This is a fourth to A Life In Pieces (click here) which is probably essential reading before you tackle this. Part Two was Another Life In Pieces (click here) and part Three A Life in Anguished Pieces (click here)
A LIFE IN MOBILE WORDS
The trouble with television programmes these days is they’re never as good as the ones you remember from years ago, and then you find a free digital channel that shows all the old stuff along with far too many ads, and it reminds you how poor your memory is and how crap that old good stuff really was, thought Saphie moodily as she sat in her little front room with a brandy at one elbow and her walking stick at the other.
What she meant was how it was no fun at all wiling your life away on your own, with not much to do and all the things you might want to choose to do that are now quite plainly impossible with an old body like hers.
Then there was that odd bloke who came up to her, out of the blue, outside the café and started telling her the most intimate secrets of his life as if he’d known her for ever.
“Rusty,” she whispered to herself, and she frowned. I know how he felt, she thought. I know what it’s like to have so much on your mind and needing someone to share it with … someone to talk it over with, someone who might just tut-tut and say I know and stuff like that…
When the phone rang she almost jumped in her chair. The phone hardly ever rang these days and when it did it was almost always her mobile. She struggled out of her chair and went into the hallway where she kept the instrument.
If whoever it is knew how difficult this is for me once I’m settled they wouldn’t ring me, she thought.
She picked up the phone and said
And the phone replied “Hello”.
And the devil of it was she thought she recognised the voice, but just couldn’t place it.
“Who’s there?” she asked
“It’s me,” said the phone.
She paused and thought.
“Who’s me?” she asked.
“We met this afternoon and you thought I was some sort of sadistic killer…”
There was humour in the voice, not mocking humour but genuine almost self-deprecating humour.
“Oh…” What was his name? “Rusty?” she asked.
“How did you know my number?”
She hadn’t told him her surname and anyway she was ex-directory. So how had he known her name.
“Have you lost anything?”
Now what’s he on about? What might I have lost? I don’t think I’ve lost anything.
“When I ran after you from the café,” he said, “it wasn’t because I wanted to scare you or anything. But you’d left something on the seat where you sat. Something that might have slipped out of your pocket.”
“Well, you should know.”
“Are you sure it’s mine? Someone else might have been sitting there before me and I might not have noticed what they’d left…”
“Even if it was a mobile phone with HOME amongst the contacts, and this number?” the phone said, almost mockingly.
“Oh. You mean I lost my phone?”
“I was going after you to tell you, and instead you start quizzing me about being a serial killer … so I forgot the phone until it was too late. Then I had a brainwave once I got home and decided to see if you’d left any clue about your name or address on it, but the battery was flat and it wouldn’t so much as glow! But it’s the same model as mine, an old one I mean, and my charger fitted. So I charged it up and looked amongst the contacts and there was one called HOME. In capitals! So I rang it, and here you are.”
“I lost my phone?”
“That’s what I said, I think!”
“I’m not surprised the battery’s flat. I think it needs a new one.”
“So does mine.”
“I mean, I don’t use it very often. I bought it for emergencies.”
“The same here, though the only kind of emergency I can think of is one that wouldn’t give me enough time to charge the thing up!”
“The same here.”
“So what do you want me to do with it?”
“I’ll have to see you.”
“Er … yes.”
“The café where we met?”
“I suppose so.”
“Unless you can think of anywhere else?”
“No, no, that will do.”
“I hope it hasn’t upset you.”
“What hasn’t upset me?”
“A strange man knowing your number and ringing you up!”
“No, It’s kind of you.”
“What were you doing?”
“Oh, moping about the rubbish on the telly and telling myself that the good old days weren’t really that good.”
“I was having a drink. Beer. To pluck up the courage to ring you.”
“Well, us serial killers are never quite sure how we’re going to be taken!”
“I was having a drink, too.”
“A little brandy. Just in case I needed the strength to talk to a serial killer!”
“Tomorrow. At the café. What time?”
“Eleven. I think I’ll make it by eleven.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“What? To giving me my phone back?”
“No, Saphie. To seeing you again.”
“An old crock like me? You must be joking.”
“I’m not,” said the phone, and there was a click as Rusty hung up.
© Peter Rogerson 10.03.14