Cell Phone*

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
a brooklyn loner takes a trip out to williamsburg to get his beeper fixed and along the way meets hustlers, crazies, killer pit bulls, and a girl who wants to be free.

Submitted: January 05, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 05, 2012



Cell Phone

I’m dead. Dead, dead, dead! I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my beeper broke. I can’t believe I had such a good night sleep! But reality, like an evil, swirling tornado that was in the distance, is now exploding in my brain and smashing my pretty, sweet, dirty dreams to bits. It’s just unbelievable how dependent my life has become on a two inch by two and a half inch triple-a battery powered thing. How I dread, just dread finding this beeper place out in Williamsburg somewhere; “Call-A-Beeper,” that’s the name of my beeper place. See, I had originally bought my beeper here in my neighborhood but the company had moved to Williamsburg, some kind of merger the guy told me once I spoke to him on the phone after being put on hold twice for like twenty minutes. You know, even though I’ve lived here, in the Midwood section of Brooklyn for most of my life, I think that I’ve been to Williamsburg maybe once in all that time. Most people don’t know this, but Brooklyn is the fourth largest city in the country so, for me to go out to Williamsburg with the subways being the way they are and all is basically the same as someone saying; “yeah, Beijing, sure, just take the Trans-Siberian railway past Obst, go through Mongolia and you’ll be in Beijing in about a month.” Well, fuck that. But I have to get my beeper fixed today or I’ll wind up missing jobs. If I don’t get my beeper fixed today…I’m screwed.

Now, I have a landline phone, but things are kinda tight right now so I can only receive incoming calls. Yesterday when I got home, there was a message on my answering machine from Melissa who’s an agent from Wiley Casting. “John, I called your beeper but I guess it isn’t working, when I called the beep sound sounded really weird and you didn’t get back to me. Call me as soon as possible, want to know if you’re available for work tomorrow.” Shit! Even though it was only extra work on Law and Order, hey, with a bit of overtime, I might have made like a hundred and fifty bucks or so and to me, that’s big money right now. Plus if she calls again today and I don’t call her back again, you know, these agents, they won’t call you anymore. You gotta be available all the time because if you’re not, well hey, they’ll just call somebody else. So let me get the fuck outa bed, get dressed, and head on out, into the noise, of Brooklyn.

First thing, gotta head on over to Max’s Donut Shop before I die—best coffee and donuts in the whole world. Rachel, this Russian girl who has worked there awhile and who’s really hot is talking on her cell phone and waiting on people when I walk in. After waiting a few minutes, I start to whisper/shout to get her attention but, you know, I don’t want to disturb her either. “Rachel…Rache, Rache!” I say raising my hand. “Oh man, come on Rachel” I say to myself, my morning caffeine and sugar-jones just starting to hit. She gives me a snotty look. Right! I’m a customer and I’m disturbing her cell phone conversation. Unbelievable! Look, I love Rachel. I really do. But sometimes man, well, she’s real young, you know. As she comes over, I lust for the hot coffee and the Boston cream donut just as much as I lust for her in her black tights and her red Russian lips and

that little smile she always has. I love talking to Rachel. I’ve talked to her a few times, but man, I would really like to talk to her some more you know, really get to know her, but she’s always on her fucking cell phone and waiting on customers. Good thing for her that Max the owner isn’t around too much. Cisco, the cook/manager basically lets Rachel do whatever she wants, who wouldn’t? There is so much noise in Max’s; it’s all just a wall of noise. I leave Max’s with the good taste of coffee and chocolate on my lips and the fantasy taste of young Rachel on my lips. Mmm… Well, I hope they can fix my beeper fast today, can’t miss any calls for jobs. Gotta think positive, right?

It’s like being around a swarm of buzzing, buzzing bees out here. They all have cell phones, all of them. Who are they talking to I wonder? Not me. Fuck! The crash, crash, crash of the train means that I just missed it. Man! now I have to wait. As I get up to the platform I can see the taillights of the Q local coasting away from me. But as I turn towards the southbound track, I can see that the express is coming. Cool! I have to take the Q train to Canal Street in Manhattan and then switch to an M and then switch somewhere else. To go only a few miles, it’s crazy, but that’s this city. Someone’s yelling at me… “Eh, manicon! eh faggot!” It’s this Mexican guy that I used to work with in this shit-hole restaurant. He’s standing across on the southbound platform.

