The pounding in his head started at the first ray of daylight that found its way through the flimsy curtains and forced his eyes open. The vile taste of bile scorched his throat, paralyzed him. Jonathan closed his eyes again. In the apartment above his, the running feet of a cat jackhammered the wooden floor, accompanied by the ticking of high heels. He followed the sound as it moved away to the far end of the apartment. His upstairs neighbor went for her morning boost. He pulled the pillow over his head and covered his exposed left ear, praying that it would be Brahms or whatever, but within seconds, Leaf’s ‘Wonder Woman’ blared through her floorboards, his ceiling, pierced the pillow and set off blasts of lightning inside his skull.

He peeked from under the pillow at the blurred red LEDs of his alarm clock. Seven thirty. He clamped the worn pillow against his ears and moved his head to the side. The coolness of the bottom sheet eased the pain for a short while and lie as still as he could until it was quiet again upstairs. The silence encouraged him enough to push himself up, but when he did, nausea hit him full force. He leant into the wall. A dull pain drove his eyes out of their sockets.


Painkillers would help.

Jonathan staggered to his feet and found his way to the bathroom without opening his eyes.

The three meters to the bathroom felt like a journey through hell. Jonathan rummaged through the basket on the sink for Alka-Seltzer, for aspirin, for anything that could stop the violent pain in his head. All he found were empty pill strips. He looked at himself in the mirror. His face had the color of Amsterdam canal water, almost as if he’d been fished out of one. The bags under his eyes were close to black. He pushed the hair out of his face and, with both hands, stretched back the skin of his cheeks. The stubble bristled his palms. A fucking corpse. That was what he was. He straightened up. “No more,” he cracked to his mirror image. He gulped in a breath of moldy bathroom air. “No more,” he repeated, a little more forceful this time. It shot a flash of pain through his brain. He ignored it. He would start running again. Tomorrow, he would start running again. Tomorrow. He would clean up his act and in a couple of weeks he’d be back on his feet, looking like the young god he once was.

He pushed away from the sink and dragged himself over to the kitchen. The left-over cola could only half wash away the hangover. He breathed in deeply and stared at the pile of dishes, caked and crusted with a variety of green and gray. In an attempt to make today the tomorrow of change, he bunged it all up in the sink and opened the tap and reached for the brush. Water splattered around. It didn’t seem to have any effect on the thick layers of fungus. Jonathan dropped the brush back in the sink, turned off the tap and shuffled to bed. Tomorrow could wait.