Sheila was surprised when the phone didn’t ring. She’d waited all day; waited into early evening. She was certain he’d call, but he didn’t. Not even after he said he would; not even after she said it was okay. She checked to make sure the battery on her phone was charged. She even went to her seldom used house phone and called her cell to make sure it was definitely working. It was, there was no question.
She had met him at a party for her best friend, Colleen. He was a friend of Colleen’s boyfriend and his name was Gerald. She hadn’t noticed him at all upon her arrival. He was that kind of guy, fading into the room as if he were another chair or table or bar stool. Not tall, not short, average. Average in just about every aspect of his looks. The guy in school who was in your class for eight months before you actually focused on him.
But then she dropped her phone on the floor – a horrible sticky dark place to be on your hands and knees – and he sank down on his knees, too, and helped her. That’s when she noticed his hands – large with slender fingers that stretched out with a certain delicacy – and she knew right then that she’d be happy to have those hands gliding over her neglected body, shifting her loneliness into connection. He found her phone underneath a table further away than she would have guessed – someone must have kicked it – and when he handed it back to her she said, “What’s your name?”
And his eyes – light and small behind dark-rimmed glasses – gleamed even in that dim light and he said, “Gerald Davis.” They found chairs together and for three hours they talked – about work, he was a corporate accountant; and football, they were both Patriots fans; and the economy, he was a Libertarian – and through it all, she kept looking at his hands with those long slim fingers, and she felt the ache set in. The longing for a touch that would wake her up out of her coma of no-sex, which had gone on for too long to even talk about without blushing. And at the end of the night, she boldly wrote her number on the back of her dog-walking card, the one she gave to potential customers who she saw as she herded her tribe of seven up Runyan Canyon early every morning, and he nodded, asked her opinion on whether he should consider a German Shepherd or a Dachsund – she’d said a shepherd, of course – and when he’d hugged her good-bye, she smelled the faint scent of soap on his skin and that sealed her decision. She’d squeezed his arm then and said, “Be sure and call!”
And he’d say, “Absolutely,” and smiled and that had been last night and it was evening now and not one word and she was starting to wonder if she didn’t want to go eat that extra large Hershey’s bar that her girlfriend had brought and then left because she couldn’t have it in her house since her weight was creeping up, when she heard the buzz on her phone that meant she had a text. She jumped up and felt the blood flood her face in anticipation. The text read: Need more advice about a shepherd. Any chance you’re free? And she smiled and texted back, I am. And she knew that he knew that they knew that in that moment they were already half way to the delivery room with their second child, and she couldn’t wait to feel the touch of those hands.