You get the text. You call. You call again. You text. You text again. You call friends and family and ask favors you’d never ask for yourself. You call hospitals. Hotels. Jails. More hotels. This isn’t working. You wait to call the police. Police mean records. You’ve been here before. You think of patterns, of habits.
You check with friends and family to confirm. You call enemies. Who cares anymore. You’ve lost your sense of shame. But the enemies have been here too. Who hasn’t. Grudges can wait for tomorrow. You know the name of a town now. You circle a radius. You call the hospitals. You curse the addiction. You’re transferred and transferred again. You need a cigarette. You send another text. And another. You listen to hold music. Your call is important. You’re disconnected. You call again. You know the menu this time. Same operator. You try to be kind. You’re not the only frustrated party on hold.
You look at your map and search. You try to imagine driving, pulling out of the parking lot, which way would you turn. Home. Something familiar. You see the cluster of hotels. You remember the habits. Loyalties. Comfort zones. You call the hotel. You spell the name. You call the other hotel, and they ask you to hold. The call is put through. You hold your breath. No answer.
You’re shaking now. You need something to calm you down. Your phone dies. You text from your laptop, to the others calling the hospitals, you say you’ve found them. Wrong number. Who gives a shit. You try to remember a time when you gave a shit. You text the right number. They wait. You stare at the screen until you see the logo, the white apple.
You call the hotel again. Same voice on the line. You tell them everything. You know too much. No sense in hiding it. Everyone has someone who’s been here. Everyone knows too much. The voice says they’re sending someone. You wait. Static. Someone in the distance asks for a receipt. Your phone is buzzing with those waiting to hear. Someone in the distance lost their room key.
Another voice now, close and steady and kind. A voice you’ll never meet. He says you found them in time. This time. Like the last time. You’re already texting, passing it along. He’ll call you back. You’re worrying about the next time. The texts come in faster now. Questions. Profanities. Relief. Fear. Jokes about loyalty points, jokes black as death you won’t have to face. This time.
You try to remember the last time you slept. The doctor says what a charming person. They just need a rest. He’ll write a prescription. You laugh in his face. You know you sound crazy. You could use a prescription. Wait an hour, you say. He’ll see the monster only you’ve seen. The social worker says they understand. They’ve been here too. They live here. With monsters. Nothing they can do. You beg them to do something. You’ve been here before. They’ve been here before. They tell you about addiction. You need a fucking drink. They say the only chance is the last thing you want. The police. If the police see the monster. You know this makes you the monster. You remember when they were someone else. You remember when they taught you how to tie your shoes. You wonder where they’ve gone. You make the call you cannot make.
The police see the monster. You wonder if they see anything else. You want them to see the person who chased the monsters away from you. They tell you this is the only way. You’re the monster now.