Hester called Xi’an Palace at 7:22 PM.
“Hi, Xi’an Palace,” said the voice over the phone.
“Hello,” said Hester. “I’d like an order of the barbeque pork fried rice, potstickers well done, and the tangerine shrimp, please.”
“Okay,” said the voice. “Phone number?”
“xxx-xxx-xxxx,” said Hester.
“Excuse me?” asked the voice.
“xxx-xxx-xxxx,” repeated Hester.
“We don’t have that on file,” said the voice.
Hester repeated it slowly. “xxx-xxx-xxxx.”
“All I hear is shh-shh-shh-shh-shh-shh-shh-shh-shh-shh,” said the voice.
“I’m saying numbers,” said Hester.
“I don’t have time for this horseshit,” said the voice, “we need a real number — made of NUMBERS — and an address.”
“My address is 555 North McCollum,” said Hester, “zip code 05555.”
“Lady, get a life,” said the voice, and hung up.
Hester beat herself in the head with the phone. She called Cheese Pie.
“Hello,” said Hester, “I’d like to place an order of a deluxe asparagus lover’s pie in a large.”
“Who’s this?” asked the voice.
“Hester,” said Hester.
“Is this Hester from last Tuesday?”
“No,” lied Hester.
“Stop pranking us,” said the voice of Cheese Pie. “We need a number and an address or we’re not going to deliver to you.”
“But my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx!”
“Yeah, yeah,” said the voice, and hung up the phone.
Hester called back.
“Hello,” said Hester, using a man’s voice. “My name is Donald and I need to order a deluxe, uh, a deluxe eggplant fiend’s and, uh, some meatballs too.”
“213-774, and then, okay, 3245.”
“It’s 555 North McCollum,” whispered Hester, “zip code 05555. But it really is.”
“No it isn’t,” argued the voice.
“Yes, it is,” insisted Hester. “I’m here right now. This is where I live.”
Cheese Pie hung up. Hester walked outside. There was a camera crew there.
“You’re ruining my life!” yelled Hester. The camera crew slowly dollied down the block.
Hester went back inside and opened the refrigerator. Inside were twenty six packs of Diet Coke. She turned them around to hide the labels. They slowly rotated back to face her.
She turned on the faucet. Nothing came out.
The doorbell rang. Hester answered it.
“I have a pizza for you,” said an attractive pizza delivery man. “Can I come in and serve it?”
“No, this isn’t that kind of thing,” said Hester, and closed the door.
The doorbell rang again. Hester looked through the peephole. It was an angry Chinese delivery man with a hatchet.
“I’m not in the mood,” said Hester. He put down his hatchet and held up a take-out box.
“Leave it on the stoop,” said Hester. He did.
Hester opened the door and brought in the takeout box. She sat on the sofa and placed it on the table in front of her. The lights automatically dimmed and Chaka Khan began to play. Hester wept softly, and a box of pink tissues appeared next to her. She blew her nose. A box of tampons crept across the floor, crawled up the sofa and inched onto her lap. She stroked it gently. The television turned on. It was “Ally McBeal.” Hester shoved the tampons off her lap, got her car keys and ran for the door. It was locked.
The phone rang.
“Go sit on the sofa,” said the voice on the other end. “Pick up the tampons and make them look aspirational.”
“I don’t want to,” said Hester. “They’re the environmentally-friendly kind. They don’t do the trick for me.”
Hester disappeared. Dorothy appeared in her place. Dorothy picked up the tampons, sat on the sofa and smiled.
“I used to hate what my period did to the environment,” mused Dorothy, “so I feel really good about these tampons.”
She went into the bathroom and closed the door. The television turned off and the room went dark.