Lester Patel felt bright light assault his retina through closed eyelids, stirring him from slumber, alcohol-induced coma, or possibly death by Covenant Elite. Ow. Was it day already? Or was some idiot shining light in his face? "Jeffrey?" he croaked. God, his mouth was dry.
The only answer he got was Jeff's lawnmower snore. Even with his eyes closed, Lester could triangulate his friend's position by that snore. Judging by the acoustics, Jeff was roughly to his left, and about two feet lower in elevation. He'd fallen out of bed, if indeed there were beds wherever this was.
"Jeffrey, where are we?" Lester groaned, louder than the first time, and directing his voice toward the source of the sound.
Jeff had been a teetotaler ever since Chuck's bro-in-law got him detoxed from carbon monoxide fumes, so his guess at where they were right now was about 75% more likely to be correct than Lester's. Lester didn't want to open his eyes at all if the answer wasn't favorable. If they were in prison, they could just keep sleeping. Lester had that place wired, quite literally. No one there would dare bother them. If it was the cage at the Buy More, he might have to move before Big Mike found out. Actually, if it was the Buy More, chances were good the bright light was being shined in his face by Big Mike, and it was too late to escape detection, and therefore not as essential to wake up. But if that was the case, Lester couldn't imagine Big Mike staying quiet all this time.
"Huh?" Jeff wasn't conscious either.
"Jeffrey! Oh wise and sober one! Where are we? Do we have to get up?"
A groan came as if from subterranean depths. "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium?"
"What? Did you snort your quinoa again?"
"Uhhh, Tijuana? Vegas?"
Vegas made a lot of sense, considering how wiped-out Lester felt right now. And if it was Vegas, he certainly didn't want to waste time sleeping. He let one eyelid force itself open. If there had been a soundtrack to accompany this act of will, it would have sounded like a rusty hinge. The light was not artificial; it was sunlight, but it wasn't hot. Lester opened the other eye.
Visual cues and the return of semi-consciousness served to fill in some of the blanks that last night's party and subsequent passing-out had left. Two Jeffster concerts. Huge crowds. Lots of screaming. It was all a whirlwind in his head. That German promoter guy (what was his name? Dieter? Dirk? Lester wasn't sure he ever got it) had them on an insane schedule. Get on stage and perform. Sleep here. Perform again. Ride this train. Perform again. Wear these clothes. Perform again. Mingle with these groupies. Perform again.
"Jeffrey, wake up. We're not in Vegas. We really should figure out where we are and when we have to perform again."
"Yes, perform. Keytar. Singing. 'Scheffster' on tour. Any of this ringing any bells?"
Jeff yawned and stretched one arm into the air. "Weren't there supposed to be women—and men—adoring us? Where are the women? I want Anna Wu."
Lester shuffled to the window and looked out. It was dingy, urban grey, and cloudy. No palm trees. Anna was in Hawaii last they heard. This was so not Hawaii. "She's a hemisphere away, my geographically-challenged friend. Come on, wake up. I need a better guess than Tijuana and Vegas. Maybe Belgium was the closest. Are we really in Belgium?"
"Are there signs outside? What language does it look like?"
Lester's sight was still a bit on the blurry side, but he tried to focus on the signs with the largest print. "Mario's. What is that, Italian?" Pizza sounded good right now.
"No, Mario was created by Nintendo. We must be in Japan."
Lester waved a 'forget it' swipe at him. Jeff was useless until he got some muesli and Greek yogurt in him. "Yeah, right. Japan. And we got here by train from Germany," he muttered on his way to the bathroom.
He had just emerged when someone knocked on the door. "Room serveece!" said a female voice with a heavy accent. What accent, Lester couldn't say. Maybe German. Maybe Dutch. Heck, for all he knew, it was Czech. He looked down at his state of dress: boxer shorts, possibly not laundered in a month. He grabbed a bedsheet and wrapped it around him. Better to let the lady think he slept in the buff. He ran his hand over his hair twice, smoothing down and getting it out of his face. Canadian Hin-Jews always had great hair.
He unlatched the hotel door and opened it. The lady with the accent was gone and a tray of food sat in front of the door on a squat little breakfast cart. It was just coffee and cinnabons—well, they were fancier than the ones back home, but seriously, weren't they all just glorified Entenmann's? He pulled the cart inside and pushed the door shut with his foot. "Look, Jeffrey, we've devolved into Big Mike."
Jeff was sitting up now, though still on the floor. "Big Mike five years ago," he corrected. "He hasn't touched a donut since hooking up with Morgan's mom." Bolonia Grimes Tucker was the walking punchline to one of the greatest jokes Jeff and Lester had ever played, albeit unknowingly, on Morgan. And the funniest part was that Morgan had helped them doctor up Big Mike's online dating profile in order to get that first blind date.
Lester sighed. "You're right," he said wistfully. "He's probably eating a Breakfast B.M.T. Melt right now." With a Subway in the Buy More, it was practically guaranteed.
"Are you homesick?" Jeff asked.
"What? No! Me? Ridiculous." Which actually meant Jeff was spot-on.
"I miss my dog."
"You don't have a dog."
"I want a dog. If I can't have Anna Wu, I want a dog."
Lester chose to pass on the joke about comparing Anna to a dog. "You can't have a dog while we're on the road, living our dream."
"Being a rock star isn't what I thought it would be." Jeff eyed his pastry with disdain. "I don't like the food."
"Maybe we can find a Subway. This is Italy, right? Meatball Marinara subs. Essential to life itself. Surely they've put in Subways here."
"But can we leave the hotel? Aren't we supposed to perform somewhere? What if Dieter comes looking for us?"
"Dieter, Schmeeter. He doesn't own us."
"But what if they don't speak English? We don't speak Japa—Italian."
Lester shrugged. "It's Subway. You point to the pickles and nod."
"What about money? Do we have francs or yen or whatever?"
Yen? When was he going to get the crazy idea of Japan out of his head? "Not to worry. Everything is euros now."
"Do we have euros?"
Lester frowned and shook his head. "No. Why don't we have money? We're big stars now. Our concerts are sold out. We should have money." They were going to confront that Dirty Dieter the next time they saw him. He definitely owed them money.
"We could always try what we did with Halo Reach."
"You mean be so annoying that they pay us to leave?" Lester took another bite of his fake Entenmann thing, brows furrowed as he contemplated. Jeff's idea had merit. A Meatball Marinara ought to be a lot easier to mooch than a copy of Halo Reach. "You're on, my friend. Get dressed. Time to feast."