I met Pound on the bench where I eat lunch, on the plaza that connects my office tower to three others. Nothing on that plaza is accidental other than my encounter with Pound.
Pound wore a hoodie that day. No one wears a hoodie in the telecom district–no one who eats lunch on the plaza. At any rate, I did not sit next to him in order to sit next to him, I just sat there because that is where I always sit. I did, however, like his cheekbones and his eyes, how they pointed away as if he were singing.
“That’s a model V557,” I said when he took out his mobile phone. I don’t usually know how to start with people, but it worked: he turned to face me, calm and inviting. “I have the same model,” I explained, pulling mine out, “only it’s grey.”
He tapped his phone ever gently against mine. “They’re glad to meet,” he said.
Before he left, he kneeled, brushed the hair from his eyes, aimed his phone at me and snapped a picture. “What’s your number?”
I told him, and he sent me a message with my photo attached: How can a thing you see through cast a shadow? Easy. My office tower, right behind me in the photo, is made of glass. The important part of the message was his phone number.
After we had sex, every single time until we broke it off, he kissed the back of my neck. The first time, he asked, “Is Asterisk your real name?”
It would never occur to me to make up a name like that.
I always ask a couple how they met. The details are important. The beginning of a story mobilizes the rest. For example, Pound and I practically lived out our relationship in text messages. It makes sense because that is how it began.
We riffed like improv musicians. Pound is a musician anyway. Just like in music, we had long phrases and short, short pauses and long. We had sex with our phones and sent each other pictures of how the other saw it. I touched the lens to the headboard, leaving just enough light for a picture. I aimed back past my shoulder to get the side of his face. We kept silent and sent our noises in symbols. Honestly, it wasn’t the best sex.
The strange thing was how our phones started talking. I mean, they started talking independently. This disturbed me a lot. Now, I tried to figure out when that began, but I could never quite pinpoint it. Not even with Pound’s help. Not that he was any real help.
“What do you mean, you can’t remember whether you texted this?” I would ask. He could only shrug and squinch. Pound has no mind for details. It’s infuriating.
Before long, our phones were communicating more than we were. Some of their early messages read like jumbles of the messages Pound and I sent. Their semantics devolved from there until ninety percent of the text was just garbled alphanumerics and symbols. By the end, our phones sent nothing but data streams. I had to be careful to keep my phone off at all times except when I absolutely had to use it. Any time I left it on, it would stream constant, meaningless data. Pound was more careless. His phone ran up a three thousand dollar bill. I paid it off for him and made him cancel the account; this was the week before we broke up.
I decided it would be wise to cancel my own account, too. Still, somehow our phones kept at it. The only way to shut them up was to remove the batteries. I didn’t know what to do with them anymore, so they just sat on my bedside table, eviscerated. One morning I could not stand looking at them any more. I arced my head around to Pound and told him, “We have to get rid of them.” He looked at me like he wanted to say something.
There are a lot of unused maintenance rooms in the basement of my work building. I thought we would have to sneak in, but whatever Pound said to the maintenance foreman, it got us down there.
“Just give me a minute with them,” Pound asked while I waited at the door. I watched him put the batteries back in, and shove them under some equipment. I wonder if they still talk.