Posted by: Richard Chennault | June 7, 2006

The Call

Tims O’Dooley was angry. The kind of angry you get when a good job goes bad. He was full of frustration, disappointment and fear. Everything had been fine. Details were in order, money had been paid. Everything should’ve went like so many other jobs before it. But this one was unfinished.

He realized something was wrong early in the morning when he didn’t get his two rings. Two rings from the phone was the signal that the job was done. Three rings and the job was delayed. Never off just delayed. Either it was done or not. Never had there been this silence. All the jobs had eventually ended with two. Sometimes there would be three but sure as rain during an Irish wake two rings would be heard the next day.

The call was supposed to come in at seven in the morning. At 7:10 no ring. 8:30 no ring. 9:00, 9:45 nothing. He had time to study the phone. He knew the model and serial number. He knew the manufacture had gone out of business. He knew more about that damn phone than he did about the job. That made him more angry.

When the phone did ring at 9:52 Timmy nearly leapt out of his chair. Procedure said he didn’t answer. That had never been needed. But the call was late and Timmy was going to take it out on the man on the other side of the phone. Timmy wanted to wait for a third ring. But all the time in the world seemed to pass in between the second and third ring. All the questions, answers and bullshit exploded in that small space between rings. Timmy couldn’t wait. He picked up the headset and screamed into it.

“Why the fuck didn’t you call?” It was a stupid question given that Timmy was answering a call.

On the other end a voice responded. Timmy was so angry he didn’t register that the voice was that of a woman. It was not what he expected. He was expecting a man with a gravelly voice. A voice rubbed raw by years of hard drinking and chain smoking. But the anger deafened him to sound. Blinded him to reason. Timmy bust out with curses and suggestion of anatomically impossible acts.

The woman’s voice finally pushed through, “Sir, sir. Is this Timothy O’Dooley?” The woman’s voice broke into his angry haze. He didn’t know if it was a woman or girl. He couldn’t slow his pounding heart or labored breathing enough to make out what she was saying. He cursed some more. He cursed the English and he cursed the phone for good measure.

Who was this woman on his phone. His damn phone. Only the people he could count on one hand knew the number. And none of them were cailíns. And only his dear dead mother called him Timothy. And he doubted that cailleach had risen from her misty grave in Ireland as some pimply teen age girl. Why was this girl calling him?

The female voice pressed on. Timmy squinted to concentrate. He rubbed his temples and smoothed back his red hair. He took a deep breath. He read once in some ladies magazine that taking deep breaths calmed nerves. He didn’t feel calm. But he had to settle down. He had to know why this girl was calling.

“Who is this?” He was still shouting but at least the swearing had ended.

“Sir we would like to confirm your order for caller ID”. It was the phone company.

Timmy slammed the phone down. The ear piece cracked as it hit the hard polished plastic of the base. Timmy was not done. If the damn job man wasn’t here to take his anger the phone certainly was. He heaved the phone across the room and watched it shattered into a hundred pieces. Still his anger seethed. He grabbed the phone cord and ripped it from the wall. He grasped it in his hands like a garrote. If only he had someone’s neck to wrap it around.

“Johnny get the fuck in here.” Timmy raged with anger. He was pulsating with violence. His hands clenched and unclenched straining to reach out and place action on his desire to inflict hurt.

“Yeah Tims?” Johnny was all shakes and nerves. He had heard his boss cursing and knew that trouble was coming his way.

“Get down to the job sight and let me know what in the hell is going on! And if you fucking don’t call at exactly 11:00 it’ll be a high windy gallows to ya!”

Johnny left and headed to a dirty little alley half way across town.

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