“You have to dial 9 before you call an external number,’ he said to her when she picked up the receiver. She looked right at him, piercing black glare right into his hazel ones. He did not blink, glared right back at her. She knitted her brows, he looked at the receiver then at her again as an alarming beeping sound began to play through the earpeice – loud yet distant.
She slammed it down so it clattered, not quite slotting into its correct position, and flounced away.
‘Fine,’ he called after her, ‘Fine. I will do it myself, as I always do.’
He pressed the correct sequence of buttons, held the receiver to his ear and waited. She waited outside the door, which was slightly ajar.
‘Yes, hello.’ he said firmly, ‘It’s me.’
‘Yes, she was.’
‘Do you really expect me to believe it works like that? I have been up from dawn doing these things.’
‘The papers will not write themselves, is all I will say. She has been dreaming of this day for three years. She maintains it was three hundred but she was always marvellous with hyperbole.’
He shifted impatiently from foot to foot.
‘Now listen here, Francine. Listen to me…’
‘You will not!!’
‘I forbid it!’
He put his hand to his forehead, and began to pace, picking the phone up and taking it with him. He stopped short when the wire became taut, and turned back on himself, staring at the ceiling and rolling his eyes.
‘Listen to me Francine. This has gone on for far too long. You will remove yourself immediately from that seat so that my wife may sit. And I WILL complete the papers and send them off. If you do not, oh, trust me, lady there will be hell to pay. We do not bake apple pies for nothing. Now I am going to put this phone down and I expect my request to be handled appropriately.’
He stood still, cocking his head to the side.
A small smile graced his sour face.
Then he turned to the door while putting the phone down and tidying up the wire which had tangled with the receiver’s wire.
‘She said yes.’ he called.
She breathed a sigh of relief, patted her hair, and walked primly away down the hallway, her heels clacking loudly.
He nodded to himself lips pursed. Then allow a smile of relief to take over his face.
‘As I always do,’ he muttered, putting a cigarette between his teeth and lighting it.