THE WAY IT WENT DOWN: THE PHONE-MAN AND I

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Don't see them anymore, I guess. Not that it matters. And this was in, I don't know, nineteen-ninety or whatever? So, it was like, a pay phone.

Fuck, okay, I'm old.

It was a specific pay phone at the time. You get me? A little half-booth in the middle of the city. I won't say where. I won't. It was invisible. No one even  saw it anymore. No one but me used it. 

The first time he sent me there it was to get instructions. But get this, the phone never rings. I just stand there like a shithead for ten minutes and then eventually pick it up on the voice, and it's already talking. And the voice is terse and bored and sounds far, far away. "FRESH KILLS", it says, "190 Utility Road, Fresh Kills, New York. Name, Donald Esbarger".

When I hung up — it was kind of an accident—I had heard what I needed to hear, but he just kept on talking. So, I, you know, do my job. It was like a million others. Nothing special. And I get paid, and I go home and I forget Donald fucking Esbarger.

Only then, I wonder, did the guy on the line sit there all day and all night? Did the phone-guy wait for someone to pick up? No, because he was talking the whole time. 

So I went back, and we had a chat, the phone-man and I. We talked about a lot of things.

We talk about a lot of things.

The pay phones are gone, but the phone-man and I still talk, from time to time. He says the most marvelous things. He still knows how to crack me up. Even after all these years.