With Alarm I Realize What I Have Just Done

Jeff jumps in without even a “hello.”

“I found someone who can help. His name is Caleb. He’s notorious in certain circles but I trust him…and he’s willing to meet with you right away. He’s waiting for you to call.”

Relief washes over me, tears forming in my eyes. “Thank you” seems inadequate but I’m at a loss for words. Quickly I scribble a phone number at the top of the page I’d been using as a journal.

Setting the phone back on the counter, I try to decide whether I should finish my lunch. I haven’t eaten much the past few days, but my appetite has completely vanished. Pushing my plate away I attempt to get the waiter’s attention so I can get the check. I watch him with frustration as he animatedly chats with the locals.

Now that I have a contact I’m desperate to call him, but I hesitate to draw too much attention. I don’t want people to remember me. I have no ties to this town so there’s no reason he would look for me here, but I am learning to be overly cautious. All of a sudden it occurs to me, if he comes to this shop he might ask if anyone has seen me.

Why didn’t I think of this sooner? I should have waited for Jeff somewhere else, but I can’t change that now.

Without thinking I pick up the pen and begin to doodle as I wait for the conversation at the far end of the counter to conclude. I used to draw a lot, but haven’t taken the time for years. With quick strokes I sketch the cabin in the woods, one eye on the paper and the other on the waiter. Growing impatient I add details to the porch: baskets of flowers hanging from the eves, the swing on the far end, a grill around the corner. Once I can’t think of anything else to include, I begin to work on the surrounding forest, the top of steps to the river just visible to the left of the building.

Focusing on each specific detail calms me and helps ease my impatience.

Finally the proprietor looks at me and I signal for the check. Walking over he brings both the bill and a to-go container for my uneaten burger. Certain I won’t be able to swallow another bite, I put my lunch in the styrofoam box and close the lid as he swipes my credit card. Watching as I sign the slip he spots my drawing.

“That’s the Sanderson place, isn’t it? You stayin’ there?”

Alarm fills me as I realize too late what I’ve just done.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Notorious and is part of something longer I am working on.

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