Heat by Rob O’Neill

"L" is for loser

I’ve spent the last week waiting. Sometimes sitting alone huddled over my beer, watching my mobile on the bar. Waiting. Other times I kept it in my shirt pocket, as you can often miss a call when it’s in your jacket. My diary was clear. I’d cleared it the week before, on the off-chance.

You know.

You know how it is. When you’re waiting.

I’ve found it hard to concentrate.

I was never one of the cool guys at school, you see. When I left and got a job I went through a cool phase, but it didn’t last. Still, it’s more than some get.

There have been a few calls, but not one that mattered. I was terse on the phone, trying to clear the line quickly in case I missed the call. The call I was waiting for.

Sometimes I’d boot up the computer and check the email again. Just to make sure. Or go online and check the dates. Just to make sure. Girlie noticed I was dark and distracted and took to her room, cheesecake in hand.

My clothes dryer has broken down. It spins but it doesn’t heat up. The oven doesn’t work either. Well, it does, but only at one temperature (220C) and the grill doesn’t work at all. One of our toilets leaks and the other is blocked. Girlie’s got stitches in her mouth that need to be taken out. There are reminder messages from her dentist on the answer-phone.

But I can’t seem to get anything together. As I say, I find it hard to concentrate.

I check call register on my phone in case I’ve missed something.

I mean, it was just an off-the-cuff email exchange and he’s been busy, I know. And you can’t really say we’re mates or anything. He said we should get together and I sent my mobile number. End of story. Happens all the time. Doesn’t mean anything.

CK was in town too. He didn’t call either, but I never expected him to. He’s never heard of me, so it would be a little out of the blue. Also I wrote a story a few years ago in which my cat threw up on one of his books, Villa Vittoria from memory. So even if he had heard of me he’d probably be nursing a grudge.

Writers are so sensitive. I imagine.

Anyway, it’s all over now. Situation normal.

You might say I should have just gone along, sauntered up and said g’day. What’s so hard about that? But I’ve never been to a writers’ fest before and it doesn’t really attract. It would have been out of character, you see, and therefore a bit brown-nosey. Don’t you think?

And he was busy. Three sessions in three days, all that whisky to drink, Birmo, the Random girls to entertain.

Still. Nevermind.

I’d better call that dentist.