30 novembre 2005

ohgodohgodohgodohgod

The blue screen of death has just made a short but oh so marking appearance on my laptop. I feel like the sign of the beast is upon me. If only it would take Sam Neill's appearance. I'm impressionable, you see. I scare easily. I'm a girl. I read a lot of romance novels and watch a lot of horror movies. I know nothing about computers. I have to stop using 'I'. At least two of the above are complete crocks, can you spot them?
Anyway. You don't hear from me within a week, you call the police, all right?

29 novembre 2005

An even quicker debrief - with pictures

Most of the Brussels pictures I've posted on Flickr were taken last year. And before you boo, you try to take pictures when it's snowing, when it's so cold your fingers burn so much that you need to wear very unhandy gloves, and when the ground is so slippery you walk at about the same pace as an old lady with a Zimmerframe.
That's really all I have to say.
Oh, that and the pictures are not my best. Then again, it was already very cold last year. I'm beginning to wonder if November-December are such hot months to visit Brussels.

27 novembre 2005

Quick debrief

It snowed. It was cold. I tasted more beer in two and a half days than in the rest of my life combined. I also ate more potatoes, sugar and fat than in the rest of my life combined. It was great.
And then I came back to Paris. It had snowed. It was cold. I lost a ring on the bus home, and I'm very pissed off. On the plus side, the ladybug that had chosen my ceiling to die has suddenly come back to life.
And there was a huge spider on my bedroom wall (huge being a slight exaggeration, but still. It was biggish.). "Araignée du soir, espoir" notwithstanding, I killed it after a very Rambo-like, "you're ugly as fuck, darling, and you're dying. Now."
Thrilling, chilling, blood-curdling.

25 novembre 2005

Everybody west of here is having a long weekend, so why can't I?

I'm off to Brussels this afternoon, for a longish weekend of friends, mussels, beer, beer, waffles, beer, and maybe some alcohol. In no particular order, really.
Oh and chocolate. How could I forget. Then beer. Well. I'll have to, won't I? Seeing as I'll probably be feeling pangs of acute guilt after the chocolate.

True to form, my bag is not even a concept at this stage.
OK, what do I need? Camera. Money. Coats. Loooots of coats. It's freezing up there.
That shouldn't take too long to pack, should it?

23 novembre 2005

My letter to Santa

Thank whomever for spammers, because without them, I would have forgotten entirely about that little piece of seasonal begging and crying.
[Aside
Is it everyone these days or just me who's getting tons of spam in their email? If the order confirmations I'm drowning under are to be believed, I have ordered and subscribed to so much stuff lately that I can't have one lucky penny left for all those great OEM and Viagra offers. Luckily, some well intentioned people have also reminded me that I have yet to write my letter to Santa.]
I find it is nothing short of a Christmas miracle that the kindness of strangers extends to this. 'Tis the season for it, though, and I'm hardly one to complain. Am I? Anyway. Here goes.

Dear Santa,

Only one month to go before your ONE day of work in the whole year (don't you dare start whining about it) and I know you're probably very busy whipping your cheap workforce elves so they produce all the crap toys you've been asked as bribes presents for Crimbo, but you know what they say, right, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I'm not one to blow a chance when I get one.
Yes, I've been very good this year, and below is a list of things that would be great "you've been very good this year" presents and would make me happy. Very happy indeed. I know. Making a 30-something happy is not necessarily part of your job description. Still. Ever heard of ripple effects? Well then. I strongly suggest you make me happy. The ripple effects might be nothing short of unmanageable otherwise. On the other hand, if you do make me happy, the ripple effects will probably make your job so much easier next year. Give it a thought, will you? Plus, I'm not asking for all of it. A carefully thought-out selection could do wonders to pacify me. Agreed? Goody.

Here goes:
A job that makes me happy to wake up in the morning.
A toyboy. I'm sure a toyboy would make me happy to wake up in the morning.
The opportunity to see some more of the world
—that goes best when considered in conjunction with the job thing. Oh hell, and the toyboy thing.
The ability to say "no".
The ability to say "fuck right off". Oh hang on. I may have that already.
The ability to DIY.
The willpower and discipline to finish what I've started. With a bang.
A little bit of luck. Screw that. A lot of luck.

