Sunday, April 17, 2011

Part Nine: In which the author appeases you all.

"Hello! I believe you have my phone," said a familiar Irish voice, and Katie's heart did a little jump. Eoin. The art project! This was exactly what she needed.

Katie was about to speak, about to announce herself, and beg him to let her find him, let her in on his project. But suddenly, she froze. She knew how she'd like this to happen. She would like to say, "Oh, hi, Eoin, this is Katie. How's the project going? I've been thinking about it a lot!"

And then she'd like him to respond with, "Oh, hi Katie! How nice to hear your voice, everything is going well, why don't you pop by the studio and help me with it." But she knew he might not say that at all. She knew that he might say, "Who? What? I have never heard of you. I have no idea what you're going on about, I have never spoken to a Katie," and the thought that Option A might not happen, and she would likely end up with Option B made her tongue thick, her throat dry. She couldn't deal with his rejection. She couldn't handle not mattering.

"Hello? Do you speak English? Habla espanol? Parlez-vous francais?" Oh, man. Now she really did want to meet him. He spoke three languages. (Four if you counted Irish slang, which she was sure he undoubtedly knew.)

"Uh--" Katie made her voice low, slightly guttural. "I'm here." She added a bit of a southern accent, and imagined she sounded like a butchy lesbian from South Carolina, or someplace.

"Terrific!" Eoin was so enthusiastic. "And you do speak English, right? You sound like you do....Do I detect a bit of an accent?"

"Yes, ma'am." Oh, damn. She'd just called him ma'am. It was instinct -- she'd learned her southern drawl watching Westerns with her Aunt Angela on Sunday afternoons. John Wayne always said Ma'am.

"Err, okay," Eoin was being polite and not mentioning it. "What's your name?" Name, name, name.....Katie looked wildly around the bathroom for clues. The brand on the toilet paper dispenser was Kimberly Clark.

"I"m Kimberly Clark!"

"Hello, Kimberly. I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Eoin, and I am an artist. I have been working on a project in which I have set this phone free -- it has been traveling around the city for about a week now, and every so often I call it, someone answers it, like yourself, and then I have that person tell me wherever they are, and I am creating a map with the data about it's adventures. After we talk I'd like you to deposit the phone somewhere interesting, and then I'll call it again in about twelve hours and I'll see where it's ended up!"

"Okay," drawled Katie, trying to say as little as possible.

"So where are you now?"

"I'm in the restroom at Eggstacy. I found the phone in the trash can." She was pleased with herself for remembering that Americans say "restroom" instead of "bathroom", and "trash can" instead of "garbage". The little details were always so important in situations like this.

"Oh, how cool!" exclaimed Eoin. "Now, if you could just take a photo of yourself, text it to ..." Eoin kept talking but Katie felt her heart sink. She'd forgotten about the photograph. What could she do? She couldn't just take her photo. What would he say? "Oh, Kimberly, good news! It turns out you have a long-lost twin named Katie! She lives in Toronto, too!" Katie thought about marching out to the dining room and asking Melissa to pose for the photo, but how to explain this situation to Nick and Melissa? Melissa would probably understand, but Nick? What if he gossiped?

"Um, Kimberly?" Eoin's voice was kind. "If you don't want to take the photo, that's okay. I can just..." Katie was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at herself, the phone held tightly to her ear. What was she doing? Standing in the bathroom, pretending she was a John-Wayne style lesbian named after a toilet paper dispenser? Lying to this man she'd never met because she was afraid he wouldn't remember her? Was she that dependent on other peoples' validation of her? What did it matter if he knew her or not?

"Eoin," Katie reverted back to her normal voice. "It's, uh. This is awkward. My name is Katie, and I answered your phone a few days ago. And then I found it again in the garbage can today."

"I'm confused," Eoin said.

You and me both, thought Katie.

"I remember you call," said Eoin. "You were in a taxi cab."

"Yes, that was me!"

"Why pretend you were someone else?"

