He kept dialing a phone number no one answered. It was one of three he uncovered searching for someone, a job-associated chore. The number fascinated him, since it kept ringing with no person or message system answering. It was like a reality wrinkle, a pocket of nothingness. He would dial at work, allowing prolonged ringing each time. Any moment, he thought, someone will answer.
At home, he dialed the number, used the speaker phone, the entrancing echo-on-echo sound it produced—like time travel—continuing as he made spaghetti, polished his shoes, dusted long neglected clothing. He wondered, how long before the phone company intervened? Just before bed, he stopped it, but slept restlessly, feeling an unnamed discomfort, like mental tearing.
The next night, he called, let it ring quietly through the night, through the next day. The discomfort continued, morphing into an intensifying cranial echo. Trying to alleviate this feeling, he went out for sushi, beer, the night air biting cold. On the street, he thought he heard a phone ringing. An open window, a door ajar. He entered, decided to answer the phone. Hello, and there’s no one, his voice reverberating, a sound that would mount in his ears for days after, rewriting his dreams as ringing phones he couldn’t answer.