One ring. No answer
Two rings. No answer.
Before the third ring started, country music began to play from the receiver, a Waylon Jennings song from 78, “Don’t you think this outlaw bit has done got out of hand” for a few seconds, then deep voice with a thick southern accent spoke “Hello, this is Jim Davidson. Leave a message.” The music continued for a few more seconds, the words “New York sent a posse down, like you ain’t never seen…” Then a beep.
Frank said “Uh.. hey Jim. It’s Frank. Frank Jensen. Listen. My boiler is out and I need help getting this thing going, and your the only person I know who fixes them. Give me a ring back and let me know if you can help me. Give me a call on the new number here 555-652-5515, it’d be nice to see you again. Later.” And Frank closed his small black flip phone, and plugged it back in and put it back on the table on his side of the bed.
After he did this he looked around the bedroom and thought for a second about where he was in his life and how he had gotten there. He thought about school, and all the good times he had there, and all the stuff he learned there that he never needed, and the things that were indispensable,the girls and the drinking, aka social skills. He laughed to himself at that thought. He wasn’t the ladies man and he was never much good at school. But he managed to get the most out of it that he could. He got his degree, a bachelor’s degree. He told people that it didn’t matter, but it got him the job he had been working for the past three decades, where he was now foreman.
He shivered just a hair, and for as much as he told himself he didn’t get cold, he hoped that Jim would call back so he could get on with his life, and not be cold living it. Sitting on the edge of the unmade bed, cold and unhappy about the events of the day. Knowing that it was unavoidable was no solace, and his wife’s bitching didn’t make it any easier. He looked at the mess in the bedroom and kicked all of the dirty clothes that were on the floor into a corner. He was beginning to get sick of all the crap laying around, and if he had his way would just take all of it and throw it out. None of it seemed necessary at this point.
He thought about the work he had done. He had been there to work on the church tower of Saint John the Divine in the 1980’s. He worked a few years ago on the 9/11 memorial at ground zero. He thought about all the great people he had worked with. He thought about being up on scaffolds hundreds of feet in the air untethered, and about how much he enjoyed that, the rush of being up there.
He would have thought more about it, but his cell phone rang, pulling him out of his reverie and back into the real world.
Frank unplugged the phone and opened t in a single practiced gesture and said “Yello?” The voice on the other end said “Frank, that you?” Frank pretended to sound surprised “Jim! What’s going on man! It’s been a while!” Jim’s deep drawl rolled slowly off his tongue as he said “Frank, it’s been ages. How’re you ‘n the wife? Besides cold I mean?” He sounded honesty concerned, which felt good to Frank. “Frozen like ice cubes up here, brother. Damn heater went on the fritz and died on me, and as much as I know my way around a tool set, I don’t feel like blowing up the house fixing the damn thing. Don’t think the wife would approve.”
Jim waited a long thick second to respond, he was clearly talking to someone standing near him, then let out a hearty laugh and got back to talking to Frank, saying “Listen, I’d never turn my back on a brother from back in the day. I’m almost done here, give me about an hour. Boiler crapped out right?” Frank said “Ya. Damn thing..” Jim cut him off “Damn thing is right, I’ll bring the work truck with me. So long as you don’t smell gas I’m not worried. I’ll cut ya a deal when I get there. Sound good?” Frank replied “Hell ya, outlaw. See ya in a bit.” And both men hung up.
Frank hung up, put the phone down and walked out of the bedroom with purpose in his step…
That’s it from here, America. G’night.