I’d assumed she apologized for using my phone to make an international call or something, like there’d be a charge coming my way, but that thought was quickly dispelled when I realized the phone was still connected to whoever she’d called. I considered disconnecting the call, simple to do, not my business, problem solved. But I let curiosity get the better of me, the cat with only the one life, risking it for no valid reason.
I don’t know what I expected…someone shouting perhaps, their anger at the crying apologetic woman so intense she’d fled. Maybe something in another language and I’d have to beg my apologies for being so American that I only speak the one hoping they’d understand me, begging forgiveness as I hung up. What other hackneyed response had cinema set me up to expect, and that’s why I was so very shocked to be met by silence.
I double checked the screen which verified that I was still connected to whoever I was in fact connected to and listened again, repeating, “hello?” rather hollowly this time. The line was connected, my phone wasn’t lying, I could hear the tunnel sound of a connected line.
It was only as I began to consider that cinema had also assured me I could be tracked by my phone that I became anxious. Were they tracking my phone right now? If I disconnected now would they be able to find me? Was it too late? My finger hovered over the red dot as the sound of crunching tires and an engine approached behind me. My heart racing, I disconnected the call, thumbed my phone into lock, and slid it in my back pocket. Keeping my head down, my hands now in my front pockets, I began to walk.
“Hey!” came the shout behind me.
Just keep walking, I thought, pretend you can’t hear them, what I wouldn’t give for some ear pods right now. My heart and mind raced as I concentrated on walking, not running, walk, walk, walk pounded through my brain.
A weight landed on my shoulder seconds before I was spun round to face a half-naked, heavily sweating man with chains around his neck and a cigar in his other hand. “Oy, didn’ ya hear me?” I shook my head almost imperceptibly, sure my eyes were impossibly wide, confident he’d never believe me, unable to bring a single word of defense to my lips. “You know where’s there a laundry place here?”
“Wha-what?” I stammered, reflexively looking up and down the street, trying to make this question make sense, trying to make the situation make sense.
“You know, a place to whash clothes? It’s apposed to be heyah,” he too was perusing the street up and down, his hands gesticulating wildly, his arms and hands now bouncing up and down by his waist.
“Um, right, no. I, uh, don’t normally come this way,” I managed to say, all the while my brain thrumming with warnings, this is a trick! Don’t fall for it! all while simultaneously entreating me not to be rude.