“Hello? Listen, I’m sorry, I ….”
” It’s okay. Don’t worry, Paul. You didn’t wake me up or anything. I just don’t normally get many phone calls. The more I thought about your little request the more I laughed about it. It’s something that I would probably do myself. What made you do it, anyway?”
“Oh, Just something stupid. One of my buddies was bragging that he could remember his childhood phone number, and it made me think about the same kind of thing. It was just an affectionate thought that came to my head because it was a nice time in my life those first 15 years. Stability, same place, same friends, happy parents. Good time. I just got curious if the old number was still around, did not mean to upset you.”
“You’re a bit strange, aren’t you? Maybe kind of like me. By the way, my name’s Karla.”
(Paul is thinking “maybe I’ve got a live one here”) “Are you kidding? Your name is Karla?”(pause on the other end, then “something wrong with my name?“) “No. No. It’s just…haven’t you heard about the infamous couple Paul and Karla who went around killing people?”
“Oh, for Chrissakes, yes. And we’re not a couple.”
“Forgive me presuming, but it feels like you’re alone. Would you like to go out for a coffee sometime?”
“Forgive me for not assuming, but are you alone or attached?”
“Okay, touche. I’m two years a widower.”
“Oh Jesus. So sorry. My mouth gets me in trouble once again.”
“That’s okay. But you didn’t answer my question'”
“More alone than you might think. Divorced ten years ago. A few short relationships since then. I guess I’m just a bitch.”
“Well, meeting for a coffee can’t hurt…..unless you think I might be one of those internet stalkers.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Listen, buddy. You’re talking to somebody who still has a wall phone and gets two channels on her television”.
“Hah! This might be fun, you know? I could pick you up on Saturday.”
“Um, you’re scaring me a bit. Could I take a raincheck and call you?”
“Sure, Karla, I’ll keep the afternoon clear.”
(She is thinking “Boy, I’ve got a real live one here”)
She lies in bed, lights out. The bitchy old TV staring at her with its snowy screen. Finishing her chocolate milkshake and chips, she wipes the crumbs away. I’ll vacuum later. She wrestles with conflicting emotions. Lonely too long, but comfortable in her penury, like an old shoe. Her long-time job as a cashier, just enough to pay the rent and eat a little. This guy just might be one of those internet creeps. And, am I gonna go through this stuff again, for the fifth time? The very last thing that worries her to sleep is her broken tooth, on the front, of course.
As for Paul, he has no such worries. He sleeps the sleep of the dead, probably the best one he’s had in years.
next chapter is here: https://wordpress.com/post/secret-lifeof.com/2551