The mobile phone sounded through the tiny flat waking Archer from his slumber. A half-full bowl of cereal fell from his lap spilling over the coffee table.
“Hello,” he drawled into what he thought was the device, a sliver of dribble slipping from the corner of his lip.
Realising that he had his mouth pressed against the remote control, he flung it aside and began looking for the origin of the ringing sound.
Even after unwrapping the phone in its home of a pair of French knickers he couldn´t hear a word the other person was saying. The interference was awful – just like silk being ripped which brought back memories of a comment he had made to a stripper. Would that dratted dog stop barking? He could have sworn the animal was in the flat so loud were its protestations. This was odd because Archer did not – no – had never owned a dog in any shape or form.
What a hangover! The whole world was alive. His temples pulsed, and his belly felt like it had been converted into a makeshift mortuary.
When he put his hand to his ears, he discovered he had filled them with cotton wool buds. There were vague memories of an argument. It had been easier than filling his ears with his fingers. He didn´t know where the cotton wool buds came from but it must have got a big laugh. As he began the clumsy operation of removing the bungs his hands knocked off the post-it note stuck to his head:
Remember the agency job interview. Print off CV.
The mumbling on the phone cohered into the sound of his girlfriend’s angry voice,
“You can’t lose this one,”
“The interview,” he said aloud. “Shit, the interview.”
He would have gone into an elaborate apology except for the little matter of the phone slipping from his hands. It was not divine intervention that guided the newly bought gadget into a tumbler of what looked like whiskey and coke.
“Oh shit, oh shit,” he kept repeating to himself. Finally, he pulled it out – dead.
He knew he was screwed because the home phone was being repaired after his leaving-do celebration. He had jumped on top of it while doing an imitation of the winning stance in the Karate Kid for former colleagues who had come over to theirs for the after-party do. He didn’t win the girl that night; she insisted he sleep on the sofa.
Looking down, he saw he had in fact dressed for the interview the night before to save himself the stress but in his drunken state he had fallen asleep on the sofa. Well, at the very least he had made the effort to take his jacket off. And the CV. God, where was it?
A sole hanger struck at an angle by the front door told him where the jacket had once been.
He was surprised on turning his head to find the missing item and a small Labrador pup. The tiny teethy bundle was working at tearing the last thread that kept the fabric arm of the jacket attached to the torso. When he lurched off the chair, the beastie backed up growling with the prize between its teeth.
The puppy turned its head to the side as though assessing the situation before finally trotting off with the booty between its jaws into the open bathroom. Feeling dizzy and a little disconcerted, he went in after it.
He had never liked the silver screen animals. The nightmares of being bitten by Lassie, stricken with Rabies, or having his arm accidentally torn off by Flipper while the animal inexpertly tried to defend him from a shark attack remained. And he certainly wasn’t keen on this one.