It’s strange now to see anyone using a pay phone. Stranger still to see anyone using a payphone on the subway platform, but there she was.
The woman in the farmer’s galoshes.
I don’t want to reveal too much; I don’t want to, you know, compromise her identity or anything, the woman in the farmer’s galoshes with the big scar running from the corner of her left eye to the middle of her rather prominent forehead.
She picked up the phone and dialled, punching in the numbers without hardly ever even looking at the keypad.
The phone rang a few times, it must have, before she got an answer. She tapped her thick fingers against the plastic sides of the telephone booth as she waited.
Her nails were immaculate.
“So you’re home after all,” she said, finally. “Meet me at our spot in half an hour.”
A pause, the heavy underground air ringing my ears.
“Oh, sorry. Did I wake you? Alright then. Meet me at our spot in an hour. Can you get to our spot in an hour? Is an hour enough? Alright then. I’ll meet you at our spot in an hour.”
She hung up the phone, placed the receiver back in its cradle with a semi-satisfying click, the woman with immaculate nails in the farmer’s galoshes with the big scar running from the corner of her left eye to the middle of her rather prominent forehead.
And there I was. Standing there, right next to the booth, the action, pretending to read Didon’s Play It As It Lays, and trying to be cool, just be cool, and wondering.
Was it possible that I had just witnessed something clandestine, at 4:00PM on a Sunday?
I mean, should I even be telling you this?
She timed it perfectly. Our train arrived. The doors opened and the woman got onto the subway car ahead of me.
I tried to catch her eye as she turned, and I failed.
Didion, Joan. (2005). Play It As It Lays: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (revised paperback edition): New York.