“Everything Stuck To Him”, Part II

769-0540

(August 2008)

It happened every time Ray looked up from his desk. His eyes would dart to the TV across the room, volume on mute, and he would always read the tail end of the same headline swiftly moving across the ticker:

“… mother accused by Ohio authorities of killing her baby in a microwave … “

It was like some weird form of kismet. No matter how long he stared at the yellow legal pad on the desk before him, pen clutched between thumb and index finger, whenever he gazed up at the television to give his restless, poetic mind a recess there was the same tail end of the same news headline.

“… mother accused by Ohio authorities of killing her baby in a microwave … “

What rhymes with orange and who gives a shit about the Feather River in winter? Ray laid down the pen and picked up the phone. He dialed the area code and then the number, which was etched in his mind as if with a soldering iron, even though he hadn’t called Eileen in eight years; the last time he called her was when he needed to be bailed out of the Williamette County Jail.

“Hello?” The voice on the other end was masculine, perhaps rudely awakened.

Ray cleared his throat. “Is Eileen available?”

“Who’s this?”

Ray exercised the pen around his anxious fingers. “My name is … is Eileen there?”

“Eileen?”

“Yeah.”

He heard the man cup the receiver and say, “Hey, is your name Eileen?” and then a muffled response.

“There’s no Eileen here, man,” the sleepy voice at 769-0540 said. “This is a new number anyway.”

“I’m terribly sorry,” Ray sighed.  “Things change, you know. Phone numbers change.”

“Sure they do, man. Sorry. Have a good one.”

Dead air.

Ray returned the receiver to the cradle and stared at CNN on the television. The ticker was doing its thing.

“… mother accused by Ohio authorities of killing her baby in a microwave … “

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About Rodger Jacobs

Writer

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