Waking Up

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The door to my hotel room hasn't fully closed behind me when I dial Justine's number

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The door to my hotel room hasn't fully closed behind me when I dial Justine's number.

It goes straight to voicemail. Since I've reconnected with her in St. Augustine, I've discovered this is common. She's either on the phone, or she's shut the phone off for chunks of time so she can get work done. I'd routinely gotten her voicemail when we were together and I was trying to reach her.

She's so disciplined.

I flick on the desk lamp, and pace in front of the window for a few minutes. I try her again.


Step, step, step. I'm a father.

Each time that phrase comes into my mind, I feel my chest being squeezed by an invisible force. I to ask Justine's advice. She's going to be pissed, but she needs to know. Or maybe she won't be pissed. Maybe she'll be understanding, and we can deal with this together.

I take off my shoes and socks, letting my bare feet sink into the plush gold carpet.

Step, step, step. I call Justine again.

Dammit. Where is she?

My Rolex says it's five p.m. in St. Augustine. My assistants had emailed me earlier, saying that Justine was supposed to tell the staff today that the building would be sold. Surely she's had the meeting by now – or could she be in the meeting? I imagine she's probably upset about the building sale. Even angry at me because of it.

I go over the email from earlier.

Come to think of it, why haven't the assistants updated me on the meeting? Maybe it's still going on. Justine likes to talk details with her staff, and I'm sure she's trying to calm them down, tell them that the paper will still exist, that they won't be laid off.

Step, step, step. I stop and peer out the window at the Grand Via. The street below is almost busier now than during the day, and it's eleven p.m.I dial one of the assistants and get voicemail. Groaning out loud, I try the other one. Same. What the fuck is going on there?

I send each of my guys texts, then emails. I don't want to text Justine – I hate the fucking things – because it's too impersonal for this conversation, and I desperately need to hear her voice.

I unbutton my shirt and undo my cuffs. Panic is setting in. I call the paper and don't get an answer. This isn't uncommon; after hours it's difficult to get anyone, even in the newsroom. I try various extensions – the city editor, the sports desk – and get no one. This is the result of having no staff, I guess.

After another round of calls, I've practically worn a hole in the carpet, and I'm pouring myself a drink when I get an idea.

First I take a swig of whiskey, then I pull up Caroline's number and dial.

A huge exhale releases from my throat when she picks up. I barely let her say hello.

"Caroline, it's Rafael. I've been looking for Justine, and she's not answering her phone. Is there any way you can get a message to her? Are you still at the paper? Is she at the paper? Could you drive over and tell her it's urgent?"

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