In your free time, you may also want to try your hand at peace on earth and the end of poverty and hunger. With
364 days of free time per year, surely you'll manage to squeeze it in between a game of golf and a tennis match. I'm not holding my breath, but it'd be a nice thoughtquite in keeping with the spirit, really.

Anyway, you take care of yourself, wrap up well, and buckle up on that sleigh
you never know where the drunk driver is going to come flying from that night.

Love and kisses.
anne
Darkness.
Blankets.
Warm.
Sleep.
More.
And more.
Mmmm.

21 novembre 2005

Okay, people, this is what I call a sign

Nicole Richie has a celebrity crush on Jeff Goldblum. She's had it, I quote, since she "was young". If I needed another reason to stop drooling over this fine specimen of a man, I don't think I do anymore.
She scares me. I don't want to be associated with her in any way, shape or form. Pun. Very much. Intended. Her eyes are now bulging out of her skull she's so skinny. Her breastbones are jutting out of her outfit, and she's... ugh. She reminds me of Corpse Bride. Not in a good way.
To be honest, I don't know what scares me the most: Nicole Richie herself, or the fact that somehow, I share(d) something with her. I'll go back to fancying John Goodman or Robbie Coltrane, I think. At least with them, I'm pretty sure I won't be getting competition from anorexic bimbos.
Cause otherwise I just can't win, can I?

Oh, yeah. She's written a book. A novel. It's, and I quote, electrifying. Yet, I think I'd rather run my hand under a tap then stick two fingers in a power outlet than read it.
But the "also bought" and "also viewed" lists are priceless.
Yes I'm a snob.

20 novembre 2005

Untitled but long

(Hence, Part 1, unless you think it's crap...)

She'd stormed out of the flat. She had no idea where she was going, but she knew she had to do something, she’d go mad otherwise. Clinically mad, not just possessed by a fury so intense that her heart threatened to explode right out of her chest.
She was angry at the entire world, at Stephen, at herself.
He had been really good at getting her mad lately. Now that was usually fine, she was all for annoying people, especially her close circle, and god knew she did that a lot anyway. But there had to be a limit, and flirting very obviously with that girl at the party was evidently where that limit stood with her.
She couldn’t comprehend why she hadn’t talked to him about it. She'd shut up, let it eat at her, all the while smiling until her jaw hurt, talking to other people, faking interest, feigning not to notice the sympathetic looks she'd got from some annoyingly well-meaning do-gooder wifey types... And now the anger was fighting it with a fear so uncontrollable she felt she would have to wail for a long time before either even started to calm down.
On their return home, she’d locked herself in the bathroom to cry hot, silent tears, because she was adamant that Stephen shouldn’t see or hear her. She didn’t know how she’d respond to his questioning if he did. That was how much of a coward she had become; she was so scared of losing him she didn't even dare confront him anymore. Talk about a catch-22. She would lose him eventually. She would lose him because everything would be tainted with all of the unspoken grievances, all the jealousies left unsaid. She would lose him because one day, she wouldn't be able to hold it in anymore and all of it would just spew out of her in one unstoppable torrent of frustrations that would sweep away any hope of salvaging their relationship. She knew that, and yet she was taking that foolish chance. Fear was one powerful bastard when it came to reasoning.
The knot in her stomach tightened even more at the thought.
"You all right? You've been in there for a bloody long time, darlin'..."
Stephen sounded worried. She looked at her watch; she'd been crying for a good ten minutes.
"Nauseous. Something I ate, I guess."
Her voice sounded strangled and choked, but that could easily be explained now.
"Can I get you anything?"
He tried to open the door.
"Babe? You OK?"
"I am hurling, Stephen", she snarled. "Can I do that in peace?"
"Whoa... where did that come from? Fine. Whatever."
Anger was apparently catching quickly. She might not be brave enough to talk, but it was strangely satisfying to think that maybe he'd be as angry as she was. God she was sick.
She flushed the loo and ran the tap for credibility's sake. What exactly was she playing at?
When she got out of the bathroom, she walked straight to the car keys and grabbed her bag.
"Going out to find a quieter place to puke, are you?"
She glared at him. She felt her eyes start to burn again, quickly turned away and replied very quietly.
"We're out of antacids."
"Maybe you should lie down, and I'll go get some?"
Worried again.
"Thanks. The fresh air will do me good." It was an effort not to scream. How could she love him that much and want to claw his eyes out at the same time?
"I'll drive you then, shall I? Maybe you shouldn't take the car if you're not feeling well."
"Stephen, give me a break. I'm not at death's door yet."
"Oh for fuck's sake, will you tell me what's wrong?!"
"Nothing".
She left.

