Copyright© Arthur Shadwe, 2005
There wasn't much that people could say about Phil that was based on real knowledge about the man. At work, he kept to himself and didn't talk much. Gossip, jokes, and sessions by the water cooler were not his style. His neighbors were lucky if they knew as much about him as his co-workers. He left for work at the same time every morning and returned from work every evening, occasionally carrying a bag of groceries. Once home, he didn't leave his apartment other than to make a single trip to his mailbox. If the neighbors had been interested in Phil, they would have noticed that he never had visitors except for once a week on Saturday night.
If asked, there wasn't much that Phil could say about himself. After a horrible divorce, he had reduced his life to the basics. His day started with cereal and toast. He dressed and then went to work. He worked through the morning until lunch. For lunch, he'd buy his meal in the company cafeteria and eat it alone at his desk. He'd work the rest of the day without break until quitting time. Punctual, he'd leave work within five minutes of quitting time. Most days he'd drive directly home to fix supper. The exceptions were Tuesdays and Fridays when he would stop at the grocery store on the drive home. After supper, he'd watch television until the nightly news ended and then head to bed for the night.
Weekends, for the most part, were spent cleaning the condominium and washing clothes while listening to his stereo. When not working around the condominium, he was free to watch television. As far as Phil was concerned, he was living a dream life and would have been confused by anyone who might have suggested otherwise. He had a nice place to live, an entertainment center, a nice car, some savings, and a job. Having been divorced, he was convinced that the perfect life didn't include a wife in it.
It was six-thirty Saturday evening and Phil had just finished dinner. After clearing the table, he went to the telephone and dialed the only number he had memorized. On the second ring, the phone was answered. The voice on the other end said, "Hello Phil."
"Hello Sam," replied Phil, not surprised by the greeting, The first few times that Sam had known he was the one on the phone, he'd asked how he knew. Sam had explained that Phil called the same time every week.
"Any preferences this evening?"
"Nope," replied Phil. That was his reply every week and represented the truth. He didn't have any preferences.
"I'll send out Cindy," said Sam, "She'll be there at eight."
"Thanks," said Phil just before he hung up. The conversation had been identical to every conversation he had with Sam over the past two years. The only detail that changed from conversation to conversation was the name of the girl.
Phil went into the kitchen and washed his dinner dishes. It was a task that took a little less than fifteen minutes. Sometimes it took him longer and other times it didn't take that long. After drying his hands, he went to the living room and fished his wallet out of his back pocket. He removed the money setting it into two piles before replacing the wallet in his pocket.
Going into the bedroom, he pulled the cover off the bed and folded it. He whistled a little ditty while he worked. He set the bed cover on the floor at the foot of the bed. Satisfied that all was well, he emptied his pockets, placing the contents on his dresser. He undressed and put his clothes in the hamper before going to the bathroom to shower.
Emerging from the bathroom feeling nice and clean, he put on his bathrobe before making his way to the kitchen. In the kitchen, he mixed a seven and seven -- strong on the seven. It was his one alcoholic beverage of the week and he liked it to have a little kick to it. Returning to the living room, he sat down on his chair and glanced at the clock. Aloud, he said, "Perfect. Just enough time to enjoy my drink."
For the next forty minutes, Phil sipped his drink and listened to music on his expensive stereo system. The classic Rock and Roll station played a couple of his favorite songs. He sang along with them enjoying the music and the act of singing. He finished his drink and looked at the clock. While taking the glass to the kitchen, he made a detour to unlock the front door.
Phil sat in his chair waiting for Cindy to arrive. For most of his wait, he tried to remember the name of the woman. Once he had remembered the name, he tried to recall what she looked like, but couldn't. It was a few minutes after eight when there was a knock on the door. Rather than answering the door, he called out, "Come in. It's unlocked."
Cindy stepped into the room and looked around. It was identical to the last time she had been there. That had been almost two months earlier since Sam rotated the girls that he sent to visit Phil. Everything was the same except for the two men's magazines on the coffee table. They were the most recent issues. At least there wasn't a bottle of lubricant next to the magazines. She wondered if he kept the old issues or threw them away. Turning to look at Phil, she said, "Hello, Phil."
"The money's on the table. The pile to the left is for the call," replied Phil. He looked over the woman recalling her from the last time she had been there. This was the skinny brunette with the silicon breasts and the tweety-bird tattoo on her hip.
.... There is more of this story ...