Phones Calls at Night
by James Walkswithwind


	Levon Lundy sat, waiting by the phone.  There was no one to see 
him so Lundy didn’t bother trying to pretend.  He was waiting -- sitting in 
the chair right next to the phone.  He didn’t know if it would ring.  It 
wasn’t like he had anything else to do, anything else better than waiting.
So he waited.
	He’d been sitting here since he got home.  He’d eaten at Chicken’s, 
partly to avoid trying to feed himself at home and partly to delay getting 
home.  He’d known, all day, that he’d spend the evening here.  Waiting.  
	Joe called him this morning at the station.  Lundy had been wading 
half-heartedly through paperwork when the phone had rung and his partner’s 
happy voice had come over the line.  He hadn’t been expecting the call but 
had been pleased to get it.  They’d talked for only a few minutes, Lundy 
reassuring LaFiamma that he wasn’t out on the streets doing anything 
dangerous.  LaFiamma mentioned briefly the half a dozen things he’d be 
doing that day.  They’d both said something like ‘I miss you’ then Joe had 
said good-bye.
	It hadn’t been good-bye, exactly.  He’d said ‘talk to you later, 
Levon’.  That wasn’t why Levon was now waiting by the phone.  Well, it 
wasn’t the only reason.  Truth be told he was worried, and it was only when 
Joe was actually talking to him that he believed he was still safe.  Alive, 
at least.  
	Joe had gone home to Chicago.  Gilia had been killed several months 
ago and, in a twisted series of events Lundy didn’t pretend to understand, 
the family responsible for the contract on Joe LaFiamma had found itself 
owing Mikey LaFiamma a rather large favour.  He’d called it in almost 
immediately, asking that his nephew be allowed to return home.  The request 
was granted and one week later Joe and Levon were up North, testing the 
veracity of the Uncle Mikey’s claim that it was safe to do so.  They’d 
stayed a week, with Joe introducing Levon to his family and his city.  Since
then Joe had gone home for birthdays, weddings, and twice for holidays.  
	Each time he’d returned to Houston happier.  Levon had been 
noticing that within a week that happiness would have faded, fading a little 
more with each return.  He knew it was a matter of time before his lover 
decided to move back North.  
	Lundy didn’t pretend to think LaFiamma would ask him to go as 
well.  When they’d visited, Joe had been excruciatingly careful to not let 
anyone see or hear anything indicative of their real relationship.  Lundy
had not been invited back to Chicago since the first trip, and as far as he
knew Joe’s relatives only occasionally asked about him.
	Mother Minnie said it was shameful, but she understood Joe’s fears.  
They’d told her nearly as soon as they’d told each other -- she’d responded 
by setting up the guest room for their visits, letting them use the double
bed rather than Levon’s old bunks.  Beyond that not much had changed. She
still treated both as her errant boys, calling after them weekly and nagging
after them to visit again sometime soon.  
	Lundy hadn’t told her about all of Joe’s frequent trips home, 
knowing as soon as he did she’d be on him to confess how worried he was.  
He was worried, and that was why he was sitting by the phone. Every time Joe
called him he was reassured that the hit in fact had stayed off, that it
wasn’t a trick to lure him home to be killed.  Every time he called Levon
heard how delighted Joe was to be home.  Levon simply waited for the call
when Joe would say he was coming back.  
	Waited for the one which said he wouldn’t be.  
	The night was getting older, not yet past time when a man visiting 
the windy city would be turning in for the night but still, getting late and 
Lundy would have to go to bed soon.  It was, however, late enough to 
wonder if Joe was going to call.
	He hadn’t said when.  He’d only said later.
	Lundy didn’t know what he could do, what he could offer his lover 
to stay.  Home and family long estranged were so much more than one lover 
who argued with him as often as they made love.  Joe never complained, 
never said there was anything lacking.  In fact he’d never said aloud that
he wanted to move home.  Levon had to understand the looks in his eyes, the 
tone of his voice, and the way he stopped spending every night sleeping in 
Levon’s bed.  
	He never sounded anything but pleased, when he called from 
Chicago.  Lundy knew he had nothing to compare.  He knew there was 
nothing he could do, or say, that would convince his lover that Houston 
should be his home forever.  There was, of course, the possibility that
Levon could move to Chicago.  He held no illusions that things would work
out -- with Joe hiding his lover from half a continent away, there was no
way he’d be able to carry on a relationship with Levon in the same city.
Once Joe moved home his relatives would start on him to marry, have kids,
settle down and pass on the family name.  A male lover would have no place
in his life.
