That evening after I had changed into my favorite pair of pajamas and after I had declared that there was nothing on TV to watch, I curled up on the couch with my book. There had been a lot of talk about Dusk.....mostly by the younger people I knew. I had seen the book everywhere lately. I was always the last to get in on the latest trend. I hadn't even cared about the whole Harry Potter craze. Fads never lasted long anyway. One teen star was easily replaced by another pop culture hero. I liked to march to my own tune.
I had been reading the same line over and over. My mind kept going back over the day. My brain wouldn't relax. I must have had too much caffeine! Something was nagging at me.
it dawned on me.
He had asked my name, but I didn't know who He was. I don't know if it really mattered. What were my chances of running into him again? Honestly? Even though he said he'd be getting coffee again. Lot's of people said things like that and then you never see them again. You never hear from them again.
Frustrated, I slammed my book closed. I wasn't reading it anyhow. I let it drop to the floor. Plop.
I decided to make a cup of tea. Grandma had always said that a good cup of tea could cure the days troubles. I wasn't necessarily troubled, but I sure could use some relaxation. I busied myself by getting out the kettle and searching the cupboard for a good variety of tea bags. I like herbal teas the best with just a teaspoon of honey for a sweetener. My tea was steeping when the phone rang.
By the time I got to the phone the ringing had stopped.
I walked a few steps away only to have the ringing start up again. More quickly this time I dashed to the phone. Not many people would call this time of night. “Hello?”
“Could I speak to Mandy please?” the voice said.
“I'm sorry,” I answered. “But you have the wrong number.”
“Oh.....sorry” and then I heard a click on the line.
I headed back to the kitchen counter and to my steeping tea. This time I got a spoon out and nearly had it dipped into the honey when again the phone rang. I dashed off to answer it again.
“Hi. Is Mandy there?”
“No.” I said. “YOU have the wrong number”
Angrily, I stomped back to the kitchen. This time I brought the phone with me. It was cordless after all and it was silly to leave it in the charger all the time. But the phone didn't ring very often so I had little reason to leave it elsewhere. I had the spoon all the way into the honey and even had the spoon stirring in my tea when......
I let it ring twice before looking at the caller display.
Unknown name.....Unknown number.
“Hello!” I said a bit angrily now.
“Is Mandy there?”
“No!” I was freaking out a little now. “You've called this number, the wrong number three times now. There is no Mandy here. You have the wrong number!”
Dang. I was rude.
“I'm sorry.” The decidedly male voice said quietly and sounding down right depressed. “I guess I was given the wrong number. I apologize for the intrusion.”
My heart melted.
“Maybe I could help you get the correct number?” I asked. I was feeling bad for reacting so badly. The voice didn't sound so bad. For all I knew maybe it was urgent that they get in touch with this Mandy.
“It's alright. Thanks for trying to help though.” Pause. “You do sound nice. I don't suppose.....no, that's crazy.....”
“No it's insane. No one in their right mind would agree.”
Okay, my interest was peaked. I often wasn't in my right mind. “What? It's really no problem.”
“Well.....” They started out slowly.....cautiously. “I don't suppose you'd talk to me for awhile?”
Yup, I definitely attracted weirdness.
I gave in. “You really need someone to talk to that badly?”
“I'm just in a very lonely place right now and I would really enjoy a distraction.”
“Okay. You've got me convinced. I won't hang up on you.” This was going to top my list of weird things that's for sure. “But if you expect me to listen you should at least let me know who I'm talking to.”
I could almost feel the relief come in a wave across the phone line. “William.” He confided. “But some people call me Will.”
“Will. What's on your mind?” I sounded like a radio call in show host.
“And what should I call you?” Will asked avoiding my question.
I thought it over. Should I tell him my real name? All he had was my phone number. That was if he could remember the wrong numbers to call again. By the sound of his voice he didn't sound like the stalker type. But then, what did a stalker sound like? I didn't know. Even though something told me I had nothing to worry about I still thought I should be cautious. I couldn't just go around giving random guys my name.....even though I had already done it once today.
“Anonymous.” I answered. “I mean, how am I to know you are who you say you are? How am I to know that you aren't some kind of deranged stalker waiting around the corner?”
