No intro this week. Just the story, and then, below, the exercise.
The first things he did when he got home from work was shuck his coat and pull a beer from the fridge. It was cold and wet outside, the rain thin but icy, the kind that freezes in your hair and stabs down the back of your collar. He had nothing special planned for the evening and had decided on the way home to just pack it in, have a dinner of beer and maybe some popcorn, work his way through his collection of spaghetti westerns on dvd.
On his way into the den, he reached his phone from his hip pocket. He planned to switch it off, shut out the world, but he’d gotten a call on the way home and figured he’d check the message in case it was Harvey. If Harvey’d jacked up the orders system again, there wasn’t much anyone could do about it until tomorrow, but he felt compelled to check in anyway, some part of him addicted to disgruntlement. Better to know Harvey’d screwed up and spend the evening pissed and bitter than to wonder what the message was and spend the evening worrying. Also, pissed and bitter, he could enjoy the violence of the movies more. He would be Clint Eastwood, getting up from every bullet, shouting at the world, “You’ll have to do better than that!” Bastards.
But it wasn’t Harvey’s voice on the voice mail. He didn’t know whose it was. Some woman’s, throaty and monotone. She had a bit of a lisp. She said, “Hello again. I spoke to Kim today, she had spoke to Anna. I need to move on.” There was a pause on the message, a small plastic creak like the woman was squeezing the phone or leaning back in a chair or something. Then, “I need to give up. I fell in love with her, Mon, I mean I really fell i–” and then it ended.
Just like that.
He checked the number, but it wasn’t one he recognized. He wondered who Mon was, and what it was short for. Monica or Monique? Maybe Mona, but who shortens Mona? Besides, it had that short o, not the long o in Mona. It could be a guy, Montgomery or Montague, but those are usually Monty, and no one has names like that any more anyway. Had to be a woman.
Kim. Anna. “I fell in love with her.” Lesbians. He looked at his phone, quick flashes of indistinct erotica skipping through his mind, then he chuckled and tossed the phone on the coffee table.
“If ever there was a time for Clint fucking Eastwood,” he said out loud. He dug his remote from between the cushions and punched on the TV, then he looked at the phone and smiled. “Fucking lesbians,” he said, still out loud.
Twenty minutes in, he was ready for his second beer, so he punched pause on the remote but heard a sharp beep and the movie played on. He was holding his phone. He hadn’t realized he’d picked up it. The little screen glowed a moment and then switched off. He found the remote and stopped the movie, then he looked at the phone again. He opened the call registry, studied the phone number. It was his calling area. He ran his thumb over the buttons like a worry stone and thought. Maybe he should call the woman. Maybe she hadn’t realized she’d left a message on the wrong phone. He’d drunk dialed enough to feel sorry for her.
He shook his head and set down the phone, stood, went to the kitchen for more beer. Then the phone rang.
No idea where this is headed. But I can tell you where it started: While nosing around the website Object Not Found (which I mentioned in the last Writer’s Notebook), I found a “found e-mail” and thought it would be fun to try a story based on it. Except the e-mail thing felt dry to me, and I realized I wanted a voice, which felt if not more intriguing then at least more pathetic. I liked the idea of hearing this poor person’s voice. So I changed it to a voice message.
If it goes anywhere, I’ll let you know here in the blog. In the meantime, check out the crazy stuff at the Object Not Found site–the “stuff” category is particularly wild!