A pause then:
A breath. Crackles from arthritic hands holding the ill-fitting plastic mould of an old telephone handset. Then:
Is it Sunday already?
I’m calling early, dad. I’ve got a meeting in Paris this weekend.
I told you. With the partnership. I’m closing a contract. It doesn’t matter.
A car horn beeps. Probably from the son’s end. He’s most likely on his mobile outside a cafe. He wears blue suits. Always with the salmon pink shirts.
I went to Paris once.
Dad, you’ve never been to Paris. We spoke about this too.
With your mother.
An old man remembering. The son sighs then lowers his voice. Stage whisper.
Dad, my battery’s running out. I need to ask you something.
On his mobile then. Take the cafe as given.
I need to ask you something and I need it today.
Wait a minute. I have a pen but I don’t have any paper.
A clunk as the receiver’s put on a table. Shuffling. Then a hollow clang. Sounds like the dad’s using his walking frame.
There is a radiator in the hallway where the phone is, isn’t there, Al? I think he’s knocked the radiator.
Shhhh. Keep listening.
The son’s talking to someone but he’s obviously muffling with his hand and it’s difficult to hear. A female voice. Sounds sharp. Urgent. The dad’s back on the phone.
Here we go, son. I keep this notepad but I write so little these days.
More crackles. The dad hums under his breath.
You getting this, Al?
The son hesitates before speaking again. As if he’s listening back.
We’ll visit Dorset for the summer.
Clatter. The sound of an old receiver being replaced. The line goes dead. The dad’s hung up.
It was a keyword, Al. They knew we were listening.
For crap’s sake, Al.
Sorry about the noise. My chair hit the server unit. Did we get a location?