Close Call

Shit.

This hasn’t happened in twenty years. For some reason, when I reached puberty, I stopped sleepwalking. But now, here I am in my Wonder Woman nightgown, standing in a parking lot in some kind of national or state forest, holding my phone which was dialed in to a 703 area code number.

“Ma’am, I’m going to ask you one more time. How did you get this number?” said a tough voice on the other end of the signal.

“I’m sorry, I just woke up. Who is this?”

“Nice try, wiseass. We’ve triangulated your location. My advice? Surrender.”

Sure enough, right then a black SUV rolled up, blinding me with its lights.

“ON THE GROUND! HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD!” boomed a voice from a bullhorn.

I heeded the advice that I didn’t even need. I’m not whatever, whoever, they think I am. I’m just a sleepwalker. Sleepwalkers surrender.

The cuffs were tight and the bag over my head felt unnecessary.

I’m not trained to estimate how long I was in the SUV since I’m, you know, a copyeditor and not a spy. After the drive, we parked. I was taken through almost endless hallways. I think we were walking in a square.

I ended up in a room. You know the kind. Hollywood gets a lot of things wrong, but they got this very, very right. Scary right.

“I’d like to see some identification, please.” My shaky, demanding voice is not convincing.

“Here.” A badge was flashed. Like Craig Ferguson flashing emails on his late night show, only this isn’t funny. I don’t know who’s got me.

“I’d like to call my lawyer now.” I didn’t have one. But I figured it didn’t matter since the answer was going to be…

“No.”

Again, I’m not trained to guesstimate how long I waited. I prepared myself for the good cop, bad cop routine. I brainstormed ways to somehow just die faster during the torture part. There was no way that the sleepwalking thing was going to fly here.

A woman in a pantsuit entered the room. Her blouse was a pastel lavender. Looks like we were going with good cop first.

“How did you get this number?” She showed me a piece of paper with the 703 area code number on it.

I instantly recognized what had happened.

“I don’t know that number. But I do know this number.” I rattled off the same number, but with a 706 area code instead. While I was sleeping, my thumb must have tapped a 6 instead of 3.

“It’s one of my client’s numbers. I’m a copyeditor. And a sleepwalker.”

A slight blush fell across the cheek’s of the woman’s face.

“I’ll be right back,” she said with a tone that suggested this wasn’t the first time she’d been called in to interrogate people based on the overzealous claims of some men in black.

The woman returned with a few pieces of folded clothing.

“We confirmed the telephone number you gave us. Also, your husband called the local police after he woke up and you weren’t there. You’re free to go. We’ll escort you back home. Unfortunately, you’ll be blindfolded since you can’t know where this location is. But at least here are some clothes so you don’t have to ride home in your pajamas.”

The woman headed towards the door. She turned back to me.

“Oh, and you never heard this, but I’m sorry.”

I left the clothes behind and wore my pajamas home in broad daylight. I wasn’t the one who had anything to be ashamed about.

A few months later, I called the 703 number from a pay phone while on vacation in Charleston.

“Charlie’s Pizza Parlor, would you like to try our 2 for 1 large pizza special?” I ordered a couple pies and had them delivered to the Pentagon.