The Phone Call - Part Four of Angel
“…If I weren't so awake
Unconscious be damned
Then things might just go
Exactly as I planned
`But my race to evolve
Found me bust from the start
I let my courage dissolve
And my resolve fall apart
`If I could climb
I'd be at the top
But my way out is slow
And I know I can't stop…”
I came to my senses when I was feeding Poochie his breakfast. The mental list from the night before was finally written out in ink. On it were three of my closest friends, a gay helpline I had called once, and my Aunt Macy. I decided I would call Macy.
The first thing she wanted to know was where I was. I said I was safe, at least for now. My hands shook as I held the phone to my ear. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Carol. She looked stressed. Her husband was there. At least, I think he was her husband. The man was asking her to hurry up, but she stayed. I know she was trying to make eye contact with me. Maybe to tell me she was sorry again or to wish me luck. But I knew I would never see her again. And so did she. So fuck it. I turned away and spoke directly into the phone.
The station was beginning to fill with people stepping off trains. I know Macy could hear the noise in the background. She could hear the attendants making their last calls. No one said we were in Denver, Colorado. I knew I was safe. The only information she could get from any of the background noise was that I had taken a Chicago-bound train. And, in six hours, another train would arrive and leave for the same destination.**
When Adam had first said hello on the phone, Macy was pleasantly surprised. She hadn't heard from him in a number of months. The last time she did, he'd had great news. A boy named Scott had entered his life. Adam was the happiest she'd ever heard him and he told her the details of how they'd met. She was anxious to hear how things were going.
“How are you?” She had asked.
At the train station, Adam had to catch his breath. He knew he would eventually have to tell her what happened. But he had never actually thought about what he would say. He wasn't sure it had even happened anymore. But there was his memory, the truck. Though he couldn't remember where Scott had gone to, he knew that he was . . .
“I ran away, Aunt Macy.”
Adam told her that his father had hit him for the last time. He had flipped out on Scott. Dad had threatened both their lives, so he ran away.
Macy was shocked to silence. She didn't want to believe what her nephew had just told her. But she had to consider it. Her brother was known to be violent. But was he violent enough to kill someone? Macy couldn't count the number of times Adam had called and told her Jack had hit him.
Meanwhile, at the train station, the throngs of people had all but vanished. A bum walked past him, shaking a can full of coins with each step he took. Poochie saw him first and started wagging his tail madly. The bum kneeled to pet Poochie as Adam listened to the receiver. He could hear a television in the background. It sounded like a talk show.
Macy found her voice, “Where are you, Adam?”
“I'm in Denver,” He twisted the metal sheath of the telephone cord around in his fingers; it reminded him of snake skin.
Macy wasn't going to let him stay on his own, no matter what happened. Adam was family and it was her duty to make sure he was taken care of. At least until everything could be sorted out.
“Stay here, Adam,” It was her responsibility, she told herself.
Adam was relieved to hear the invitation. After his reasoning on the train, he knew she was his best bet. He was almost positive she would help him. But he had his doubts, understandably. Still, there was the problem of getting all the way out to Pennsylvania.
“I don't have any money, Aunt Macy.”
“Don't worry about that, Adam. I'll make sure you'll get your ticket.” Macy sat at her computer and went to the Amtrak website, “Do you know when the next train for Chicago comes?”
“Umm . . . I don't know. I'm not close to a place where I can see a schedule. But I'm at the Denver station.” Adam knew that trusting Macy right now could be ricky. But he didn't believe that Macy would rat him out. She would probably want to pump him for information once he arrived. “Can't you look it up or something? I don't want to leave the phone.”
Macy pecked quickly at the keyboard with her fingers and drew up the schedule from Denver, Colorado. The next train she found would leave in six hours. Adam would have to find something to do, safely, until then. The information was relayed to Adam. She bought a one-way ticket for him online and told Adam to go check at the front desk for it,
“And call me once you get it!” She told him.
“I will, Aunt Macy.” He told himself he would do anything she wanted once he got there. Clean the windows; scrub the floors; fuck, even change her tampons if she wanted it; anything to just have a place to run to.
A tall bald man in a white shirt soiled by sweat stains only looked up from behind his computer screen briefly at the boy to get the basic information. Adam was patient. It wasn't like he had anywhere to go. Well, not for the next six hours. Six hours! Even though he was in no position to whine, or that's what he thought at least, Adam couldn't help but wonder what he would do.
The first words from the man were, “Is that your dog?”
“Yes, sir,” Poochie was sitting beside the brown haired boy.
“Dogs aren't allowed in the station.” The man had the sort of whine to his voice that only the morbidly obese achieve.
“He's friendly,” Adam told him, “Besides, this shouldn't take long, anyway. I'm here to pick up a ticket.”
“What's your name?”
“Stay in the station until your train comes.”**
I hung up the phone and looked around the empty train station. Poochie was by my side, whining softly. He was probably hungry again. I kneeled and pulled his leash out of my backpack. He knew what was coming next, as I led him over to a tree.
“Stay here, Poochie.” I told him, “I'll come back with food.”
Poochie barked once as I turned my back to him and began my search for food. I didn't have to look far; there was a hot dog stand at the corner of the train station.
Denver looked immense. I was in downtown, I guess. I could see the Coors stadium just down the street. Across from the train station were loft apartments and what looked like a small shopping center
We explored after we ate our hot dogs. There wasn't much to see, really. We walked around for two hours staring at cell phones and sculptures. I didn't stop at the shopping center. I kept going until I was in an art district. Thankfully, I didn't get lost, there were giant maps posted everywhere.
My quest to waste time almost stranded us again. I had been walking around for nearly four hours in the art district when I looked at the time. Poochie and I had gotten so far away that, even by running, we barely made last call for the train.
The station was crowded when we got there; I had to squeeze through people saying their hellos and goodbyes. I ran to the nearest car that didn't have a line and presented my ticket to the collector.
“You're in a sleeper car, son,” The man looked at my ticket, “That's four cars down. Give him your ticket.”
He noticed my dog for the first time. I thought he was about to tell me that dogs weren't allowed on, like the last guy. I was ready to give him the same sob story I gave the guy on the last train. “Oh, and tell Randy you know Max, he'll allow a stow-away.”
“Thanks, dude!” I ran off to the car I was supposed to be in. Randy looked at me the same way the other guy did, but, once I told him the password, he gave me a grin and let me through.
I was surprised Macy would get me a sleeper car, and very thankful. There were two folding beds in the room. It was just small enough for two people to sit in. The top bunk was like a captain's bed, it would be the one I would sleep on. And Poochie could sleep on the bottom. No more snoring!
After I found place for my bag, I came back and sat across from Poochie.
“Well, Poochy,” I scritched her neck, “Here we are: on the train, again.”