Together – The Call Pt. 1

“Hello?”

“Who is this? What are you doing with my phone?”

“Am I speaking with Vanessa, by any chance?”

“How do you know my name?”

“I’ve got your phone, remember? I could have looked it up but I actually just remember it from last night.”

“Right. But that doesn’t tell me who you are or why you have my phone?”

“Our phones got mixed up at the bar when I put you in your cab.”

“So we met at the bar? You’re not Susan’s date are you?”

“I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Susan but I think you told me all I need to know about her.”

“We didn’t… hook up or anything. Did we?”

“No, no one took advantage of you. At least, not while you were at the bar. After you got wherever that cab dropped you off, I can’t say.”

“I remember you now. You’re the bartender. Nick, right?”

“Oh, come on! You should know my name. You’re calling from my cell. You must have gone through it before using it to call. Are you trying to tell me that you’re so hung over you lost all sense of curiosity?”

“What? No, I would never… Wait, have you been going through my phone?”

“Sadly, no. I was too tired when I got home and realized the mix-up. I was planning on taking a peek during breakfast but I’m afraid your call actually woke me up so your phone remains, as yet, unsnooped.”

“I woke you up? But it’s practically noon.”

“Bartender, remember. I didn’t get home till after three. And it’s Rick, by the way. Not Nick. Rick. I really thought I made a stronger impression on you last night. Way to wound my ego.”

“Well, I was pretty drunk last night. Things are foggy.”

“I know. You were revenge drinking. Please tell me you destroyed something of Susan’s when you got home.”
“Are you asking if I puked on a dress of hers or in a pair of her shoes?” She laughed. “No such luck. I just crawled into bed and… oh no.”

“What? Was there someone already there? Like Goldilocks? Did you get in the wrong bed?”

“No, I think I might have drunk dialed Susan.”

“So? I mean, it’s not the worst thing you could have done but honestly, based on what you told me last night, she kind of had it coming. You didn’t do a one-eighty and apologize to her did you?”

“No, I definitely did not apologize and she certainly has it coming, but I have your phone so I’m beginning to think it wasn’t Susan who I yelled at last night.”

He laughed so hard he started coughing.

“This is not funny; it’s mortifying.”

“Why does it matter to you? All you did was rant at a stranger. Wait, I don’t have a Susan in my address book. Who on earth did you call?”

“I don’t know. I usually use speed dial when I call her. Who’s number give on your speed dial?”

“Five? Oh, that’s just Tommy. No worries. You should hear some of the drunken messages he’s left me over the years. He’ll probably just think that this is some sort of prank on my part. He’ll love it. Honestly, it’s better than anything I could have planned. I might owe you one.”

“Shut up, this is all humiliating for me. God. I feel like an idiot. I can’t believe I drank so much. And alone. On a school night. I’m like an alcoholic.”

“Uh-uh, no way. I know alcoholics and people who drink alone. You were not that sad or pathetic.”

“Yes, I was. No date, no friends, no excuse. Only way it could have been worse was if I had done it alone at home, trying to hide it.”

“That would be sad and pathetic. But like I said: that wasn’t you. Not last night anyway. You weren’t drinking alone. You had your righteous indignation and self-respect with you. No one would have though for a second that you were sad or pathetic. They would have taken pity on anyone stupid enough to cross you. I knew Susan had better watch out.”

“Is this you trying to make me feel better because you kind of suck at it.”

“Well, you’re missing the impact of my charming expressions. But it’s definitely easier to cheer people up when they’re a little drunk. If it doesn’t go well, I can always give them more booze. It usually restores the relationship, at least temporarily.”

“Oh, is that what you tried to do last night? Did it work?”
“No, but you didn’t listen to me when you were sober so the extra beer didn’t change anything.”

“Sounds about right. It takes more than just alcohol to get on my good side.”

“And here I thought I had made progress with you by the end of the night.”

“You might have but I don’t remember it well enough. Like I said earlier, it’s foggy. I’m pretty sure I shot you down.”

“You were shooting me down all night but I wasn’t hitting on you. You were just making that part up.”

“Oh was I? Didn’t you buy me a drink?”
“And you thought that was me coming on to you? I’m a bartender. Do you know how many times I’ll cover a drink on any given night? Half the time, if I cover one I’ll get tipped almost three times what the one drink would have cost and that’s in addition to the additional drinks they buy after the one I take car of. It’s not a pickup; it’s a business strategy.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“Maybe. But not by as much as you might think.”
“And way to make me feel stupid. I thought you said you were trying to cheer me up?”

“It didn’t seem like you were going for it so I went a different way. Why? Not working?”

“Decidedly not,” she chuckled.

“I don’t know. You are laughing. That seems like an improvement in my book. I mean, it’s not like I made you cry, so I don’t think I’ve made it worse.”

“I’ll give you that. Oh, shit. I’ve got to go. My students are on their way back from lunch.”

“Vanessa? What about the phones?”

But there was no answer. Vanessa had hung up. Rick laughed and rolled over to try and get some more sleep.

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