There was something about travelling at night that she had always found soothing, for as long as she remembered. Something about the headlights of other cars, the darkness around, the asphalt unfurling in front of her... The connection between strangers who happened on the same train, the same plane, or at the same rest areas... Something was at play at night between people who weren't in their homes, and she had always felt it was a good something. She had never been able to express or explain it properly but she loved the feeling that world peace could probably be achieved if world leaders would take a joint night-time trip. The 1918 armistice had been signed at 5:00 a.m. in a train-car. She had a point.
She smiled to herself. It felt good.
The lights of a convenience store pierced the darkness. She signalled to no one that she was stopping there. Stephen would certainly appreciate the fact that she'd bought Maalox when both had already marvelled at how useless Maalox was against nausea. Oh well.

17 novembre 2005

Violence might not be a solution

But boy wouldn't it be nice to just use well-targeted (or messy, at this point, I can't say I'm fussed) violence every now and again, just to teach those cretins a lesson?
I went to the post-office today. Yes, my life is thrilling, whatever. We'll talk about my life, or lack thereof, some other time, shall we?
I had been waiting for two books for ever, and they finally got here today. Actually the postman or delivery person or whatever they're called for this kind of trackable parcel service was apparently round to my flat twice and I wasn't there twice. In the morning. I wasn't working this week. I was hungover yesterday. I would have heard the bell as loudly as if it'd been rung inside of my own head. Who the... hell... does he think he's kidding?
So off I went to the post-office, armed with patience (don't know if it's a phrase in English, but it is in French, and boy does it ever apply), and was annoyed from the onset to see that three people were manning the desks, or, again, whatever they're called, for a 25 strong queue.
I'm incensed all over again now. Which explains the definite hint of aphasia. I can feel my blood bubbling, the voices inside my head have gone quiet, and my fingertips are tingling. Bear with me. Or don't, actually, that's the beauty of the internet, isn't it. You don't, in fact, have to hear this out.
OK, where was I? Oh yes. The post-office. The queue. The 3 people for the entire queue.
Well, let's just say sometimes I'm grateful I never did any martial arts or gun-training. And leave it at that.

But they'll pay one day. Surely. Karmic retribution or something equally painful. And I'll laugh that day. I will be there and I will be laughing. I'll wave the two paperbacks that I queued for for half an hour and had been waiting for for two months, I'll wave the CD that she sent me and took a month and a half to arrive from the US, I'll wave the printer that I had to wait in line for for god knows how long, I'll wave the photos, the DVDs, the registered mail, I'll just wave it all and cackle wildly!
And then they'll shoot me up with some kind of sedative and I'll be happy again.

Oh, but I still have to think of the punishment they'll be going through while I cackle. Suggestions?
Anyone? Anyone? Something d-o-o...?

