01 novembre 2005


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.
No reply.
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.
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.

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