Simon looked at the phone as it rang and waited for the debate within his head to conclude. Should I answer it? Should I not answer it? In the end it was a question that he could not satisfactorily resolve with the incessant ringing in his ears so he picked it up and pushed a button with the intention of silencing it rather than communicating with it in any way. He was disappointed to discover that the action only partially solved the problem. Whilst there was a decrease in the higher frequency noise he quickly became aware of another of a lower frequency. It was the rhythmic thumping of his own heartbeat telegraphing to him the clear message that he was in the formative stages of a potentially life changing hangover.
And there were other questions to be answered. Where am I? was one that seemed important. He was in bed, he could tell, but he could see nothing familiar about the room. Clearly, he concluded, he was not in his own bed. And he was not alone. The naked woman sleeping beside him had her head buried in pillows and there were no obvious features visible to him that might identify her as having any particular significance. He had awoken in similar circumstances before and already the familiar chant was creeping into his subconscious. Never again. Never again.
Meanwhile the phone was still demanding his attention. “Hello? Hello?” it screamed, “Simon? Answer me you prick.”
He quietly slipped from beneath the covers and moved to the side of the room in order not to disturb the body beside him. Leaving the scene of the crime undetected was an option of increasing appeal. Though he suddenly felt vulnerable and slightly ridiculous in his own nakedness as he padded across the carpet like a thief.
He looked at the phone in his search for answers and eventually put it to his ear. “Huh?” he mumbled.
“Simon? Jesus, Simon ….. where the fuck are you?”
More questions. He looked around the room again searching for clues. “Can you give me a hint?” he asked the phone hopefully.
But the phone was clearly losing patience. “Listen to me, Simon,” it yelled, “I’m in trouble. We’re in trouble. I’m with Rebecca.”
Simon now recognised the voice of his flat-mate from within the phone. And the name of his landlady. He was having difficulty tying the two things together. “Oh,” he said, “lucky you.”
“She’s a dangerous woman, Simon.”
Simon looked over at the motionless nude on the other side of the room. “Aren’t they all?” he murmured.
The phone’s voice went quiet and assumed a secretive air. “Simon,” it asked, “do you have any money?”
It seemed, under the circumstances, unlikely. If he had money it would be in his wallet. If he had his wallet it would be in his pants. His pants were nowhere to be seen. “Not on my person,” he answered honestly.
“Simon,” the phone continued, “Listen carefully. When I say ‘trouble’ I mean big trouble. And when I say ‘dangerous woman’ I mean psychotic woman. And when I say ‘money’ I mean now. Rebecca has a gun to my head.”
The nude was stirring and soon enough he would have trouble of his own to deal with. He moved behind a cupboard and whispered to the phone. “And when you say ‘gun to your head’ …. in what sense do you mean ‘gun’?” he asked.
“I mean a loaded gun. To my temple. I mean that the landlady is about to blow my head off.”
“Oh,” said Simon, “not in a nice way, I take it. What are you expecting me to do?”
“I think that paying your fucking rent might be a good start.”
He heard a vaguely familiar female voice from behind him. “Simon?” the voice asked.
This was all too much. He could cope with only one thing at a time. So he extended his index finger and hung up the phone.