Gareth

I am in the closet once again. Light comes in under the door. The doorknob, I fear, will be hot if I touch it.

Simone and Lee are outside talking—they’ve been talking out there for a really long time. My work performance. Do they suspect anything? There’s a telephone jack in here for some reason. The connection is slow but I can get pictures. Old Mac laptop.

Someone steps in front of the door; he/she blocks part of the light coming in. The door opens.

“What are you doing?” asks Simone.

“Ah—research. Firing up the old Mac. You know. Connection’s slow. Is the network down or something?”

She snorts.

“No one does research on Apples.”

I consider for a moment my response. I am not looking at her chest again though I’m afraid she might be sensing I am. Please forgive me. The laptop is closed by now of course; I closed it as the doorknob was turning…slowly… .

“Was that doorknob hot?”

She ignores me. “Why aren’t you at your desk? I’ve been forwarding calls to you. They’ve probably gone to your voice mail by now. What are you doing? There’s not even a light on in here.”

“I’ve been working.”

Working hard. Oh, that toenail polish. My friends do handsprings. Does she wear perfume? I’ve never gotten that close. Married anyway. My phone rings. I hold up my finger signaling one moment. Thumb to middle finger.

“I have to take this right now, but look—”

I start to hold up a pad of paper with names and numbers on it.
She starts to close the door; the phone is still ringing; the door is closing…

“Do your feet hang off the end of the bed when you sleep?”

The door is closed by now. I hold the phone up to my ear and mouth.

“Jefferson University—School of Science—This is Jack—how can I help you?”

“Yeah, what’s that study you’ve got going on?”

The voice sounded…familiar.

“You mean the Ecstasy study?”

“Yes! What’s that all about?”

It was Gareth. The voice was Gareth’s–I knew it.

“Ahh… It’s two interviews, about one week a part, lasting two to two and a half hours each… Gareth?”

It had been almost six months since we had spoken.

“Gareth, dude? Gareth who? Is this the study?”

“You’re not Gareth?”

“Do I have to give you my name?”

“You don’t have to give me your full name. I don’t need that until I see if you’re eligible for the interview. You’re not Gareth though?”

“You said I didn’t have to give you my name.”

“I said you didn’t have to give me your full name. But I need your first name.”

There wasn’t any answer but the person hadn’t hung up either.

“Gareth? Gareth, I know it’s you….”

© Winter 2003

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