“Hey! Feliciano” I yell. “How goes it son!”

“Good poppy, good” he yells back. “I just have a baby weh, a baby girl.”

His smile is so wide, his white piano teeth light up the world. But as Feliciano continues talking to me, I can’t really hear what he’s saying because the subway speaker system just keeps repeating the same announcement over and over again, “do to needed repairs—sssssskrachhhk… Q trains will be run—ssskrhhhkraccchhsss… local to Dekalb avenue,” over and over again, all static, it’s unbelievable. They can’t fix the fucking speaker system, these bastards? Feliciano is really a great guy. I don’t want him to think that I don’t care you know. I nod my head and smile at him not understanding what he’s telling me but I know it’s about his new daughter so I say, “Wow, that’s so wonderful,” what’s her name”? But just as he is about to answer, the Q express squashes him out of my sight and our struggle for conversation is over.

It’s always the same during the day on the train. The school kids and their hip-hop hollering and hollering on their boom box while they play craps. Old lady’s looking like they are about to die. The homeless, the nuts the creeps the killers… the loons, the haters and the sad immigrants all standing it all, all the dirt the danger and all of the noise of the greatest city in the world ha ha ha, what a joke! Oh shit! The train now stops in the middle of nowhere and we all have to wait for track workers to finish what they’re doing. Their jackhammers and buzz saws smash and smash and smash our ears to smithereens!

I make it to Williamsburg and as I get off the subway and walk down the long flight of stairs to the street I realize, how tired I am. It took so fucking long to get here, two fucking hours! Shit, I hope that I’m not missing any calls for work. This beeper is like my only connection to the outside world. Man, I gotta get something to drink. I mean, I’m forty fucking years old. Why am I so tired? And that’s just it. I’m still in Brooklyn man. If I was living in a normal place, I would have driven to the beeper place, my arm hanging out a car window, the trees smiling at me in silence and the wind whispering sweet fantasies in my ear. But this, this is like going through a war, a daily war of the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting away. I can’t hear my own soul think in this city, there’s just something about it that sucks you of all your energy. I have got to move. One day soon. I keep saying that I’m going to do it, I mean, what the fuck am I so afraid of? I want to go, I really do. I lived on the Jersey shore for awhile you know. I lived in this little house a block from the beach, it was great. I had neighbors and friends and people would talk to each other. In the summer, you would come back from the beach and people you didn’t even know would invite you to their barbecue and you would sit on their porch and have a beer and you would just talk, it was unbelievable. Can you believe that? Well, you know what happened? I took the train down there a few months ago and somebody bought that little house and not only did whoever buy it knock it down but they bought the other two homes next to it and they knocked those down too. Somebody told me that these people are going to put up a five million dollar mansion where those three little homes used to be. Five million bucks! And the people who are building this mansion want the town to block the avenue so that regular people can’t get to the beach; and the town is going to do it! See, they don’t want regular people there anymore, just the rich people. I mean, I used to have so much fun there. Five million bucks and I’m worried about making $150 dollars as an extra on some T.V. show. Why the fuck did I have to move back to Brooklyn? I mean, where the fuck can I go now? Gotta be someplace.

As I leave the station, everything looks the same, all retail outlets and hoards of every race of human that was ever created. I have no idea which way to go. I ask an old woman if she knows where 2 South 8th street is. That’s the address for “Call-A-Beeper.” She whips out a cell phone like she’s going to zap me with a laser or something. For a second I imagine that I’ve been beamed down on some alien planet in an episode of Star Trek. The woman briskly walks away from me like I’m going to mug her. I guess she would call 911 on me or something. Right, it’s the middle of the day with hundreds of people around and I’m going to mug somebody, asshole. I ask this kid but he just walks by me like I don’t exist.

I start to walk in what I think might be the right direction. I see this tall thin white guy with glasses and razor stubble. He’s just finishing a cell phone conversation and starting to light up a cigarette. He’s wearing shorts, a t-shirt that says “Machiavelli Sucks!” and these black work boots. “Dude!” I yell at him, over the noise of the howling screaming car alarms, horns and the screeching angry train on the tracks up above. “Dude! do you know where South 8th street is?” At first he stops and looks puzzled and scratches his head.

“South 8th street!?” he shouts.

“Yeah, South 8th street,” I shout back.

