It was late, but the neon signs at Radio Shack were lighted full-blast, so Bootsy walked in like he owned the place. The first employee he encountered was a young woman whose first act was to look up at the wall clock before greeting him.
“Hi,” Bootsy said, “I know it is late, but I just need to pick up a cheap phone to get me through the night.”
The woman said nothing as she walked to the side of the store. Over her shoulder, she asked, “Cheapest one?”
“Sure, I guess.”
She led him to the phone section and pointed to one monstrosity encased in clamshell packaging, a cheap plastic casing painted in various hues of godawful pastels and sometimes even bedazzled with chintzy glittery shit.
“This is called 'Lindsay's First Celly,' if you're really desperate,” the girl said.
Bootsy smiled, “How much?”
“Nine ninety-nine, comes with ninety minutes of talk time.”
Bootsy held his breath while the girl ran his card, but the screen soon said ACCEPTED and spat out a lengthy receipt.
“No thanks,” he shook his head, “in fact, can you use your box cutter to open this for me?”
“I'm not really supposed --” but the girl looked up at the clock and realized she was already five minutes behind in her closing duties, and it dawned on her that the quicker she got rid of this late-night phone-calling dude then the quicker she could get drunk and get laid. She wordlessly took the clamshell package and zipped the top clean off with her retractable razor, then handed it back to Bootsy with a solemn, “have a nice night.”
Bootsy knew the girl didn't mean it but he didn't care; he'd gotten what he needed. He nodded his thanks and then left the establishment. He was not surprised to see the lights wink out before he had taken five steps away from the front door. A thought crossed his mind that he'd like to use the phone to call her manager and complain, noting the irony of using the girl's final sale to get her ass canned, but he pushed that thought aside and took five minutes turning on and setting up his new phone.
A bedazzled burner. Out-fucking-standing.
Whatever. He punched in Blaze's number and hit SEND. There were four or five tense seconds of anticipation, and Bootsy's mind began to wonder if Blaze would ignore the call, but then the ring tone stopped in mid-beat and Blaze's breathless voice, hushed, said simply, “What?”
Bootsy hadn't even thought this through to this point; he had no idea what he was going to say. He would have to let his mouth take charge and just go along for the ride, “Where are you?”
There was a moment of silence before Blaze responded, “Who is this?”