Spam-Block Malfunction

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 13, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 13, 2008



Kevin’s spam-blocker was clearly malfunctioning. Having been the victim of a blow-out the previous night, he was double-checking that he had been to the right venue. The concept of being stood up didn’t bear thinking about.

Before he sent Sarah an email asking for an explanation for her non-appearance, he needed to be sure he was at was the bar they’d agreed on, impotently standing around, desperately watching the door. But her confirmation email was no longer in his inbox, despite his certainty that it hadn’t been deleted.

The spam-box, an area of his email client that he rarely checked, had one hundred and two items stored. He clicked and checked what was in there. Among the unopened emails advertising herbal Viagra and penile extensions sat Sarah’s email. He opened it and reread it.

Easy tiger

Yeah – sounds great. So I’ll see you at Plastics. Let’s say eight o clock?

Look forward to it.

There it was, in black and white. He wrote his reply swiftly and without consideration.


If you’re not up for meeting me in the future, be nice if you could let me know. There was a documentary about how to dry paint I missed out on last night. It might have been more interesting than standing around on my own on a Friday night.

Take care


In the event, it turned out that standing alone in a bar was precisely what he needed. He’d slung back beer after overpriced beer, chatting to the bar-girl as he did so. After the fury of being left alone, he’d enjoyed the process of drinking alone. It had been the first solo session he’d indulged in for a while. Even so, he doubled up his message by texting Sarah ‘Thanks for the no-show yesterday. Care to explain?’.

He clicked ‘send’ on the text and then ‘send’ on the email. He was ready to sign out of his email application when he noticed that items were present in the spam filter that he wouldn’t have expected to be blocked. He opened one from his financial adviser, Keith.


Glad we got everything sorted on the house front. Your mortgage payments should begin on the twelfth. In the meantime, I’ve researched some great deals for you on life assurance. Please give me a call to discuss at your earliest convenience.


At no point had Kevin ever marked an email from either Keith or Sarah as ‘spam’. Bewildered, he checked the rest of the list. There was a missive from six months ago - a girl who was now an ex had sent it.


AMAZING night last night. I’ve never had better. In my life. I swear. You’re the best in bed…

Call me


Kevin’s cat brushed against his feet. He reached down and stroked her whiskers, feeling the purr vibrate across his palm. He knew the rubbing motion was faux-affection, a method for Felix to spread her scent while appearing loving. It didn’t matter. Being a bachelor again, one with a string of disastrous dates behind him, any affection was welcomed.

He checked the time. As the hands on the clock face blurred into view through his tired, hangover-eyes, he realised he was cutting it fine. He would definitely be late for work and if he didn’t shower immediately, it would be even worse.

On the bus, feeling worn out despite his suited and shaven status, he tried to locate a seat. Having spotted one, he realised it was a window seat and the girl on the aisle seat adjacent to it was asleep. At least, that’s what she wanted the other passengers to think.

‘Excuse me? Do you mind if I…’

She faked a startled look, melodramatically swinging around as though she’d been awoken from deep slumber, letting him into the slot. She opened her mouth to deliver her excuse but instead of issuing the apology he expected – ‘I was miles away’ or ‘sorry, I didn’t see you there’ – she opened her mouth and emitted a low, guttural noise. It repeated. And then a third time.

By the fourth utterance Kevin, now seated, could just about make out a word in the deep groaning sound.

‘Spaaaaaaaaam’ she appeared to be saying. He nodded politely, locating his headphones hastily and switching on his mp3 player.

He was glad when she stopped making these deep, rasping noises, though his relief ended when the bus hit a traffic jam. Craning his neck and flattening his face against the window, the queue stretched for at least a mile. He was within walking distance, so he disembarked and began the half-mile trudge to the office.

Upon arrival, his colleagues greeted him.

‘Sorry I’m late’ he said.

Mandy, wordlessly typed away without looking at him, ever the disciplinarian.

He flicked his PC on as he removed his coat. When his email account opened he saw that he had received an email from his boss which he opened immediately.

‘Have you got five minutes?’, Mandy’s email read.

He looked over his monitor at her. ‘Mandy? Did you want to…?’

‘Yes. Shall we…?’ she pointed to a small, quiet area of the room.

He knew he was in for a verbal warning. This was his third late appearance in a week. In his mind, he ran over a list of excuses, settling on the wildly untrue ‘My boiler is broken’. In actual fact, his boiler had been serviced only a month ago.

‘So – what happened this morning?’

Kevin adopted a confident air and began to explain, but when his mouth opened, all he could emit was an unpleasant roaring sound - glottal and moist.


‘I’m sorry Kevin?’


‘Kevin, I don’t understand’

He cleared his throat. ‘I’m sorry Mandy. It’s my throat. I can’t seem to speak properly’.

‘You seemed to manage just there. So what’s the explanation for your being twenty minutes late?’

He tried again.


Sweat built up around his extremities.

‘Mandy, would you mind if I grab five minutes of fresh air? I’m not feeling good at all’

‘If you must’

Kevin hurried outside, wiping his brow, coughing up phlegm globules and gulping them back down again. In the street he regained his composure. He smoothed his hair down, rubbed his neck and breathed deeply. As he sniffed and rubbed his eyes, the mobile phone beeped a text alert. He checked it. It was from Sarah.

Perhaps, he considered, it was an explanation of where she’d been last night. Perhaps, this time, she wouldn’t bullshit him with a lame excuse. He opened the text and read it, frowning with confusion as he absorbed the message.


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