Room 32

By D. R. Haney

Nonfiction

adhered

The idea, I thought, was a simple one: rent for a night the West Hollywood motel room where Jim Morrison lived on and off for three years, hold a séance with a few friends, and afterward throw a party. It seemed a fitting homage to Morrison, a party-hardy mystic who believed himself possessed by the spirit of a Pueblo Indian he had seen as a boy while traveling through New Mexico and happening upon the aftermath of a deadly accident. Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding, he famously wrote of the incident in “Newborn Awakening,” his poem set to music by his band, the Doors, seven years after he died. Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.

… I’d find myself chasing a hedgehog through a cemetery…

That’s right. I have chased a hedgehog over the graves of my Victorian ancestors.

I have to walk through a cemetery to get to the center of town. I was walking back home one night, at about 6pm, after watching the shambolic Christmas Lights ‘switch on.’ As I walked I saw a strange shape moving behind a headstone. It was shuffling towards the path. I just assumed it was a bird or something, but no! As it moved ever nearer it became clear I was face to face with a fucking hedgehog.

I’d never seen a genuine hedgehog before, and frankly I was excited. Not only was I looking at a wild hedgehog, it was moving towards me, no doubt attempting to establish ‘first contact.’

Its decision to flee came suddenly.

The prickly bastard realised that I was quite theoretically a threat to his survival, and he changed course immediately.

I didn’t hesitate to follow him.

I don’t know if I’m proud or ashamed of that fact. I like to think it was some wild instinct, but I suspect it has more to do with my own innate childishness.

I really didn’t know hedgehogs could move so fast. I was quite out of breath, and I really needed to cough; as soon as I did the ‘hog reverted to stereotype. He rolled himself into a tight little ball.

It was adorable.

I could have left it at that, but I hadn’t had my fun with him yet. I had not had my fill of hedgehog hijinks. I wanted to touch him, but I couldn’t find a stick anywhere. I threw a bit of grass at him, to no avail.

So I sat and waited; I’m a university student, I don’t have anything better to do with my time.

My patience was rewarded. Slowly, two beady little eyes peered out, blinking at me. I sensed we’d made a connection; he began to relax. The human-hedgehog gap had finally been bridged.

Until I coughed again; the hedgehog recoiled in terror, and I began to wonder if hedgehogs suffered from weak hearts. I hoped not.

I decided to leave him be, and I haven’t seen another hedgehog since. Although earlier this evening I found myself chasing a kitten across campus: best Saturday night ever.


… I’d find myself trying to win drinks off Swedish businessmen at 3am…

The people I was drinking with that night had been my friends for little more than a week. It was the night that really cemented a lasting bond and has unanimously been voted the best night we’ve ever had living here.

The night actually started at about three o’clock in the afternoon at Buddy’s, which is this awesome American-style diner in the middle of Winchester. After a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft and a burger we headed down to a pub on the river and had a few good pints of ale.

By seven o’clock we’d gradually become drunk on cheap Bulgarian wine with our Student Advisor at a get-together for older students, and had found ourselves locked in the lecture theatre.

This was especially awkward in the wake of a recent spate of thefts from the lecture theatre. We were almost hoping we’d have to spend the night there, and had quite a lot of fun with the microphone; we performed our version of ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana.

We got out via a fire exit, and fled the accusing glances of a university official in the car park.

We finally got the pub venue for our Department Social at around eight; this was pretty uneventful, although good beer and good times were had by all. The fun really started after we got thrown out just after eleven pm. Nobody wanted to go home, and there were five of us who still fancied another drink.

This led us to a bar none of us remember; it may well have been a figment of our collective imaginations.

I had to borrow money to buy a pint. There was a guy standing on the bar with an acoustic guitar singing Bob Dylan songs.

How we got talking to the Swedes I vaguely remember. I think it had something to do with Curt (although I knew him only as ‘handshake guy’ at the time) and his drunken handshaking. Before we knew what was going on we were talking to a group of Scandinavian businessmen who worked for IBM. They bought us free gin and tonics and I got a bottle of Peroni.

However, the gravy train stopped, and conditions became attached. First we had to find them pretty blonde girls to talk too, which was unsuccessful— even pretty girls don’t like being pimped, apparently.

