A Policeman Calls

The old, Art Deco-style phone by my bed rings.

I pick it up. The mouthpiece is large and made of metal. It’s quite a beautiful example of its kind.

“Excuse me, sir,” the mans voice says, “this is the police. The alarm appears to be going off downstairs.”

I remember now, F had told me a few days ago that the alarm had gone off and he had had to go down. In the end there wasn’t anyone there but, you never know.

“Are you here?” I ask the policeman. He has a typical policeman voice. A little bit “west country” – Devon, Somerset, perhaps?

“No,” he replies. “We’ll only come if there is a real problem.”

I suppose I’d better go down then, I think. But F is away and what if there are people down there. I look across at the door. It is dark; it is the middle of the night. I see the shirts hanging on the bedroom door handle. I know they’re shirts but, for a moment, they could be a person, crouched down. I knew it was only shirts and I knew that if I looked at them, they would look like someone was there. My heart is thumping like crazy. I really don’t want to go down and see if anyone is there.

I am surprised that the dogs are not awake and by the side of the bed. It seems a bit strange.

I now need a drink. That means going to the kitchen. I don’t want to go to the kitchen either.

I lie back down, as if to go to sleep. My heart is still thumping like it wants to leave my chest. I realise now, some other things are strange.

Let’s take the phone call. The guy was an English policeman. He spoke in English!

Then, of course, the fact that I don’t have an Art Deco style phone by the bed (it’s in the hallway, not connected and, anyway, has a black Bakelite handset.)

Then, in addition, there is no downstairs!

But, at some point, this changed from being some sort of nightmare to real life. In fact, it became real life just before I looked across at the door at the shirts.

So the bit about F having had a call from the police before was obviously not true.

Or was it?