Jacob did not immediately respond. The events has somewhat stunned him.
He looked at the two rockers, knowing he should say something more than just, “Be careful in these aisles guys.” But that was all that came out.
Walking back to the stock room, he felt the jitteriness of fear, with worry seeping into him, wondering if Jimmy was crazy enough to kill him. Jacob felt that everything was somehow melding into an odd connection – the dream, Mark, Jimmy.
What was going on?
His phone vibrated in his pocket, and he pulled it out, seeing that it was Anna, and he answered.
“Hey,” Jacob said, without his usual addition of some sugar-stick moniker like “babe” or “gorgeous”.
“Hey baby,” came the sweetness of the familiar voice on the other end. “You ok?”
“Um, actually, not really.”
“What’s wrong,” Anna said, with surprise, and concern.
“Well, it’s kind of a long story,” Jacob said, conveying his intention to tell Anna later. But, then, he vomited the words out, “Apparently, Mark has been hiding a gambling problem and is like thirty freaking grand in debt.” Jacob was pacing the stock room, holding the phone with one hand, and motioning with the other. “Amy doesn’t know yet, no one does, except me and now you. I made him call her, and he left her a message. We might have to watch their girls tonight, and I think someone might want to kill me now. It’s a—”
“Ok, wait, someone wants to kill you? What?”
“Oh, I mean, not really, I don’t think, you know Jimmy, the homeless guy who hangs around here? He just got pissed off today. That’s not as big a—”
“And you said what about Mark? A gambling debt?”
Jacob quickly recapitulated the conversation he and Mark had had over lunch.
“Wow,” Anna said, “That’s really bad.”
“Yeah,” said Jacob. “Maybe my dream did mean something after all.”
Then, momentous silence, which passed in a duplicitous way of certain and uncertain circumstances of the foreseen and unforeseeable events ahead, Anna and Jacob both knowing and not knowing, together, in the silence between them sent across invisible airwaves and transferred to each other by plastic phones’ speakers.
“So what are you going to do baby?” Anna asked with that genuineness of uncertainty she could have. It heavied the weight Jacob already felt, and he resented it, because it was reminding him of what he was trying to ignore.
“I don’t know,” Jacob answered breathing irritation and sarcasm. “I was thinking maybe I could collect aluminum cans to help pay it off.” And then he laughed with regretful intention, hoping that Anna might think he had been joking as a coping mechanism, and not just out of pure irritation. She knew better, and she was patient with Jacob, so she responded with another silence, this one unapproving and longsuffering. Jacob knew by silence that Anna knew – that Jacob knew only the uncertainty which any man like Jacob would feel in Jacob’s situation.
“Hey… I’m sorry,” Jacob said. “I just really have no freaking clue what I should do babe, and you asked me and it annoyed me, because I don’t know, not that it should have bugged me, but, well…you know, and…I mean…” Jacob out-breathed with purposeful intention, “I’m sorry.”
“Babe,” Anna said, intonating forgiveness, “I know this is hard and probably will be hard. But,” she continued, “You know it’s not an accident you’re in the position you’re in.”
“I know, babe. And I think that’s what scares me. And it’s kind of exciting, in a sick kind of way, like, I have to rise to the occasion. I don’t know, babe, everything’s all jumbled freaking up. I’m excited and scared, and in the middle of all it I start thinking about that stupid dream. I mean, Mark was falling dead in my dream, like it was a sign or something, and now, it’s all gotten so—”
“Babe—” Anna tried to interject.
“—big and messed up,” Jacob continued, “and suddenly I’m some sort of—” Jacob then stopped, realizing Anna had said something. “Sorry, what were you trying to say?”
“You can only do what you can do. Please stop worrying so much. And I’ve really got to go, but let me pray for you real quick, ok?”
Jacob nodded, then, realizing that would not transfer through air waves and the speakers of plastic phones, said, “Ok.”
Recounting a true prayer is a difficult task. I don’t think I could portray what Anna prayed for Jacob. It is not (of course) that I am not able to write out the words. But that would convey no sense of the urgency and the Spiritual movement in those moments and those words, when there is a communion of triune interaction between a child and a Father. When there is an intercession of unspeakable depths, and a hearing made from shredded flesh and gushing blood.
So, then, I’ll hope that you have an idea of what I cannot convey, when I say: Anna prayed for Jacob.
Then they each said “I love you,” and snapped shut their phones.
And Jacob stood in the midst of boxed guitars and distortion pedals, silently, holding his phone, clutched, immobile for moments, staring.
“Hey, uh, Jacob,” said Scott, having frantically swung the upper-half of his body around the door frame, interrupting Jacob’s malaise. “We really need you back out here man. It’s, uh… well… man just, could you please come out here.” And he swung himself back out of the doorway.
Jacob, not thinking, expected nothing in particular. But even after the day’s events, what he saw out toward the front of the store would surprise him.