An Old Friend Calls – Gray Metal Faces, March 11A

A week from last Monday

The Bird had been napping on the the gray and brown couch of the living room when the telephone had begun ringing. She and her mother rarely received calls, and many times when alone in house The Bird would leave calls unanswered, letting the phone ring until the attempted communication was ended by the caller or passed onto the messaging system. But now, motivated by her annoyance at having been awakened, she decided to answer this call.

“Sandy?” The Bird realized she had picked up the receiver and held it to her ear, but had not said hello or otherwise acknowledged the call. She replied that yes, this was Sandy.

“It’s Mr. Nestor.” She didn’t recognize the voice of her mother’s elderly friend, this being the first time she had heard his voice transmitted over the telephone system. “How is my little girl?” The Bird had often thought how pleasant it would be if her father was really Mr. Nestor, not the nameless man whom her mother would not discuss. Mr. Nestor was kind, thoughtful, always willing to help she and her mother, yet he lived in California most of the time, far from the tiny village of Bark Bay where she and her mother lived. And he was much older than her mother, more a grandfather to The Bird than a surrogate father.

The Bird asked if he was working in the city. “Why, yes.” He rarely called unless he was near. “There’s a summer Shaw festival, I’ve been asked to direct — such an honor.” He cleared his throat, a sound she recognized as his sign that he was about to direct their conversation towards a topic he considered important. “Sandy, I need, to talk, to you — ” if there was one thing The Bird did not appreciate about Mr. Nestor, it was the dramatic pause he frequently employed in his voice — “about that, fencing team, you’re on.”

She was almost able to reply that she hadn’t been to practice, or seen anyone on the team for a month, that she had basically quit, before the stentorian voice continued. “There is, a boy, on the team. I believe, I met him, when you all came up to see the dress rehearsal for ‘Hamlet.’ Calls himself, Double-J.”

Static crackled over the line’s silence. “One of, the producers, has a daughter at, the Academy. I do not know, her name, but she is, a fencer, like you. And, my producer friend, attends many, of her daughter’s, fencing tournaments. And, for that reason, knows many high school fencers, by name.”

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