Title: A Call In The Late Hours Of The Night
Intended Length: Short Story? Novella? Novel? Anything we can get, really?
Genre: Contemporary, Semi-Romantic
Narrative Mode: Third-Person Limited Omniscient
Rating: R / Mature (18+)
The following writing may contain mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: depictions of gore, dark contemplations of the human mind, the use of drugs, expressions of sexuality, vocalizations of vulgarity, displays of nudity and other mature themes.
This writing is fiction. Any auto-biographical elements are used out of the context of reality by the writers involved. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
Two voices, one female and one male, met through fiber-optic cables. It was a phone call, under way. And their voices hung with far more tension than the network of connections that enabled their call.
"Are you mad at me?" she sounded, at least for the moment, like she cared. Play caring and innocent. He'll lap it up like they always do.
"Why would I be mad?" It was unclear whether this warranted an answer, and whether he indeed was angry. He continued, "This is exactly what I expected from you." What am I, number seven?
"You expected me to do this?" I know I did.
"I started our relationship knowing full well what you were like. Your later confessions confirmed it." You follow a pattern, ever since the grief. Get a man close to you until he can't not - and then throw him away in hopes that he feels the same loss you've felt!
"How could you? Trust! Does the word mean anything to you?"
"You taught me not to trust you. And, now, you are confusing my expectations with my hopes. I clearly did not hope that you would make me your... pre-marital cuckold. And, nevertheless, you did."
She remained silent. Wordy bastard.
"I'd love to tell you I'm heartbroken, or that I feel the need to call you degrading things. But I simply don't."
"You're in denial." You feel something. You told me you'd kill yourself if something happened to me.
"No. I've considered that." Perhaps not enough. But I have. "You're with someone who cares about you and makes you happy - at least for the moment! And that makes me happy - as a friend."
"Oh, like you consider everything," she became distant, "Always so cold and analytical. I hate your psycho-babble! I can feel how I want, when I want - and if you think I'm crazy, moody or it's-just-the -drugs-talking, you can keep it to your God damn self!"
"You're not the person I had a crush on so long ago." Would I have fallen in love with any of my female friends if I'd had that same one on one time at the bus stop?
"No, I'm not! People change. Suck it up." And maybe you should change and take a god damn joint for once! Or at least a cigarette. Heck, a beer wouldn't kill you!
"Hah. Ironic advice coming from you." Big bad lot of sucking she's done lately.
"Oh, don't you dare make another innuendo. Of all the times and places to--"
"Yeah, right! Because putting up with snarky comments from me would be so disloyal to the man lying in bed beside you."
"No, they wouldn't let him stay another night. I used up my privileges for the month. But I might sneak him in later."
"Yeah, have fun with that. He's left how many single parent mothers in his wake?"
She chose not to dignify that with an answer. Two. One in New-Brunswick and one here in Toronto. And don't you care send another Facebook message to her!
"And now it is my turn not to be truthful with you. Because if I told you what was on my mind of relevance to this, you'd have a fit." Because you'd know I'm the first you failed to break.
"Really? Try me." That denial again. For a moment, if someone could just feel how I feel - to lose someone so precious - then, maybe, the world could understand. For a moment. That's all I ask.
"Well, I'm still not sure. But I reckon it wasn't the rubber that stopped me." I hope it wasn't your body. I'd like to think I'm not like that. Heck, what if I'm gay? No, don't go there.
Rubber what? Oh... oh no... the condom. Play dumb, "Excuse me?"
"I felt something strange, looking down at you that night," he was speaking slowly, carefully considering his words.
"Oh, you're talking about that night." I orchestrated that failure. You think it was you that decided not to put out? You're wrong.
"Pfft. Like you've forgotten or something?" Or had too many like it since?
"Mmmmm..." Gotta let him think I've forgotten.
"Well, when can I get my things from your little subsidized apartment?"
"You owe me twenty bucks. That charity wouldn't have been given if you'd been honest with me that night. And I wouldn't have left a pile of video games for you and him to play if I'd known he was more than just a friend without a place to stay." And only one bed in your apartment. Convenient, no?
We'll sell it for drug money, we both know you aren't coming back into Toronto to see me ever. Ever again.
"As for my novels. I'll let you read the rest of the series, provided you want to - if you were only reading them back in school so you had something to talk to me about, screw it - I'll take 'em back."
Oh, Frank Herbert. Where would I be without his delicious spice?
"And the food I left the two of you - you can keep. That's one act of charity I won't try to reverse - and I'd probably have left it anyways if I'd known he was sleeping with you for the last week and a half. Pot is one thing, but when you said 'he's just another face' and he said into the phone 'you are what you eat'... I didn't assume it's what he'd been doing at that very moment."
"Hah hah, yeah. I hear you." Oh, that felt truly wonderful. Good times.
"I want to turn the cliché on its head. I actually want to remain friends. I care about you. I may not agree with your life style, but I do want to remain friends."