16 novembre 2005

Warmothon

Paris is cold. Paris is freezing.
Paris may have had a gorgeous October month, but that is now well in the past. Please believe me when I say that it is now cold.
Emphasis on cold.
There is no such thing as a middle ground in Paris this time of year. It's either balmy or freezing. And Paris displays an acutely appalling and appallingly acute lack of double-glazing. My flat is sorely affected. I am freezing. I have turned on the heaters, but needless to say, electric heating has no power over the gods or demons of the cold. In fact, I believe it is fair to assume that the gods or demons (I really am enclined to think they are exclusively demons) are laughing maniacally and having a right blast just looking at the electric consumption of my heaters. I believe the demons of the cold have drafted excel tables for the sole purpose of comparing the electric consumption of my heaters and their actual heat generation, and are struggling to catch their breath as I type. I would love to say they might die of hysterical laughter, but we know that's not going to happen. What will happen, I suspect, is that their bloody cousins, the gods or demons of strange and annoying weather phenomenons, will send a gust of even icier wind right when things seem to be desperate for the demons of the cold, which will have two effects: one, it will surprise the demons of the cold into stopping laughing just long enough so they can catch their breath; two, it will make the cold even more biting and my heaters even more ineffectual, so that those bastards will start laughing again immediately.
A whole season. A whole season of having fate point its claws at me and laugh.
I am now in the throes of a severe depression, just thinking that this sorry state of affairs will last for four solid months, without the faintest hope of a reprieve for the holidays.
You'd think the nice thing to do for Christmas would be to make sure everybody's comfy and cosy, wouldn't you? Alas. We all know that Santa doesn't really care about us being comfy or cosy, right? Santa just wants to dump his presents into our socks, and that's that. Fat lot of good that'll do me if I'm blue.
So I will now appeal to your generosity. Together, we can make it happen. Please. How together and what would we make happen? Well, I could be warm, and it could all be thanks to you.
Send blankets! Send logs, coal, Barbara Cartland books, whatever, as long as it burns! Send alcohol! Send men! You get the gist, people!

15 novembre 2005

Let's all have a big cheer for alcohol

All right, so yesterday I was complaining about not being a lady, and now, back from an evening out drinking with my girlfriends - who dragged me out on pure emotional blackmail, though -, I'm a student again. I'm starved. I want pasta. I want toast. I want anything that we used to have at 2 in the morning after a night at the pub. I'm hungry, people!
Tonight was lovely.
First because it is nice to pretend that life, every now and again, can be a poor woman's Sex and the City. So beer in the pub can be just as appealing as Cosmo's in the trendy bar, and let it be known.
Second, because leaving as two Cubans, who had made two French guys leave right as they were beginning to annoy one of us, are pulling out all the stops to make all three of us think that we're interesting, clever, funny (beautiful just goes without saying, all right?) and that I certainly make a good friend, a good girlfriend, and a good wife (and I'm quoting. Don't you love the pub? I do.), (where was the beginning of that sentence? at the pub, that's where) is just... great.

But I'm still starved.
Oooh. Spinning.

14 novembre 2005

Questions, questions

Run. Run now while you still can. Before you fall victim to the rapid fire of my questions. Because this is going to be bad. I can tell. I don't even have the questions yet. So when they do come, they're bound to hurt.
See, this weekend, one of my friends was over from Scotland to celebrate her 30th birthday.
OK, that's all the background you'll ever need. Oh no, wait. She's a friend from Scotland, so, as we ascertained over lunch, we've known each other for 12 years now. Don't know how she could hold that long. I certainly would have taken the first opportunity to sever all ties with me. Anyway. She didn't. Her fault, her loss, her problem, right? Twelve years of unfaltering friendship despite my legendary lack of letter-writing skills. I'm clinging to her like a mussel to its rock. Yes, to you too, Lilith.
We met in the halls of residence, probably in an advanced state of either giggling like crazy schoolgirls or ebriety. Is that a word? I've decided against looking it up. I was already mad, she was already noticeably less mad than me.
Sunday, the cold decidedly set in in Paris. What's that? Yes, there is a connection. I'm mad, not delirious. So, as it was cold, we went for more alcohol, because we might as well and it's a well-known fact that alcohol is the best cure against cold. Right? Well then. As we were coming out of the bar pub thingy place, she said "oh, I'll wear my new gloves". And got brown suede gloves out of her bag. "Ooh, very ladylike", said I. Now. This was her reply. "Well, Anne, I'm 30 now, it's time I started to act ladylike."
3. 2. 1. 0. Ignition.
You know where this is going, don't you? You're scared, now, aren't you? You know what kind of questions those are going to be, right?
I'm 32. I'm not a lady, probably never will be. Is that really bad? How long can I get away with pretending to be a teenager? Is it OK that all around me, people are "evolving", and I seem to be stuck where I was 12 years ago? Will I ever win the lottery? And when should I really start worrying that I might never have children, all the while refusing adamantly to play babysitter to my friends' children?

