Joey waited patiently inside his car in front of the pool hall, finishing up his burger and fries. It was almost midnight and his friend, Kenny, would hopefully be joining him soon. In fact, Kenny was already late. Joey was a little worried since Kenny had canceled plans before, due to scheduling conflicts at work: the local In–and–Out. Joey muscled the last chunk of burger into his mouth and balled the wrapper before throwing it into the cardboard carton his meal came in.
Minutes passed and Joey pushed himself into his seat and sucked on his soda, watching the people shuffle by, cigarettes in hand. A couple of girls in tight clothes wandered inside the pool hall and Joey thought of Sarah and wondered what she doing tonight. He pulled out his cell phone and paged through his phone list and dialed her number. As the line rang, Joey prepared himself to sound natural and quickly rehearsed some small talk.
The monotone of the privacy manager picked up, meaning that Sarah was out for the night or home with a guy over and didn’t want to be disturbed. On occasion, she’d turn it on when she made calls to places she didn’t want caller ID identifying her. Joey left a brief message, doing his best not to sound disappointed.
He tossed his phone onto the dash and settled back into his seat, more irritated than before that Kenny was late. He finished his soda and threw it into the trash.
His phone rang.
Joey picked it up and his phone read that the number was unidentified. For a moment, he was fairly excited. “Hello?”
“Joey?” a male voice asked.
“Kenny?” Joey was crestfallen.
“Hey man, where the hell are you? I’ve been sitting here forever.”
“Oh dude, I’m sorry man. I got–”
“I was gonna wait for you so we could get something to eat, but man, you’re like taking your sweet ass time, so I went and got something already. In fact, I went–”
“Oh man, that’s what I’m saying,” Kenny groaned, “I got dicked over at work again.”
Joey paused a moment and was suddenly very alert. “What?”
“Yeah dude, my fucking manager. I just got off work, just now.”
Again, Joey paused. He felt it was really important to get all of the information out correctly. “You just got off work? Just now?”
“Yeah, my manager was like, I had to stay ‘cuz I was scheduled ’til twelve thirty.”
“Kenny, are you alright?”
There was a beat of silence. “Yeah,” Kenny replied slowly.
“Nobody has a gun to your head or anything?”
“Then why can’t you just tell me the truth?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, just tell me that you don’t want to hang out tonight. There won’t be any hard feelings.”
“Christ! Kenny. Can you hear me?”
“Kenny. Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?”
“Joey, you’re breaking up, I can’t hear you.”
“Goooood…” Joey replied sarcastically, “Hang on.” Joey stepped out of his car.
Through the static, Kenny’s voice sounded distant for a moment. “I don’t know,” Kenny said, “I think he’s still there.”
“Who you talking to?”
“Uh, nobody. What were you saying?”
“I said if you didn’t want to hang out tonight, you should have just told me. I can take it.”
“Look man, I just wasn’t feeling too hot tonight. I must have eaten something bad.”
“Okay!” Joey exclaimed, “That’s all you had to say, man. Next time, don’t lie to me.”
“Alright dude, I’m sorry, but I gotta’ jet.”
“Alright man, you owe me. I’ll catch you later.”
“Take it easy.” Joey hung up.
With a great sigh, he piled back into his car and slowly pulled out of the parking lot, disappointed at such a wasted evening. If Sarah called, then maybe the evening could be saved, but it seemed doubtful that she would.