The phone is knocking on my bedroom door, upset that I've turned the ringer off. It passes me a note: "Hi. I am an Ellen Jamesian..." I crumple it up without reading the rest of it, and go back to sleep.
The phone is tickling my feet with its semi-erect antenna. I crack my knees, and curl into the fetal position.
"Can't you hear the phone ringing?" Landlord asks. It's not yet eleven o'clock, but I am passed out and what the fuck is Landlord doing in my room while I'm sleeping. "The phone is for you."
"I am asleep." I tell him.
"Are you going to get the phone?"
"It's not ringing."
While the phone was napping, I tore out its vocal chords.
"It's for you." He is a Mynah Bird.
"Fine. I'll answer it." I say, sitting up, the quilt shielding my naked body from the Landlord's vagabond eyes. "Ok." I say. "I'll get it."
He is a rabbit in headlights. Swaying with the cobra, but my cobra is hidden under the quilt.
"You can go now."
"Aren't you going to get it?" He asks, licking his lips.
"Yea. Thanks. Could you please get out of my room?"
X-Ray Tech moved out in March because Landlord has no sense of privacy. I've done my best to explain my boundaries: If you need to come into the room, knock. If no one answers, stay out. If I say "Come in," come in. If I don't, don't.
"It's just that the phone kept ringing and no one was answering it. It's for you."
"Yes." I say. "I get it. Phone for me. Please get out of my room so I can answer the phone."
The week Dr. O moved in, Landlord had scheduled his annual carpet cleaning but neglected to tell any of us until 5:30 that morning. I was still asleep when he knocked on my door, and, according to Dr. O, said "Carpet Cleaners are coming today."
My room was sorted piles of laundry, unstapled chapbook pages, two decks of playing cards arranged by numbers.
"Why didn't you clean your room?" He asked when I got home from work. "The carpet cleaner couldn't clean the carpet in there."
"Carpet cleaner?" I asked.
"I told you this morning that the carpet cleaners were coming and you responded." He said, leaning into me like an elderly queen making a point.
"I responded?" I asked.
"Yea." Dr. O said. "I think you said 'It's five o'clock in the fucken morning, what do you want?'."
Landlord squints at her. "Oh. Well, I didn't hear what he said, just that he responded."
I understand this. I don't care what you say, just say it. Whisper your confession, scream your dissatisfaction, murmur a non-sequitur, just fucken talk.
I don't deal well with silence. But these days, I'm dealing it face down, fifty-two card pick up style. And whether it's the two of hearts or the queen of spades, all silence looks the same from the back of the deck.
I've got to go. The phone isn't ringing.