He sat on the edge. Feet firmly on the ground. Blankets pulled back. Could’ve swore he saw a bedbug. Clutching a pillow and waiting. Wanting his phone to ring. Or, hoping he could just sit in silence. Couldn’t decide between the two. Then his phone rang. The decision had been made for him.
The number was from out of state. Some area code in Mississippi. He let it continue to ring. And ring. Thoughts went through his head. A bunch of what ifs. What if it was a man with a gun? What if she had a knife? He took money out of his wallet and laid it on the nightstand. He answered his phone.
What room are you in honey?
212, he said.
I’ll be right up.
Sweat began to pour from his forehead. His hands felt cold. He sat there staring at his phone. There was a knock on the door. He didn’t answer. Again, another knock on the door. An uneasy quiet. For a third time there was a knock on the door. This time more rapid. The young man clutched his pillow tighter. He heard foot steps walking away. His phone rang. It stopped. Then it rang again. He answered.
What’s the problem baby?
No problem, he stuttered.
Did you give me the right number?
Yes, he said. I believe so.
I don’t have time for games, she said.
I’m sorry. Let’s just forget this.
You owe me something. I drove all the way over here and I got nothing to show for it, she demanded. Again, silence. Five seconds of neither speaking. Bitch I’m coming up there again, and she hung up the phone.
Waiting. Wanting it all to be over. Loneliness is a sickness, he thought. Desperation can kill you, he whispered.
Time passed. There was no more knocking on the door. He looked through the hole and there was no one there. No sign of anybody. An empty hallway. He turned on the television with no sound. Flipped through channels. Landed on a baseball game. The Cardinals were playing the Padres. He began to laugh. Surely this was a sign from God.
His phone began to ring again. It was her number. He let it ring. Frightened. Was she out in the hallway? Was she downstairs? He answered.
You wanna try this again honey? she asked. I understand. You’re nervous. Most guys are, she said. I’ll be good to you baby. I’ll be good, she whispered. His head was filled with thoughts of cardinals and priests. Men from his youth talking about wages of sin. He hung up the phone and began to pray.
Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, he said. The phone began to ring again. Mississippi calling. He let it go to voice mail and continued praying.
There were no messages. Just breathing. Just breathing.