“Fair enough. I deserve that.” Will said. “Miss Anonymous it is.....I assume it is Miss?”
“Yes. There is no doubt that I am a Miss.” Yikes, that sounded a bit desperate. “I mean.....er, just that there is no Mister about the place.”
I detected a little laughter on the line. “It sounds like I'm not the only lonely one.”
“I'll have you know that I lead a perfectly happy life.” Why did I feel the need to justify my life to this unknown? “Besides, this is supposed to be about you not me, remember? What is it you really need help with?”
“I'm having relationship issues.”
“Don't you think you should discuss this with the person you're in the relationship with?”
“That's the thing.” Big sigh. “I'm not in a relationship. It's complicated. It's not that I wouldn't like to be in a relationship. I can't seem to find the right girl. And yet, in my current situation I'm not even sure I could handle having someone in my life.”
“And what is your current situation?”
“Like I said its complicated. It has to do with my line of work.” I heard such grief in his voice. A yearning for something that just wasn't possible. “I'm busy. I have all kinds of commitments and I don't think any sane person would understand.”
I was becoming a softy. “What do you do, Will?” It sounded a lot more important than my little bank job that's for sure.
“I don't know if I should tell you.” He answered.
“Oh, c'mon.” I pleaded. “Who am I going to tell? I don't even know you!”
“Well, I can't tell you exactly what I do.” He waited to hear my response. When I didn't say anything he continued. “Let's just say I find myself in the public eye a lot.”
“Sounds like you lead an interesting life”
Will avoided the question. “It makes it difficult to get out.”
“Well, that's sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than my career.....or lack of. Sounds down right awesome if you ask me. I work in a bank.....not much glory in banking. You shouldn't have any problem finding a willing recipient of your affections.”
“But that's precisely the problem. Everyone seems to want something from me. I don't get much peace and not much time to myself. Who would want to be around that all the time? I have enough trouble coping with it myself, never mind bringing someone else into this world.”
“Maybe you just need to open yourself up a little.” I paused to consider what he'd confided. “If you found the right person none of it should matter. They wouldn't care about any of it. They'd just care about you.”
“But how can I find THAT person when everyone is just out for their own gain?” There was a shuffling sound on the phone then and a clanking noise. “I can't even go out in public without causing mass panic.”
I was distracted. “What's that sound? What are you doing?” Did I have the right to probe?
“Huh? Oh, I'm making a cup of tea.”
I had forgotten about my tea sitting on the cupboard and probably considered more of an iced tea by now. “I like tea too.” I replied. “In fact, you caught me making it too. I'm having Candy Cane Lane tonight.” I laughed. That sounded ridiculous.....having a Christmas blend when it was so close to Easter.
“I'm an Earl Grey man myself.”
“There's nothing like a spot o' tea to take the troubles away.”
“You can say that again.” Will gulped, presumably sipping his tea. “I'm feeling better already.”
“There's a tea and coffee shop down on Broadway.” I volunteered. “I've only been there once but they had every variety out there.....it was a bit overwhelming for someone who is used to supermarket brands.”
“I'll have to look into that.”
“Oh, so you are in the city then?” I asked. “My caller display said unknown so.....”
“Um.” Sounding rather guarded. “....yes, but as I've told you, I have trouble getting out.”
I giggled. “Maybe you need a fedora and big sunglasses like Michael Jackson.” Did I really just say that? Like that's a good disguise anyway. But then again, Lois Lane never suspected Superman behind his dorky glasses did she?
“You have made me feel better.” Will was laughing too. “I need more humor in my life.”
“Well, stick around.....I'm a barrel of laughs.”
“I might just do that.” I could hear that Will's mood had totally changed. “You have made me feel better, Anonymous.”
“I'm glad to be of help.”
“If I'm feeling just as pathetic again, could you.....I mean, would you mind if I called again?” Will asked. “It's nice to have someone just listen.”
“I don't see what it could hurt.”
“Thanks Anonymous. Actually I think I'm going to call you Ann. Yup. Ann it is.”
I smiled now too. Along with everything else, I was going to have to deal with an alternate ego.
“Have a goodnight Will.”