Frozen in Line 3: Old Acquaintances

The first three phone calls went straight to voicemail. Anthony threw his phone on the fourth attempt when the message machine showed a full mailbox. How can you live these days with a full voicemail box? Not everyone is as OCD as you. Every email had a thirty-day window to remain in his inbox. If they tied it to something longer than that, Anthony used a sub-folder to collect those. Then his folders broke down into six months and a year. Nothing mattered after a year. It took a week for Donnie’s friend to call Anthony back. Anthony was ready to yell, scream, curse as he answered the phone, but Kyle’s opening line cut through his avalanche of anger.

“Anthony, I missed your calls because of a death in the family. Is this a good time?”

Anthony felt the breath leave his body like an emptied river. The amount of research it took to find Kyle made the missed calls aggravating. Each call felt like a blow to Anthony’s ego since Kyle didn’t have a personalized voicemail, so he couldn’t verify that he even had the right number. Anthony said it was a perfect time. 

“So, you went with Donnie to Mt. Everest?”

“Shit, you don’t miss a beat, do you?” Kyle asked. “Did you not hear that I just lost someone else close to me? You think I want to reminisce about my lost lo—friend.” 

Atlas hissed and then licked Anthony’s thumb. Anthony started petting him again. Interesting, maybe he wasn’t such an inconsiderate friend after all.

“I’m sorry, I can call you back another time,” Anthony said. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Kyle sighed.

“No, stay on the line. Let’s get through this. What do you want to know?”

Okay, Anthony, don’t sound eager. You’re a professional. Anthony explained his anonymous tip and his conversation with the Brennan’s. Anthony nodded on the other side of the phone when Kyle replied with grunts. 

“Can I ask you why his family didn’t know your name?”

“You’re already brutalizing my day, no need to feign kindness.”

Anthony held his tongue, though he wanted to apologize.

“Donnie’s family knew little about me because we hadn’t defined our relationship yet. It helps when you live on opposite sides of the continent with your family. No one expects you to bring your friends home to hang out. We started out as friends, but it grew into something that neither of us expected. That’s why I agreed to go with him to Mt. Everest. I wanted to see how he was under pressure and how I was. That way we would know for sure.”

The tears came through with the words. I am a shitbag. Anthony wanted to end the conversation there, leave the list incomplete, but he couldn’t.

“What happened?”

“We’d planned the trip for May 15, since that’s supposed to be the best time of the year, but after his diagnosis gave him months to live, we went that next day. Customs was a bitch, let me tell you. Anyway. We arrived in Nepal, went to the Base Camp to acclimate for a couple of weeks, but Donnie kept getting worse. Then one day he disappeared. He didn’t check out of Base Camp, and no one saw him leave.”

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2 thoughts on “Frozen in Line 3: Old Acquaintances

  1. Pingback: Frozen in Line 2: Family Matters – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: Frozen in Line 4: Mt. Everest and the Unclimbed – Myers Fiction

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