2:00 a.m. – continued
He stared at the phone staring back at him, shining where the street light hit it, and was glad it was two in the morning. That meant there was no one around to witness his nearly half hour of pacing and muttering to himself.
“Just do it,” he whispered to himself, hand on the phone.
Before he lost his nerve again, he shoved a few coins into the machine and picked up the phone. Without thinking, he jammed his fingers into the number pad and listened to the phone ring a couple of times, not sure of what he was going to say. Or who was going to pick up. Or if they would. It was, after all, two in the morning.
After four rings, someone finally picked up. He held his breath, thinking quickly.
“’Lo?” Evan’s sleep heavy voice muttered.
“Dad?” Cooper said, his voice more tentative than he would have liked.
The was a moment of silence on the other end. Cooper swallowed hard, hoping his father wouldn’t start yelling or hang up on him. Not tonight, not the last night on Earth.
“Coop? Is that you?” Evan’s voice no longer sounded laden with sleep. Instead, Cooper would have sworn that he heard hope in his father’s voice.
“Yeah, Dad. It’s me.”
“Where are you?”
Cooper managed a laugh. “A long ways from home.”
“Are you all right, son?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. You?”
Cooper took a deep breath. It was now or never. And, if he waited any longer to ask, it would be never.
“Dad, can I come home?”
Silence crackled again. Through the silence, he strained and could hear muffled talking. His mother sounded sleepy.
“Yeah, son,” Evan said softly. “Come on home. We miss you.”
“Thanks, Dad. My train leaves at four. I’ll be there by morning.”
“We’ll be waiting.”
Cooper hated good byes. He just hung up the phone, picked up the duffle, and walked away from the phone.
The train station was just a five minute walk away. He walked right up to the sleepy night ticket seller before he lost his resolve and ended up not going home. He quickly made the purchase, spending well over a hundred of the dollars he had left. It didn’t make him happy, but it would make him more likely to board that train and get off at the right station. He hated wasting money, especially since he didn’t have a whole lot of it. It didn’t matter much that the world was ending, but he wanted to at least have a dollar to his name when he died.
Turning on his heel from the ticket window, he made a beeline for the bathroom, where he scrubbed his face with water and whatever hand soap they had in those little dispensers hanging on the walls. He scrubbed until his face felt raw, until he got all the soap from his beard. Or at least most of it. He should really shave, but that would just be more money spent on shaving cream and the shaver.
He grasped the edge of the cold, white sink basin with both hands and stared at his bloodshot eyes in the mirror. He couldn’t see it, but he knew he was shaking. His hands were gripping the porcelain so tightly that his knuckles were white. His throat convulsed a few times, as though he wanted to throw up. He’d had a good dinner with some local friends. It had been good food, too good to waste and just throw up here in the train station. He swallowed hard and considered drinking some of this water, but figured it was probably so contaminated that it would kill him rather than the explosions that would ripe the Earth to shreds.
For the first time in two years, he was going home. And he was scared to death.