I rolled over, moving my mouth away from the wet spot I had formulated on the feather pillow. If I was more conscious, I would have thought about what soggy feathers looked like. Instead, I tried desperately to go back to my dream. It was something about an all-you-can-eat carwash...
I threw the top of my Egyptian cotton sheets over my head. I could feel the sleep crunchies attempting to glue my eyes shut. It was a sign. It was--
It was one ding and two dongs too many. I threw off the sheets and ran a hand down my face. The hard yellow gobs at the corners of my eyes felt rough under my fingers. I got out of bed and looked around at the floor for the boxers I had dropped last night.
I saw nothing but carpet.
"Shut the fiz-uck up," I muttered under my breath. I yanked open my dresser and pulled out the one clean pair of boxer-briefs I had. They were bright, mustardy yellow with bright red stop signs running every witch way. They triggered a vision of what Big Bird would look like if he was caught in a gang shooting. I jumped into them, almost catching my leg and headed for the front of the bus.
My doorbell quit suddenly, before the symphonic dong. Whether the person got tired of ringing or whether the bell malfunctioned, I don't know. Either way, I yanked open the hydraulic door with a scowl.
I stopped. No one was there. I ran a hand through my hair, feeling the stiffness of the gel I hadn't washed out the night before. It had been a club night. It was an 'I'm thirty-one years old, single, and partying my brains out in L.A. with Donnie Wahlberg kind of night.' It was--
"Ahh bababa cogh."
The noise seemed to come out of nowhere...unti l I looked down. The moment I did, I quickly looked back up. I looked right. Then I looked left as far as I could.
"Hm ka pa?"
I looked back down. It stared up at me, a big line of drool traveling down its face. The tequila shots from last night threatened to come back up.
It was a practical joke. It was a fake baby. Fake drool. Some dipshit kid had infiltrated our bus haven and left his home economics project on my door-er-bus step. Maybe the thing would run out of batteries. Maybe--
"Fo wa qat."
A chubby hand grabbed at something sticking up out of the carseat. It looked like a note of some sort. The baby brought it to its mouth and began to chew on the corner, producing even more drool. I thought I was going to faint. There was only one word, written in black, on the front.
All it said was...
Nick's voice was shrill.
"Nick? It's Brian. You hit the wrong speed dial again." He'd been doing that. Vodka or whatever it was he was pounding in the clubs at night with Donnie was really messing up his perception of his iPhone. He kept hitting my speed dial instead of Lauren's.
"No, Brian," Nick squeaked, "Baby."
I winced as I stepped on a handful of Lego bricks Baylee had left out on the tiled bus floor. Those things could puncture a foot, I swear it. I sucked in a gasping breath and hopped, holding my foot in my hand. "What?"" I hissed at Nick through pain-clenched teeth.
"BAY---BEE!" Nick wailed.
I was about to ask him what in the hell he was talking about, when I heard a shrieking cry.
"Make it stooooooop," Nick wailed, almost at the same decible.
"What the hell was that?" I demanded.
"BAY---BEE!" Nick wailed again.
"Wait, you mean that's an actual baby?" I demanded.
"YES!" Nick's voice was pinched.
I bent down and started collecting the murderous Lego bricks from the floor and tossing them into the big yellow bucket they'd been evacuated from. I laughed. "Who the hell left a kid with you?" I demanded.
"Too pearl bocker sup!" He said. But that didn't make sense.
"What?" I asked, not really being able to hear him over the screaming kid. Whoever's kid that was -- it had some big ass lungs.
"THE GIRL I KNOCKED UP!" Nick bellowed.
Like it knew the weight of the words, the baby silenced just in time for his holloring. I froze, the bucket of Lego bricks hanging from my now limp fingers. "I'll be right over," I stammered.