	So Levon wouldn’t even consider the chance he’d be asked.  He just 
didn’t want to hear Joe say it.  //I’m moving.  I’ll see you around.//
	The phone rang.  Lundy almost didn’t answer it but on the second 
ring he grabbed the receiver.  “Lundy."
	“Hey, partner.”
	Lundy smiled and leaned back in his chair.  “How’re you doin’, 
boy?”  With the back of one hand he wiped at his eyes.  
	“I’m doing great, cowboy.  You wouldn’t believe this--”  Lundy 
heard him stop, speak to someone in the room, then a moment later his 
lover’s voice came back to him.  “I miss you, Levon."  
	//Alone at last.//  “I miss you, too.”  He didn’t ask how long until 
Thursday.  LaFiamma’s scheduled flight back.  “Sounds like you’re still 
enjoying yourself, though.”
	“Yeah, I am.  Spent the day with a some friends I hadn’t seen in
five years.  It was a real blast.”
	“Glad to hear it.”  //Please don’t tell me anymore about it.//
	“So tell me why I’m thinking of changing my plane ticket?”
	Lundy felt his stomach hit the floor.   Why the hell did LaFiamma 
sound so cheerful, so... lonely?  He tried to answer the teased question but 
couldn’t at first get his voice to work.  How had it happened so quickly?
	“Levon?  You still there?”
	“Yeah.  I’m still....”  He heard his voice, not at all cracked and 
broken like he felt.  He closed his eyes and asked, “So you’re staying up 
there for awhile?”
	For a moment there was no reply.  Lundy wanted to slam down the 
phone but he owed it to Joe to hear him out.  Finally a quiet, somewhat 
stunned voice asked, “Staying?  I don’t wanna stay...  I want to come back 
early because I miss you.  I wanna see you.”
	The words didn’t make sense.  Lundy opened his eyes and leaned 
forward as if he could get closer to Joe and hear him better.  “You’re 
coming back?”
	He heard a quick breath and then, “Of course I’m coming back!  
Levon, you didn’t think I was staying here, did you?”  Lundy didn’t answer, 
after a pause he didn’t have to.  “Geez, no wonder you always get so glum 
whenever I talk about flying up here again.  You think one of these days I 
was coming up here and not coming back?”
	Lundy tried to find his voice, stunned and not sure he understood.  
“You’re not planning on staying there?”
	When he heard the reply it was like Joe had stepped up behind him 
and wrapped him in an embrace.  “No, I’m not staying here.  I never thought 
about it -- not seriously, anyway.  There’s no way we could stay together 
with my relatives hanging around.  I’m sorry about that, Levon.  I’d like to 
be able to bring you with me, but they really wouldn’t be OK with it.”
	“S’all right,” he answered, telling himself he was hearing any of
this.  “I reckoned that’s why you weren’t telling me you wanted to go home, 
because you couldn’t ask me to go with you.”
	“Did you really think I’d do that?  Leave you just to live in 
Chicago?”
	“I didn’t reckon I had much to argue with.”  He felt exhausted.  Joe 
sounded shocked, but better than that he sounded sincere.
	“That’s it. I’m coming home tonight.  You pick me up at the airport?  
I’ll call from O’Hare and let you know when I’ll be in.  You’re OK to drive, 
aren’t you?  You haven’t been drinking?”
	“No, I haven’t been....”  He was feeling stunned again.  “You’re 
flying back tonight?”  Levon sat up straight, suddenly.  Had he said ‘coming 
home’?  “Joe...?”
	“I’m gonna go pack, and let Aunt Teresa know I’m leaving.  I’ll call 
you in a couple hours, and then I’ll see you soon.”
	“You don’t have to do this, Joe.  You’ve still got a couple of 
days--"
	“I don’t need ‘em.  I do need to be with you.  From the sound of it,
I need to be there pretty badly.”
	“I don’t mean....”  Lundy fell silent.  He did want Joe home, guilty
as he felt bringing him home early, he knew he wanted Joe home. “Thank you.”
	“I love you, Levon.  Don’t forget that.  I’ll see you in a few hours, 
OK?”
	“OK.”  He heard Joe move the receiver away and he called out, “Joe?”
	“Yeah?” His lover’s voice was worried, and full of love.  
	“I love you, too.”
	This time he heard Joe's smile.  “I’ll be home soon.”  Then he hung
up.
	Lundy sat, waiting by the phone.  There was no one to see him, 
smiling in the darkness.



the end