Another way fathers impact sons is that sons, once their voices have changed in puberty, invariably answer the telephone with the same locutions and intonations as their fathers.
His way of answering the phone sounded like ‘Mmmyellow.’
‘I want to tell you,’ the voice on the phone said. ‘My head is filled with things to say.’
Hal held three pairs of E.T.A. sweatpants in the hand that didn’t hold the phone. He saw his older brother succumb to gravity and fall back limp against the pillows. Mario often sat up and fell back still asleep.
‘I don’t mind,’ Hal said softly. ‘I could wait forever.’
‘That’s what you think,’ the voice said. The connection was cut. It had been Orin.
The light in the room was a creepy gray, a kind of nonlight. Hal could hear Brandt laughing at something Kenkle had said, off down the hall, and the clank of their janitorial buckets. The person on the phone had been O.
‘Hey Hal?’ Mario was awake. It took four pillows to support Mario’s oversized skull. His voice came from the tangled bedding. ‘Is it still dark out, or is it me?’
‘Go back to sleep. It isn’t even six.’ Hal put the good leg into the sweatpants first.
‘Who was it?’
Shoving three coverless Dunlop widebodies into the gear bag and zipping the bag partway up so the handles had room to stick out. Carrying all three bags back over to the console to deactivate the ringer on the phone. He said, ‘No one you know, I don’t think.’