OK, one last for the road. This is the latest keyword search that landed on my site. This is where they landed. Oi, you, come back! How did you really get here???

13 novembre 2005

Honestly.

Tonight, hope flared up. An idea reared up its pretty head. An idea for a blog post. I swear. I was at a bar with some friends (it seems I spent the whole weekend in cafés and restaurants and pubs and bars. Ace.), we were thinking of what restaurant we were going to grace with our presence, and suddenly, there it was. The idea that was going to save this blog from certain death, either out of boredom or through hara-kiri - because blogs have feelings too, you know, and being abandoned for "so" long was definitely not helping this particular blog's self-esteem so it was crying, huddled in a corner of cyberspace, and nobody cared. Nobody cared. Well, you did, but you don't post here, so you were helping HaloScan's self-esteem, but not Blogger's. And who cares about Blogger's self-esteem when you can't even have long dashes (or whatever those are called in English) on Blogger, I hear your smoke-addled copy-editor-at-heart voices pipe up in slight annoyance. Or is it my smoke-addled, alcohol-laden voice? Whatever. Does that even make sense? No, don't answer that. In any case, something obviously cares, but that particular something is merely drooling and definitely not equipped to deal with punctuation angst.
Talking of which, I have just apparently deleted the whole Special Characters thingy from the Word Insert roll-down menu thingy, because I really wanted a long dash thingy in this post somewhere. I'm a bit lost. Can someone really do that? Can someone please undo it? Please? And now I can't even remember where I wanted the long dash thingy in the first place. Sweet baby J.
So anyway. Yeah, I had an idea, and then I lit a cigarette, or had another sip of beer, or talked more crap, and poof, the idea went up in smoke or down the drain or in one ear and out the other, or wherever ideas go to DIE, and now I'm back at square one. I am loving this week already.

12 novembre 2005

CanonFirefox. You can.

Or:
"Thank you, Dimitri Firefox, thank you. Well done."

Check this out. (via them, of course)

09 novembre 2005

Hmmm.

I have sweet fuck-all to say, my darlings. And what I do have to say (because fuck-all is a slight exaggeration, I bet you would never have expected me to exaggerate, right? I hate to be predictable, I told you that, didn't I?), I can't actually express properly. It seems I can't handle work and blog anymore. Oh how things change.
Plus when I try to write, I throw in an innumerable number (does that make sense at all? See? See what's happening to me? I'm changing.) of I's. This won't do at all.
What's the weather like where you are?

07 novembre 2005

Tell me why I don't like Mondays (bis)

Things that were going to trigger something and then, poof, the moment passed:
Winsome... - losesome? That made me laugh, what can I say. I'm simple.
Send an email time capsule to yourself, why don't you...? That's spooky. Write an email, send it, forget about it, and receive something from your past self in however much time? Spooky. I will though. I'm a sucker.

I had a violence-themed weekend: the riots have apparently reached Paris (yes, things are fine so far, no, I do not condone violence, yes, the situation is ever so slightly more complicated than I care to explain or than I understand), A History of Violence, Match Point, and several episodes of Deadwood.
I hope nobody crosses me on my way to work. Or at work for that matter. The mood is foul, people. Foul. God it's been a long time since it last was quite this foul.

Hmmm.

05 novembre 2005

Just a quickie

Ah... Weekend. Finally.
I woke up refreshed after that hectic workweek and thought I'd go get some bread for breakfast (a picture of the inside of my fridge will be posted shortly - I have no shame - and just so you know, my cupboards are pretty much in that same state).

As I didn't have any cash, I needed to get some (my logic knows no break, even on the weekend). Dutifully stopped at the ATM on the way to the boulangerie, and was dodging the dogturds on the pavement when I heard a very suburbanly accented "Madame!". I thought "uh-oh, no, not married. Am I?". And then, "uh-oh, forgotten my card in the slot, you cow, wake up before I go out!" ("you" and "me" are just symptoms of my split personalities - please don't worry your pretty little heads about that). I turned back and saw a girl who was indeed waving something at me. I took a few steps toward her and she went "you forgot your cash!" I think I'll have to go back to bed now.
I hope she has a good life.

And if Nicolas Sarkozy wants more proof that the suburban youths are only out to burn cars and be a pain in the good citizen's back, well, there goes, eh.

04 novembre 2005

Dreams... are my reality...

Of course those of you (hopefully a majority) who don't know this little masterpiece of a French teen movie that is La Boum (boum is the name of the first teen parties, where the first groping and tentative kissing and bad, bad, dancing will happen, encouraged by vast quantities of Coke-acola) won't understand the reference in the title - it's the movie's theme song. But you'll get the gist, I'm sure.

You remember that a couple months - months already? - ago, I determined that George, Jeff and me were history. Mostly because I just can't deal with egos the size of weather balloons, as I've got mine to consider, you understand.

Well, it seems that this sad fact has finally registered with George. And my, has he pulled out all the stops to woo me back. He even went so far as to guest-star in my dream last night.
Nice dream. Lovely dream. He magically appeared at my parents' house (do you think that seeing a magic show could have that kind of effect? Sign me up for once a week.), and proceeded to charm the pants off me, my niece and my sister (figuratively, pick your minds from the gutter, you filthy animals you), used the bathroom to take a shower, and at 44, he's in great shape, let me tell you. Great shape.
And he joined us in that greatest trap of all, the family reunion... One of my aunts was delighted to have George Clooney in the picture, but I didn't care. I'd seen him naked, you see.

Have a lovely Friday, people.

03 novembre 2005

It's magic!

I'd like to dedicate this post to my former economics teacher in Scotland.
Don't run away! I mean you can, but don't think this is going to be about economics. I did maths yesterday, that used up a good portion of my available brain power, there's no way I could humanly talk economics today.
No, he just used to say that a lot. Maybe he still does, I don't know. He was ace. Maybe he still is, too.

Anyway. I went to the theee-aaah-terrr yesterday. To see a... magic show!
Yes, there's your link. Today's going to be difficult, isn't it? Have more coffee.
It's called "Tout est écrit" (Everything's Already Written, or some such), at the Folies-Bergère theatre, and it revolves around the fact that of course there are tricks that can be prepared, but as soon as the audience gets to participate, all bets are off because the audience says/thinks/does what they want. I think that's the biggest trick of all, getting us to believe that, but anyway. It was really quite good, very very funny, which is a good thing with magic, especially as it was very dark humour. Also, I won't explain any tricks to you, but let's just say some of them were really quite lovely. And when they killed that dove... man that was just powerful.

So after that we went drinking. That was very good too.

Oh and I've posted a few miscellaneous pictures.

Hmmm. Thursday. Can't wait for tomorrow.

