Saturday, February 28, 2009


I had put out the candles and was sitting in the dark, brooding. I listened to the wind howl in the middle of a God-awful thunderstorm which, although I didn't know it at the time, was part-and-parcel of tornado weather. My head was spinning. I felt vaguely ill. Then a thought crystallized: Why not call my ex-wife and daughter and tell them I was OK. They lived in Arizona and I knew they would be worried. As soon as the rain let up, I would walk to the corner, a little more than a block away, and use the public phone booth.

I know what you are probably thinking. If the phone wasn't working in my house, why would the phones be working on the corner? I think the events of that day had scrambled me, slightly disconnecting me from rational thinking and the fact that the question never occurred to me speaks volumes about my state of mind at midnight on the day tornadoes ravaged my part of the country.

I needed it to stop raining long enough for me to walk that block and put my plan into action. By 1AM, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and I went down the stairs and looked out the door. The air was full of water but it wasn't raining. I could see occasional flashes of lightening but not much else. You don't realize how little residual light there is at night in a city until you are in the midst of what amounts to a complete blackout. I mean, it was DARK. And very very quiet.

I walked up the slight hill to the corner, aware of the sound of my shoes scraping the pavement. My senses were alive; I could hear myself breathing. Do you remember the old-style phone booths made of metal, with sliding glass doors that looked not unlike vertical coffins? The sound of the metal doors scraping against the metal of the floor grated on my ears as I entered the booth. When I put the money in the slot and failed to hear a dial tone, I suddenly became aware of the absurdity of what I had just done. Of course, there was no dial tone! Nothing at all was working in this part of the city. I was awash in a sea of strange images. I could still see flashes of lightening. It was starting to rain again. I realized I was on a metal platform in an electrical storm. I saw a kid standing on the corner.


He was wearing a red and gray checked sweater and wore his hair cropped short. I hadn't noticed him on the way to use the phone. Where had he come from so suddenly, I wondered. I stepped out of the booth and walked towards him. There was no traffic, no sound, nothing at all.

We exchanged glances. He said, "Do you like sex?"

I looked at him in wonderment. How do you answer a question like that? "Yes," I said. "I do."

He looked me in the eye and said, "With me?"

And on that note, gentle reader, I strode briskly away from the young man in the red sweater and close-cropped hair and left him standing there alone on the corner and walked home in the rain. I went to bed, completely convinced that I had just experienced the last surreal moment of a truly surreal day

1 comment:

allan said...

In reading this tale I felt exhilarated, like I too was living through it. To have it end the way it did was certainly surreal. I think you should rewrite it like this: I saw a beautiful young woman standing on the corner. She was dressed in a red and gray checkered sweater and tight black jeans. Her hair was cropped in what used to be called a bob. She was quite a stunner.

She asked if I could spare a dime so that she could make a phone call, and let her parents know she was okay. I said sure, and handed her a quarter instead.

When she got off the phone, we struck up a conversation, starting with how dumb it was to think the phone would be working. We laughed.

The conversation lasted for quite a while, and I finally asked her her name. It was Barbara, and that's how I met my beautiful wife.

Although your story rings of the truth, mine rings of loveand who besides you, Barbara and now me will know it is not fact.

As always, thanks for the great read.