Then it was just a simple language challenge: speak Swedish, win beer.

The bitterness of failure was heightened by the fact that I actually know several Swedish phrases, but they’d all been submerged in free Italian beer and gin…


… I’d end up making the Centurion from ‘The Life of Brian’ laugh…

One of my modules here is taught by a guy named Bernard McKenna.

He wrote for several vaguely well known British sitcoms and acted in a few of them too.

More impressively he has worked with Douglas Adams and all of Monty Python. The man had two roles in The Life of Brian and began his first class with ‘I was having dinner with John Cleese last week…’

It became my goal in life to make him laugh. This was sort of awkward, as I got the distinct impression the man wasn’t used to competition in his classes. I don’t want to come across as boastful or biased, but I’m pretty sure over our three classes I got more laughs.

And in the last class, his feedback on my script was ‘you should have written a comedy; I think you’ve got a talent for it.’


… I’d find myself lying to the the British Constabulary…

This was especially surprising given that about four hours earlier I’d claimed that the most likely person to complain about our house party to the police was me.

I had a bad feeling about the house party, and the forty-plus people that would be turning up. I spent the week envisioning myself homeless after being evicted from the property. I’d planned my escape route over the fence if the worst came to the worst.

It did, but it seems there is a big difference between the sober James D. Irwin, and the James D. Irwin who has been to the pub, had three pints of Guinness and was now onto somebody else’s warm lager.

I guess I was relaxed. The one person I’d hoped would show up did indeed show up, and when the rozzers arrived I was standing outside with her and a man dressed as a minister (it was a fancy dress event). I saw a wheel pull up and wondered who hadn’t arrived yet.

Then I saw the police hats.

As we were outiside, we were approached first. I was being very British about it— keeping calm, stiff upper lip.

I’d forgotten that I was dressed as Magnum, PI.

”Are you residents or guests? We need to talk to a resident about this party.”

I was indeed a resident, but they couldn’t prove it! They’d never make it stick! It’s not a crime if you believe it to be untrue! (That was going to be my defence if I got arrested; I was going to plead inebriation)…

”Oh no Officer!” I said, raising my can of beer. ”Just good honest guests!”

I didn’t stop there…

”A damn menace is what this is! I tried telling them about the noise— I said someone would call the Old Bill! No one ever listens to me!”

The police officer had stopped listening to me.

Seizing what seemed like the perfect opportunity to impress the girl I leaned toward her, covered my mouth before loudly whipering ”I JUST LIED TO THE POLICE!”

Rather than being taken like the bad-boy-rebel-who-plays-by-his-own-rules that I thought I was, I was scolded like a naughty child.

I don’t understand girls.


… I’d find myself dressed as a policeman in an alley and scaring young children…

I recently had to make a short film for an assesment.

We never wrote a script.

We just did it.

I met with my co-worker, Nick and Liam, to scout a suitable location to stage the murder of a baker.

The shoot was more troubled than Apocalypse Now.

The camera kept running out of power, people kept getting in the shot— it was set in 1911.

Our first choice location was covered in market stalls… we couldn’t find a toy gun… and fake blood started at £3.50.

We hustled into McDonald’s to steal ketchup, only to find they had run out.

We had to make do with BBQ sauce.

Finally, we were ready.

Then all the batteries died.

Nick had to run off to buy more; I was left in an alleyway wearing a toy police helmet. I was standing next to a guy holding what looked like a huge knife.

A young child stared at us as he came up the street. He got within a foot of us and decided he wasn’t taking any chances: he crossed the road, watching us all the while, ready to flee at any necessary moment.

Nick came back, we got all the shots we needed; we wrapped.

As we strolled up the road I felt Nick nudge me.

We’d walked about five yards.

He was pointing at house with a painted sign above the door:

C. E. Matthews

Family Bakers

Est. 1901

We got the camera out again.

It started to rain.


… I’d find myself struggling to find a good way to wrap up a post…

I guess this will have to do.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more small mammals to chase.

Which reminds me: a few weeks ago I had a great time watching a mouse trying to vault over the edge of a flower bed.

It was like watching Point Break: hilarious and yet strangely inspirational.

Vaya Con Dios, Brah.