Saturday, February 20, 2021





It is difficult to make out my scribblings.  The ink on the cover of the phone book is blurred as if I had used a pen near the end of its run.  

I see that I wrote down a license plate, the make of the vehicle, and where the driver was headed.  There’s a phone number but no indication of whose and more importantly I can’t make out one of the digits.  The rest of my writings describe the conversations we had. I must have thought that his comments were sufficiently damning, and they would be enough to convince a police official that it might be worth their while to take preemptive action.

One thing that recurred, and I would have remembered this without any scribbled notes, was how the perp claimed there were lovers in a number of cities.  This, as I must have guessed at the time, was just baloney bragging but it was a topic that very regularly surfaced.  Lots of talk of this one and that one and how each lover would wait for his arrival lusting to engage.

I thumbed through the old phone book and saw names and numbers of people who were nowhere near my current orbit.  Old buddies, relatives who had died twenty years previously, a professor or two.  Several names reminded me of a story, and I found myself holding the booklet and staring into space for a couple of hours after I had scanned the phone book. Each of the people in that book contributed to the theatre flats of my life.

When I was a kid I’d gone to a summer camp.   There was a recreation hall which served as an indoor basketball court, square dance hall, boxing ring, movie house, discothèque and theatre.  The rec hall, as we called it, had a stage. Five times during a camp season the stage was the set for musicals performed by the campers and counselors. One week, Brigadoon, then My Fair Lady, then Half a Sixpence, then Guys and Dolls.  For years the directors used the same flats for the various performances. Some artistic counselor would be asked to paint the flats to look like a grassy field one week, and then a pool hall the next.  In the dozen years I went to the camp, those flats must have been painted and repainted one hundred times.  And like that, our histories are painted and repainted. I look through the names of my address book and I see a sweetheart and a college crony, and a professor, all gone from the day to day of my life, but they are back there under some layer of paint as backdrop to the set of my strutting and fretting.

I haven’t spoken to Becca in decades, but I find her coordinates on the internet and go to give her a call.  I pick up the phone, think of maybe contacting her by e-mail instead, but go ahead and push the numbers on the receiver. It’s a local call. According to the address on the internet, she lives less than five miles from where I last saw her, and a short drive from where I now sit.

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