Short Story: Phone Call

I started writing this short story about a week ago. It allowed me to finish my journal and start a new one. My first short story in 2021. Don’t get used to it because I will soon have to rewrite my novel and try to finish my other novel by the year’s end. This story is about the fictional struggle of living in a big city and then moving to a smaller town and the annoyance of telemarketers calling. Enjoy.

The city people of today move too fast and proud. Nobody has time to help others when in the darkest of days. When he came to this part of the state, it was alarming to his eyes and ears. George was just as uptight as the character George in Seinfeld. but this city was very far from New York. Anyone with knowledge would not call it a cityscape but a town where everyone thinks they know each other. It is in this small-town family members pretend their neighbors care for them as much as the reciprocate onto them.  If they knew what was written in secrecy in chat rooms, behind computer screens, about these same people, it would cause a major rift within the town.

George’s real name was Arnold. No matter what his name was it never stopped the mental assaults since arriving in this small town. Arnold had tried to keep his thoughts in check and was able to experience a few days of peace. Each thought rapped on his head as a broken spring triggered by an imbalance.  All his past grievances flooded into his mind, and he became enraged by those who had wronged him.  It was not in his imagination these wannabe city people who came from small towns had become his biggest nuisance.  It was bigger than the mice making a home in his kitchen.  No number of traps would kill his thoughts.

Wanting to get revenge on those he despised, at 2:30 in the afternoon he made up his mind.  He was going to write anonymous letters and send them to those who wronged him.  Before he could start, his phone rang.  He looked to see who it was, but it showed no name or number.  He answered anyway, knowing it was a telemarketer.  He looked forward to unleashing his rage onto the person who had the guts to call his unlisted number. 

“Hello, sir.”

“You don’t even have the decency to say my name.  It’s fucking George.”

“If you would’ve given me more time, I was about to say it.”

“Well, then, fucking it say it.  Are you stupid or something?”

“No, sir.  I have your name as Arnold.”

“So what!”

“Is that your actual name?  Arnold?”

“Fuck off and never call me again!”

George disconnected the call and threw his phone across the room.  It bounced off the hardwood floor and landed face down.  His anger was a residual effect of living in a big city.  He kicked his phone across the floor.  It ricocheted off the wall and landed face up.  The screen was cracked in the middle and spread outward like a spider’s web.  This was the fifth phone he had broken in the last ten years. 

Arnold picked it up and it rang again.  Hardly anyone called him except those who wanted his money he did not have since he quit his job.  It was another unlisted number and no name appeared either.  It was probably the same stupid telemarketer.  His rage got the best of him and he picked it up.

“Hello.”

“This is Mary Pat.  I’m from the company Better for You.  I would like to offer you our introductory price of our entitlement package at a great value of twenty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents.  In addition to the happiness pills, it includes our bounce back pills for those days when you’ve had a rough day.”

“Let me stop you right there, Mary Pat.”

Mary Pat kept speaking.  “If this package does not sound right for you, we also have our exhilaration package for five dollars less.  Everyone deserves to have a little exhilaration in their life, don’t you think?”

“Who do you think I am?

“You are Arnold Brown of South Page, Nebraska?  Am I right, sir?”

“Is this a joke?  What kind of horse crap is this?”

“I can assure you, sir.  This is not a joke.  These are real products I’m selling.”

“You can’t find happiness in a pill, lady.”

“There are a few instances where it isn’t as effective, but overall—”

“But nothing.  There’s no buts about this.”

“You’re right.  There’s no buts, only eyes.”

“What?”

“You need eyes to see the pills you’re swallowing.”

“How do blind people see the pills, then?”

“I’m not going to argue with you over your eyes, but what I can say is you’ve been selected by our company for a very important reason.”

“Enlighten me, Mary Pat?”

“Interesting that you say that because we have a package too called enlightenment.  I’m also Mary Jane, sir.  Pat is on with another caller.”

“You all sound the same, lady.”

“Would you like her to call you back?  If you would like to work with her instead, this is fine with me.  A sale is a sale either way.”

“Oh God, no.”

“I’d be more than happy to call you at a more suitable time based on your needs.”

“Don’t bother lady.”

“It would be my pleasure to help you in any way I can.”

“Don’t you take no for an answer?”

“If you decide you want to know more information about our products, please call at us eight, zero, zero.”  Mary Pat paused.  “Five, five, five.”  She paused again.  “Nine, eight, six, seven.”

“Yeah, I got it.”

“Please call me at your earliest convenience.  You have a great rest of your day, sir.”

“Whatever.”

Arnold hung up and put his phone on silent.  He should have let loose on Mary Jane.  He held back as he had learned when he lived in the big city.  He rarely made the same mistake twice except this was not really a mistake. It was his guilt that was bothering him.  He had slowly turned into a true city person and was unable to shed its scaly skin.  He still moved too fast, was too uptight, and too rigid. 

He wilted to the floor and yelled into the empty space.  Everything he wanted to say in the last ten years tumbled out of his mouth.  It wasn’t my fault.  You were too stupid to see it.  You made me your enemy.  I’ve heard all the stories. You know what that makes you?  A loser.  A big fat loser that hides behind a mask.  I’m glad to be out of your clutches.  I only have one more thing to say to you and that is you will always be pathetic.

He got to his knees and punched the air as he stood.  He wished his wife could comfort him.  He had too many moments of need since moving and there was no one to help him.  Whenever he got the nerve to release his frustrations, newer and more menacing thoughts took their place.  He was sick of carrying this extra weight.  Living in a slow-paced town should have gave his mind some peace as he was promised.  Whether he was driving on empty freeways or stuck in rush hour traffic, it was still there.

Looking around his empty living room with boxes hugging the walls, Arnold grabbed his phone and dialed all the numbers except the last one Mary Pat had given him.  He disconnected and soon after the phone rang in his hand.  He let it ring three times before answering.

“I’ve been waiting for you, whatever your name is.”

There was a pause on the other end.

“You still there?”  Arnold asked.

“Yes, I am but—” Mary Luz said.

“Just give me your little pep talk and get on with it.  I’m ready to swallow those pills, whatever color they are. How much are they, again?”

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