I almost threw my phone across the room as it vibrated. I ignored it. As the clock hit 3 AM, I closed my eyes and wondered why this hour allowed a thin line between the spirit world and ours. It was an odd thing to think about, but it eased my mind, helping me fall into a place that wasn’t my life. When my phone buzzed again, I sprung up and answered it. It was Steve.
“Tim! I’m outside!”
“Oh, did you want to get breakfast?”
“No! Let me in!”
“Hurry! It’s cold out here!”
“No! You’re not coming in!”
Seconds later, I opened the slider door and Steve’s head popped in.
“I have a favor to ask you… and you have to promise to not get mad.”
“I’m already mad,” I yelled in a whispered tone. “I don’t want to wake up my parents!”
“Well, you have to promise that you won’t get more mad.”
“Are we going in?” a soft, female voice asked.
“It’s a hooker.”
“Yeah, I can’t take her home to my wife and I don’t have any money left for a motel.”
“I don’t even know what to say.”
I shut the door in his face and walked off. There was no way he was going to pull this shit at my parents’ house — not after I had just moved back in.
I tossed and turned. It’s the Devil’s Hour, I thought. The Devil must be leaving the bar now. I drifted off again. Maybe he ran into Steve at the bar — Steve! I snapped out of it. Shit, I thought, he better be gone. The window flew open, and from what I could see, a leg with a stiletto heel dropped in. The hooker entered my room, followed by Steve.
“No, no, no!” I said. “Go back!”
“Used to do this all the time when we were kids,” Steve said to the hooker. “He’s the brother I never had.”
“So, do you want to do a incest thing or something?” the hooker asked.
“No!” I interrupted. “Get out!”
“Look, dude, I already banged her. We just need a place to do cough medicine and nod out for a while. We’ll be gone in the morning.”
“Why don’t you take pills like normal people?”
“I dunno. This has codeine in it.”
The three of us nodded out until sunrise. As we slipped in and out of consciousness, Steve went on about his soon-to-be ex-wife. It’s tough marrying in your twenties, but hookers?
3 AM, The Devil’s hour, I thought. The Devil must be at the bar right now. He has no problem proving that he doesn’t exist, but when the bartender is staring him down, she expects him to pay his tab. I finally fell asleep.
The sun beamed onto my face as I opened my eyes. The birds harmonized with the sound of the wind outside. The Devil must have a hangover now. I imagined him leaving no tip, stumbling out of the bar and into the late night, early morning. He went out there to piss on buildings, steal lawn ornaments and curse God. Steve and the hooker were gone. I hoped she didn’t steal anything.
I entered the kitchen, and at the table sat Steve and his woman of the night — or morning.
“What are you —”
My mom entered, sat next to Steve and the hooker. They all chowed down on some breakfast. My stomach was in knots. This was pushing it, even for Steve.
“Hello, son,” my mom said in her raspy, smoker’s voice. “Sit down. Steve made eggs.”
“Yeah,” Steve said. “I put the peppers in for ya.”
My mom turned to the hooker.
“You lucked out. He’s a phenomenal cook.” She took a bite of her eggs. “So, when are you getting married?”
“Married?!” I shouted.
My dad shuffled in.
“Yeah,” he said. “This kid isn’t even divorced yet and he’s already got a plan together!”
“Leave him alone!” my mom demanded.
“I’m just sayin’,” my dad said.
They bought it. He had them fooled like he always did growing up.
“Anyway, honey,” my mom said to the hooker, “did I get your name?”
“Destiny,” the hooker said with pride.
“Yeah, that’s what I call her,” Steve recovered, “because she’s my destiny.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet,” my mom said.
“I wish this was my kid,” my dad added, pointing to Steve.
I grabbed a plate of eggs and headed for my room.
Jimmy Caputo is a writer and award-winning filmmaker from Providence, RI.