CHRIS & CHRIS
1.1 Dead Phone
My phone went dead the night he came back twice. It did this weird beep and then powered off. I pressed, bashed, charged it: nothing—and now they don’t let you get at the batteries. 11pm, a wet Sunday in late November, all helpdesks closed. I was researching this crisis on my laptop, watching some pap on my tablet, when my doorbell rang: five rings, a pause, six more.
The five and the six, the shed code. Souvenir of our childhood in crank camp. I didn’t think it was Chris. I never thought it was Chris. I thought it was Tal, because it was always Tal, poor Tal out on a jolly, come to tell me more about the spiders who ruled the world. I’d get this twice a year maybe: eleven rings in the middle of the night, eleven more if I didn’t move fast enough, to the fury of downstairs. So I was quick: paused things, braced for a couple of hours of sweet tea and nonsense, tiptoed down, opened the front door.
Nothing, then a curl of cold breath and into the frame moved Christopher Kipp doing lopsided grin like it had been two hours instead of eleven years. The same, older, jeans, hooded sweatshirt, hands stuffed into jacket pockets. His flecked eyes giving me the stare.
My old mucker himself, large and in charge. Blow me down.
“Hey sorry wrong doorbell. Wow it’s you who’d have thunk it. No seriously, hello, can I come in?” smiling past me over the threshold into the hallway. “Nim. How lovely. Looking just the same. Do you know?”
“Do I know what?” I said, to say something.
“How fantastic you look,” already bounding upstairs. “Second floor? Not disturbing anything? Boyfriend? Husband?”
“Nim,” swinging his head down round the banisters, locking eyes with me.
Get stuffed, I didn’t say. Because I was up for it and had new muscles, I thought. Because I was curious. Why not.
“Ten minutes,” I said. “Tiptoe,” I told him. “This better be good,” following him up the stairs.