Again and again. It rings.
Jolted by the ring tone. Not family or friend. Logic and reasoning fleeing. Only anxiety remains. A glance out of the corner of the eye confirms: it’s 4:30 pm – that’s when it starts. A lab mouse would commence shaking. Is huddling in a wingback chair comparable? The threat is there: 24 inches away.
Maybe shove that phone in a drawer?
Leave the house without it?
No, that would mean being dangerously unaccompanied.
Maybe set the voice mail to pick up faster? Not that any message is usually left. Is that better – or worse? No information left – Only imagination pounding wild.
Gingerly picking up the phone – just to check.
(Ready to throw, if it blazes to life.)
Like the Caller ID would blurt out any answers: all that spoofing of innocent looking numbers. A call from “Beverly Hills”? How interesting. What are the chances Paris Hilton finally decided to call? What? We’ll have to do lunch?
Phone still silent.
Heavy in hand. 4:30.
(How soon before another one?)
What jeering phone number would it be? Seattle? No, that was yesterday. Washington, DC? Dallas? Chicago? A bizarre parade already registered. Never repeated. Sometimes simply “Unknown Caller.”
Why? Why the abrasive intrusion?
There’s been no encouragement. No conversation.
Oh, at first, a couple of times answered by mistake.
After a frantic run down the hall.
Or not checking the caller ID.
Or expecting a call – a friendly call.
No blame there.
It’s only a phone call.
Everyday between 4:30 and 5:30. (Don’t they eat dinner?)
Searching mind for an explanation.
It’s like Bambi being stalked by a ruthless killer: innocence cornered by evil.
But it’s just a call. (Maybe shut the blinds, though?)
The phone dances on the table as it rings again.
The screen jeers with “Chicago”.
Not a victim! NO!
Finger stabbing to answer with anger and resolve.
Hysterically yelling, “Stop calling. Who are you?”
Only to be met with that chilling mechanical voice, “Hel-lo, this is a quick O-pin-i-on Poll a-bout the up-com-ing pres-i-den-ti-al el-ec-tion…”
With months still to go,
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse if the Hedge.