The bar owner stood in the back doorway holding onto his clipboard frowning at his logs. The C02 truck was four hours late due to a miscommunication. Although the small restaurant/bar had cancelled their lunch menu, the staunch proprietor insisted that everything and everyone remain on the same schedule. The neighborhood drinkers would be arriving at 2pm and here they were still preparing the beer pumps at an ungodly hour of 10am! The portly bar owner complained to his sickly looking wife. She patted him softly and excused herself for the toilet.
Outside, the truck hissed and blocked traffic. A large cue coiled around the small quaint city side street. Impatient horns reverberated off the building’s thin pained windows. The dull vibration pushed the floral hourglass shaped vase onto the hardwood floor causing Manny to sit straight up in bed. The late morning light broke the news that he was late for his job – 3 hours late. Leaping to his feet, being careful not to walk on glass, he ran to the bureau seizing his cell phone. The phone was off. His mind did laps trying to recollect when and why he had shut the phone, which doubled at his alarm clock, off. Timidly he pressed the keypad on. An ethereal jingle danced with the morning bustle.
“6 missed messages,” his phone insisted.
A stream of the same voice increased in intensity while explaining Manny’s irresponsibility to fail to show for work without a phone call. By voice #3, Manny decided he would need to sort his life.
In horrific anticipation for his boss to pick up the line, a very unsettling thought jogged across his memory.
Before the sun had even awaken itself, Lena, his lover of now 3 years, had busied herself getting ready for work in the morning darkness. Her words at the time had been comforting, a soothing lullaby.
“I made sure that your phone was on. Nighty, night lover.”
She kissed his warm mouth and left.
“Hello Manny,” Seamus O’Flaherty flatly stated into the phone.
Only his sweaty palm moved, obsessively rubbing his naked thigh while he delivered his address to save his ass. His alarm had been shut-off due to a late night power outage. His obvious lie pierced O’Flaherty’s ear like an annoying fax tone.
“Manny, stop,” His boss begged for Manny’s dignity. Seamus O’Flaherty revealed that he had not at all been impressed with Manny’s inability to keep his private life from interfering with his professional life. Manny stuttered under O’Flaherty’s calm yet unrelenting monologue. Manny was to return his keys that day and that his final paycheck, along with any vacation pay he had accrued, would be mailed to his current mailing address. Finally, Seamus genuinely wished him well and hoped that he sorted his life; as he was one of the best workers he had had the pleasure of working with.
The traffic below had lulled. The noisy C0 2 truck had finished its incessant hissing. The bar owner had ceased complaining. Naked, alone on the butter yellow sheets, a tear fell from Manny’s greenish/hazel eyes. His head lobbed over his chest and began to shake with sobs.
Lifting his head his thoughts returned to Lena. Still clutching his phone, he quickly called her at work.
“Good Morning, One Reel,” an unfamiliar voice chirped.
Confused Manny asked, “Lena?”
The stranger was surprised that Manny was not aware that Lena had not been to work nor had she phoned in for her absence.
“What do you mean, she didn’t show? Then where is she?”
“We haven’t heard from her all morning and we are all starting to get a little worried. We were hoping that you could shine some light on the subject. I mean, it’s just not like Lena to not show up…
Manny hung –up, quickly got dressed and charged the door to find her. As he stood half way between the doorway and the apartment hallway, it dawned on him that he didn’t know where she was. Again, he turned to his cell phone. As he began to speed dial her, Lena rang.
“Lena, are you ok? Where the hell are you?”
Lena hadn’t paused for a nano second before Manny was questioning her again. Was she okay? Where was she? Why did she skip work?
“I’m ok. I’m fine.” She spoke to calm him.
“Where are you?” Manny paced the long unlit hallway.
“A coffee shop,” She stated matter of factly.
“What? Lena, what the fuck are you doing?”
“I’ll be home in a few minutes. We can talk then.”
“Are you okay? Do you realize how fucked-up everything is? Lena! Lena!”
Manny looked at the face of his phone to discover that she had hung up.
“Shit!” Throwing his phone he swore.