My hand flails wildly at the nightstand. I grab for anything that will stop the ringing. The lamp falls to the floor followed by a pile of papers. Who the hell is calling at this time? It’s not a number I recognize on the caller ID. Probably a drunk dialing the wrong number. Roll over and press my face as deep as I can into the pillow. Can I fall back asleep if I tell myself “I have to sleep?” A beep. They left a message? What if it’s an emergency? I better check just in case. Roll back over as my hand thrashes for the phone again. I have one message.
“Oh, hey Luke. Guess yer not there. I was… Um… Anyway, if ya can, call me back. Oh yeah, it’s Monica.” Well, it didn’t sound urgent. Maybe it is. Didn’t seem tipsy. Maybe she is. Even if there was a problem, what could I do? I’m here and she’s in California. Should I call her back?
What does she want? We haven’t talked in years. Isn’t this a strange coincidence? Does chance exist or is it all predetermined? I just saw the warehouse where we met a little bit ago. Our relationship started with an expiration date. There was no fault, just life pulled us in different directions. Monica ended up in Los Angeles and I’m doing whatever the hell it is I’m doing.
Still doesn’t answer my question: should I call her back? My grandpa always says, “Nothin’ good ever happens after 3am.” That usually referred to me being out on the town. Not sure if that applies to a phone call. Monica is a grenade with a faulty pin. Everything is fine until it isn’t. No one should think this much about a stupid phone call.
Screw it, I’ll return the call. It rings. It rings again. Now I get the voicemail. Forget it. I’m not leaving a message. Finally, I can get back to sleep.
Again, the phone rings and it’s Monica, “Hey Monica, is everythin’ okay?”
“Hi! I’m great. Did I wake ya?” Maybe she didn’t take the time zones into account. “I can call back later.”
“No. No.” Not falling back asleep any time soon anyway. “So, how’s California treatin’ ya?”
“Oh, it was… good. I moved back home a little while ago, ya know.”
“I didn’t know. I thought da next time I’d see ya was goin’ ta be in da movies. I’d say ‘I knew ya when’…”
“That’s sweet.” Her voice now deflated. “L.A. was not what I thought it’d be. Ya always hear how fake and phony everythin’ is out there, but it’s much worse. It’s all ‘bout havin’ da right friends, bein’ in da right cliques, ‘nd givin’ favors ta sleazeballs. ‘Nd if ya don’t have da ‘right look,’ forget ‘bout da whole thing. Anyway, Anabelle told me yer back in town too. Is that right?”
“Yeah, Granpa got sick ‘nd I moved in ta help out.” I could of told her the whole story, but isn’t that depressing enough?
“Nothin’ serious, I hope.”
“It’s serious. It’s all ‘bout reducin’ his pain at this point. Enough ‘bout that. What’s goin’ on with ya?”
“I’m at da Fallen Angel Bar ‘nd thought I’d see if ya wanted ta come out. Whaduya say? Wanna hang out?”
“No shit? I was there a while back.” Some things never change. “Not tanight though. I’ve gotta work tamorrow mornin’. But, I’m pretty free after three tamorrow.”
“Great!” Now I can hear all the gears grinding in her head. “A coupla friends ‘nd I are goin’ ta Flanigan’s ta see a band tamorrow night, if ya wanna come.”
“Sure.” Flanigan’s is the worst fake Irish pub with the biggest douchebag patrons. “What time?”
“Doors open at seven. So, whaduya think? ‘Bout eight sound good?”
“Works fer me.”
“Great! Can’t wait ta see ya. ‘Night Luke.”
“’Night.” I hang up and turn on the lamp that fell onto dirty laundry. The cheap light bulb casts an uneven yellow light across the ceiling. It looks like static waves of dirty water splashing against the walls. Still not sure if it was a “good” idea to return Monica’s call. But, if I didn’t she’s liable to throw a fit in the front yard and wake up the neighborhood. Still, I’m second guessing my risk and reward assessment. What is it about Monica that drives me insane?