“Okay.” he turns and points. “Just go straight down Marcy, ehhh…, at that big building, can you see it? Make a left and I’m pretty sure it’s down there.”

“Thanks” I yell, and go about my way.

I do what the white guy says. But when I get down past the building and make the left and walk a few blocks, for some reason, I cannot find South 8th street. I see this big guy with his dog out in front of what seems like one of those new projects. These places are like the new kind of Brooklyn row house, all red brick with bars on all the windows. The big guy is picking up stuff and sweeping. He has tattoos all over the place and is wearing a white guinea-tee. Hanging from his neck is a big, thick gold chain with a big square golden pendant. The pendant is about the size of my beeper and has this carving of Jesus on it. A dog tied to a thick chain is sitting by the steps. As soon as I ask this guy if he knows where South 8th street is though, his fucking dog, which looks to me like a pit bull, starts going crazy. I mean, I can’t believe it, but this guy is really nice. He’s like “sure, I know where South 8th Street is, it’s like this little shitty street no one can ever find.” But his dog! Barking and barking to the point that its voice is cracking… “RRRRR… ROUT! OUT! OUT! RRRRRR…OUT!” That’s what it fucking sounds like, a cracking screeching bark! I want to get a big gun and just blow this fucking dogs head right off. “Yeah, come on motherfucker, come on, you like to bark loud, you want to eat me, I’ll blow your head off right now and then blow the smoke right off the tip of the barrel of this gun, BOOM! Motherfuckin’ dog.” Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, I really do. I mean my,my, my, mymother always had alittle dog. I mean she loved that dog more than, I mean,I, wellyou know,in New York, why people have to get these big vicious dogs is beyond me. I guess they get them for protection but Christ, this guy is being really nice helping me with directions and his big dog is going crazy, just screaming to eat me. The big guy turns to the dog and gives it a slap in the face. “Coco… Coco! Shut the fuck up conyo!” The big guy screams. The dog’s barking screams now change to a little growl. I get the directions through the dog’s growls and thank the big guy. As soon as I start to walk away though, the shit head dog lunges after me and starts screeching and barking louder than ever. The big guy starts punching the dog in the face. Coco rolls over on his back as the big guy punches. “Coco, Coco! Who’s your boss bitch! who’s your boss!” As Coco yelps in pain, I think how I would just love to hear the big guy break that fucking dogs ribs, I would love to hear that, CRACK! Motherfuckin’ loud-ass dog.

Boom! I find the place. Call-A-Beeper is a disaster. The building that it’s in looks like it was hit by enemy fire. About four stories high, it seems to be leaning to its right so much that it might fall down, so much dust and dirt. The Call-A-Beeper sign is all dented and scratched and is being held on to the building by only a few rusted screws.

As I open the door, (man it stinks) there is a long staircase to my left and to my right, another door that reads “Call-A-Beeper.” There’s a buzzer that’s hanging off of the chipped door trimming. I’m afraid to get electrocuted, so I press the buzzer until it hits the door trimming that it used to be screwed to and I wait. No answer. I do this twice more until I’m buzzed in.

As I walk in, I’m like in this little cubicle of what I guess is a waiting room. There’s this women sitting behind what looks to me like bullet proof glass. To her right, there is another door. The woman doesn’t seem to notice me when I walk in. She just keeps talking on the phone and taking call after call. “Call-A-Beeper, hold please. Call -A-Beeper, yes, hold please. Call-A-Beeper, yes, you’ll have to come in.” There’s also this big black guy standing in the middle of the room. He’s so big, his stomach so huge that he seems to be wearing the room instead of being in it. I go over to the women and tap on the glass. She puts the phone on hold, looks up snaps “what” and I tell her that I’m here to get my beeper fixed. “Just have a seat,” she says. As I sit down, this skinny Mexican kid walks in and walks over to the women. He puts some kind of paper along with some money underneath the hole that’s at the bottom of the bullet proof glass and just stays there leaning against it. He’s so dirty; he’s probably one of those guys who work construction. The woman behind the glass just completely ignores the Mexican guy, and after a few minutes, he taps on the glass. “Come on gringa” he says. The woman sighs heavily, all the while buried in her computer screen and talking on either the office phone or her cell phone. She stamps the piece of paper that the Mexican kid gave her, counts the money and slips the little piece of paper under the hole back to him and the Mexican kid leaves.

