Friday, October 12, 2012

The voice on the other end of the line.


“Yes?” He didn’t recognize the voice.

It was one of those rare moments of propinquity. The phone hadn’t actually rung yet. That had happened once or twice with people before. He was just thinking about a girl, Cindy, but this was not Cindy. It was just that he was going to be a little late for work. He really should phone in to let them know.

“I’m here for you, Tyrell.” It was a young woman. “I just want you to know that.”

“Ha, ha, ha.” Tyrell wasn't particularly amused. “Well. That’s good to know.”

Holding his breath, he waited on the line impatiently.

“Do you hear me?” 

Maddeningly, he still had no idea who it was.

“Yeah, I’m here. Sure. And if you don’t mind my asking…”

“I’m here for you.” Then she was gone.

“Huh!” Tyrell stood staring off into space and shaking his head gently.

Who in the hell was that?


Tyrell stood at the bus stop, holding a brown cardboard coffee cup, warming his hands and hoping against hope that the bus was on time. Carefully peeling back the tab, he had a little sip, but snapped it down again. He preferred to have some of the coffee left when he got to his desk. The trip itself was a good twenty-five minutes at the best of times.

Late as he was, everyone else had pretty much all gone before, and he was alone for once.

He wished he still smoked, but perished the thought quickly. The phone in a kiosk a few metres away began to ring, cracking the morning calm with its shrill, insistent note.

He looked around in annoyance. There was no one nearby or anything.

"What’s that all about?” It was a complaint to the world in general.

It was best not to get too involved, he knew that. The phone rang for the fourth or fifth time.

Surely, it couldn’t go on for too long…still it rang.

“Shit.” He stumbled to the booth.

He would tell them there was no one there. He grabbed it with a sense of futility, certain it would be a hang-up. Someone was wasting someone’s time. Today started off well enough, in spite of waking up twenty minutes late. This was just an added irritation.


“I just want you to know it will be all right.”

“What? Who is this? I think you might have the wrong number—”

There was nothing but a buzz on the line.


So. He had a friend. A secret admirer! He grinned ruefully at the thought. No, it had to be something so much worse than that, considering the way his luck was going lately. She had to be a lunatic, in every sense of the word.

“Oh, wow.” He didn't have time to deal with it, and she couldn’t really be talking to him.

Although she had his number…it could be anyone named Tyrell. That didn’t seem too logical for some reason. Mind you, with a person like that, it didn’t have to be logical. Bizarre thoughts revolved around and around. What was up with her?

It was a troubled young man who booted up the computer and cracked open the first of the client files he was auditing this otherwise fine November morning.


He could hear it as clear as a bell inside his head.

Oh, God! Now he was doing it to himself.


The voice on the phone was oddly familiar. Maybe he was just over-analyzing. The strange girl’s voice had some haunting quality. That was the weird part. He could almost accept that some woman might get hold of his number, but now that he thought about it, she seemed too young to be predatory, at least in that sense. Money? Was she after money? How did she hope to get it? Didn’t they usually just break in? Or pick your pocket? She really ought to try picking me up in a bar, he thought.

For the rest of the day, he would be distracted. With the pressure of work, he really didn’t need it right now.


“Ah-ah-ah!” Tyrell lurched up out of his seat as if stung.

“It’s for you.” Mister Evans was there, holding the phone and standing in the door of his cubicle.


“Hello?” he asked, standing there beside Mister Evans, impatient to get his desk phone back.

“Tyrell, I just want you to know—”

“I don’t want to know!” he blurted and hung up abruptly.

His heart rate went shooting up and the boss-man was looking shocked.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“What’s going on?” Who was that? Not one of our clients, I hope.”

“I have no idea!” Tyrell told him. “She’s been calling me, and calling me, and I have no idea what it’s about!”

“She keeps calling you? Why would she keep calling you? What does she say?”

“She’s insane,” snorted Tyrell.

“Is she threatening you? Maybe we should call the police.” Nigel Evans was a pretty good guy to work for.

