Pronghorn, Chapter 4: A Call

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

Phone up to his ear, Asa waited. Well, Mom, you insisted; let’s see how it goes. The phone rang twice, thrice, and on the fourth ring, it was picked up. A dry voice cracked as it said “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Asa Pemewan. Can I talk to Richard, please?”

“Who?”

“Richard.”

“No, who’s callin’?”

“Asa Pemewan. I went to school with Richard.”

“Oh, yeah. I remember y’ now.” A pause, then “Why’re y’ callin’?”

“Well, Richard, I’m back in town and I thought it might be good to catch up.”

“It’s been for-fuckin’-ever, dude. ‘Catch up’ ain’t gonna cut it. Now, y’ got somethin’ to say, say it. I ain’t got all night.”

“Yeah, I suppose not. Like I said, just thought I’d try to catch up, is all. Sorry to bother you.”

“Yeah.” The phone clicked off.

“That went well.” Asa muttered to himself as he walked around the room that had been his and was again. “Figured it would, that me being away so long wouldn’t help.”

He walked towards the kitchen, finding his father there, reading the newspaper. Asa clapped him on the shoulder as he walked by, and the older man looked up. “You read th’ paper today, son?”

“No, sir.”

“You might look at the want-ads. Do you good t’have something t’do.”

Asa nodded. “You’re right, it would.”

“I’m about done with it. You get me a beer?”

Asa smiled as he moved towards the refrigerator. “You still calling that piss you drink beer?”

“Don’t you sass me, son.” Asa’s father’s eyebrows raised and his head dipped slightly, a corner of his mouth lifted, his voice warm at the banter beginning.

Asa retrieved the beer, opened it, and gave it to his father. “No, sir, no sass for you. Sarsaparilla, maybe, but no sass.” Smiling, Asa poured himself the dregs of coffee that still sat in the ever-present pot and put it in the microwave to heat. Once it was done, he joined his father at the table.

“You see anything in the want-ads that caught your eye?”

Asa’s father took a pull from his beer. “Might. I know you do all that writin’ and such, figure you’re good at it. Saw one interesting ad.” He folded the paper and pushed it across, thick middle finger tapping at one ad:

“Seeking a ghostwriter for a book about my friend, her life, and her business. She has gone through poverty and abuse into art and ultimately success in her design business. Need someone who is willing to live on our property in a vintage travel trailer. Writer must have upbeat attitude, open mind, a love for life, and the ability to put together stories  into a beautiful biography. If you’re inspired by beautiful design, organic food, and love, and are interested in composing a beautiful story in a quaint Hill Country town for a few months, feel free to give me a call.”

Asa crushed his eyes closed as if pained. His father chuckled. “Sounds like a great job for a single man. I think I know th’ folks; they’d be all over you, young thing that y’are. Floppin’ and flailin’ all night long and into the morning.”

Asa shuddered and mimed retching. “Why do you do this to me?”

His father laughed. “It’s funny’s why. But,” and his finger tapped another ad, “there’s this one, too.” Asa looked again, reading “Wanted: Office assistant. Must be proficient in general ofc. procedures, MS Office suite. Clear communication skills needed. Competitive pay and benefits. Apply in person only at 200 N. Main, 3rd fl., M-F, 9-5.”

Asa looked at his father. “That still the bank building?”

The older man nodded. “Still the bank, too. Don’t recall what all’s on the third floor, though. Prob’ly a lawyer, with what th’ rent on th’ place has t’be.”

“Well, it’s Saturday today, and it’s after five, now, so it’ll have to wait for next week.”

“Seems that way. Course, could spend tomorrow afternoon gettin’ things ready for it.”

“Afternoon?”

“You’re comin’ to church with your ma ‘n’ me, right?”

Asa sighed. “Hadn’t thought about it.”

“Y’ oughta. It’d do y’ some good.”

Asa gave a short, rueful laugh. “Jesus is going to give me a job?”

Asa’s father’s eyes narrowed. “‘Ask, and ye shall receive,’ y’ little shit. But people who hire go to church, and them seein’ y’ there won’t hurt.”

Asa shrugged. A lot of other people go to church here, too, and not all of them will be so happy to see me. Richard, for example. “Maybe. I need to get my suit pressed, though.”

“Don’t need a suit. Collared shirt’ll do. Don’t even need a tie, anymore.” Asa’s father leaned in. “Think that’s a good thing, m’self.”

Asa grunted. “Like I said, maybe. I don’t recall it doing me a lot of good last time, though; I’m not sure anything will’ve changed.”

“Are y’ sure it won’t’ve?”

Asa’s mouth opened to object, and his hand came up, finger pointed. Then he closed it and dropped his hand. “You’re right. I’m not sure it won’t have changed. I’ll think about it.”

“Your mom’d appreciate it.” Asa took another pull of his beer, grimacing at the condensation  on the bottle. “I would, too.”

Asa snorted out a laugh. “Yeah, yeah.” He took another swallow of coffee, grimacing in turn at it growing cold. “Never can get coffee to stay hot out of a microwave.”

His father nodded, taking another pull from his beer. The two sat silently for a while, finishing their drinks. Then Asa’s father stood. “My program’s comin’ up. Y’ gonna watch?”

Asa shook his head. “No, sir. I never did like that show.”

His father nodded and headed to the living room, where an old, battered recliner awaited him. Asa took the empty bottle to the trash and his own coffee cup to the sink, then headed back to the room where it looked like he would be staying for a while.

Did I bring you as much pleasure as a decent sandwich does? Half a sandwich? Could you kick in as much for me as you’d pay for that so that I can keep doing it? Click here, then, and thanks!

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