Eunice Jablonski was eventually stirred from her place on the couch by the sounds of her near-mint wood panel Ford station wagon screeching to a stop in the driveway, followed by the, quite frankly, overdramatic way her grandson, Harold, tantrum-ed into the house.
“I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him!” Harold said, utterly failing to both sound tough and hide how he had been crying the entire drive home.
“Are those MacGuffin boys teasing you again?” Eunice yawned.
Harold puzzled this. “What? No. Grandma, the MacGuffins haven’t lived around here for years.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Remember? Their house burned down when Mr. MacGuffin’s meth lab blew up during a police raid.”
“Our water was off all day!”
The unearthly sound of a landline telephone ringing redirected Harold and Eunice’s trip down Memory Lane toward the eventual climax of this story, and Harold answered. “Who’s this?”
“Harold?” Sophia sobbed, his name catching in her throat in that way words tend to do when one is currently (or has recently been) sobbing.
“Sophia?” Harold replied, and in that way one tends to do when one is inexplicably and unexpectedly contacted via an archaic form of communication. “How’d you get this number?”
“I’ve been calling your cell,” she said, “but it keeps going to voicemail.”
Harold didn’t have time to process how this didn’t answer his question at all, as he was too busy checking his pockets and finding only his wallet and Eunice’s keys. “Aw, shit.”
“Harold,” Sophia interjected. “Oliver found my phone. He knows everything.”
“Yeah, I kinda picked that up after he sucker-punched me at the gallery.”
“He already found you?”
Harold ignored this. “Not gonna lie. I think I got off kinda easy, all things considered.”
And then, Sophia screamed in that way one tends to do when their muscle-bound spouse suddenly returns home during an in-progress, infidelity-fueled rampage.
“Sophia?” Harold called out, again and again. But each time, he was met with only still silence. His palms grew slick with sweat. And the silence was soon replaced with the deafening roar of his own heartbeat pulsating in his ears.
Eunice watched the grown man standing in her kitchen sob like a frightened child into her landline telephone, and couldn’t help but feel as if she made a mistake by letting Harold live with her. By the time Harold realized that the phone had not gone silent on Sophia’s end, but rather the decade-old battery had simply gone bad, Eunice was sure of it. But by the time she thought to ask Harold if all this meant he’d be late with the rent again, Harold was already out the door and driving away. She never saw her near-mint wood panel Ford station wagon–or Harold–ever again.