Now that was a Christmas party.

I spill out of the cab onto the sidewalk, holding on to the door until I’m pretty sure I won’t tip over before reaching for my back pocket for the fare. I fumble around trying to get the button loose, but I can only feel parts of my fingers at this point. I’m taking so long the driver gets impatient.

“It’s Christmas, for Christ’s sake,” he growls. “Some of us got families to get home to.”

I figure I should probably ignore his unintended pun. “Keep your balls on,” I grumble back, giving up on the button and just thrusting in my thumb and index finger, managing to get a perilous grip on the twenty I’d jammed in there before I left the house. The fare from O’Reilly’s back here was just over ten bucks, but with the crazy holiday traffic in mind, I was feeling magnanimous. I was also still sober then.

“Here,” I say as I thrust the bill toward the guy hanging out the window. I try to pull something approximating a smile, but there’s too much blood in my alcohol stream. “Keep the change.”

The driver says something that could be “Merry Christmas” or “good night” or hell, “eat shit, dirtbag,” for all I know. I’m weaving my way up the sidewalk toward my condo by then, and boy, am I glad I’d gone for the ground-floor unit and not the walkup. Some of the booze has worked its way through my liver already, but I’m still too damn toasted to climb stairs. I’ll be lucky if I get the door unlocked in less than three tries.

Two, as it turns out. Well, okay, two and a half if you count dropping my keys between attempts. Anyway, I’m inside finally, and a good thing, too, since I’d been starting to feel the cold. Denver’s nice most of the year, but winter can sure sneak up on you. The cheery weather babe on TV that morning had predicted a white Christmas, so maybe I’d get snowed in and not have to go to work the day after tomorrow. Not that I’d have much to do at home, or anyone to do it with, but who doesn’t like an extra day off, right?

With the door locked behind me and my coat shoved kind of onto a hanger in the entryway closet, I kick off my shoes and stumble into the kitchen, still enough wits about me to grab some water to drink before I fall into bed. Getting the lid off the bottle is a challenge, one that requires me to stop walking toward the bathroom and actually look at the damn thing before it comes loose. The cool liquid soothes my throat, which is pretty dry and raw after swallowing all that alcohol and yelling over the music at the pub.

Going to O’Reilly’s together to get trashed on Christmas Eve—and then nursing our hangovers together on Christmas afternoon, usually over frozen pizzas—had been a tradition with me and my somewhat unconventional group of friends for a few years now. It was a nice change from the years before that, when I’d tried to ignore the holidays and met most attempts at holiday spirit with sarcasm to hide my real feelings. Finding this group of guys turned out to be a major improvement. None of us is close with our families, and most of us are terminally single, so spending the holiday together makes us all feel a hell of a lot more like celebrating than we had when we were on our own.

Brendan, Teddy, Randall (never Randy), Cord, and me, Guy: the Fab Five, Brendan dubbed us, which makes us laugh, at least when we’re sloshed. We have the athlete, the geek, the professor, the movie star, and the average guy with the name to prove it. Sometimes it makes me feel like part of the cast of an old John Hughes flick. But hey, as long as I get played by the grown-up version of Anthony Michael Hall and not the 1980s-era one, I’m okay with it.

Anyway. My liquor-addled brain is off on another tangent, but my body seems to know what it’s doing, since it gets me safely down the hall and into the bathroom. My clothes hit the floor and my dick aims at the toilet, a relieved sigh leaving me as my bladder empties. One final shake, and I carry my tired body and the rest of my bottle of water into the bedroom. The bottle hits the bedside table and my body the mattress.