Bewildering Stories

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Message 37

by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith

"Michael, it's Tom. You're going to want to listen to this when you're alone; so If Kelly is in the room you might want to hit pause. And Kelly, it's about my prostate so it wouldn't interest you anyway. I know as far as you're concerned, the worse my health gets, the better, and I say that in the most gentle way possible.

So, now, Michael I'm hoping you've waited till the appropriate time and I'm just talking to you. Michael there's been a snag: it's about the machine you gave me. And I guess the real thing is, there is nothing wrong with the machine. It's still doing that Kreskin magic future stuff, and what really scares me is there isn't a reply from you here already. There isn't a reply on my machine from this message, and that really scares me. But even so I had to call. Maybe you run over here and maybe we get rid of the machine? And maybe that's why I keep pressing your code in and get nothing out. But it is creepy the way you're neglecting me, after all the shit we've been through.

Last night I was listening to the tapes and I had Chrissy's number punched in. You remember Chrissy. The girl with the long gold hair, the one who wears all those long silk dresses, the one with the little diamond chip on the side of her nose. She came to the party one time at Maureen's. You played pool with her and she kicked your ass three games in a row. Well, I've been seeing her regular now, and trying to use the machine like you told me to. And I have to admit it works like you said it would, works just like you said. But you know me, I kept getting curious, so I started listening too far ahead. You're right: knowing there was a fight next week pretty much insures there'll be a fight next week.

I did all of that stuff about being patient and you know what? It is easy to be patient if you know how patient you have to be. If I remember right, it was her sixth message that got me convinced you knew what we were talking about. Like she called me two days after her birthday and thanked me for not rushing the sex part. And then she promised a little bit more was coming my way, so when I did see her on her birthday, I remembered to hold back some, and then right after the trip to the casino I won more than a pari-mutuel if you know what I mean.

But like I said you know I'm not really a patient guy, and so I kept trying to get more and more messages ahead. I'd be listening to us - well, her - I'd be listening to her weeks in the future, trying to figure out why sometimes she said yes to dinner or a play, and sometimes she'd say no. And like you warned me, knowing she was going to call up and say "no" meant I didn't ask with much hope or confidence, so maybe I was shaping the future by knowing it.

Look all that stuff...

Look, Michael, I think I'm in trouble.

Last night I played the phone messages for the coming week. It looks bad. It looks like I screw up big time. I know why you said you gave me this machine. I know why you said you gave me this machine. But I have to ask you: was there, like, problems for you too? You said you didn't need it any more not since you married. But I'm asking you, were there problems?

I've played the tape for this Saturday, just five days from now. I've played her messages. There's like a dozen messages between now and Saturday. She keeps talking about my affair with somebody named Kelly, and I don't even know anybody named Kelly except for your Kelly. And we all know what she thinks of me. But I have Chrissy accusing me of fooling around with somebody named Kelly, and then in the next message she breaks up with me. And then the next pleads with me to take her back, and it bounces back and forth like that. And then the message on Saturday doesn't even make any sense.

It's Chrissy on the phone. She's on the answering machine talking to the police. It's my phone number, but she's talking to the police. She's all crying and shit, and she tells them where she is and how sorry she is and that she didn't mean to do it.

Look, Michael. There's what, five days? I figure I've got five days to figure something out.

There's a lot of static on the phone machine. We talked about that before. The more static, the more predictional the message.

So it looks like I've got time to change this, 'cause I really don't want to get shot this week, not if I can help it. Like I say, call me. But how dumb is that? To say call me when I have a machine right here that tells me you don't call me.

I just thought of something. I've only been punching in your name and checking calls from you. I know what to do: I'll punch in the code for your house. What the hell? There are messages. Ten messages. They look like they're from Kelly. I wonder why she'd be calling..."

Copyright © 2003 by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith