I got the call at midnight. I was sound asleep.
“Sorry to bother you man but I need your help.”
It was Jackson, my old buddy from school. I hadn’t seen him in what – six or seven months?
“Hey Jake? Long time no see.”
“George we gotta talk. I trust you.”
“Can’t it wait until, uh, morning?”
“You won’t trust me in the morning?”
“Very funny. It’s this girl at work. She’s driving me nuts.”
He sounded panicky. I wasn’t going to be able to shake him this time, that’s for sure.
“Driving you nuts?”
‘Yeah. Every time she walks by my office – I can hear her in the hall. Man, I’m telling you I’ve never met anyone like this. I think I’m in love.”
“Doesn’t sound like a problem to me. What does she say?”
“She doesn’t say a damn thing. I haven’t told her – I haven’t really met her even. We just kind of nod at each other.”
“So introduce yourself.” I was slowly getting sharper.
“You don’t get it do you? She wears a ring. She’s married. I’m wasting my time.”
I wanted to say that it all depends but Jake always had his head on straighter than mine when it came to such matters.
“You can’t imagine,” he went on. “I can’t get any work done. For all I know, I may get canned. All I can do is get out of the office and walk around all day with a – well, you know.”
“I just wish I could tell her,” he said. “Do you think I should?”
“Na,” I said. “Let’s sleep on it and talk in the morning but my initial suggestion is na. Na, na, na, na. na.”
You see, I was trying to make my point very clear.
“Some help you are,” Jake said. “Waiting til morning is like forcing me to wait a million years.” And he hung up.
I went back to sleep and to be honest, I kind of forgot all about our “talk.” Until that is, two days later when I got word that Jake had gone missing, along with some married woman from his company. I had no choice, really, but to go to the police and tell them what I knew.
“Was it a confession?” the detective asked me.
“You’re the officer,” I said. “You figure it out.”
Steven D Stark is the author of several books of non-fiction and his fiction and poetry have recently been published in Frigg, The Doctor TJ Eckelburg Review, 3 am, Litn’Image, Mudlark, McSweeney’s, The Cafe Review, HOOT, Otoliths, OccuPoetry, Eclectica, Mobius, fleeting, and, among others, Clapboard House, where he won the short story prize.