He cussed himself for having been so careless. Why he ever thought Martin would just stay there was totally stupid. James gave the operator the number and listened while she explained to his uncle that it was a collect call and waited. He looked around for Martin knowing he should go looking for him. Just then, his uncle’s gruff voice came through the earpiece.
“Uncle Charles it’s James and…..”
“I know who the hell it is. The operator just told me. You think I’m stupid?”
“No. No I don’t think you’re stupid, I just said it that’s all. I need a favor.”
“What is it? You need money?”
“No, I don’t need any money.”
“Then why the hell you calling collect? I’m not stupid. I’m old, but I’m not stupid.”
“I’m at a pay phone and ran out of change.”
“A pay phone!” Uncle Charles interrupted. “They don’t have pay phones anymore. You think I’m stupid? Where’s your celibate phone or whatever the hell you call it?”
“It’s a cell phone,” James heard himself yelling back. He lowered his voice. “Please, just listen a moment. I need you to go to Dan’s house and tell him to come pick me up. I’m in….” he paused realizing he didn’t know where he was. “Hold on a moment Uncle Charles.”
“Don’t take all damn day. I’m paying for this call. You think I forgot? You think I’m stupid?”
James spotted a woman coming out of the small convenience store. “Excuse me,” he asked politely. “Could you tell me the name of this town? I broke down and I’m trying to get my family to come pick me up.” He pointed to the receiver in his hand as proof.
“You’re in Collett,” she answered. Then seeing the puzzled look on his face, continued saying, “Collett, Connecticut.”
James smiled. “Thank you I appreciate your help.”
He turned his attention back to the phone. “Uncles Charles it’s Collett, Connecticut.” Not getting any response, James spoke much louder into the receiver. “Uncle Charles, are you listening to me?”
James heard a snort and then his Uncle said, “Who is it?”
“Uncle Charles it’s James. Tell Dan to come get me in Collett, Connecticut. Can you remember that or you want me to wait till you get a paper and pencil?”
“Don’t get smart with me James or I’ll clip you up side the head when I see you. I know what you said. You think I’m stupid?”
“Could you please repeat the name for me?” James asked, his voice softer to calm his uncle down before the conversation got totally lost.”
“What do I gotta repeat it for? This is costing me money. You think I forgot? You think I’m stupid?”
James had all he could do to keep his temper. He remained silent.
“It’s Collett, Connecticut. I know where that is you know. You think I don’t know? You think I’m stupid?”
Out of respect for his uncle, James remained silent, all the while thinking to himself that he was the stupid one for having called his uncle in the first place. As soon as he was calm enough, he said, “Thank you Uncle Charles. I appreciate you doing this for me and I’ll give you the money for the phone bill when I get home.”
“You better give it to me. And don’t make me wait for it either or I’ll have a good mind to vig you for it.”
James hung up the phone and walked back to the truck. The gun was where he had left it but the keys were not in the ignition. Another mistake he’d made. He shook his head and closed the door. His stomach gurgled in protest. He was hungry. Figuring he had time, he looked around and spotted a diner not too far from the truck and headed for it.
Almost two hours and three cups of coffee later, James glanced up in time to see Dan come walking into the diner.
“Kind of figured when I rolled into town and looked around that you’d be here,” Dan said cheerfully.
“You want something to eat or a coffee?” James offered before he stood up.
“I’m all set.”
James left some bills on the table and left the restaurant. Looking to his left, James noticed the green truck was gone. “So the old guy doubled back,” he said softly.
“What’s that?” Dan asked.
“I’ll fill you in on the way,” James replied and they got into Dan’s truck and headed for home.
October 30, 2014