Over and over again, other people walk in. Mostly Mexican’s with their little teddy bear children, their big moon eyes looking at everything in wonder, also a lot of Hasidic Jews, blacks and other types. But no matter who walks in, the woman just treats them all the same, all, the, same.

I guess that she forgot about me. I get my chance and walk over to her. She doesn’t look at me or even say anything. She just keeps taking calls. Finally, after what seems like forever, I tap on the glass. Still, there’s no response from her. I wait a few minutes more, tap on the glass again and lean down because the only hole in the glass is the little hole on the bottom that people put money through to pay their bills. I’m thinking that this is the only way that the woman can hear me. “Miss, miss, can I just have a second?” She looks at me and sighs heavily. She tells whoever she is on the phone with to hold and looks at me like she is going to slap me. “Miss, Miss,” I say. “Can I just ask you something?”

“What?” the woman snaps.

“Look, Miss, my beeper, it doesn’t work. I bought it from this company.”

“Well, what’s wrong with it?” the woman asks.

“What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with it? Mam, I have no idea what’s wrong with it, that’s why I’m here. It just doesn’t work. I called and they told me to come here.”

“Well,” the woman asks, “I, mean, are the digits on its screen showing, or is the screen blank?”

“The digits are showing” I say.

“Okay, okay okay,” the women says. “Just hold on.” She picks up the landline phone, says a few things in some language I don’t understand; all the while with this shitty sneer on her face, and hangs up. “Just have a seat she says.” “Yeah right, have a seat” I think to myself.

The woman goes back to her blinking phone and her computer and I once again stand straight. I feel like I have been bent over forever. I walk away from the window to stretch; the black guy who is now sitting on this little ledge by the door turns to me and says, “yo son, I gonna tear this mo’fucka down son. I been here like fordy-fi minute. These nigga’s been giving me the run-around, yo, I can’t wait no mo.”

“Forty-five minutes” I say, “shit, I can’t wait forty-five minutes, I get all of my calls for work on my beeper, I could be loosing a lot of money right now, you know.”

After about twenty minutes more, well, I just can’t take it, you know, my back is now starting to hurt. I walk over to the women again but this time I don’t wait. “Miss, miss,” I say while tapping on the glass. “I don’t have time, I get calls for work on my beeper I need some help with this.” She sneers at me, snaps, “hold on,” puts down her cell phone, picks up the landline phone and in some language I can’t make out, starts talking to someone while looking at me as if I’ve committed some crime against her. “You’ll just have to wait,” she says not looking at me. “Yeah lady,” I think to myself. “I’ll smash this fucking glass you hide behind and choke you to death really slowly you fucking bitch, real slow. You like being nasty to people, ha, you fuck!? You like hurting nice poor people, ha bitch!? Get off of your fucking cell phone you whore and do your job which is supposed to be helping people with their cell phones and beepers… bitch.” Things used to be so simple, you know. What happened? I mean, when I was a kid I used to talk to everybody, everybody. I mean, you know, you’d go to school and then when you were walking home, you would talk to everyone on the street. When I would get home my mom used to make us T.V. dinners and my sister and I would watch “Good Times” or “Happy Days” and I mean, we just had a blast, a blast! I, I should have tried to talk to my mother more you know, sometimes I would but, she… I tried… she, she couldn’t listen sometimes you know, maybe I should have tried harder…she stills lives not to far from me —the women taps on the glass and motions for me to go in. Finally, finally I’m going to get my beeper fixed.

As I walk in, there is a somewhat long hallway with some small offices to the right. At the end of the hallway there is a really big office and from what I can see, shit, it looks like the guts of every electronic thing that’s ever been invented have been blown up in this place. Wires of all colors and shapes are strewn all over along with the carcasses of all different kinds of gadgets. There are a few guys sitting in chairs inside the big office. They are all on either a landline phone or a cell phone bullshitting away. As I stand and wait like an asshole, this little bald guy walks towards me. He comes over and in this heavy, what I think is a Russian accent, says “hi, okay, okay, vat is problem with phone? vat is problem?”

“It’s a beeper” I say, handing it to him.

“A beeper! Oh” he says with a laugh. “You get cell phone, we have cell phones now.”

“Look,” what’s your name?”

“I am Ivan,” he says.

“Hey Ivan, how’s it going? My name is John.”

