I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been in bed, my eyes have been closed. I’ve been breathing deep and regular. I’ve been allowing my mind to wander where it will. The shades are drawn and the apartment’s a mine shaft from end to end. The television, the stereo, the computer are in pieces on the carpet. The phone is a heap of broken plastic and dayglo wiring. The door is locked and deadbolted and one of the dining table chairs is wedged under the knob. I removed the Nokia’s battery and threw it out the window, out into the weeds that ring the parking lot and stuffed the phone itself into the sweater drawer of my dresser.

It rings anyway.

First it rings like it always rings, that ring-RING-RING-RING ascending scale thing. And then it’s quiet for a few minutes. Then it rings Beethoven’s Fifth. Then it rings Jingle Bells. Then it rings the Mexican Hat Dance. Buried underneath ten pounds of wool and fleece, it sounds like it’s sitting on the pillow next to me. It rings five times and then goes to voicemail and it’s quiet for a few minutes and then it rings again, scrolling through all the ringtones the people at the wireless company loaded into it when I signed up for my plan. Once it doesn’t ring but I hear it buzzing away, hear the dresser rattling against the wall. The vibrate setting, I figure.

It’s about three in the morning. It’s been doing this since midnight. Before that my computer was sending me instant messages every five seconds or so, windows popping up in the middle of the screen while I tried to compose email, tried to surf for porn. Davey, hey, what’s up man? Davey, yo, you there? Davey, hey, got something to talk to you about…are you Away? I finally just disconnected the thing, but the windows kept coming. I cracked the case, pulled the modem. Endless windows, overlapping each other, the speaker crackling with every New Message beep. I shut it down, the windows kept coming, killed the power, they kept coming. Unplugged it, windows. Pulled the monitor cord, the keyboard cord, yanked out the mouse, picked up the tower and smashed it against the wall. That stopped it.

The tv turned itself on, models selling diet sodas calling my name, rerun sitcom stars beckoning. Laura Petrie in her capri slacks, vacuuming, asking me to come closer. Jerry Seinfeld looking straight at the camera, telling me he’s got something to talk to me about. I tip the set off its stand and yank the cord out of the wall. The stereo clicked on, U2 singing my name, Bono telling me that I can’t ignore him forever. I put my boot through the receiver and both speakers. I tore the phone off the wall before it had a chance to ring. Flipped the breakers and killed all the power. Dismembered my Nokia and brushed my teeth in the dark and went to bed.

And in the dark, listening to The Minuet, to The Star-Spangled Banner, the theme from Rocky, bouncing little monophonic notes drilling into my head. Itching to get out of bed, dig out the Nokia, accept the call. Listen to the Voice on the other end, all that thunder and bass and gravel. Nod and drool and feel my brain melt as it lays down whatever truth it’s got for me tonight. Just give in. Just accept.

Till the sun comes up. And everything stops, and I go to work.

It takes me twenty minutes to find the Nokia’s battery, out in the weeds around the parking lot.


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