Doors seem to be just another part of walls, bricks of glass. You'd imagine bombs dropping over your head, leaving then only a door, protecting the air from the air. No, there wasn't a war, not anymore. Just bombs of records and shots of thoughts dropping down from the ground of memories.
The phone book was finally open, the fingers desperately searching for the last three numbers still intact, the eyes tired jumping from one page to another. He thought he'd call the first number, written with a dark blue ink, the pen he used when he could still call himself "someone".
Oh, all those contracts and checks he signed with that pen suddenly seemed only a death sentence written in a good calligraphy. He cannot blame no one, he draws his own loop, a long rope made of numbers braided as canvas. Even then, he couldn't hang himself. Yes, that was one of the oldest numbers he had memory of, still there after all the others faded away one day after another.
The second number he would use was scribbled on the third page, between those of assistant directors and producers crossed out. Cinema, what a wonderful world!
The pen he used then was different, the stroke slightly less stressed, more insecure than the previous one. Even the color was a light blue, typical of a common serial pen. He took note of that number in a hotel room, after a sad sex night. Strangely, he couldn't remember if the sadness came from the news of his father's death or the sex itself. It was as a big portion of his life had been removed, eaten up by an ogre called destiny. It was that night, tied up to a bed somewhere between dull hills, when he lost his natural will of survival.
It was that night and all the nights afterward.
The impression to be seated trembling with a candle burning in his hands over a tombstone for too long.
The impression to be born again, without screaming, just embracing his own destiny in a foolish escape.
The impression of having lost his memory and having done so for a reason that he couldn't obviously remember.
It was incredible how few numbers scribbled in a phone book could lead him back to his past. The figure started moving, keeping the finger in the center of the phone book, in the dark of the evening splashed with smoky clouds.
On the last page, there was a number he would try not to call, figures he wouldn't dare to cancel even. There were his daemons, bloodsuckers. He approached a payphone, one of those that survived from vandalism. He bent down, composed few times the phone number before starting the call, hoping it was out of service. But then the receiver started producing a sound, a simple sound like smacking lips.
Then the line was free.
Said the telephone in his aristocratic language.
Repeated the phone, as it was a deep echo coming from the empty belly of distant planets.
Then a voice came, when he wasn't ready anymore, ready to listen the sound of the wind trapped inside a bottle instead.
<<Hallo? Who's this?>>
He could listen some children shouting in the background, together with a TV programme and an heavy breathing. The woman was probably keeping the phone between shoulder and ear, maybe busy with his dinner. That familiar image painted a shadow of a smile on his face, illuminating it for a moment.
<<I'm... it's me.>>
Said the figure with his insecure voice, hunched shoulders, from that pay phone immersed in the nothingness of the suburbs.
The voice at the other side shouted, then covered the receiver for a moment with the hand to say something. After that, the woman seemed to give him all her attention, this time keeping the receiver with both hands. In the background the voices were almost inaudible, melted together with the sound of TV.
<<It's me. Pete.>>
He pronounced his name as it wasn't even his name, but a sound he made up on the spot. On the other side of the receiver was silence, then few small steps left the room and the TV was switched off. The woman asked some privacy and the voices granted the truce.
<<Where- where are you, Pete?>>
She asked in a whisper, with that voice that only the old pay phones can charge with metallic drop.
<<I'm in the city.>>
A bit of silence, and Pete could imagine that figure hanging on the phone in some well heated apartment, somewhere in a luxurious neighbourhood. She could be easily his wife, if...
Yes, probably there was a war and the doors were protecting only air behind.
Who was him to come back like that? What Ghost would say?
"If he's like to die, he better do it and decrease the surplus population."
<<Do you need money? When did you come back? Oh, God, you're alive!>>
Why he didn't have to?
He could imagine her hand now pressed on her chest, as she used to be.
A wonderful actress, an awful lover.
He searched inside his pockets and found another coin, immediately swallowed up by the pay phone. He had a minute, just a minute to figure it out, to understand who he was. The rest was just resting in a sort of fog.
Answers, give me some answers.
<<Not long. How are you?>>
Answers, not market chit-chat.
He was trying stay calm, thinking about the thirty seconds left. Maybe was better to change more coins before, but he couldn't imagine that...
<<I'm all right.>>
Answered the woman's voice, a bit embarrassed.
The phone stops the call and he could listen a metallic sound, the coins dropped in a big container somewhere between the machine. Pete didn't feel anything for a while, and didn't even react. He remained alone in that dark street, breathing heavily in the receiver. He felt better listening to the sound of his own breath. Somewhere in the city, a woman was screaming his name, worried for him, but he couldn't listen to her.
Then hung up the phone and cancelled the name once, twice, two hundred times, until he pierced the sheet with a desperate scream. The phone book dropped in the ground, getting dirty.
There wasn't anyone around.
Maybe a cat or two, but you never know if they're there or not that elegant shades of life.
He picked the phone book from the ground and noticed that his hands were trembling. It seems as what was left of him in the city was just a dark shadow, a poor beggar with a phone book in his hands. He seated on the side walk and opened the first page, where he noticed again that happy writing he had once.
Even if he wanted to call there was no way, no one around to exchange that last bill into coins, coins for knowledge. Ironically, he noted he had more numbers written in that small bill than in his entire phone book.
Far away, he spotted a light he didn't noticed before.
He got closer, first walking and then almost running, his bad leg so painful he had to carry it as it was a piece of rotten wood. When he was close enough he saw a man inside a small office, dressed in uniform.
<<Maybe it's the same TV programme she was watching.>>
Said between himself, noticing a small television on top of the desk, in front of the man immersed in the dark. He had also a thermos bottle with some coffee which was pouring inside a cup, without keeping the eyes out of the TV. Pete noticed he had a phone right under his nose. He made three steps, then other two, and he was right behind him. Now he could listen the deafening sound of the TV, a stupid programme in which two strangers had to guess the job of a third man, dressed in yellow.
<<Are you an astronaut?>>
He heard one of them asking.
<<No, I'm a soldier.>>
Pete said in a whisper, as answering to the television.
He opened the small door, silently.
The volume was too loud anyways, for the half asleep guy to notice him. The smell inside was rancid, mixed with the smell of the coffee left to cool down inside the cup. He took a wooden paperweight with the shape of a duck and struck him behind his neck. It wasn't like during war, it was more similar to a movie. The man roll over the ground, without a sound.
Pete bent over him, hi was breathing.
Took the phone, passing over the body of the man he just struck. The TV was deafening and he throw it on the ground, few inches from the guy lying on the floor.
Now he could have some peace.
Pete, what a name.
He took the receiver and he pinch between the shoulder and the ear, while with the hands was searching a number in the phone book. That was the last number he would call, and it was the last one he decided to call, even though now he didn't remember why.
He typed the numbers fast, then bent the neck backwards and breathed all the air of the world.
No one answered.