Snakes and Pills

032 - closing hour

Her phone rang again.

She took a look at the screen. It was him again. The fourth time. She argued with herself for a moment. Finally, she relented. "All right, all right, I can't turn my phone off tonight, and he won't stop, so I might as well just answer."

A frustrated, terse, "Hello?"

"Victoria, hi," said the man's voice on the other end, woozily.

"Yeah, what do you want Mark? I'm a little busy," she said, her voice steeped in the fact that she was annoyed.

"Busy?" he said, almost as if he didn't understand the word. It was noisy in the background, wherever he was. "Busy?" he repeated. "What are you..." he trailed off for a moment. Then he picked up his train of thought, "Busy with?"

"Is that really any of your business anymore?" she said. "Why are you even calling me? I told you to lose my number--I told you to leave me alone. Can't you take a hint?"

More uninterrupted background noise. Finally, he just said, warbling in a way that almost made it sound as if he were singing, "No, that's uh... fair. You're right."

He wasn't making much sense.

Victoria was beyond annoyed at this point. "What is wrong with you? Where are you?"

"I'm at the pub."

"Are you drunk?"

"Maybe...a little. Yes."

"Christ," she said, only not hanging up because she knew he'd call right back. "Okay, and what do you want?"

"I just wanted to say," he said out in one quick string, followed by another one of those pauses. "I'm," pause, "sorry." The sound behind him quickly filled the silence on the line until he once again broke it.

"I'm sorry for the bullshit I put you through."

"You mean like this? This bullshit you're still putting me through, Mark?"

A pause, but this time perhaps it was less the drunkenness and more him pondering. Or maybe it was both.

"Yeah, I guess. I'm sorry." He was apparently struck by clarity.

"Okay. Is that all?" she asked. "Yes," came the reply. "Goodbye, Mark."

"Goodbye," and the sound of the pub rose in volume again momentarily before the phones disconnected.


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