The call came while my friend Anna and I were having breakfast. I was staying with her in London on my way back to California. My boyfriend and I had had a parting of the ways...or at least that's what I was telling myself what was going on. He hadn't seemed to have received the memo. But then he'd never been the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Hot in bed, best blowjob giver I'd ever known, but as even his best friend had told me, The lights might be on, but there's no one home, really."
"It's for you," Anna said handing me the phone.
I took it after casting a questioning look at her. She remained mum. "Hello?"
"It's Russ, Jamie... I - I've had an accident."
"Oh, sorry. What kind of accident?"
"I totaled the car, I'm afraid."
"Are you all right?"
"Some cuts and bruises that's all."
"You were lucky then."
"Yes, only thing is, we're not insured."
"What?" I felt shock at his words, then the start of a slow anger unfurled inside me. "But I sent you the money two weeks ago. You said it was due, you didn't have enough and could I send you five hundred dollars...which I did. Why didn't you pay it?"
"I needed some new clothes for work, and I needed to buy food, and--"
"I don't understand, Russ..." I could hear the coldness in my voice and hoped he did too. "You sent me a registered letter begging me to send you money for the car insurance, and now you're telling me the car is totaled and uninsured. You are without doubt the most irresponsible arsehole I have ever known. The car cost fifteen thousand dollars and I co-signed the damn thing for you. Now I'm responsible for the loan on it. Russ, honestly, this is why you and I couldn't make it. You are such a jerk. How did the accident happen?"
"Well, it was the other guy's fault."
I sighed. "Of course it was. So, we're all right then. His insurance will pay for a new car."
"Well, not exactly."
"Well, what exactly?"
"The police gave me a ticket...actually they arrested me."
"You were drunk...again."
"I'd only had a couple. If the bastard behind me had been looking where he was going, he wouldn't have hit me."
"You were drunk, Russ," I snapped at him, anger boiling over. "I know something about your driving when you're drunk. You almost killed the two of us last year. Look, I don't know what you expect me to do about this, but you'll have to work it out yourself. I'm tired of getting you out of scrape after scrape. I'm so fucking angry right now, Russ, if you were standing in front of me...well, I don't know what I'd do. Just be glad there's five thousand miles between you and me right now!""
"Jamie, I could've been killed!"
I bit back the furious retort that had sprung to my lips. Yes, that would have been the solution all right.
Instead, I said, "Are you in jail?"
"Yes, they want ten thousand for bail. I don't have it."
"Neither do I I'm afraid." I felt some of the anger slide away as I said, "I'm afraid you'll have to find some other sucker to help you this time, Russ."
I hung up and looked at Anna. "Russ is in jail."
"Best place for him."
"I couldn't agree more."