PART EIGHT: The Phone Repair Shop
David read the text anxiously and in a justified wonder. It didn’t give up the effect it had over him, it just read as cautious but firm. He felt sick and uncomfortable having to send it. Why did he deserve that text? Why did he deserve to be threatened, as he justly suspected, by using Sally as a commodity between the two constantly fighting adults.
Lisa slumped into her chair. He’d got it. ‘Did you not get my text after it?’ she replied and so it would send, Lisa went for an uncharacteristic walk to one of the building’s reception points.
Bins rumbled up the cobbles. The amber light of the bin lorry flashing through glum windows gave permission for the locals to leave the backs of their homes and drag the eyesore coloured containers along the ginnel of the row, back to their preferred place in the yard.
With all the distractions and interruptions of the day so far, text sent, David joined in the din, pulled his back door closed and collected his bin from the end of the row. Banging the gate open with his bright sun faded blue bin, he inspected the arrest battered gate and brushed some of the paint curls off with his damp hand. The flecks stuck but came off after a wipe down his jeans. He wondered when the police would come and knock abruptly with official politeness and get his statement.
After a small while, David’s reply came, it was a clear, curt no. He was standing outside the town’s only phone repair shop, jobs done and bin back in, he’d gone off to get his phone fixed. David explained that his screen had broken and he couldn’t read anything.
‘I’ll forward you the second text’, Lisa offered. ‘Explains it was all a mistake. I wasn’t being off hand with you but I would like to talk about yours and Sally’s behaviour.’ She lied a necessary lie to ease her guilt. There was a long pause before he replied.
The phone repair shop had upgraded from a long time stall, at the local twice weekly market. The walls were an untidy mismatch of cheap Chinese copies of mainstream mobile phone products. David explained his need to the phone tech, all the while looking about him, wishing he had enough money to go to a real shop. One that was polished and not wall-lined with pierced off white hardboard with wire product holders plastering almost every wall.
‘You may as well wait. I put in an order for one of these a while back. Stupid buggers sent too many’, said the phone tech wedging a tool into the side of the broken phone. ‘How long? Not that I’m doing anything but I need it for a text that was sent before’ asked David, giving up too much unnecessary information.
‘Sounds important. New lass?’
‘No. Old one. Bit of mither, don’t read it if it comes up mate’, exhaled David giving the tech free curiosity to interfere.
‘Don’t worry, keeping your discretion is my pleasure’, he said clipping a professional looking magnifying glass to one side of his glasses, ‘seen you about a bit, walking past the shop. You working local?’
‘Trying to, I’m looking for work. So that’s probably why mate. But there is nothing round here, so I’ll have to look out of town’, David said turning to the window to glance at the world going by.
‘Nothing going here really, is there mate’, said the tech with a pile of phone bits in front of him, who wasn’t really interested in customer small talk. He pulled out an old ice-cream box of little pinch seal bags. He shuffled through and pulled out two and opened one. Disconnecting the old for the new he clipped it back together and turned it on and paused looking at the screen after a few thumb sweeps over the keypad.
‘Cheeky little number here, this the ex’, he said in his comfortable business type drawl, not being able to take his eyes of the screen, he nodded in admiration.
‘Fucks sakes fella. Look here, hang on mate. Why do you need to plug my phone into your computer and what you doing going through my gallery?’ quickly protested David leaning over the counter, suspicious of the tech’s intentions. ‘Don’t you worry there mate, I’m just recalibrating your phone. I just slipped a key on the main menu and it came up’ he dishonestly replied, while stepping back out of David’s reach.
‘Just in case you’re interested, I can give you some new images of amateurs or something to whatever pleases your taste. All for a small cost in addition to the repair’, offered the tech in a tone that was ever the pro salesman trained in upselling extras.
‘Jesus Christ mate. Just finish the job will ya and leave the stuff in my phone alone’ David demanded, as the photo of Lisa slipped almost unnoticed down the wire into the tech’s business gallery. Moments later the phone was in David’s hands again. The tech had turned it on for him and programmed in the daily essentials of date and time. He seemingly left the phone as it had arrived in his hands but for the fixed screen. David paid and left the shop. As the door shut in its damp frame, Lisa had become, as the tech finished tapping at his keyboard, an under-the-counter product of pleasure.
