"Is this Miss Halliburton?"
"Who on earth is calling me at this time of night?"
"Take a guess."
"I—what? Who is this?"
"Wow, you don't even recognize my voice. I'm offended."
"Is this some sort of prank call?"
"After all we went through."
"If you don't tell me who you are and why you're calling, I'm hanging up right now. It is too damn early for this."
"Then I'll just call again. Well, actually, don't hang up, I've only got fifty cents left."
"For God's sake, who the is this?"
"I already told you to guess, Ilex—I thought you were clever."
"Took you long enough."
"Simon, it is two in the morning. What is wrong with you?"
"Well, I've got six pounds of shit building up in my airways, I can't breathe without an oxygen tank and I'm an asshole."
"I already knew that. Now why are you calling me in the middle of the night—and did I hear you say you're at a payphone?"
"Yes, there's one on the bottom floor of the hospital."
"What are you doing out of bed?"
"I fancied a little midnight stroll."
"Simon, twelve hours ago you had a tube shoved down your throat, an oxygen mask on your face, two IV's and at least four wires fed into your arms, neck and chest."
"Don't forget the crapper tube."
"Is Dr. Purefoy aware of this?"
"Are you crazy? Of course. Completely in favor of it."
"Answer my question."
"I swear to God, I am seconds from hanging up."
"I'm just being practical—you've asked an entirety of ten questions and I don't feel like doing the process of elimination."
"Why are you out of bed, why are you calling me and why did it have to be done in the middle of the night?"
"Well, technically speaking, it's the early morning, Holly."
"Fine. 1) I'm out of bed because I wanted to call you. 2) I'm calling you because I have your book. And 3) I had to steal your card from Purefoy's office and he gets off work at 12, so I couldn't do it before then, therefore I had to wait to call you until I accomplished this, ergo the late hour."
"So this urgent call couldn't wait until the morning?"
"Well I couldn't make the call without Purefoy knowing I'd nabbed your card, and I don't think he'd be very keen on my breaking and entering."
"Fair enough. So now that you've woken me from my much-needed rest after I kept your stupid self company the entire night, what is it you need to tell me so desperately?"
"I have something of yours."
"Your poem book. You forgot it. And if you ever want to see your beloved book again, you will wire me a payment of ten-thousand dollars by 7 AM tomorrow."
"But I do have it."
"Well you certainly don't."
"Shoot. That one's my favorite. Is there any way you could mail it to me, Simon?"
"Perhaps. But you see, Holly, if I do send it, what incentive will you have to speak with me again?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Collateral, Holly. I'm blackmailing you."
"Are you drunk, Simon?"
"No, I believe I'm lucid enough, though God knows what sort of crap they're pumping into me these days. I pop more pills than a pharmacist."
"Just tell me what the hell you're blabbering about."
"I didn't' know you swore, Holly—such vulgarity for a professional bedside sympathizer."
"Shut up, I'm a waitress and a nurse-in-training on the side: I don't need your sass."
"You're acting very cavalier for someone being blackmailed."
"Simon, you've kidnapped my poem book and I know where you are. Hardly promising material for proper coercion."
"Do you want your book or not?"
"I obviously do!"
"Then I'll send it to you, but when I do, you'll owe me a letter every three days and one phone-call a week."
"I think you have a brain tumor, Simon."
"Cystic Fibrosis, actually. Good guess, though."
"So you're telling me that you'll only return my book to me if I agree to become your pen pal?"
"That is the reason you dislocated yourself from your life support machines at two in the morning and paid money out of your own pocket to collect call me?"
"Actually, it wasn't my money—I've got a key to the vending machine's cashbox, so technically this conversation was paid for by one of Abington Memorial Hospital's hungry patrons."
"Fine. Fine—I'll scribble you a few letters so long as this stays between us. I'm not supposed to keep in contact with past clients."
"Wouldn't you need a Ouija board for that?"
"The one's that don't die, you idiot."
"Well I'm honored to be your fluke, Holly."
"I think I liked you better with the tube down your throat."
"You flatter me. Shit, time's running out. I expect a letter within the week, Holly!"
"And my book?"
"Patience is a virtue, child."
"And silence is golden—I suggest you practice it."
"Touché. And write me a poem while you're at it!"
End of call.