“Oh, okay, okay John. You get cell phone, okay? I have great deal on cell phone. This beeper no good, you don’t need.” He hands my beeper back to me like he’s holding a dead mouse.

As I’m about to answer him, his cell phone rings and he tells me to hold on. He starts talking into his cell phone in what I guess is… sounds like Russian, finishes and then turns back to me.

“Okay, okay. You get cell phone today!”

“Look…Ivan…” But once again his cell phone goes off and once again he tells me to hold on. He now gets into some kind of heated conversation and drifts into one of the cluttered tiny offices. I can somewhat see him from where I’m standing and I start to walk towards the little office that he’s in. I stop in the doorway and lean on the doorjamb. He’s talking away on his cell phone and typing away at a computer. He looks at me, holds up his index finger and whispers “one minute, one minute.” Some guy who is also on a cell phone and looks like one of those wooden nutcracker dolls, walks into the office and shows Ivan the cell phone screen that he is talking on. Ivan tells the person he is talking to to hold on, puts down his cell phone and after a few words with the nutcracker guy, gets on the nutcracker’s guy’s cell phone and starts to talk. The nutcracker guy picks up Ivan’s cell phone, looks at the screen, puts it back down and then looks at the computer screen intently. Ivan finishes up on this guys phone, hands it back to him once again, picks up his own cell phone and now both of them are talking away on their own cell phones. The landline phone starts to ring. Ivan tells whomever he is talking to on his cell phone to hold on, he picks up the landline phone and starts talking to someone in English. “Hello, hello valter, how are you? Sure, sure I can do it. Dis is no problem, no problem, vhatever you need, vatever baby. Okay, okay, hold on Valter, hold on.” Ivan puts Valter on hold. He sticks his head out into the hallway and yells into the big office where all of the guys are, “somebody pick up line three and help this fuck, okay.”

“Ivan…Ivan” I quickly say, stepping towards him, “I can’t wait man, you gotta fix my beeper ‘cause I rely on it for work.”

“Okay…okay,” Ivan says, “hold on von second, hold on.” Ivan finishes up his first cell phone conversation, types away at the computer for a minute and then turns to me.

“Okay, okay” he says. “Vhat can I do for you? Vat is problem.”

“Oh man! Christ! Look, Ivan, I want my beeper fixed and I want if fixed now! Okay my friend. No more fucking phone calls. Look, please, Ivan, just help me out for a minute and I’ll get the hell out of here, okay?”

“Okay, okay” Ivan says through a sigh. “You don’t vant cell phone? Look, you don’t need beeper anymore.”

“Ivan look.” “Once again I’m telling you, I can’t afford a cell phone right now.”

“No, no, no, you can! Ivan bellows.

“Ivan look, my credit isn’t good right now.”

“Credit schmedit! So you put down deposit!” Ivan yells waving his arms. “Just $250, $250 and you have cell phone!”

“Ivan, look man”—once again, his cell phone goes off. Now I’m starting to get a headache and my back is starting to hurt. I lean my head against the wall and hope that this fucking hellish nightmare will end soon. When I get home, which should be a few years from now, I’m going to celebrate surviving this shit, you know. I’m going to cook a big steak dinner, have a big red wine and then just lie in bed and listen to talk radio, that’s what I’m gonna do. Finally, Ivan finishes his cell phone conversation and once again turns to me.

“Okay, okay, what is wrong with beeper?”

“Ivan, here’s my beeper. You see, the display bar is on but when someone calls, it doesn’t beep, it doesn’t do anything.

“Okay, okay” Ivan says. “Okay, problem is companies merge, dis problem. Okay, okay we fix, we fix.”

“Ivan, look, I need it fixed now.”

“Okay, okay,” Ivan says. “Here’s what I do. Dis beeper no good, no good. You have to get new beeper.” (I knew this was coming) “Ivan” I say. “No way man, I paid my bill. I’m not buying any new beeper. Fix this one Ivan and please, fix it now.”

“Okay, okay, okay.” Ivan says. “I tell you vat, I give you whole new beeper, vit de voice mail, dis beeper you have no voicemail. I give you much better new beeper vit voicemail for $65 dollars. Dis good deal for you.”

“Ivan, no way man. I want my beeper that I paid for and that’s that. It’s not my fault the companies merged, is it, is it?!” Ivan now starts to swing his arms like a windmill.

