23. Don't Bother Me

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Don't come around, leave me alone,

Don't bother me,

I've got no time for you right now,

Don't bother me.

The phone in our apartment rings all the time, but since Miami, we hardly ever answer it. Our friends know to allow it to ring once, hang up and then call back - then we know it's safe to pick up. However, over the last week, it seems to be ringing more than usual. On the third evening of sitting, listening to it ring, Minnie finally loses her patience.

'For fucks...' she mumbles, lifting herself from where she's fanning herself on the sofa. It's August and New York is blazing hot. It's so humid and stuffy, there doesn't seem to be a breath of fresh air in the entire city.

'Just unplug it,' I tell her, not looking up from my book.

Minnie crosses to the telephone table, just inside our hallway and picks up the red telephone receiver, putting it to her ear without speaking. I watch her through the doorway of the living room. She listens for a moment and frowns.

I close my book and sit up, praying silently that it's not Howard. He not called yet, to my knowledge, but I worry that he might. There's not been a trace of him since Miami in February, but I can't shake the feeling that he's still out there.

'Um, no, sorry,' Minnie says, and hangs up.

'What was it?' I ask.

She stares at the phone. 'The operator,' she replies. 'Asking if we'd accept a reverse charge, long distance phone call from someone called Winston in Seattle. Must have been a prank? Or a wrong number?' As she speaks, the phone starts to ring again.

'Ignore it,' I tell her.

She purses her lips and answers it anyway. 'Hello?' she says in her well-practiced, cut-glass English accent. I get up and cross to her, putting my ear next to the receiver, so I can hear too. She holds it away slightly so we can both listen.

'Will you accept a reverse charge call from John in Seattle please?' The operator asks robotically.

We look at each other. 'John who?' Minnie asks.

'I don't have the surname, sorry, ma'am.'

Minnie rolls her eyes. 'Okay,' she says. 'We'll accept it.'

'Connecting you now. Thank you,' replies the operator.

'Minnie Mouse! What are you doing refusing to accept my calls?!' Unmistakably John Lennon. Minnie can't stop a huge smile from spreading across her face.

'John Lennon! You must be a millionaire these days. What are you doing making reverse charge calls? And long distance too?' she scolds him, good-naturedly.

'Ah, well,' John says. 'We had to sneak out to call you, and Paul here, didn't bring any change with him, did you, Macca?' Paul cries out in the background in protest. Minnie laughs. 'No!' John says, speaking to Paul. 'Gerroff, I haven't finished yet!' The lines bad. It crackles a lot and they sound echoey, far away.

'Is it you who's been calling?'

'Who else would it be? Why don't you answer? Are you never home, Minnie?'

Minnie laughs. 'What do you want, Lennon?' Minnie asks, feigning boredom. 'We live busy lives over here, you know. We can't be hobnobbing on the phone with some two-bit musicians all night long.'

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