"I don't know. I just ... did." She couldn't explain it to him. It wouldn't make any sense to him. It barely made any sense to her.

"Okay, well. You're telling me the truth now. Right? You're not really some teenaged boy named Dave who's been putting me on this whole time, are you?"

Katie laughed. "No, no, I'm really Katie. Here, I'll send you the photo as proof."

"Good, Katie. I like your photos." Katie blushed a bit, and took a photo of herself, hoping she looked serene and cool, not frantic and panicked, which is how she was feeling.

"Thanks," said Eoin when he got it, but didn't mention her smile this time.

"Well, Katie, you know what to do."

"Yup." Katie took a deep breath. "And thanks for not thinking I'm a freak for making up an identity," she said, and she heard Eoin laugh a little.

"Listen, I'm a professional artist. I meet way freakier people on a daily basis in this business."

"You've got a point." Katie wanted to keep talking with him. She wanted to ask him more questions about his work, about living as a professional artist. Was it really living in a basement apartment and eating Kraft Dinner every night like her parents had warned, keeping rats as pets and working night shifts on the hospital mental ward to pay the bills? But Katie knew that Melissa and Nick were waiting, and the improv classes were starting imminently. "Well, good luck with the project, Eoin."

"Thanks for your help again, Katie. I'll talk to you soon, okay?"

"Okay," said Katie, and the hung up. She wondered if they really would talk again. She hoped so.

Thirty minutes later (after dropping the phone off in a free newspaper box) Katie, Nick, and Melissa were seated in a semi-circle, on the floor, legs crossed, with twenty other members of staff.

Katie waved at Erica, who was sitting in between Mike and Paul, the Secret Lovers. In front of the semi-circle were two tall, gangly men in their twenties, and both were really enthusiastic.

"Hi there!" One of the men, wearing loose-fitting cargo shorts and a pair of flip flops, stood up and began pacing in front of them, his flip flops flapping as he moved. Just looking at his bare, pale feet made Katie shiver. "My name is James! I'm 27, and I spent the past three years in South Korea teaching English to children. I love dancing, cooking spicy foods with my girlfriend, and travel. Oh!" He laughed, and smacked himself on the head playfully. "And I love improv!"

"Sweet Jesus," Melissa muttered beside Katie.

"And I'm Luis." He got up and stood next to his friend. He was wearing a pair of sensible sneakers, jeans, and an American Apparel cardigan. Much more respectable than his counterpart. Also much cuter. "I have spent the past four years studying the art form intensely. I am a graduate of both the Second City Improv Intensive program here in Toronto, as well as the Annoyance in Chicago. I am originally from El Salvador, but my family moved here when I was twelve to escape the tyranny of the El Salvadorean government. I believe in the power of theatre to change lives. That is why I am here."

"Marginally less obnoxious," Katie muttered to Melissa, who whispered back, "You only say that because you like his dress sense."

"Okay!" said James. "On your feet, everyone! We're going to get started." Katie stood reluctantly, and looked at the floor. This was so not her type of thing. "Okay, everyone, we need a volunteer! A brave soul who is ready to dive right in and make magic!"

Luis began pacing in front of them, staring into their faces. Katie looked down, knowing that eye contact would be the death of her. "No one wants to volunteer?" James shook his head. "This is terrible!" His voice was loud, comical. "I guess we'll just have to go with...."

Choose your own adventure time! Does James pick cynical, reluctant Katie? Or does James pick poor, timid Erica?


  1. Poor, timid Erica. I am clearly a sadist, as I hate being pulled up to volunteer for these sorts of things. What if Erica is called and then, a la Hunger Games, Katie steps in for her?

  2. Oh Katie, I think that's a given. Jesse

  3. I'm with Annabelle because surely Erica will need help...

  4. I know it's not an option, but I'd like Mike and Paul to get up...

  5. Hey, Jenny, this one really made me LOL.


  6. okay one behind again. As become my habit; nancy rules. I know its too late (just read ep 10) but i'm that person who likes to shut the barn door after the horse has gone.