#4 – Byron, or phone calls at night

 

The phone kept ringing in the middle of the night.

The phone rarely rings at our little house.  People use texting more than they call people on the phone.  We also don’t know that many people anymore who would call us in the first place.

For some reason we still have a house phone.  House phones seem unnecessary in this day and age.  We really should get rid of ours and just use our cellular phones.  People text or use FaceTime or Skype or social media to communicate these days.  The house phone really seems obsolete.

Our house phone is connected to an answering machine.  Honestly I don’t know if you can even buy an answering machine anymore.  An actual answering machine can probably be purchased wherever you can buy and 8-track or a cassette tape.  We could get voicemail if we insist on continuing with the house phone.  But we don’t.

On the occasions that the house phone does ring we generally don’t answer it.  Most of the calls we get are recorded voices – doctor appointment reminders, the odd bill collector or two, a political ad or some kind of survey or other.

The phone numbers from the calls we receive show up on the screen while we are watching television.  It’s easy to see from the couch who is calling.  Even if it is a call from one of the people we do know we’re more apt then not to let the answering machine pick it up.  We aren’t screening our calls.  It’s really laziness.  The phone is in the bedroom.  Even if I’m reading or looking on the internet in the bedroom I’ll let the machine answer the call.  The five feet from the bed to the phone seems too far to get up and actually answer the call.  If I do feel like answering it I’ll sometimes yell for my daughter to get it.  It’s about 50/50 whether she’ll do it or not.  So the calls are picked up by the machine.

We get phone calls during the day.  Weekdays are no big deal.  We’re generally at home and school so we cannot answer them even if we wanted to.  Weekends and weekdays after work or before bed are fine.

Phone calls at night are disconcerting.

Phone calls in the middle of the night are rare.  They are unexpected.  They are outside of the normal times the phone should ring.  It’s a jarring way to be woken up at a time of night when people are generally not awake.

In the history of the times my phone has rung there have only been a handful of times the phone has rung in the middle of the night.  They are generally hang-ups or wrong numbers.  I only remember a few instances of any substance.  Years ago Sister #1 (I have two younger sisters, Sister#1 and Sister #2.  The numbers are birth order and should not be considered any kind of ranking other than that) called in the middle of the night after a night out on the town.  She didn’t feel she could drive and wanted me to pick her up.  I remember being annoyed but it was really the right and smart thing to do.  We should all be that smart.  Don’t drink and drive.

Even though the calls at night are rare and do not amount to much of anything I still feel a certain dread when they come.  It’s just not a regular time of day for the phone to be ringing.  I always assume something bad has happened.  I haven’t yet but I’m sure I’ll get a call like that one day.  I think we all will.

***

So I’ve been talking to this guy for awhile.  It started with a phone call in the middle of the night.

***

The first time the phone rang it only rang once or twice, barely enough for me to even awaken.

The second time the phone rang was similar, though this time the phone rang long enough for the answering machine to click on.  The caller hung up and did not leave a message.

On the third night the phone rang and the answering machine clicked on again.  The third time I woke up right away but didn’t move to answer it.

Hey, it’s me, said a voice that I did not recognize.  Please.  Answer.  I didn’t and the caller hung up and I fell back to sleep.

I remember listening to the message the next morning.  I don’t always like it when people call and say ‘It’s me.’  It’s probably ok to say if I know the person well – family, etc.  That’s a thing, though.  People will call and identify themselves with ‘It’s me.’  I think it’s presumptive to assume the person on the other end knows you well enough to identify you just by your voice.

I did not know who this ‘Hey, it’s me’ caller was, certainly not by the sound of his voice.  I deleted the message.  Still, his please stuck with me.  If it did not sound desperate it at least sounded urgent.

There was a fourth call, later.  I did answer this time, even before the machine kicked in.

Hello?

Hey?  Oh hey, it’s me.

Who are you?

There was a long pause.

It’s me.  Byron. 

I remember thinking.  Byron.  Byron.  I don’t know anyone named Byron.  I probably was ready to hang up.

Don’t hang up.  Please.

Who are you?  Why do you keep calling?

I’m here.  I’m alone.

Dude I don’t even know who you are.

I think I know you.

The call was not making much sense and was definitely a little freaky.  I really wanted to hang up.  Still, though, there was this urgency.

Are you ok?

Not really.

Who are you?

I said.  Byron.  I’m in the hospital.

What happened?  Where are you?

I’m here in the hospital.  I’m not supposed to be calling.

Why are you calling?  How do you have this number?

I was looking for it.  I found it.  Please.

Where?

I’m right here.

What’s wrong with you?  What hospital?

I don’t know.  They just put me in here.  I can’t leave.

It was an odd conversation that I had in the middle of the night.  I didn’t hang up.  I’m not sure if I should have or not.

Please.  I’m in this psych hospital. 

I don’t think I was angry, exactly.  Or annoyed.  I just didn’t understand what this guy who I did not know wanted me to do.

Dude, I don’t know who you are.  I don’t think I can help you.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in here.  I have to go.

He hung up.

***

So I’ve been talking to him for awhile now.  I’m still not convinced I know him.  Or at least I’m not sure I knew him.  But he’s insistent.  I don’t like that he has my phone number.  I gave him my cell phone number and told him he could not call me at my house anymore.

He’s no longer in the hospital.  He texts me now and again.  We’ll meet up for coffee or whatever.  I still find the whole thing a bit odd and kind of random.  I don’t think he’s crazy or anything.  Maybe he is.  He doesn’t seem dangerous at least.

In the while we’ve been talking I’ve never called or texted him first.  Sometimes he’ll text a whole bunch at once.  Other times they are pretty spaced out to the point that I think he’s done.  I wonder how long he’ll keep it up.  I don’t know if I’m helping or not.  It’s not something I would usually do.

It really was the please that got me.  Like I said it wasn’t begging or pleading.  But it was urgent.  I’m an asshole but not a complete one.  We’ll see what happens.old-phone-492x328

#5 – Random2, or more words

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