Hot Line

By Lawrence Schimel, translated (from Spanish) by Sandra Kingery

What are you wearing? That’s how these conversations usually start, right? But I know what you’re wearing: the blue suit your mom picked out. I didn’t care. The whole funeral was a performance for her, so she could be the diva of grief because her son had been killed in a car accident. I was just a figurehead. My desire to have you cremated, your desire not to have a religious funeral, they didn’t matter to her. It was easier to just give in, instead of fighting with her so I wouldn’t miss you so much. Anyway. None of this is what I wanted to tell you when I called. Looks like I got sidetracked into complaining about your mother, just like I used to. Although it is thanks to her that I’m calling you; she was the one who suggested burying you with your cell phone, to be able to call you when she was missing you. And I’m finally calling. I know I’m talking to your voice mail, that you can’t hear me, but … I don’t know, I wanted to talk to you, and it was easier to call you like this, I feel like less of an idiot than sitting home alone talking to you/to myself. I’m still so pissed at life, and at you, for abandoning me like that …. But I know I have to accept what happened, what’s real. That’s why I decided I need to fuck other men. Not to replace you, which isn’t possible, but for me. To remember that I’m still alive and part of being alive is feeling desire, feeling desired. I haven’t come since you died. I haven’t even jerked off. Although I should confess that, hearing you again, your voicemail message, made me hard. I don’t know, maybe I was predisposed, seeing as I was planning on talking with you about sex …. But it wasn’t just that. I love you. I’ll never forget you. But now I need to learn to live without you. I don’t think it’s going to be easy; just looking at another man still feels like a betrayal to me. But I’m going to try. I know it’s what you would want for me. I still don’t know who to do it with. Maybe we could try to pick someone … together. As if it were a three-way, although only with your memory. If you want, we could fantasize about it together right now. I know you liked that neighbor across the way, we talked about it a few times. Maybe he should be the first one I let myself be seduced by, someone familiar …. Or would you want it to be someone anonymous, an impersonal fling, just what I need so I can stop thinking so much, analyzing so much, someone who can bend me over a table and …. Beep beep. I can’t believe it; you’re dead and our phone sex is interrupted by an incoming call. It’s got to be your mother. She always did have a sixth sense for interrupting us when we were fucking, and the fact that you’re dead hasn’t changed that. I’ll let you go, so she can talk to you. My hand and I will continue on our own. I love you.


Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual (Spanish/English) writer, born in New York City and living in Madrid, Spain for the past twenty years. He has published over 100 books in many different genres as author or anthologist, including Una barba para dos and The Drag Queen of Elfland (fiction), Deleted Names and Desayuno en la cama (poetry), Vacation in Ibiza (graphic novel) and Let’s Go See Papá! and No es hora de jugar (children’s books). He is also a literary translator, most recently of Destruction of the Lover by Luis Panini and Impure Acts by Ángelo Néstore. He tweets in English at @lawrenceschimel and in Spanish at @1barbax2.

The Logan A. Richmond Professor of Spanish at Lycoming College (Williamsport, PA), Sandra Kingery has published 18 books in translation, including Julia and Of My Real Life I Know Nothing by Ana María Moix; Welcome to Miami, Doctor Leal by René Vázquez Díaz; and Hudson,Without Preamble, and Metztli (with Kaitlyn Hipple) by Xánath Caraza.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Pen and Digital)

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