Rose Bowl on the wireless? Come on - I got a buck and a half - I'll buy you a few beers. It'll be fun..."
Sinclair stopped, sighed heavily, and turned to face Thom the Drunk. "First of all," he said, "the game is already over. Stanford lost, if you can believe it - seven nothing, Columbia - on some kind of trick play. That Montgomery fella is an all-out east coast sneak, I tell ya. Anyway - I wouldn't drink a beer with you on a bet, mister. Not after what I seen, last night."
"The Indians lost? Are you pulling my leg?"
"Yeah, they lost," Sinclair said. "Now what say you get lost, too? I gotta get to the next junction and find me a northbound, so I can get some of that new year's snow, up in the mountains..."
"I won't hold you up, Yum-Yum," Thom said, "but I gotta know - what the hell did I do, last night? I got a headache the size of Texas, and I swear I can't remember a thing."
"You can't remember? Oh, what a surprise. Drinky-Drunky Thom can't remember. Well, don't look at me. I can't remember, either."
"No, not really, you big ape. I saw it all - well, I saw enough, anyway - and I ain't about to tell you any of it."
"I'm begging, Sinclair. Help a fellow 'bo out, here. Look - I got a dollar, fifty-five. Tell me what I did last night that's got everyone so sore at me, and it's yours - plus all the lint in my pockets. Honest to God. Please? I gotta know."
It had been at least three years since Yum-Yum Sinclair had seen paper money. He stared at the dollar bill for a minute, then snatched it and the coins from Thom's hand. "Let me see that lint, too, or no deal."
Thom dug deep in his pants pockets, and produced a walnut-size clump of lint, which Sinclair immediately took from him. "Okay, friend - you got my life's savings, now. Spill it."
He spilled it. It took well over half an hour, but he spilled it all - every toast, every joke, every punch and confession and controversy and offense and slap...
"Slap?" Thom said, holding up a whoa sign. "Who slapped me?"
"Wow. You really don't remember, do you?"
Thom shook his head, helplessly.
"Shanty Queen Elizabeth Regina slapped you," he said. "None of us ever saw her cry before, either..."
"What? But I love her! Did I make her cry, or was it someone else? Oh hell - what did I do?"
"Oh, it was you - believe me. And it wasn't what you did - it's what you said."
"Stop," Thom said. "I remember. Oh my God..."
"See? You proud of yourself?"
"Which way did she go, Sinclair? I gotta catch up with her."
"You sure that's a good idea?"
"No, but you let me worry about that."
Sinclair sighed. "She went east, toward Phoenix, and I don't suppose it'd make any difference if I told you that she specifically said she didn't want to see you again for as long as she lives?"
"Nope. Thanks, Yum-Yum. Happy New Year, friend. Sorry about the things I did, and that other stuff..." Thom did an about-face, and ran in the opposite direction down the tracks.
"Wait - Thom!" Sinclair called after him. "There's one more thing..." It was too late. Drinky Drunky Thom was already out of earshot.