"Otto!" It was John from the day before.
"Hi, John!" There was a moment in the pause when the issue of medication came up.
"How are you doing?" Otto felt a fear start to creep into his thoughts.
"Pretty good." Otto shrunk defensively, and John, noticing the discomfort, laughed, and Otto laughed with him, both men realizing the issue wasn't important.
"What did you think of the meeting?"
Otto felt a little embarrassed and admitted it. "I didn't understand a word of it." He was nevertheless proud to be part of the union.
John laughed again. "Nobody ever does." There was a pause as both men might have felt a tentative friendship.
"Well, I'll see you on Monday," John said.
"Sounds good," Otto replied. Both men made their separate routes into the city, Otto searching for a payphone to call Louise. Everything had happened so quickly, and he felt a little ashamed at not having called her earlier.
He found a phone three blocks later and dug into his pockets, realizing he didn't have any change. Again he felt a little guilty and knew that he would have to call Louise collect. He connected with the operator, and the phone rang several times.
"Collect call from Otto Baumgartner."
"Louise's voice sounded surprised, "Yes?"
"Will you accept the charges?"
"Of course," she said.
Otto felt a little funny making the collect call. "Hello dear." Louise was surprised by the tone in Otto's voice.
"Otto, are you o.k?"
"I sure am," Otto replied. "Guess what?"
"I got a job!"
"Oh, Otto!" She paused for a moment and then spoke, her love showing through. "That's wonderful."
"It's union and it pays better than the work in Elm Center."
Louise replied again, "Oh, Otto."
"Will you have me back?"
"I never let you go, Otto."
"was thinking," Otto paused for a moment, "well, I was thinking that you could move here and we could get an apartment."
"That sounds wonderful, Otto, but," there was another pause, "could I keep working?" Otto was surprised. He had always thought of Louise as a housewife.
"Well, sure!" Otto knew they would be a team to be reckoned with. Otto once again felt a little ashamed. "Well, I'd better get going. I don't want to use up the phone bill." Louise spoke before Otto could hang up.
"Oh, and Otto?" There was a deep pause, "I love you."
"I love you too," he said and slowly hung up the phone. Otto felt that he was going somewhere. He felt worth something, and it felt good. He shook a pill from the plastic bottle, and upended it.
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
Find out more about submitting by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Hans Lillegard is a writer/translator who has lived in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Dubuque on and off since 1986. He has found a deep and abiding respect for fellow Iowans, and loves the land from the plains of Western Iowa to the woodlands of Des Moines and to the Mississippi River valley of Dubuque. Iowa will always be an integral part of his thoughts and feelings.
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