Sunday was the day to stay near the telephone, the computer too for that matter. Robert was not about to go anywhere before receiving his phone call. He always stayed where he could hear the phone. The computer was also a possibility for calls but in truth, Robert only received one call on it and that was more in the way of a test. His son, Corey, set him up with Skype and then called him when he got home just so they could test it out. That was the only time Corey called him via Skype in the six months since their brief trial run. Now he either called on the landline or not at all.
Robert tried diligently to be a good father to Corey after his divorce from Corey’s mom. Corey was in his mid-teens then and the boy seemed to follow the divorce by making his own plans and avoiding family obligations. Robert could never figure out whether this was a teenage thing or a reaction to the divorce, but either way, Robert did his best to be a dad whenever Corey needed him. Corey needed him less and less as time went on.
Now that Corey was in his twenties, Robert and Corey had hatched a plan to keep in touch. This was more Robert’s doing, of course. If they did not get together on the weekend, then they would at least share a call on Sunday afternoon. The problem with this plan was Corey rarely called and he preferred that dear old dad not call him as he was usually “busy.” So Robert waited patiently in his small four-room apartment for a call that was not likely to come. Perhaps if Robert had been more outspoken, even demanding, maybe Corey would be more dependable. At least that is what Robert thought. But it was not in Robert’s demeanor to be pushy so he waited patiently every Sunday for the call.
In Robert’s own mind he had convinced himself that waiting on Sundays was a good thing. It would keep him at home to take care of the often-neglected chores. He did the dishes, made the bed, swept the floor, looked at all that junk mail he tossed aside all week, but he never took out the garbage. That would mean leaving the apartment for a few minutes and Robert certainly did not want to do that. What if the phone should ring and he did not hear it?
Finally in the late afternoon on this super cold, super Sunday the phone rang. Robert was on it like a shot. “Hello,” Robert announced in his cheeriest voice.
“Robert, it’s Bill. How about we go somewhere to watch the game? You know, wings and beer!”
“Uh, OK,” Robert said reluctantly.
“Good, I can be there in a half an hour.”
“No,” Robert said quickly, “I am in the middle of something. Give me at least an hour.”
“Fine,” Bill replied. “I will be there in about an hour.”
In truth, Robert was not in the middle of anything. He just wanted to leave extra time for Corey to call. He never gave a thought to the possibility that Corey had already gotten together with his friends to watch the big game. He just figured that if he left too soon, he would miss his Sunday call. So he placed his coat, scarf, and hat on a chair near the door and sat down to wait for Corey. Robert worried about missing the call or not having enough time to talk. He thought of the most important things he should say if they only had a short time. He thought of nice questions to ask, without prying too much into Corey’s personal life. After all, Corey was all grown up now and he needed to be treated like an adult. At least, that was the thought running through Robert’s head.
When just over an hour had elapsed, the phone finally rang again. “Hello?” Robert said tentatively, fearing it was not Corey but actually Bill again. “It’s Bill. I’m out front. Are you ready?” “That darn Bill,” Robert thought. “He’s always rushing me.”
“Yes,” Robert said. “I will be out in a minute.” “Poor Corey,” Robert mumbled. “If he calls I won’t be here.” Although he felt a little guilty, Robert threw on his outerwear and headed out the door.
When Robert got in Bill’s car, Bill immediately started talking about the game. “This should be a great game this year. The teams seem evenly matched. Whoever has the hot hand will win. It could be either one. What do you think?”
“Yes,” Robert replied. “I think so too.” He obviously was not listening to Robert, his mind was on Corey.
As they drove away, Robert did not hear the phone ring in his apartment. It rang seven times before it went silent. Robert never even knew there was a call as the caller did not leave a message.