"Dial L" Chapter 16 -- " See You Around Kiddo ... " --


We had only to cross that last threshold into the perfect light of our first day. 
Ginger squeezed my hand ... we both stepped back into the land of the living. The fresh air and sunlight landed like the first hit of a very pure drug.  " When the dog told you we'd know ... this is what he meant. " said Ginger. She came around in front of me and folded into my arms ... we stood still listening to the sounds of pigeons and distant traffic.
Ginger stood on her tiptoes and gave me a kiss that put my entire future clearly in focus. The butchers twine was gone from around her throat, as were the ligature marks on her wrists and ankles. Her sun dress and hair were dry ... her feet were still bare.
" Take me home and take me to bed." she whispered. 
The streets which had been deserted and decaying on my way to the Modern were familiar again ... the urban mix of ethnicities, the languages, foods and the United Nations of pedestrians were from my old neighborhood. My building was less than four blocks down and the bus that had my name on it passed without incident.  Today, as it turned out, was not a good day to die. 
On the corner stood the coffee shop where I had eaten countless 'Lumberjack' breakfasts and 2:00 AM, after the gig, cheeseburgers. Waiting patiently by the front door for his master sat a brindle pup with remarkable orange eyes. Ginger stooped to scratch him and he stood on his hind legs to lick her face.  " Isn't he adorable? " said Ginger, as though she had never laid on eyes him. I was sure I had seen him somewhere but I could not recall the circumstances.
" I'm famished. " said Ginger dragging me into Otto's Home of the Bottomless Cup. All the tables were full but there were two seats open at the end of the counter. A man in a trench coat moved his coffee mug down so we could sit together. " Thank you sir. " said Ginger,  jumping up onto the stool. I put out my hand to acknowledge the kindness. " Ric's the name. " he said. His shake was firm but his hand was on the cool side. 
Ginger ordered the menu ... the whole menu. " I feel like I haven't eaten in years." she said, chowing down her third blueberry pancake, washing it down with yet another diet coke. " You'll need a second job to keep her fed " said Ric.  Otto came by and refilled my coffee cup and Randy the waitress brought the check. 
" While my girlfriend cleans out the kitchen, I thought I'd step outside for a smoke. " I said.
" Mind if I join you? " said Ric.  We stood outside the front door down wind of the brindle pup. Ric unwrapped a brand new pack of Marlboros, he tapped the pack and offered me the first soldier. He went for his pocket to light us up ... " You know I lent it out and said leave it for me at the front desk of my hotel. " he said. 
I could see my Ginger from the doorway she was pouring syrup on a fresh short stack. She was so beautiful ... mad sun-bleached hair, freckles, tanned legs and barefeet ... why, I thought would she have left home this morning without shoes ? 

“I might have some matches." I said reaching into my trousers. 
From my pocket I pulled a box of matches ... the  custom sort they have at really fancy places. On the sapphire foil box, in raised letters it said, Compliments of the Modern Lounge.
The instant I read the words, I knew.
"Take nothing with you! " the Dog had said it a hundred times. 
The last thing I saw .... Ginger getting smaller as she and Ric, Randy, Serge and Choire receded into the darkness at the end of the counter. The last thing I heard was my Ginger crying out ...
" See you around kiddooooo .... "

The End