Tokida dashes out of the building and into the early dusk. He sits down on the cold steps, the wet steps, at the front of the mortuary. He doesn’t notice how cold or wet the step is. He has his phone out. He’s dialing her number. It rings.
Tokida can feel the cold air, not the cold step.
He’s here, propped up again, momentarily suspended in ballistic gel, from the shadow unreality of the beeping phone emerges a solid plane, and he can stand on it, dance on it, and she supports him. Oh! How could he have been so stupid? Does a person’s phone ring and ring? On and on, like this.
“Hello-” came her voice and Tokida weeps, instantly he is sobbing, then, “this is Lou. I can’t get to the phone right now, please -”
Tokida hangs up. His sobbing continues. He rings again. A dead person’s phone doesn’t ring. Not like this.
“Hello, this is Lou, I can’t get to the phone right now, please could ya call me back? Whenever you want…just not now,” she laughs, “obviously.”
Why was she driving in school hours? She wasn’t. She was in class, with Frost, with Hemingway, she was in class, not in her car, on the road, on the road. Now she’s at home, in the bath, so she can’t pick up, even though she’s wondering where he was.
Oh, what a fool I’ve been, Tokida chastises himself, what a fool.
Tokida wobbles on the step because the world feels like its come to a stop.
All three arms. All the right angles. He brushes himself off and stands up. His trousers are wet. He notices now because everything is normal again. What a fool, he thinks.
Lou’ll never believe this, Tokida thinks. What will Mrs. Burrows say when she hears about this?
Tokida laughs out loud in the cold dusk. He heads towards the gates of the mortuary.
The boy calls out his name.
From the steps.
The boy calls out his name.
“Sir, Philip Tokida, sir?” the boy comes down the steps. “I was hoping to catch you before you left.”
“It’s alright,” Tokida smiles, grins, “I’ve made a bit of a mistake.”
“Oh? You – you have?”
“Yes, thanks ever so much for your time, and coming out here to speak to me, it’s awful cold out, tonight, isn’t it?”
Tokida turns to leave.
“Only…was it, was it…” the boy looks at a card he has in his right hand, “was it Lou Tokida you were looking for?”
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Tokida turned out to be quite a character. I’m sorry for the twists and turns there towards the end. I couldn’t resist a bit of narrative teasing. It doesn’t work out for poor Mr. Tokida. Not this time.
Stay peeled for more stories in the future. These prompts can start off all kind of reactions in my head. I’m sure there’ll be more Tokidas to come.
Thanks for reading, and for the comments if you’ve left any!