Two Phones and a Legal Pad

It’s the following afternoon, and I’m sitting alone in a conference room. On the table to the left of me is a legal pad, turned over by a trusting co-worker. There are no windows, and the recording devices in the room are turned off — but I feel the whole world is watching me, anticipating my next move.

It had been a busy morning, and I haven’t seen or even thought about Murph all day. There’s a standing meeting I attend every Thursday at 2 in the conference room where I’m currently sitting; many people dial in to the conference call from their desks, so on any given week we can have as many as a dozen people in the room, or I can be by myself. When I walked into the room a few minutes before 2, I saw Angelina would be keeping me company today.

Angelina greeted me with a nod, and as she began dialing the conference number into the speakerphone, paused a moment to look up at me. “Heard you played basketball with the boys last night?”

I let out a groan that dissolves into a laugh. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” My mind scanned through memories of the night before, then stopped upon a particular moment. “Murph’s got a pretty amazing shot.”

“Oh!” Angelina nearly jumped out of her chair, like her leg has just brushed against an upturned pin. She glanced up at the wall clock — 1:58 — then cancelled the conference call. “I need to call him, about that housesitting he wants me to do for him.” She got up and walked over to a side table, then picked up the receiver of a desk phone.

She dialed the four-digit extension; I heard Murhp’s muted voice from the receiver. “Hey, you still want me to come to your house when you’re gone?” Yeah. “All right, when can I get a key from you?” I couldn’t make out Murph’s response, but I saw Angelina walk back to where she’d been sitting, grabbed the legal pad she had brung; I casually noticed the pad was blank. She laid the pad on the side table, picked up a nearby pen — “That’ll work, what’s the garage code?”

An idea had begun forming in my mind, but I dismissed it as rash, and disrespectful to both Angelina and Murph. She wrote quickly on the pad, nodded — “Got it. Thanks.” And then hung up the receiver.

I’d all but forgotten my idea by the time Angelina sat down. But then, another pin-prick jump. “Don’t we want to go over the contract today?” I nodded, and Angelina responded by turning over the legal pad as she stood abruptly — “I have a markup from legal, on my desk. The call never starts on time, I should go get it.”

And then, she left. Leaving me alone in the room, with her overturned legal pad. And a thought that cannot be easily dismissed this time.


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