Time turned the day into mid-afternoon, Jenny gave herself permission and passed Lisa a few times leaving her cubicle in a practiced skill of an impatient busy body. Company email had long stopped the need for unnecessary movement around the office, but false importance gave her the right to bullshit about. Dipping in the odd alright to Lisa as she arrived to prompt a conversation, each attempt was just met with a nod of alright.
Ten minutes later, pretending to hand out memos Jenny weaved about the floor towards Lisa’s work station stooping for the obligatory ask, ‘is everything ok?’ Hoping Lisa would give up some morsel of information. Jenny couldn’t ask straight out what the reply was to Lisa’s explosive text to David, it just wasn’t the done thing. This frustrated her, politeness was a hindrance. Her need seemed feverish and courted a greed for satisfaction but Lisa failed to give up anything, apart from a compulsory polite, alright.
On another pass, Lisa became sick of Jenny’s quest for information and constant empty baiting. She had nothing to give. Lisa called Jenny closer. Jenny bent down to what seemed to be a possible hot tip of gossip in the unfolding drama. As she bent down over Lisa’s shoulder, Lisa hooked her arm round Jenny’s neck and pulled her in close so her lips touched Jenny’s ear. Lisa whispered into her ear and as she did, she pinched Jenny’s lips together, still holding her pen in between her clenched knuckles.
As words were whispered, Lisa’s hands tensed and shook with frustration, drawing a scribble of black ink onto Jenny’s thickly foundationed chin.
Jenny pulled back as Lisa let her go. ‘Well I’m sorry, in my opinion that was uncalled for. There is no need to turn on those who offer you support’, Jenny replied hotly. She adjusted herself as if she had taken an embarrassing trip, thinking that someone had clocked the incident. In reality to the observer the close meeting just looked as if the two women were sharing an intimate secret as they were known as friends about the work place.
‘Anyway all I was doing was dropoing off a memo. It’s got some instructions of alterations to the final presentation to the board. There was no need for that behaviour. I feel we should keep our relationship strictly business from now on’, Jenny blurted, each word tripped out of her mouth in uncomfortable shock. She leafed through the paper pile resting on her forearm. ‘Fine! Thank you. I’ll get right onto it’, Lisa replied as Jenny slapped down the paper work on Lisa’s immaculate desk. ‘I could take this to the top you know’, she said as she waddled away. She wasn’t acknowledged.
David deleted the offending image of Lisa, hoping that if it was used about town it wouldn’t come back to trouble him. A whole new can of worms would burst open. After wondering around town a while, not really knowing what to do and where to go next, David decided to fill the present moment and text Lisa, ‘I’m back on my other phone. Just got it fixed. Forward me the texts you’ve sent today to this phone, so I don’t have to piss about changing phones again and then we can get this sorted out’. It was basic and he thought it did the job, so he sent it.
Lisa was sat in her car. The floor supervisor had heard Jenny’s complaint that Lisa was not herself and nor was her behaviour. She had been asked into his office, given a warning and told to go home pending further investigation into the earlier incident. He told her that Jenny might want to seek disciplinary action but most probably after a couple of days she would let it go.
Lisa pulled away from the space and drove a few streets and pulled over in a bus stop. She left her car and ran into the newsagent. Her phone text alert sounded and vibrated on the passenger seat. Fags bought, she ran back to the car, belted up, sparked up and checked her phone. As a shadow drew over the car, Lisa read the text and in a scramble of thumb action she asked, telling David she was on her way over to his and that it was time to talk.
A loud horn sounded and she jolted in surprise, smearing ash across the fabric of the cars upper interior. The bus passed out and pulled up next to her, opening his door to point out the obvious. She acknowledged him and he drove on. She looked back at her phone and sent the text.
David replied saying he didn’t want to fight and by the time he’d walked back from town she would be well on her way to arriving at his.
She came to David’s door, opened her bag and pulled out a leaflet. As she had left the supervisors office, in a moment of presumed understanding, he had handed Lisa a tired but professional looking leaflet. ‘This may help you a little or a lot, depending how much you might want things to work out. Told me best do this before the solicitors get involved’, said the supervisor, aware by office gossip of Lisa’s out of work circumstances. The cover was white with easy blue and black type and read ‘… County Mediation Services’. Lisa knocked on…