Outside is a downpour. Inside, a cellphone rings. He grabs it.
Top-speed, leaping from the dull light of the laptop screen, over the couch he goes to the sliding glass door — the one spot he’s found with reception in this mother of outdated concrete condos.
Adhering to the glass like Spiderman, hoping to get as close to a signal as possible. Coverage is spotty, he fails to immediately get much of anything.
HIM: Hello?? … Hello??”
He hears her, then not so sure. Thinking the problem’s on her end, she hustles from the noisy entrance of the convention center.
HER: Let me try finding a better location.
HIM: Yo? … You there?
HER: I’m hearing you. Can you hear me? Let me call you back.
HIM: Hold on, I got it. You there?
Finding their own ideal spots, she stops in her tracks; he freezes in what can’t be a comfortable position.
HER: Phew. How are you holding up?
HIM: I’m in 1979, what do you think? If we stayed here during the “Breakfast in America” tour, this place would have ruled.
HIM: The reception is awful. I set up the laptop and the wi-fi’s great. It’s flying. Can’t get more than 2 bars on the phone, if I’m standing in the right spot. It’s a nightmare.
HER: Don’t forget the towel swans in the bathroom, possibly the gayest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
HIM: I knocked them over, they were freaking me out. I thought about pissing on them in the tub.
HER: Alright, don’t make it the maid’s problem. Not her fault they messed up the reservation. Any word from the manager yet?
HIM: No. He said sometime after 12, it’s fine. I’ll handle it. I walked around back — there’s a sign out there that says, “South Carolina law prohibits feeding or molesting the alligators.” Actually, it says “prohibits” twice. “South Carolina law prohibits prohibits feeding or molesting the alligators.”
HER: That last part? They mean, like, doing it? Does that really happen?
HIM: Apparently. And it’s not like they make it easy. They won’t let you feed them first — you almost have to molest them, if you want to get something. Are we allowed to cuddle? Who writes these laws?
HER: Someone must’ve done something seriously disturbing, for them to pass something like that.
HER: I don’t need to know. I’m good.
HIM: I’m sure this isn’t the only sign like this. Or maybe it’s just a problem here, specifically for people staying in this room.
HER: Call the guy!
HIM: The double “prohibits” worries me, like one cancels the other out. Makes me think it might be okay.
HER: Well, don’t do it.
He loses track of the need to be stand in one spot, taking a few steps away. The call fades in and out.
HIM: Haven’t seen one yet, but I’m looking. Must be good reason for it, like the alligators here are really hot. Sexy walk, lipstick, the whole package. Only rednecks with the best trucks and biggest tires have a chance.
HER: Yeah, well, be careful. You still there?
He leaps back into position.
HIM: I’m here! Forgot where I was. If it wasn’t raining, I’d go outside. I’m as close as I can get. You forget, you’re calling me from the future. How’s the thing?
HER: It’s good, interesting. A lot of nice people. There’s one guy from Tucson who used to live in Newport Beach and we joked about —
— how fun it is to not live in California anymore.
HIM: You there? Think I lost you.
HER: Hello? … Hello?
HIM: Hello? Are you fucking him? Can you hear me? Is this the guy you’re fucking? Hello? You there?
HIM: There you are.
HER: What did you say?
HIM: I lost you in Newport Beach.
HER: What were you talking about?
HIM: I figured you couldn’t hear me.
HER: It’s only been three hours, I haven’t had time to fuck him.
HIM: I said I lost you at “Newport Beach.”
HER: I was saying there’s a guy from Tucson who used to live in Newport Beach and we joked about how great it is to not live in California anymore. I don’t know why I bother talk to you.
HIM: Because I take you to the finest hotels in America.
Crap, it’s the maid again. Third time I’ve told her I’m waiting on a call from the manager. Every time I speak less and less Spanish, I think she’s picking up on it.
[yells] Uno secondo!
HER: Why don’t you call him?
HIM: One o’clock! I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. When the rain stops, I’ll load the car, then I’m putting on my angry eyes and calling him.
[knock on door, he yells] Alright, give it a rest, por favor.
HER: Call me when you get the new room number. Well, you better text.
HIM: Cause you’ll be having sex with that guy.
HER: I’m not supposed to have my phone on during the seminar. What’s wrong with you?
HIM: That’s fine, hey, do whatever. It’s your thing, I don’t mind being third wheel. Daddy’s just here to soak up the ambiance.
HER: I’ll have the sound off but I’ll check my texts, [stresses] daddy.
HIM: Yeah, don’t get jealous — by the end of the day, I hope to have fingered my first alligator despite a state law which seeks to restrain me. I’ll get video.
HIM: One o’clock.
Knock on door.
HIM: Gotta go, talk at you later. And relax, I got this.
He ends the call and opens the door.
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