“So this is my fault” he says. “This is Ivan’s fault!”

“Ivan, look man, fix the fucking problem okay. You want to give me a new beeper, I get it for free, okay and that’s that! Don’t bullshit me o.k. I’ve been living in this city too fucking long man.”

“Okay, okay” Ivan says. “Look, here’s vat I do. “You keep dis beeper, and I reprogram for new company. I give voicemail, ehhh… $35 dollars.”

My head is pounding now and my back aches. “Shit”! I say to myself. “Ivan…” I begin to protest but then, it hits me. Voicemail would be good to have. You know, when an agent calls, instead of them getting nothing when they call my beeper, just that little “beep” sound, instead of that, they will get my voice telling them to leave a message or beep me again immediately. “Hmmm…” I thought, $35 bucks, it’s worth it. Plus, I wanted to get the heck out of this hell-hole place anyway.

“Okay, okay Ivan, you sure this is going to work all the time if I get it reprogrammed vit the voicemail?”

“Of course, of course” Ivan says, his eyes looking at me in stunned amazement.

“This new company fantastic, you vill always get messages. Alvays! And now you will have nice voicemail.”

“$35 bucks, right Ivan? $35 bucks and I get my beeper fixed plus voicemail… deal?”

“Deal!” says Ivan. He puts his hand out and we shake. “Okay,” Ivan says, “You just have to see Renee and she reprogram for you. Okay, you come this vay and wait for Renee to do.”

I follow Ivan into this little room and the first thing I notice is that it’s not as cluttered as the rest of the place. “Sit, sit” Ivan tells me as he points to a chair in front of a big desk. A girl, whom I assume is Renee, is sitting behind the desk talking on a phone and typing away at a computer. Ivan points at me and tells Renee something in whatever language they speak. She doesn’t even acknowledge me and Ivan leaves.

I just sit. Nothing. As usual, I’m the invisible man. Renee continues to talk on the landline phone and pick at the computer. Occasionally, and just when I think I’m about to get her attention or think that maybe she is going to help me, her cell phone rings. When her cell phone rings, it’s kinda weird. Even though I can’t see her face to well with it being buried in the phone and the computer, when her cell phone rings, her lips tighten, nice, juicy lips. And on it goes, landline phone, computer, cell phone… all screaming children crying and crying out for their frazzled mother.

After about mmm… I don’t know, ten, fifteen minutes of this, I’ve just about had it. You know, I mean, I’ve been here for about an hour and a half. And now this girl, who is supposed to be helping me with my beeper, is now pacing back and forth and is having what seems to be like, like, some kind of heated argument with someone on her cell phone. But, well, I have to say something. I mean, I gotta get me beeper fixed… “Umm… excuse me, I need—shit!” She takes her cell phone and slams it down. She then slams her fists on the table and is shaking all over in anger. She hisses—“takhat…” “Takhat?” (That doesn’t sound too good.) She sits back down, folds her hands and starts to talk to herself. Oh man! they’re all loons, all of them in this city; just what I need, a really angry girl who talks to herself in some nutso language. How the hell am I going to get her to fix my beeper? Christ!

She stops talking to herself and starts to calm down. The landline phone is ringing and ringing so she picks it up and starts talking away; of course forgetting me and my broken beeper. And it starts all over again… landline phone, cell phone, computer… I have been in this shitty place for nearly two hours. Fuck it. I slowly put my feet up on her desk to relieve my lower pack pain. “Ahh…” I think, “ahh….” that feels good. She glances at me and at first goes back to her phone and computer but then, when it hits her, she looks at me like I just took all of my clothes off.

“Exuse me” she says. “What do you think you’re doing!? What, do you think you’re doing!?”

“Well,” I say, “if I have to keep waiting in this dump to get my beeper fixed, the beeper that I have already paid for and the one that I just paid an extra $35 bucks to have voicemail installed, if I have to keep waiting and waiting, well I figure, after being here for two hours, I, might as well make myself comfortable.”

“Okay,” she says, get your feet off of my desk, okay! Get your feet off of my desk now or I won’t do anything for you, do you understand”!?

She is looking at me like a cobra snake looks at a snake charmer. She has these piercing, piercing dark green eyes (it’s always a shame isn’t it, that most of the time to get someone to pay attention to you in this world that we live in, you have to make them angry).

