Friday, November 6, 2015

The New Phone




The New Phone

Not even two minutes after activation, Tirza’s new cell phone rang.
“Hello?”
“Hey Babe, is Carlo there?”
Tirza frowned. “You have the wrong number.”
“Like Hell, I do. You tell Carlo that Stinky called, ya hear?”
Tirza hung up and then jumped when the phone immediately rang again.
“Hello?”
“What? Oh! I’m glad I finally got through. Somethin’ wrong with your phone the last couple a days. Can I talk to Carlo?”
“Actually, I just got this phone number today, so Carlo must have a new phone number.”
“Really? This ain’t Carlo’s number?”
“Really. It’s my new number.”
Tirza hung up again and set the cell phone down. She hoped there wouldn’t be many more calls for Carlo. A moment later, the phone rang again. Tirza stuffed the phone under the burgundy pillow on the couch, grabbed her wallet, and hurried out the door. Without her new cell phone.
When she returned, two hours later, there were thirty-five voice messages on her phone. She listened to three messages for Carlo before deciding to delete the entire collection without listening to any of the others. Then, the phone rang.
“Hi, this is Tirza.”
“Hi, I’m Elizabeth West with Stoddard Inc. and I’m calling for Carlos Young about a business opportunity.”
“I’m sorry, he’s not at this number anymore.”
“Could you tell me how to reach Mr. Young, please?”
“Um, no. I don’t know him. This is my new number.”
“Could I leave a message with you for Mr. Young?”
“Nooo.” Tirza rolled her eyes. “I just got this number today. It must’ve belonged to Carlos before, but now it belongs to me.”
“I see.” There was a pause and Tirza could hear a keyboard clicking on the other end of the phone. “Could you tell me what your phone number is, then?”
“Pardon me?”
“What number have I reached, please?” Elizabeth West with Stoddard Inc. sounded exasperated.
“No, I’m not giving you my phone number. You called me, remember?” Tirza didn’t wait for Elizabeth West’s response. She hung up. Of course, a few seconds later, the phone rang again.
“Hello.”
“Hi, I’m Elizabeth West with Stoddard Inc. and I’m calling for Carlos Young about a business opportunity.”
“Nice try, Elizabeth West, but this is still the wrong number!”
Tirza pressed the red “end” button and flung the cell phone onto her couch with enough force to make it bounce. It rang again. Tirza pressed “talk”, waited for a heartbeat, and then pressed “end” again. Carefully, as though to make up for her previous rough handling, Tirza set the phone on her coffee table and went to make herself a cup of hot chocolate. She needed to get a grip on herself, she decided. Nothing helped with getting a grip better than hot chocolate.
A few minutes later, Tirza returned, cradling a steaming mug. The phone rang, but she ignored it, instead pulling her legs up and snuggling into the corner of the couch. For a time, Tirza sipped her drink and gazed into the chocolaty depths of her mug. The phone rang intermittently, but Tirza made no move to answer it.
Then, in the same way that the sun can unexpectedly emerge from behind grey and oppressive clouds to dazzle the world below, an expression of delight formed on Tirza’s face. Her eyes twinkled and her lips curved upward. With a low chuckle, she set down her mug and reached for the ringing phone.
“No, Carlo’s not here. I’m so sorry, but haven’t you heard? He had to testify at the trial and now he’s in the witness protection program.”
“Well, you know, it started when he visited that Buddhist temple on his vacation to Hawaii. He converted about two weeks ago and just this morning left on a flight for Tibet. No, I don’t think he’s coming back. He decided to become a monk and plans to take a vow of silence.”
“NASA recruited him last month to be their xenobiologist on that trip to Mars that they’re planning. Oh, yes, he’s always had a passion for biology, but it wasn’t something he talked about, you know?”
“Have you heard of that new commune in British Columbia? The last time I saw him, he was carrying a backpack full of pot seeds and talking about wind-powered grow lights.”
“You know, he should never have traveled in the Amazon jungle without a guide. The rumor is; it was a python that got him. Can you imagine? What a gruesome way to go.”
“He was the only one in the submersible, and they just lost radio contact. The Marianna Trench is so deep; I doubt they’ll ever recover the remains.”
“He’s always loved modern Japanese culture. You know, anime, street fashion, all that, and he just finally decided to move there and become part of the scene.”
“He said he wanted to get out of the rat race so he bought a dog team and headed north. He was planning to winter in Chicken, Alaska and start his homestead next spring.”
For hours, Tirza answered the insistent ringing and passed along the news that Carlo Young was no longer reachable by phone. Close to midnight, the calls began to taper off. Tirza figured the news was getting around. These weren’t the kind of stories people would keep to themselves.
The next day, there were only ten phone calls and the day after that, only one. It came mid-morning and Tirza set aside the newspaper to answer. It was Carlo Young.  



As always, if you like the flash fiction here on my blog, I invite you to read my collection of flash fiction, A Flash of Genies, my series of Alaskan fantasy novels, and/or my short memoir Head Buckets & Hashtags.  
Thank you so much for visiting and I hope you have a marvelous week!