Oh God, does this mean he feels no heartbreak, or does this mean he's trying to hold on? What do I say?
"Are you there?"
"I'm here. But I gotta go soon. I'm gonna sneak him inside in ten minutes, after I go out for a smoke."
"Are you listening to a thing I've been saying?" Oh, gee, she has a joint at her lips doesn't she?
"I'm not good at remaining friends with my exes. You know that." That'd mend their heart a bit, and we wouldn't want that, now, would we?
"I'm not like them." I'm not a jerk with a superiority complex and an abnormal case of jelousy. Nor am I a friend after benefits. Nor the ketamine-addicted Texan with half the brain and, apparently, twice the cock of most men. Nor am I that Irish Canadian sixteen year old drunkard with no working nerves in his left arm that asks for you to slice his chest open during intercourse. Nor the criminal whose brain is filled with nothing but street-smarts and bed-smarts. Nor do I have two single-parent mothers under my belt in two different provinces. Nor am I any of the others one of us may have forgotten to mention. Dare I count the women, too? I'm just the do-good prude of a preacher's kid who didn't want to see you throw your life away.
"No, you're not. I dedicated a song to you on Facebook this evening. Listen to it."
"I'm No Good by--"
"Amy Winehouse. I told you, I'm no good. I told you!"
"And I replied. A contemporary Christian artist singing to 'you', though the reference is never clear whether she's singing to a lover, a certain messiah or God himself." Fitting, considering her friend's called me Jesus because I was a preacher's kid. And she quickly became referenced as Mary Magdaleine.
"Fun." I love Facebook.
"Yeah," he responded. Not the most sophisticated way to break-up.
"I'll cherish the experiences. I really will."
"Is that all this is to you? Is that all he is to you right now? An experience, an experiment? See where life takes you?"
"No." You heard me!
"I don't get tired of him. I just don't. He's not like the others. He's not like you. I don't get tired of being around him after two or three days and need a break."
Pure and utter bullshit, meant to tear a whole in my heart. I ain't stupid.
"I love him. We're going to move back to New-Brunswick where his folks live."
You told me that detail before. Have the drugs shot your short-term memory that much?
"He's a full Aboriginal, so he'll get everything handed to him there." We've got it made!
She's delusional. They have it rough out there, I've seen the documentaries. At least she's happy though.
"We're gonna go through the legal battles, and I'm gonna be a step-mom. I've always wanted to be a step-mom. Better than going through the pain of it myself. Either ex's kids, doesn't matter to me."
You're not fit to raise a child, let alone love someone.
"You promise not to tell her or anything, right? And you did stop sending her Facebook messages about all this?"
"Yeah, I owe you some confidentiality." I have to warn her. If I tell her now, her parents can adopt her daughter, and then the two of them won't have a chance in hell of adopting that innocent child. "We can't be flaunting our relationships and gossip on the net to people, now, can we? Besides, I wouldn't want people to know that I can--"
"Yeah, I hear you." Crass and prude, all in one. You're original.
"So, when can I drop by to pick up my stuff?"
Beeeeeep... beeeep. She had hung up the phone.
Shit. He stared blankly at the computer in front of him. While he'd been talking, he had googled the movie 'Stepmom' - because he was going to recommend it to her. After all, it starred his favourite actress, Susan Serandon; who was his favourite purely as an actress and not a body - as she was over twice his age. And, furthermore, because her role as the step-mother involved a medicinal dose of marijuana - which he thought might appeal to his ex-girlfriend. The browser closed with a click of his mouse, and a look of disgust on his face.
And he went to bed, humming a tune by MadViolet. The lyrics, or at least his recollection of them, were what matted to him, as he fell asleep. I threw a rock at your window, and it hit the woman in your arms. In your arms. Oh, she was in your arms. And I ran. I ran like a doggy to a T-bone steak, I ran like the butter on a baked potato, I ran. I ran... And despite his usual insomnia, he fell asleep, mind wandering aimlessly through the women he knew, wondering where he could tolerate finding affection next. And of the people he knew, nobody stuck in his mind. One swung the other way. Another lived to far away. And he dreamed a dream of nothing - that night - of being in nobody's arms. Of lying alone. Silent. Wishing he had someone who understood him.
Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend was sneaking a man ten years older than her past a security camera at the back door of her subsidized housing unit. The residents were all under the age of twenty-four. He was not. And it would so happen that night, that their debauchery would be interrupted by the night watchman - and he would be left, once again, out on the streets at the whim of women who could not love him - long after the hours at which the shelter he was signed into would take him back inside.
Her ex-boyfriend, though, remained asleep. Not crying about a lover he could not be with, as she was, nor wandering the streets because he had made foolish decisions. She had told him he was too good. And he did not want to believe her, and he reckoned she did not mean it. And night became day, and a day became a week. A month. And his heart, jilted twice since, wanted someone who understood him.