“All right” I say as I start to take my feet of off her desk. “But look, umm, Renee, right? Renee, can you just fix my beeper now. I’ve been here forever and it’s really important that it works you know, I get calls for jobs on it.”

“Just give me a minute” Renee says. She juts out her jaw and blows a strand of her hair that was hanging in front of one of her green eyes out of the way.

The piercing green eyes and, and she has this white, white skin and these freckles that cascade down from the top of her nose to her cheeks. She has this nice little space between her teeth, (I’ve always had this thing for girls with messed up teeth, don’t ask me why) she’s wearing very little makeup; maybe just a little eyeliner. She’s dressed all in black and she’s all covered up, man, it’s too hot for that. Maybe she’s like one of those Goth girls or something. Hmm. Definitely nice tits though. I wonder if she’s got some tattoos under that dress some place; boy, that would be the best. And, to top it all off, to top it all off, she probably has the most beautiful hair that I have ever seen. It’s parted in the middle and has a slight wave that lays so nice on her shoulders. Have you ever seen sometimes when the night sky is that deep, really soft black color … I bet you it feels like a thousand feathers held in your hand mmm… just my type. The white skin and black, black hair, some tattoos, that’s all I need. Maybe she’s like one of those punk rock chicks or something. There’s a ton of them in Williamsburg—oh man… aw shit! She puts her hand on the table and there it is, oh fuck! A ring! Yep, a wedding ring. But what’s weird is that it’s this really plain, gold ring. Hmm… No diamonds or anything. Maybe she’s married to some young artist guy or some shit like that. She seems to be about twenty-three or so. Who knows? Usually girls though, when they get married these days, they usually have these really, really fancy wedding rings, you know. But Renee, well, she has this real dull beat up skinny gold band. Whatever…, she’s married…, too bad. And you know there’s also like this nice smell in the room, like a fruity smell that I kind of noticed when I first walked in. It’s very slight the smell, but it’s there.

The computer makes its beep, beep sound. The landline phone rings and rings and the cell phone, like some kind of evil serpent hiding in the grass, waits and waits and when ready to strike, its eyes bulging open and bright, its jaws wide open, rips into its victim, its venom turning its prey into a zombie. The car horns from the street… the barking dogs… the sirens… all the noise… I lean back in the chair and cling to my fantasy of this bitch as the noise finally once again rises in my ears and drowns my pretty fantasy away.

After maybe another ten minutes of Renee not helping me, I lean forward, put my head on the desk, sigh pick my head up off of the desk and look at Renee now pacing back and forth and talking and talking and talking on her phones and poking at her computer. “You know” I say, hoping that my voice somehow breaks through the wall of noise and what now seems to be another argument that Renee is having with someone on her cell phone, “if you don’t fix my beeper now—Whoa! Renee’s eyes suddenly moisten, “No, you listen!” She yells. (Some English bleeds through) “I’m tired of being separate; I don’t care about tradition. I don’t want to pretend anymore!” Just what I need, I think. This bitch is now in some kind of crazy emotional argument with, I guess, her husband. Oh man, now she’s sobbing—“gethhhh!” she hollers and slams down her cell phone. Suddenly—she grabs the landline phone and lifts it up over her head; but just as she is about to bring it down and smash her cell phone to bits; she stops…. “Go ahead!” I say. “Smash it… smash it! Go ahead… do it, you work in a phone place… you’ll get another cell phone!” But she very slowly puts the landline phone back on her desk and sits in her chair.

“You should’a smashed that cell phone! I’d like to smash all of these fucking cell phones,” I say.

“Quiet” she whispers at me. Renee looks straight ahead; tiny tears roll down her cheeks like little, glistening, shooting stars. I think to myself that this is really – fucked up!

I want to say something, but I really have no idea what to say since I really don’t know what she was arguing about on her cell phone. I hear this buzzing… bzzz… bzzz…zzzzzz… zzzzzh…! As she wipes the tears from her face, Renee opens one of the draws of her desk and pulls out this square thing that looks like a mini typewriter. She makes the thing stop buzzing and puts it back in her desk draw.

“What’s that?” I ask. Through her heavy sigh, she tells me it’s this thing that’s called a blackberry. “A Blackberry… what’s a Blackberry?” I ask.

“Oh, it, it does everything,” she says. “It’s… it’s really amazing, you, you should get one.”

