Too hot to sleep

By: Stephanie Bond

GEORGIA ADAMS GNAWED on her thumbnail as she read aloud the instructions for her new deluxe telephone answering system in hopes the words would make more sense the third time through. “When you select the dial pad mode, you are toggling the live dial pad option. When live dial pad is on, the hands-free option is activated if the auto answer feature was previously selected. See page 38-B, diagram H.” Georgia pursed her mouth, then mumbled a curse word that was not in the manual, although she planned to call the company and suggest they include a handy reference page for expletives as soon as she got the bleeping phone working.

After hitting the “clear programming” button, she unplugged all three cords and started over at the beginning of the dog-eared book. Ninety minutes and six fingernails later, she achieved a dial tone and shrieked with success. Doing a victory dance on her sisal area rug, she spiked the instruction manual and gloated when it landed near her VCR that, after three years, still flashed “12:00.” Thank goodness her VCR and television had been spared during the electrical storm that had zapped her phone. Positive that any minute she’d mysteriously lose the ability to dial out, she dropped onto her hard couch and dialed her friend Toni’s number.

“House of bondage,” Toni answered.

“You are terrible,” Georgia said, laughing. “What if this had been Dr. Halbert calling you in to work?”

“I’m not going even if he does call. I wouldn’t miss this bachelorette party for anything.”

Georgia cleared her throat. “About the party—”

“Oh, no you don’t, Georgia Arletta Adams! You’re not backing out on me.”

“How did you find out my middle name?”

“The question is, how many people in the hospital ER will I tell if you don’t go with me tonight to Bad Boys? Besides, Stacey will be crushed if you don’t show.”

“Stacey will be smashed and won’t care.”

“Oh, come on, Georgia, have some fun. Afraid Rob the Blob won’t want you ogling naked, sweaty, muscle-bound men?”

Georgia shifted on the firm cushion in a vain attempt to find a comfortable position, then reached to straighten a picture on her side table, one of her photographic creations. “No. Rob’s working late and said he didn’t mind if I went.”

“Good grief, woman, you mean you really asked him?”

Actually, she’d secretly hoped he’d be the slightest bit jealous, especially since she’d yet to see him naked after ten months of dating. Instead, he’d sounded surprised, but added that he wasn’t the jealous type. He trusted her, for heaven’s sake—how patronizing. “Asking him was the considerate thing to do.”

“It was the pathetic thing to do. The man doesn’t own your orgasms.”

You’re telling me.

“Besides, what the heck else are you going to do tonight?”

Sleep sounded good, but Georgia recognized the early signs of insomnia by now and knew she’d be wide-eyed most of the night. She floundered for a chore that sounded remotely engrossing. “Program numbers into my new phone.”

Toni scoffed. “Which will take all of ten minutes.”

“Not for the gadgetronically challenged like myself.”

“Pshaw. I’ll expect you at my place in one hour. Show some skin and bring plenty of one-dollar bills.”

Georgia mumbled goodbye, then frowned at the handset, searching for a disconnect button. These newfangled portable models would make slamming down the phone obsolete. Not that she was the slamming sort, but at thirty, she expected many character-building experiences ahead of her and it seemed prudent to keep relevant props nearby. Fumbling for a button would not have the same impact.

At last she hit the Talk button, surprised when she heard the resulting dial tone. Her confidence bolstered, she pushed the programming button and after a few minutes of jockeying with arrow keys, managed to enter the numbers of the people or places she dialed most often: Rob, Toni, her mother, her sister, the personnel office at the hospital, various friends, the pizza delivery place, the Thai delivery place, the Chinese delivery place and the Mexican delivery place. Then she jotted down the names and corresponding two-digit numbers on the little pullout tablet on the base station, the most impressive doohickey on the entire gizmo, in her opinion.

Georgia wiped the perspiration from her forehead with the hem of her T-shirt. Was it her imagination, or was her apartment the hottest spot north of the Equator? From her vantage point, she could see the blasted programmable thermostat in the hall. The building manager had reset it for her three times and the place still felt like a sauna. Oh, well, she’d look for that instruction manual tomorrow—she might be on a technological roll, but she didn’t want to push her luck tonight. Besides, sweating was good for the pores.

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