02 novembre 2005

Weird science

"A modern though little realised example of undecimal counting is seen in the ISBN of published books. Any ISBN comprises ten digits. If you multiply the first by ten, the second by nine, the third by eight, and so on, summing the results as you go along, the result will always be divisible by eleven." William Hartston; What Are The Chances Of That?: Fabulous Facts About Figures; Metro Books; 2004.
Found on Wordsmith.org
See, this is exactly why I could be Rain Man. Because, reading this, I thought "Wow. Neat!" and, then "Oh, I wish I had found that".
But in fact (is that allowed? "But in fact" sounds like a copy editor's nightmare) I'm pretty sure that multiplying all digits by n(+1) until n is 10 (oh I've forgotten the whole math writing thing, shame, pity, frustration!) then summing them pretty much explains the whole divisible by 11 thing somehow.
OK. Listen, if I stumbled upon a truth that I hold self-evident, but that the powers that be don't want you to be aware of, because the truth is out there and all that, and I am eliminated by masked contract killers on a scooter while sauntering away to work, you'll know I was right. Please tell my friends and parents (should that be parents and friends?) that I loved them. And don't be sad, today's a good day to die.
Oh my god. Kiefer Sutherland. I've just quoted Kiefer Sutherland. He wasn't particularly appealing in Flatliners, though, but as he's more than made up for it in "24", I shall be a happy* girl and declare this to be a good day indeed. In which case, I might not be completely ready to die? Should I just delete this whole thing so I can enjoy today, or leave it out there for the whole world (heh) to see, and take a chance in the name of... something? Hmmm.
Talking of Kiefer Sutherland, who else thinks that there's a resemblance between him and Kevin Bacon? And does that mean that one of their moms knew the other dad? And am I now in danger of being killed by one of their moms? Or by the other dad? Ooh, wouldn't it be glamorous to be killed by Donald himself? Now, I'm not saying he knew Kevin's mom. I'm just... you know... starting a rumor. Completely different.
Work is going to be difficult today. Not so much for me, though.

* there. Kiefer Sutherland, and it's "happy", no -ish involved. God I'm sad.

01 novembre 2005

Untitled

Maybe I shouldn't be posting this, as I don't like it. Help me?

The phone rang, jerking him out of an already fitful sleep.
2:34 a.m. was staring unforgivingly at him from the bright green LED display of the alarm clock. His heart was racing. He picked up, wide awake at once.
"Hello?"
No reply.
"Hello?!"
Whoever it was on the other end was stubbornly silent.
"Oh for fuck's sake."
He hung up, furious. Sleep was not going to come back for a good long while now. He lit a cigarette. The pounding in his heart quickened immediately for a couple of pulses, which he always found slightly worrying, and subsided.
It was the third night in a row now. Specifically, it had happened every night since he'd arrived.
"Fuck."
He looked up, as if surprised to hear his own voice. Scratching his head, both literally and figuratively, he shuffled to the minibar. A nightcap would serve two purposes: it would clear his head immediately so he could think about this, and the right dose would put him to sleep in half an hour.
He was here on business. Apart from his wife and his immediate hierarchy, no one had his hotel number. Which only highlighted the problem: nobody calls the same wrong number three nights in a row at the same time every night. So either somebody was calling a wrong number without knowing it was wrong and that someone certainly was screwed in the head then, or his teammates had decided to play one decidedly screwed-up prank on him. His wife was out of the equation. She was one of those people who went to bed at 11:00, fell asleep at 11:05 and woke up rosy and fresh at 7:29, right before the alarm went off; plus she knew how important this trip was for him. Hell, for them. If they wanted that house they'd had their eyes on, the bonus would be a welcome supplement.

He recapped the little information he had, to try and see if he wasn't overlooking a glaring obviousness. He'd arrived three days prior, had gone straight to the office for meetings in rapid succession, and had only checked into his room at lunchtime, dumping his luggage and going for a quick shower. No altercation of any kind, no flirting with the hotel waitresses, nothing. Since his arrival, he'd only slept in his room, spending the rest of his time with the local staff. He had dutifully called his wife before dinner every evening, and had video-conferenced with his boss every day. No need for the hotel number. There had been no message for him at the desk. Mind-boggling.
He shrugged and went back to bed. The nightcap worked, he was asleep in a couple of minutes.

The next day passed in a frenzy of meetings, and each time the phone rang, he jumped a little. He felt like he was being watched, except he knew he wasn't.
In the evening, he agreed to go out with the team, and had a great time. Alcohol was consumed, and it felt good. He knew he would sleep well, at least until 2:34.

Back home, his wife set the alarm for 2:33. She hated having to wake up during the night, she detested the idea of waking him up, but spending a night without him was just not imaginable this time round. She just didn't understand why she couldn't say a word, why every time she hung up she cried, and why she didn't even think of stopping. One for the couch.