I figured it was maybe my wife wanting to carp about how late the support payments were. But maybe there was some sort of emergency, I reflected.
Then I thought it might be my daughter. We weren't so close anymore, my choice I guess. But I didn't want to talk to her while I was half in the bag.
The phone kept ringing and I very quietly took another slug from my pint of Popov's vodka. Like I figured the caller could maybe hear me.
Of course it might be a job. But I was tired of divorce work. Tired of lurking in some dark parking lot with my long-lensed camera. Tired of watching the same sorry story of sneak-around infidelity that helped pay my bills.
All I really wanted to do tonight was sit in my office stoking a glow and watching the world slide by outside. The office is my home now since I moved out of the house.
By the twentieth ring I grew curious. The fact that my bottle was one swallow from empty had nothing to do with it. The fact that my last client stiffed me for fifteen hundred had nothing to do with it. The fact that someone was desperate enough to keep ringing might be important.
"Roto-rooter," I answered.
"How ya doing, Polack? Tough day at the office?"
I sighed. It was only Kretzer, an occasional employer whose assignments I rated only slightly higher than uncovering the corruption of holy wedlock. But at least he'd never stiffed me.
"Yeah, yeah," I said, swigging the last of the vodka.