The rain gutter dripped. My eyes were already open. I felt like shit. The shutters rattled with the wind gusts. I’ve been staring at the dark ceiling for nearly an hour. I wanted a drink and thought of the Vodka in the kitchen. Sleep was busy somewhere else. Brushing over my burning face, my forehead was sticky with sweat. There was this nagging icy feeling wrenching my guts. Another night was wasted, another night spoiled.
The phone rang. The sinking feeling sank deeper. I got up. The cold floor burned under my soles. I went to the hallway to pick it up, but my hand hovered above it. Important? Work? Catastrophe? Which is it? I asked myself. It did nothing to buffer the leaden dread sitting on my chest.
I grabbed the phone. “‘llo?”
“Yes,” I swallowed.”Who is this?” The man didn’t answer. Statics filled my head. This was a catastrophe, I decided. Someone was writing something. I heard a pen scratch on paper.
“I’ve got a young man here, a Hungarian Jew. He says, he knows you.” The man snorted. Benny… What have you done this time? It must be someone from the police, or worse. Securitate. “His name is Benjamin Ekes.” The man said, not hiding his yawn.
“Yes.” I croaked. “I know him.” My throat was stinging, I couldn’t suppress a cough. I heard a faint echo of myself coughing. They were recording the call. Securitate it was. My heart knotted in its race. A big drink, I rubbed my lips, a whole bottle.
“Do you, huh?” He paused amused. “Then come and pick him up. Police station.” The man hung up. Damn, now I was on their watch list.
“On my way.” I said, listening to the disconnected tone in the line. With every heartbeat it grew louder and louder. I stood in the darkness. Pull yourself together. I needed to get going. Who knows what they did to Benny. I grabbed some clothes and spares for Benny, gauze and disinfectant. On a second thought, I called the ER at the polyclinic I work, and had Rose on the phone. At least, some silver lining. She understood immediately what was going on. She said, she’d had the scrubs ready, if needed. God bless good old Rose, the smartest nurse I ever worked with.
Two minutes later I was on the deserted main road, heading downtown. My car seemed to be the only one. I lit a cigarette, and thought of all the peaceful people who could actually sleep. No use to be jealous, I told myself, Benny needed me. And I- I needed a drink, and a month worth of sleep.