“Oh yeah, it does everything? Well, does it go down on you too?”

Renee gives me that cobra snake look like she did before. Slowly, she smiles and starts to laugh, a real quiet, deep laugh, “well…” she starts to say as she wipes the wetness from her face.

“What” I say.

“Nothing” she says with a little smirk. She licks her lips and as she does I can see that little space between her teeth. We grow silent again. After a minute Renee says,

“I’m, I’m, sorry,” “You’re beeper, we ummm… what is wrong with again, I’m so sorry.”

“Umm… look, Renee, are you, are you okay?” I mean, what the hell is goin’ on?”

“It’s, it’s my husband” she says. “It’s…it’s just the whole thing. He just never listens, he won’t listen to me, I’m a woman.” She puts her hands to her face and her eyes start tearing up again. “Jeez” I think. “Well…, what’s the deal? You know, your… I mean, you’re so upset.” After a long pause, Renee puts her hand softly over her cell phone as if somehow this will prevent it from opening its trap.

“I have to get a divorce,” she tells me. “And he won’t give it to me.”

“Renee… look… Umm, why don’t you… you know— you know, I gotta tell you this, I think that you have the most beautiful hair that I’ve, I’ve ever seen. I mean it! I’ve never seen anyone with hair like yours.” At this, she slowly starts laughing. “What?” I say. “What!” She is now starting to laugh hysterically. She gets out of her chair, points at me and is doubled-over in laughter. She walks out of the room and I can hear her laughter out in the hall. I feel so stupid. She walks back into the office, still laughing and sits back down. “Okay,” can you please tell me what is so funny?” I ask. She starts to talk but then starts laughing again. She’s laughing so hard that tears are running down her cheeks. That’s the deal with women though. They cry when their sad and they cry when they’re happy. “This is a wig you nut!” She says. “It’s a wig. I’m an orthodox Jew!” “An orthodox Jew!” I say to myself. Well, she doesn’t look like an orthodox Jew. Here I am fantasizing about punk rock girl with tattoos in all of the right places and she’s an Orthodox Jew. Man, that’s weird.

“Well,” what do you wear a wig for?”

“It’s tradition.” She says.

“Oh. So, well, ummm…well, what kind of hair is your real hair?”

“It’s black.” She says.

“You mean like the wig?”

“Yeah, it’s like the wig. But better than the wig, you know. It’s a lot thicker.”

“Oh” I say. “Ah…can I see it?” She shakes her head no. “I want my hair” she says quietly. “I just want to have my own hair again…; I want my own, hair.” And then she does it. She takes her wig off. Here hair is really short and spiky. It’s jet black and shiny like the wig but thicker. With her green, green eyes yelling the anger that is locked up within her, her makeup smeared from her tears, her spiked hair and that sneer that her lips are wearing she, she looks so, so beautiful and she, she looks… she looks like a punk!

“Renee, I, there’s something I don’t get. I mean, well, if you’re so unhappy, why don’t you just…leave? Why don’t you just go? If you’re so unhappy, you know, you’ll eventually get a divorce. I mean, if your husband won’t listen to you, if he won’t hear you, like I said, wig and all, I mean, your really pretty, you’re so young… just, just… get the hell out of there, you know.”

“It’s… it’s so, so complicated, so complicated. I… I don’t know, I…why did, why couldn’t I just go, why did I have to do it for them… who are they anyway?” She was whispering.

“What are you talking about Renee, do what for whom?”

“My parents… my people…? They never listened to me anyway and I never, I guess I never listened to myself. Why can’t I just go? Why can’t I just listen to what my insides want? What…, what was I so afraid of? What am I so afraid of now…?”

Looking in her eyes… energy has come back. I can hear my…

“You’re, you’re beeper,” she says. I… we have to fix your beeper.”

The sirens keep screaming and screaming for attention. The car horns keep honking and hollering for people to pay attention to them. The computer keeps beeping its little beeps for affection and all of the phones; all of the phones keep crying and crying out to be held. And tomorrow, tomorrow keeps calling us in our heads over and over again. I have to do this tomorrow… I have to do that tomorrow…

“Renee… look, Renee… don’t fix it, please, don’t fix my beeper. I want, I… I can listen to you—Renee, turn off that cell phone.”

Copyright 2006

By: Robert Byzell

~For Elena

© Copyright 2018 bobby byzell. All rights reserved.

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