Apology Girl's Dues

The "For Sale" sign was gone, but any of the residents on the sleepy Albuquerque street would swear the late Ms. Pinkman's house was still vacant. There had been no moving truck, no new homeowners venturing out to meet the neighbors, not even a stirring of the window blinds. 9809 Margot Lane remained completely silent.

At least from the outside.

Inside, a lone resident huddled in the corner of a bare room. Jesse Pinkman stared off into the nothing he inhabited. A cell phone was rooted in his hand. Every few minutes, like clockwork, he dialed a number—always the same number—and held the phone to his ear. He never spoke. After a few rings a recording played, providing the only sound to echo in the mute house.

"Hey, if you're trying to sell me something, I got four little words for you: Do Not Call List. However, if you're cool, leave it at the beep." Beeeep.

Jane.

"Hey, if you're trying to sell me something, I got four little words for you: Do Not Call List. However, if you're cool, leave it at the beep." Beeeep.

His Jane.

"Hey, if you're trying to sell me something, I got four little words for you: Do Not Call List. However, if you're cool, leave it at the beep." Beeeep.

Those few words were all Jesse had left of her. The sight of her smile, the scent of her black hair, the feel of her embrace…all gone with that dreadful morning he woke up to find her motionless and without breath beside him. But the sound of her voice…just to hear it on the phone was almost like having her spirit there. So he called her number again and again until it filled his entire Recent Contacts list. He clung to every syllable of her voicemail recording as if she had left it only for him. In those few short words, he could hear all the things he missed most about her.

"Hey, if you're trying to sell me something, I got four little words for you: Do Not Call List…"

He heard that no-nonsense attitude she'd shown from the first time they met, as he rented the apartment she managed. She'd raised an eyebrow and snarked at his use of the name "Jesse Jackson." He still didn't get why. He heard her dismissively brushing off tattoos as too big a commitment, while drawing one for a customer of ABQ Ink.

"…However, if you're cool, leave it at the beep."

He also heard the chill, laid back demeanor of the girl who curled her fingers around his as they waited for the satellite to come on. He heard her playful teasing of his old superhero drawings, her insistence that some museum full of vagina paintings was just the "education" he needed. He could just barely feel her arms around him after they'd gotten his share of the cash off of that old hardass Mr. White. He heard her promising they'd run away to New Zealand, surrounded by all the old castles and sheep. Just the two of them.

Beeeep.

Then he heard nothing. Felt nothing. She was gone all over again each time he hung up his phone only to re-emerge into a reality without her.

A reality where he'd killed her.

Why did they take that one last hit? They were supposed to show they were better than that. That night, they had walked into his bedroom, intent on flushing all the drugs that were left and starting over clean in their new life.

But what did he have the bright idea to say?

"Hey, you know what, babe? One last time couldn't hurt, right? We can totally start over fresh in the morning. This way we, like, get it out of our system before the plane ride."

As if expecting this she'd already made a keen grab for the needle, practically cutting him off to say, "Yeah, good point. Who wants to go through airport security all on edge, anyway?" With that, they were both tripping balls before the next hour.

He should have stuck to their plan. He could have taken that heroin away from her, tossed it out like he did with Jake's weed the last day he'd spent at his parents'. Or at the very least, he could have refused to shoot up himself. Then he would have been awake to help her when she started to overdose.

It was his fault that last fatal hit was in her veins when they drifted to sleep. His fault she never woke. Mr. White was right-he was just an idiot junkie. A sigh. He'd had too much of this reality. Raising the phone to his ear, one more time he dialed Jane's phone.

"Hey, if you're trying to sell me something, I got four little words for you: Do Not Call List. However, if you're cool, leave it at the beep."

Beeeep.

"Yo…Jane. It's me."

A pause. Jesse barely realized he was speaking this time—for once leaving Jane a message. Not that he didn't have volumes to say to her. But what do you say in a message that will never be heard? He just drew a breath and continued pouring out his thoughts as they came to him.

"I bet you're wondering why your phone's been ringing nonstop. Well, it's 'coz…it's because I just wanted to call and say I really miss you. A lot."

Another silence.

"I guess this sounds pretty dumb and all," he resumed. "I know you're…not there. But that doesn't mean I can't wish you were, right? Like, this is all just some freaky nightmare, and next time I call you'll pick up, then we'll both be awake again. I could even go and fix up some more of those eggs for you, if you were hungry, or whatever."

He swallowed hard. Jane would probably be laughing at him now. While blowing out cigarette smoke she'd be telling him to get to the point.

"Anyway, Jane. Sorry I wasn't there for your fu…wasn't there to say goodbye. But your dad probably would have just tried to kick me out, right? Course, I wouldn't have let him," he added assuredly. " And one other thing, about your dad—I hope you're not too mad at him. I mean about the…crash and everything. It was just because he missed you real bad, too. But he's not the reason I was gone."

He hoped the next part would have made her at least a little proud.

"Thing is, I've actually been in rehab until just now. Guess that'd make me, what? Five weeks clean now? Or six, or something? I even got one of those things they give out—it's like a necklace that says '45 days' on it. Necklaces aren't exactly my thing, so yeah, I just hung it up in the car," he bumbled. "Not as cool as your chip, but hey, I'm getting there, you know?"

Her eighteen-month chip. She had been clean a year and a half before he met her. Before he met her and promptly brought her down to his level.

It was getting harder to talk with the buildup in his throat all of a sudden.

"I also wanted…I'm trying to tell you…what I'm saying is I'm sorry for everything that happened. I shouldn't have…shit, there were lots of things I shouldn't have done. I mean, maybe if I just went to one of those meetings with you, like you were saying. Or waited until you were definitely outside before I lit up that first time." He recalled telling her to leave his apartment so he could do crystal and get his mind off of Combo, only to look up in the doorway and see that she had followed him in, her eyes glued hungrily to his Blue Sky stash.

"I-"

There was that buildup again.

"I'm sorry, Jane. God, I'm so sorry." His vision blurred. "I let this happen to you. If I'd just done something different…if we had just stopped that night…then…"

His voice became strained, and it was all he could do to muster the words, "I'd do anything to bring you back."

Several seconds—possibly minutes—followed, bringing no sound but the choking back of tears. Jesse didn't even know if this was still recording. A dabbing of his eyes on his sleeve and a glance at the cell phone screen showed the timer was still ticking on his call.

He figured it was about time for the goodbye.

"Just…wanted you to know. But you probably do," he summarized. "I.."

He gave a long exhale.

"…still love you."

He scoured his brain for anything else to say, but only turned up one word.

"Bye."

The call ended at 3 minutes, 3 seconds. It had felt so much longer.

He sat immobile for awhile longer…almost like waiting for a call back. Of course there wouldn't be one. He's just poured out his heart to a machine. Now it was empty.

Out of robotic practice, he redialed the last number again.

"Hey, if you're trying to sell me something, I got four little words for you: Do Not Call List. However, if you're cool, leave it at the beep."

Beeeep.