Phone Booth

Posted: August 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

One night I was awakened by the ringing of the phone and I was so deeply asleep that I thought it was part of a dream. But it was not. The sound came from beside my bed and I groped in the darkness for my phone. I answered with  a gravely hello. The voice on the other end was a man’s voice. The first and strangest thing was that he asked who I was, as though he was dialing numbers randomly, not sure who would pick up. I sat up on the side of the bed, struggling to clear my head and make sense of what I just heard. I asked who was calling and he gave me his first name. And then I asked him what he needed.

I don’t know, he answered. When I asked where he was he said At a phone booth. Not even a cell, but a phone booth. Where can you even find those any more? I asked him where the phone booth was and he said I don’t know. Then I asked him where he came from and he said I wish to God I knew. He asked again who I was and I gave him my first name. I tried one more time and asked him to maybe describe where he was. With some irritation he replied In a phone booth – I told you. And he hung up.

I sat there in the dark, dial tone on the other end. Surely this wasn’t a dream.

What isolating desperation would drive a person to call random numbers in the middle of the night hoping for a connection with a stranger? What do you do when you don’t know where you really came from, where you are, or what you need? Is a phone booth a real place? Is the voice at the other end a real voice?

And what of the untimely intrusions into our sleep, our dreams, our space? Is this some  moment of divine epiphany, the new reality breaking into our old one? Are we meant to be connected? Is this phantom to be added to my to my prayer list now and forever?

Or, since it was a phone booth, was this from another time, a quantum skip across decades? Was he calling ahead and is now long dead? Was he stuck between dimensions? Did he abide in phone booth purgatory? Or was the caller actually me earlier in life, calling my future self up, looking for some clues? I don’t remember making that kind of call.

Or what if all that was actually a dream and I just didn’t know it? In that case, what characters of the psyche were in conversation? The past self and present one, phone booth self to cell self?

If I’m honest with myself most of my prayer life is exactly like that call. It’s random and comes out of who knows where, certainly not per-programed. The flavor of most of my most impactful spiritual connections is decidedly phone booth-to-stranger-middle-of-the-night fare. I’m left scratching my head, even when the right thing seems to have happened.

I’d rather not get another call like that again. But I might, you never know. And if I do I hope I can listen better than I did the first time – to the voice on the other end, the sound of my own breathing, and whatever mysterious thing hangs suspended in that dark interval at the intersection of time and space.

  1. Don Lanier says:

    Hmmmmm, sounds like the Twilight Zone. I’m glad you’re going to keep writing.

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