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Clear Connection
I never expected to be here. I always thought I'd meet someone like the 1-800-COLLECT Angel, settle down, and have the sort of kids that make you cry in long distance commercials. It didn't work out that way.

I first spotted him when I was doing my job--trying to help a couple who'd misunderstood each other because of a bad connection. He thought she said, "Buy a book of puns," when she'd been saying, "My Dad has a gun!" I made it possible for him to call her from the hospital and speak to her clearly, though she was across town, trying to arrange bail for her father.

He strolled past the room and paused, framed in the doorway, as he spoke on a cell phone. Our eyes met. Those dark framed glasses should have melted from the heat. Then he was gone.

I tried to forget him, but he was everywhere. In the cafeteria, where a kitchen helper had mistaken, "We need onions, and preserves, and limes," for "Pee on the serving line." Then there was the theater where there was a terrible misunderstanding. One guy had invited his buddy to see 'Payback', and the friend had expected to visit a 'gay rack'--a swinging gay singles bar. Boy, was he disappointed, but at least he had Mel Gibson to watch for a couple of hours. It seemed like every time I turned around, he was there, with that smug tone, and that V signal.

He was fascinating, but he was forbidden. He was Verizon--I am Sprint. If you think that the Montagues and Capulets were antagonistic...

I'm repressed--I'll admit it. I have ten suits--all exactly the same. I've been told that I have the vocal characteristics of Jack Webb. What hurts is that they make it sound like a bad thing. I knew that I could never catch the attention of this quirky, oddly attractive man. After all--he traveled--even more than I. I saw him with a woman once. Well... I'm not so sure that was a date. She looked more like his sister (or maybe a gender-switch clone).

Somehow it happened. I got up the nerve to speak to him during one of his brief pauses. I expected him to just nod, flash a V, and walk away. Instead he slowly folded up his cell phone, smiling at me.

We have to be careful. We meet in out of the way places. I can't go to his place (if he has one), he can't come to mine. Someone might see. Someone might find out. It would mean our jobs. How sad. It's like having an office romance, when we don't even work for the same company.

If the world knew, there would be repercussions. We would become the 'punch line' for stand-up comics everywhere. All our hard work and all the help we'd given our customers would be forgotten.

So we hide our love away. We dare not even speak to each other over the cell phones--who knows if The Powers are logging the calls? I've seen CSI--I know it can happen. We share passion in anonymous hotel rooms, like this one. We only have scant hours, precious minutes. He has to call in so frequently that often there is time only for sex--sweaty, almost frantic grappling--before he must be off to another far-flung location. There's no time for talk, no time for sharing stories of our day, our families, our lives outside these rented walls. God, I want to know all of him--not just the bland facade he shows the rest of the world, not just his flesh.

He knows. We are lying together in the afterglow, and I am thinking that soon he will get up and dress, taking that damn instrument of the devil from his jacket pocket, and dialing once again. I'm thinking that we haven't spoken more than a dozen sentences, and how can what we have survive if we can't communicate?

Then he does something that wipes away the doubts, and lets me know he understands.

His arms are around me, his lips against my ear as he whispers, "Can you hear me now?"