I sit and wait by the phone. That’s what I’m supposed to do, sit and wait by the phone. Wait for the phone to ring. Answer the phone. Sounds simple enough. But it’s not. Since when is it as simple as it sounds? Never has been in my experience. Simple tasks, simple favors, simple jobs – always a lie. There’s always some hitch, there’s always some problem, there’s always fucking something that makes it un-simple.,

I sit and wait by the phone. They’ll call soon, supposedly. They’ll call and tell me one thing or another – tell me that this or that needs to be done. They’ll call and un-simplify this little thing I have going here. I sit and wait by the phone. Simple. Any idiot could do it – but I’m the idiot who gets to. Great. They’ll have a list of demands or they’ll have instructions or orders. They’ll want exactly this – exactly this or that. They’ll want me to go here or there. They’ll want me to respond like this or like that, in ways that aren’t natural for any real person – but in ways that they’ve seen in shitty cop shows and spy movies. They’ll even go so far as to speak in some mess of an accent, unable to decide if they are German, Austrian, Welsh, or San Diegan.

I sit and wait by the phone. That was what I was told to do. Anything else is overkill. Anything else is overstepping my bounds. Anything else is making my life more expendable. Anything else is an annoyance. Just hush up and do what you’re told, and you were told to sit and wait by the phone. If they call and you aren’t there, everyone will be very upset. The joke is that everyone was already really upset. That’s why they’re out there. That’s why I’m in here. Just sit and wait. Be patient. Relax, but don’t fall asleep. If you feel yourself getting drowsy smack your fingers on the edge of the table. If you start to yawn, stand up and stretch – but don’t go further than two feet from that phone!  You can’t miss that call. You cannot miss that phone call.

I sit and wait by the phone. I have three rings to answer. Ring. Prepare myself. Take a deep breath. Let the tension out of my shoulders. Ring. Stand up straight and tall. Say Hello a few times to prepare. Close and open my hands. Composure, right? Ring. Pick up the receiver, focus on the voice and what it says – but first, say Hello. Seems like a lot of work for a simple phone call, but nothing is ever as simple as it sounds, especially phone calls. A lot of preparation. A lot of anticipation and anxiety. A lot going on that I don’t even know about – and I don’t want to, truth be told. I’m just doing my job.

I sit and wait by the phone. I wonder how I got into this mess sometimes. I look back on the history of all this madness that I am wrapped up in. All the pain and hurt that have happened. All the changes that had to be made, wanted or not. All the lies, all the betrayals, all the shame. I used to feel guilty about a lot of it. Not anymore. Now I just want out of it. This isn’t my mess. This isn’t my life. This isn’t what I dreamed of when I was a child. It isn’t what I worked for as a young man. It is just a matter of dominos falling and me being in the way. When it all started I just wanted to save my own neck. Now, mine is the only neck I have left to worry about.

I sit and wait by the phone. That’s my job. That’s my assignment. That is what I have to do right now. Maybe I can help, maybe I can’t. Either way, I have to do this. Even if I don’t want to, I have to. That’s just the way it is right now. That is the way it has been for longer than I care to think. The lines on my hands make me think that my face probably shows signs of a life that I missed out on. Deep groves of regret. Lines that were eroded by tears instead of smiles. I have to stop myself. I don’t have time or a place to think about those things right now. I’m not on my time. I haven’t been for years. I don’t have my own time. Everything of mine belongs to them; the clothes on my back, my time, my smile. And they don’t like to dole out any of them graciously.

I sit and wait by the phone. That’s what I’m supposed to do, sit and wait by the phone.