“No, she’s not threatening me,” said Tyrell. “Let’s forget it. They would never catch her anyway.”

“But what is she saying?” Evans was all insatiable curiousity.

For all Tyrell knew, this was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to him.

“She says it’s going to be all right,” groaned Tyrell.

He would be a laughing-stock for sure, and maybe that was what it was about, as Nigel’s face cracked wide open in the biggest grin Tyrell had ever seen on him.


“Something wonderful is going to happen,” came Sid Rushton’s voice, overly loud, and half the cafeteria cracked up.

The story, predictably enough, was all over the building by lunchtime. Tyrell, shy enough at the best of times, blushed beet red and focused with all his might on the coleslaw and a few cold, sodden french fries, all covered in congealing ketchup.

“They’ll get over it,” nodded Raphael, his only major acquaintance in the building.

“Anyway, she’ll probably figure it out sooner or later and maybe her hubby or whatever deserves it!”

“What do you mean?’ asked Tyrell, looking up momentarily into his friend’s sardonic blue eyes.

“Well, she’s obviously doing it for a reason,” suggested Raphael. “She’s just missed a digit on the phone number.”

“But why keep calling?” asked Tyrell.

“She’s got it on the top of the list, and she keeps hitting speed-dial,” said Raphael. “Next time she calls, just tell her. It’s too simple, really.”

“I suppose you’re right,” sighed Tyrell. “I don’t know, but that call at the bus stop. That one creeps me out.”

Raphael didn’t have too much to say about that.

“Maybe she’s hot. I wouldn’t rule it out. She must want you pretty bad.”


The phone was ringing, and everyone was looking at him.

“I’m not answering it!” he said, and they all laughed.

Still, the unit bolted to the cafeteria wall was ringing, and ringing, and ringing…

“Aw, no,” grumbled Tyrell as that damned Sid Rushton got up and sauntered over with a big grin on his face.

He picked up the handset and appeared to be listening intently. His eyes stabbed Tyrell.

“It’s for you!” he shouted the length of the room, almost collapsing in hysterical giggles on the floor.

But this one was clearly a prank as his perpetual side-kick, Sam Kennich, held up a sleek black cellular phone unit and laughed as hard as his co-conspirator.

“Oh, man,” said Tyrell, holding his head in his hands.


A woman screamed and some kid fell onto the tracks and the trolley was coming and Tyrell didn’t even think about it.

“I'm here for you...” The words rang in his head and all was a roaring as he dove the few yards and grabbed him.

With a monumental heave, Tyrell tossed the kid into his mother’s arms and with a clang the thing was upon him. There was one half second of shock and awe and pain and then merciful blackness.


“Unbelievable,” observed Doctor Sheridan Daniel Delorme. “The man stepped in front of a trolley to save a child, and look what we have here.”

“You’ll be fine,” the woman at his side assured him.

“Some kind of miracle,” he added. “It is a privilege to see this.”

The joke didn’t get too far. There were a couple of dutiful chuckles, but that was okay, the effort had been made.

“The man shouldn’t have made it this far, but apparently he took a lucky bounce, according to eye-witnesses.”

Machines clicked and hissed and sucked and pumped while they waited.

“Wow. I don’t know.” He ran through the facts in his head.

His hands were all ready to go.

Doctor Delorme took a deep breath. In a quickly acquired habit they had come to know, he engaged all the operating room staff with a long look. A ring of shining eyes looked back at him in a kind of worship. They, at least, had no doubts.

“Looks like we’re committed now.” They all laughed.

It was like he was still learning his trade some days, but confidence had gotten him this far; and a kind of cheerful acceptance. If he couldn’t do it then no one else could either. In which case it didn’t matter anyway. Thank God for those hands and those eyes.

“All righty then! Let’s see if we can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

Doctor Delorme went to work, as his mentor Doctor Amy Cardiff looked on.

“I’m here for you. I just want you to know that.”

(Photo: Morguefile.)

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