A Morning Call
One slender sleepy arm snakes from beneath the comforter. Charlene wonders who could be calling so early. Without uncovering her face entirely, she picks up the receiver. A somewhat familiar voice is on the other end.
“Meet me today at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Twelve o’clock. Don’t be late!”
Then a click and the dial tone. Wide awake, she peers at his personal number registered on her caller ID. She smiles all over herself until she remembers: six months ago, he died
She knows she has to keep the appointment, but with whom? Where has she heard the voice? A barrage of questions, but she has no time for hindrances.
Music meets her before she gets to the door. Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street is crowded with its usual lunch time customers waiting for the special of the day. In the background, sounds of John Lee Hooker add electricity to the air. “I love the way you walk! I love the way you walk! I got my eyes on you! Boom! Boom! Baby, I got my…..”
Memories of some good days. How she misses those times and him, especially.
“Charlene, over here!” The voice again. When she called him one afternoon, that voice answered. She turns. A woman beckons. His wife.
What does she want? With that question foremost, she moves toward the voice.
“You look better than that picture I found in his desk drawer. He kept you a secret, you know?”
“I wanted him to tell the truth about us, but he kept saying: ‘one day.’”
“He was peculiar in many ways when it came to his private matters. But, I guess you know that.”
“Well, why did you call? Scared me half to death this morning! You slumming?”
“After I found out the facts and discarded the rumors , I wanted to give you something he left. His attorney was going to do this, but I changed his mind.”
Charlene looks closely at her host, middle aged and scared for her future. She relaxes. They have much in common besides sharing the love of the same man.
Without ceremony or comment, the wife hands her an envelope.
“I am going now. Thanks for coming.”
Charlene reads the letter hungrily:
A check for $500,000 floats unhurriedly to the floor.
“I like the way you walk. I got my eyes on you. Boom, Boom. I got my eyes on you, Baby.”