The Incidental Phone Call


His phone rang noisily through the quiet apartment. Sunlight streamed through the windows. He’d been too dazed last night to remember drawing the curtains. He grunted as he kicked the covers off. His phone rang noisily.

“Get your ass out of bed.”

“Did you call me just to say that? Besides, I’m not even in bed anymore.”

“Nice try, big guy. I called to say you’ve got work to do and you’d better get down here as fast as you can ’cause I’ve got you twenty minutes with that lady at the hot-shot law firm downtown.”

“Whoa, whoa, slow down there. My head’s all fuzzy.” It was very fuzzy and it had really bad timing.

“Well, that’s usually the case when I have to call to wake you up at nine thirty on New Year’s morning. I’ll bet your pants are hanging from the ceiling fan and you’re looking at them right now.”

“That was a one time thing, Frank,” he said, staring at the mess that his room was.

“You know what I keep thinking, Dave?” Frank asked with sarcasm in his voice.

Dave sensed it. “What, Frank?”

“Why you’re not here yet.” The call ended.

David sighed as he got out of bed and headed for the bathroom.

David Coleman was a full-time investigative reporter and a part-time slob.The efficiency and meticulousness that was evident in his work, was, for the most part, absent from his personal life. His second-floor apartment had clothes scattered everywhere, some hung on chairs, some lying on the bed, and a select few (which he seldom wore) placed relatively neatly at the back of the wardrobe by his bed. His work desk was more like any other desk. His laptop lay veiled beneath the piles of books, newspapers, notes, pens, pencils, a couple packs of nicotine chewing gums all scattered haphazardly over the dark brown wooden desk. One of the only things that had any semblance of order, was the deep red soft board which took up a sizable part of the wall above the desk and between it and the window to the right. This soft board, among others at work, was his life. This is where he put down things he needed to remember, things (and, at times, people) that he needed to look up, and places he needed to be. Of course, he kept his most important leads and information on himself at all times, for safekeeping. Of his own. He wasn’t a high-profile guy and he hadn’t worked on a lot of really important cases, if you can call them that, but with a job like his, you’re almost always just a couple of steps away from the painfully scrutinising gaze of those you intend to expose. Anonymity then, is another personality and not just part of the job.

***

The opulently spacious gymnasium served the rich locality’s most wealthy individuals. Bankers to actors, businessmen to lawyers, there were all kinds of people who came here to build on their body and their mind, whether to look ripped or just keep fit.

The gymnasium had a boxing ring in one corner. The boxing gloves provided by the facility were red and black in colour, although they did allow clients to bring their own. A particular pair of blue gloves sat on a stool next to the boxing ring. Beside the stool, on the floor lay a blue punching bag, on which a blue towel had been thrown carelessly.

The man came out of the shower room dressed in a black tank top and black training pants. He started putting on the blue gloves, observing the moves of the duo swinging clenched fists at each other in the ring.

One tried to throw a punch to the other one’s left cheek but it was blocked by a strong left arm. The other tried tried turning the tables by throwing a punch with his weaker right hand. It hit his opponent on the right side of his chest. He staggered and then came back swinging, landing a punch on the stomach. The both of them stood facing each other, panting, coughing, and laughing. “Look’s like time’s up,” said one looking at the man in the blue gloves, all ready. Both of them exited the ring.

The man stepped into the ring and adjusted his mouth guard as his trainer got into the ring from the opposite side with a punching pad.

 ***

As the man stepped out of the gymnasium and onto the clean, grey pavement, a trained eye watched him through the lens of a professional camera, as he shuffled his duffel bag from his left shoulder onto his right and wiped off some sweat from his forehead with a napkin he held in his left hand. The camera sat in the hands of Carl who sat in his blue sedan.

The man drove away in his sporty Audi and took swift, deft maneuvers around turns. The blue sedan tailed him while occasionally dropping behind a few cars, trying to not arouse attention. Carl overtook the Audi a couple of times to take pictures of the man through the windows and then stopped by the side once he was ahead. The man in the Audi was sloppy and it wasn’t very difficult for Carl to get enough shots of him. He didn’t notice a blue sedan following him all the way home and the photographer’s eyes shining like diamonds when he heard him talking on the phone to a certain Mr. Quigg. It was a shame the recorder didn’t catch a lot of the conversation apart from the name.

Carl drove about ten blocks away, parked his car by a quaint red brick building and got down to reviewing the images he’d taken. Not fifteen minutes later, he called up the guy who’d hired him for the usual $50, after a generous long-time customer discount. Carl, as usual, called at his home phone, but he wasn’t in. The voicemail spoke.

“This is David Coleman. Leave your message after the beep.” Beeep

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