I arrived in Nelson mentally unbalanced and dribbling from Jack Daniel's the night before. My friend Jack exuded efficiency. I had text messages from Rob Awesome with an address and instructions on finding the house key. Rob Awesome, Polly, and MK Ultra would arrive in Nelson a few hours after me and Jack.
At the airport, Jack and I approached a shuttle. The seventy-year-old driver slept spread-eagle across the front row of back seats.
"Um, maybe we should find another shuttle?" I asked Jack and stepped away from the van. The old man shot up with a loony bin smile scrabbling across his face and his white hair upright and attacking the ceiling.
"Are you Mr. and Mrs. Wong?" he demanded.
"I'm supposed to give Mr. and Mrs. Wong a ride from the airport. I can take you guys too, we just need to wait for the Wongs."
I superwoman-scanned the parking lot. I didn't see any other shuttles.
"Will we have to wait long? When are they supposed to get here?" I asked.
"Twenty minutes ago, but the plane was delayed. They should be here any minute," Mr. Harry Sach continued.
Forty minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Wong arrived. During the forty minute pause, our driver rolled in stories about the airport, Nelson, shuttle-driving, and his seventy-year-old life. When he was younger, he wanted to breed fish. Jack and I glanced at our brochures every three minutes while intermittently responding to our driver with laughs and smiles. One of my smiles stretched into sleep.
Mr. Harry Sach peeled out of the parking lot after placing the Wongs' luggage in the utility trailer. All shuttles in New Zealand have trailers. It's normal.
Mr. Sach acted as not only driver, but also tour guide. He drove, speaking of how Nelson has it's own flag and is the sunniest place in New Zealand, as well as detailing volcanoes and houses.
"The population of dreadlocks has spread as fast as AIDS," he continued.
I choked on my water.
When the Wongs exited the car, our driver slash tour guide asked if we could stop by his house to retrieve his wife. Jack wondered what the wife of such a barmy old man would be like. The wife must be a talker. Or a drinker. Jack spoke this to me with her eyes. The wife appeared just like any old woman: old woman shoes, knee-high socks fallen down, long skirt, button-down long-sleeved shirt, glasses. During the ten-minute drive, she didn't enunciate one word.
An hour and a half after approaching Mr. Harry Sach, we arrived at the address Rob Awesome had texted me. We knocked and rang the doorbell, receiving no answer.
Instructions on my phone for locating the key: "On the side of the house, there's a green shed. The key's hanging up on the left-hand side. Should be around some tools for embalming bodies."
Thinking it might be a shed, I shoved in and fractured a wooden door leading to a garage on one side of the house. Another garage was on the other side. Garages straddled the house but I didn't see any shed. Jack and I must have injected laughing gas in our ears, because we were in hysterics, rooting around a stranger's house.
Rain roosted on our shoulders, hands, and in our eyes. We stumbled around the unknown house's yard delirious as if we'd consumed high doses of Ritalin.
"Whose house is this?" Jack asked as I opened the side yard gate.
"I don't know. Rob Awesome lives in Wellington," I replied.
There was a green shed in the side yard. There was a key. I opened the house's front door. We entered screaming, "Hello? Hello?" so whoever owned the house would know we had arrived. A male voice ricocheted off the walls. We had woken him up. It was Rob Awesome's cousin, and the house belonged to Rob Awesome's parents. They were vacationing in some place like Kygyrzstan.
Jack and I walked downtown in the rain to get dinner and a beer. When we got back to the house, Cousin told us Mr. Harry Sach had returned to drop off some brochures. We had purposefully left them in the shuttle. Before I had time to pee, Jack and I were drinking whiskey with Rob Awesome, Polly, and MK Ultra. Whiskey and I are not friends. I would rather sit next to a baby camel on a plane.
However, whiskey was the only alcohol offered. Naturally, I had to compete with the males' consumption levels. It was fantastic. They skulled whiskey on the rocks, drink after drink after drink. I kept up. But, while they were still sitting sober, my words toppled and sentences became baby speak. I remember agreeing upon eating Indian food for my second dinner that night to honor our meeting grounds: Jaisalmer, India. And then I remember regaining consciousness in a hospital, walking into the waiting room with a nurse. We got to the house again at 11pm, and I put myself to bed.
The next morning, Jack described how Rob Awesome had left the BYO Indian restaurant to do an alcohol run. I sprinted after him. I didn't see the table and chairs directly in front of me. I tripped over a chair and face-planted into the sidewalk. Instead of instinctually protecting my face with my hands when my nose and lips dove into concrete, my hands remained at my sides. They protected my hips.
My nose swelled to a golf ball, my chin and upper lip oozed blood. The hospital sutured my upper lip and above the lip. Half of my right front tooth abandoned me. The stitches were supposed to dissolve. They never did. The parents I work for cut half of them out a month later. Some are still in my face.
When I called the mom and told her what happened, she relayed the accident to the children I watch. The three-year-old cried for five minutes repeatedly shrieking, "Kara died, Kara died."
When I told the guy I was dating that I got attacked by a golf club, he believed me.
"Well, did you guys at least have some good Indian food?" I asked MK Ultra the next day.
"No, Rob Awesome canceled the order when the waiters approached us saying that our friend was rolling around in blood on the concrete outside."
"Ah, damn chairs!" I responded.