Ruben Amaro leans back in his chair and swivels one-half turn to face the windows behind his desk. His back is to the door. He gently closes his right fist and taps his knuckles on the arm rest. He glances at his watch, is unmoved by the time, looks upwards and closes his eyes. The phone rings. He opens his eyes. In the reflection of the dark windows he can see the plastic light of the device flashing orange and intermittent. He turns and faces his desk, lets the ringing go unanswered three more times. He picks up the phone.
A: Oh, good evening, Jack. I didn’t think it would be you.
Z: No? No, I suppose you wouldn’t.
A: It’s been a while.
Z: Indeed, it has been. Are you busy?
A: I’m always busy, Jack, you know that. But what’s up?
Z: I have to admit, you’re not the only one surprised at this communication.
Z: I spent quite a while debating on whether or not to call.
A: Sounds serious.
Z: Oh, nothing like that. Not what you think, really.
A: Then what is it?
Z: I just …
Z: I just wanted to say thank you, that’s all.
A: Thank you?
Z: Yes, thank you. That’s really the only reason I called. I just wanted you to know I was grateful.
A: I’m afraid I don’t follow. Grateful? Grateful for what?
Z: It’s been a rough offseason, Ruben.
A: They all are, Jack.
Z: Yes, yes they are. This one’s just really put me through the wringer, you know?
A: You don’t need to tell me, Jack. But I still don’t see how this leads to you thanking me.
Z: I mean, I signed Raul Ibanez, for christsakes.
Z: Raul Ibanez.
A: He’s a fine player.
Z: Yeah, yeah, sure he is. I mean, of course, he is. But it starts to add up, you know? First Hamilton didn’t want us, and it was like, yeah, sure, whatever, fine. We tried. Then all the complications with Swisher, and he ended up in Cleveland and all that. Raul—yes, he’s great. Love him. But then Upton turned us down. He just said no, just like that. What a roller coaster, what a nightmare.
A: And you’re thanking me because …
Z: What a f—ing nightmare.
A: Yes, Jack.
Z: And then Morse? Morse? That’s where I’m at right now, I guess. Mike Morse. That’s it, that’s the reality.
A: He’s a fine player.
Z: I just wanted to say thanks, is all. Can I just say thanks?
A: Sure you can, but I still don’t understand why or for what.
Z: Just thank you, Ruben. Thank you.
Z: Goodnight, Ruben.
A: Jack, wait—
Ruben Amaro leaned in to speak but the line on the other end was dead. He pulled the phone from his ear and stared at it. The orange light was no longer flashing, no longer lit. He hung up the phone and sat down. He looked towards the door. He thought he saw the doorknob turn but it didn’t.