h
o
m
e

The Dropped Call



"Laura, what happened?"

"Dropped you, honey. It took awhile to leash Petrarch and get him to heel before I could dial back. But you still weren't there."

"Yeah, I drove thirty miles before your phone rang. Why'd it take so long?"

"Don't know."

"I hate when that happens."

"Me too."

"Every time a cold sweat comes over me. I feel like something horrible has happened and then even when it hasn't the fear nags awhile. You okay?"

"Better than ever."

"Good. I needed to hear you say it. I adore you. I wouldn't know what to do if I lost you."

"You will find a way, love."

"Don't say it like that."

"How long till you get home?"

"Not too long. As I was saying earlier I couldn't call during the layover because it was so rushed but then of course we stalled forever on the tarmac at La Guardia. The automatic percolator wasn't dripping right."

"The percolator!"

"You know what I mean."

"I love you, Scottie."

"I miss you, Laura. I'm just passing the stockyards actually. Did you finish your fifteen-miler? Sorry to interrupt it earlier. Your mother still there?"

"I had to drag Petrarch home because he wouldn't cooperate after the call dropped. It was too hot to keep running anyway. And I wasn't feeling right. It's so hot. Mom came out to meet me while I was recovering in the yard and dialing your number. We're inside again."

"Tell Cynthia hello."

"She's on her phone in the other room. Dad may visit."

"Your dad? Why?"

"Do you believe in me, love?"

"Well...Yes..."

"As long as you believe in me I will be here waiting for you. You will walk up and touch me and as long as you believe in me I will be here."

"What are you talking about?"

"I've always been faithful to you, Scottie."

"Okay...Well..."

"And I know you've always been faithful to me."

"Yes, Laura...Of course...Where is this coming from? All this goes without saying by now. What's wrong? You're the only woman that exists for me. Is this what you mean by believing in you? Don't worry. All I have to do is see you and I know."

"That's all it takes?"

"I see you and I can feel how you're mine and only mine. I'll be pulling off the interstate shortly. I should hang up. I will hold you in my arms any minute and stop all this weird talking with a big kiss."

"No. Keep talking to me."

"I'm approaching the exit."

"Please keep talking to me, Scottie."

"Laura, what's going on?"

"How was the meeting in Zagreb?"

"Well...They responded well to the final presentation but there were infinite questions about the platform and reassurances about the budget. Same as always."

"And."

"I think we'll get the contract but it's not over until it's over. And sometimes it's not over then. Like in Genoa that time. But our track record is better than Carlotti's on the Adriatic. Especially on a job of this scale. We're the safer bet in deeper water. And those guys are conservative. We made no mistakes yesterday."

"Where are you now?"

"Idling on Council. Something's up at the McDonald's. The parking lot there's eerily deserted."

"Dad's here."

"That was fast. Hold on. Your mom's number is trying to break in. What's that about?"

"I love you."

"I love you, too. Is something wrong?"

"Everything is right. Like always. You've made my life so complete. You've filled me up. Filled in all the dead space. Do you know you've done this for me?"

"Laura...You've...done the same for me. Ten times as powerfully. You know that's true. You're all I have. You've got parents and family. All I've got is you. Your everything... Should I take your mother's call?"

"No."

"No?"

"Talk to me. I hate it when you go away. Where are you?"

"Sitting at that long light at Ferry Road."

"Are you still nervous?"

"Even more now!"

"Because of the dropped call?"

"Because you're talking so strange."

"Tell me how you feel."

"I'm thinking about how you always take my hand when we're out walking. How even in the parking lots of supermarkets you reach for my hand. I always think of that when I worry about you."

"You always leave me the last slice of pizza."

"Hah."

"When you don't leave me the last slice I know you're really hungry and I worry if you're eating enough."

"What would I do if I lost you?"

"Darling, as long as you believe I'm here, I will be here. You don't have to worry about losing me as long as you believe in me."

"What do you mean by that?...Hup!"

"What was that?"

"Some red truck cutting me off. Every man for himself in this city."

"It was right that we didn't have children, Scottie. Do you regret it?"

"...No."

"Never regret it. For us it was the right decision."

"...I...know it was...Laura."

"You have made me so happy."

"You have made me so happy."

"Where are you?"

"I'm turning onto Bradley."

"Honey, stop the car."

"What?"

"Stop the car."

"Why?"

"I want to walk to meet you."

"Laura, I'm 60 seconds from home. Why stop the car? It's too hot for walking anyway. How could you possibly run in this heat? I'm not stopping the car. I'm tired. I need to see you. You're freaking me out."

"Please, please, please."

"Well..."

"That's my love. Is the car stopped?"

"Yeah the car's stopped."

"Where are you?"

"Three blocks above the ess curve."

"Okay, get out please and start walking home. Please. I'll meet you."

"Alright...I guess."

"No! Don't hang up!"

"We're going to keep talking?"

"Tell me you love me, Scottie."

"I love you, Laura...You're everything to me...You mean so much to me that whatever is happening is making me feel sick. You're talking about the kids we didn't have, and our fidelity and our eternal love. What's this all about?"

"Just believe in me and it will never stop."

"You know I believe in you."

"Do you see me now? Do you recognize me?"

"Yes. I see you. How could I not recognize my goddess! Can I hang up now?"

"No. Keep talking. What do you see in my body language?"

"Laura. Well...Besides your knock out curves moving those sexy blue running shorts and that girlish way you put your hand on your hip, I see you, just you."

"Good."

"You stopped walking, Laura."

"I'm waiting for you, love. Like always. I'll always be waiting for you. Forever I'll be here. Waiting. Listening. Talking. As long as you believe."

"Why do you keep saying that?"

"You look so handsome."

"You're beautiful."

"Forty-five and you could still run on a boys' track team."

"And lose. It seems absurd to keep talking through the phones now that we're here in front of each other."

"Don't hang up."

"Why do you look so sad? What's happened?"

"Let's go on around the curve. No. Don't touch me."

"Not even a kiss?"

"Wait, love."

"And without taking my hand? Hey, the Sampsons cut down that huge oak tree in their back yard. Did they do that since I've been gone or did I somehow miss that before?"

"A big truck came a couple weeks ago. The power line people were mauling the tree so they decided to just chop it down and sell it. They're gonna put in a swimming pool."

"What are all those cars in our driveway?"

"I love you, my dear."

"Laura, what's happened? Why the ambulance?"

"No! Don't put down your phone!"

"Stop it."

"Believe in me, Scottie. Please never doubt. Please."

"But what's going on? Who are the medics wheeling out of the house? Why is your mom crying? Why does she come toward me like that? ... Cynthia, what's going on? ... No. Surely that's not possible. Look, she's right here. I'm talking to her right now ... Laura? Where'd you go? ... Who's that covered on that stretcher? ... Are you there? ... Laura, was that really you? ... My love ...... Where are you?"



turn page >>>

John Dishwasher

The Dropped Call