But, she couldn’t talk to me at the moment. She was out of the office showing a house to a couple. It was one of those conversations where one person can’t speak freely so I asked her several silly questions and she answered in bright, chipper, non-sequiters. Eventually I said, “How do your clients like riding around in that old, beat-up Rambler?” Her *answer* was “Are you sure you want to make a counter offer on that property Mr. Wilson? *pause* Could you call me back later-- say in an hour and a half— to work out the details?” I, of course, responded that she had to talk to me this very minute or our deal was done. She said, “That will be good. I’ll talk to you then.” And she pushed the END CALL button.
I meant to call her back, I really did, but I got buried in the usual work stuff. Just after 7 PM my private line rang. I recognized my old home town area code in the caller ID window. It wasn’t Kendra, or Jane… but nobody else had this number.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Hi, Wil. God, I’m so glad you’re there,” Jackie said.
“When did I give you this number?”
“You didn’t. I just had my cell phone call back the number from when you called me this morning. They can do that you know.”
“So I’ve heard. It was great to hear your voice this morning,” I said.
“I loved that silly conversation. I was mad you didn’t call back, but I sold the house so I got over it,” she said.
“Good. You know what it’s like—I got buried in junk. Where are you? It’s after 10 there,” I said.
“I’m at a Sunoco station about ten minutes from the house. Told my husband that I was going out to get gas so I didn’t need to in the morning… some bullshit... I can't talk long. Jesus Wil, I can’t believe I’m talking to you. Is this your work number?” she said.
“It’s a private line in my office… almost nobody has the number. I was going to give it to you if you were good— it bypasses the switchboard during the day. So… a husband, huh? Interesting,” I said.
“Second marriage. The first one didn’t last long but I got a great daughter from him. She’s 22 and a senior at _______University. I was single for a long time after the divorce and then remarried three years ago,” Jackie said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Why what?” she asked.
“Why did you get married to a guy you don’t love?” I asked.
“I didn’t say that,” she said.
“Yes you did. You just left him at home watching TV or building model airplanes or something and went off to a gas station so you could call some guy from your past that you located on the Internet. That’s not a Romeo and Juliet type scene exactly,” I said.
“You don’t understand. I do love him. I can’t explain it to you now on the phone… but it isn’t about me not loving him. It’s about more stuff… it's not as easy as you make it sound,” Jackie said.
“Jackie, I think the world of you, I always have, but you need to understand this. I’m separated… totally devoted to my kids… I work all the fucking time I'm not with the kids and, I'm also in love with a woman who lives 500 miles from me who I never get to see anymore. I’m not a great guy to, ya know, get back together with…” I said.
“You sure didn’t learn much from our time together. The one thing you should have gotten out of that messy ending was not to have a long distance love affair ever again,” she said with the hint of a smile in her voice.
“True. So what about getting together with someone 3,000 miles away? How dumb is that?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just want to see you. Can’t we see each other again? You must come back here to see your parents… right?” she said.
Long pause filled with cell phone noise.
“I do. And the next time I do you and I are going to go out for a drink or dinner or something,” I said.
“Good. That’s all I wanted to hear,” Jackie said.
“And you’ll explain to me why you dumped me like a worthless sack of shit back then,” I said brightly.
“You are such a mean bastard. I knew I could count on you. Gotta go now. Bye!” she said. And then the line was dead. She sounded happy as could be when she called me a mean bastard.