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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2203539
A short story written for the Writer's Cramp prompt, 10/19/19.
A Major Annoyance

The phone jangles, jars through my ears and shatters my dream. Groggily I reach for it, mumble in to it, for my tongue, like my mind, is still thoroughly discombobulated.

"Good morning," says a cheery voice. "Please don't be alarmed but we have received a message to say your computer has problems."

My computer? How is that possible? It is shut down, disconnected, isn't it? That element of doubt drags me out of my bed to check. I'm right. I've been taken in by such a cliched telemarket ploy. I can do one of two things now; scream and shout, which is definitely tempting, or just hang up. Sanity reigns for long enough for me to disconnect.

Up early, disgustingly so, there's no way I'm going to be able to get back to sleep. I take a cool shower, drink a strong dose of caffeine, then decide to head out for an early morning walk. Don't they say that a shot of morning sunshine is a great way to fight depression?

Door open, I'm heading outside when the phone begins to ring again. "Mr Jefferies?" No pause for me to reply. "I'm sorry to have to inform you that a member of your family has been involved in an accident."

"Who? Where are they? Are they alright?" My mind is whirring with possibilities.

"Don't worry, sir, this is just to let you know how you would feel. We have a special discount, exclusively for you, this morning, on accident insurance. Should this call have been genuine, you would have had the security of being..."

I cut the sentence off. That moment of adrenaline coursing through my veins has passed, leaving me feeling shaken and stirred to anger. There has to be some law against such calls, doesn't there? I phone a friend to ask and apparently, much as the tactic is despicable, it is not illegal.

My mood somewhat soured, I turn back and sit at my computer. I have deadlines to meet so I'd make use of my time this way, instead of taking a stroll.

The day continues in the same way it had started. There is call upon call, insisting that I am in need of this service or that. My car needs replacing, would I like a loan? Properties in my area have had reported damp defects; for the very reasonable sum of $5,000 I could have my house specially coated and sealed.

You might wonder why I simply didn't unhook the thing and cut all these verbal harassments off. If they could not get through, I would not have to listen to them. And, on any other day, that's exactly what I would have done. Had they information that told them I was waiting for a call? One that I could not afford to miss? I'm beginning to think they must have.

My frustration gets greater and greater. I have built up a nice flow of words and am tapping away when once again the phone begins to ring.

"Have you thought about dying?"

Well, that' a killer sentence, if ever there was one. Was I being threatened?

"The thing is, sir, if you were to pay for your funeral in advance, think how much less stress your bereaved family members would feel."

"Over my dead body," I seethe, not realizing what I was saying until the young voice replys.

"But of course, sir. We would not have it any other way!"

Fuming, I re-read my words, try to recapture my train of thought. It is no good. It's gone and I am left in a wordless limbo. Inside my head there lingers the image of a tombstone; 'Frank Jefferies; he tried to write a novel and he failed.'

The phone rings again, for what must be the fifteenth time. I grab it and say just one single word. "No!"

"But Frank, are you sure?" Just before I disconnect I hear the voice of my agent. "It's a good offer. You turn it down and..."

"Sorry, sorry, it's been one of those days," I say, tempted to go in to all the details but resisting it. "Now, what were you saying?"

And as I listen to my agent repeat the offer, one that is far better than I'd ever dreamed of, the inscription on that headstone changes before my eyes to read, 'Frank Jefferies, novelist', and all the tension and the aggravation that had built up throughout the day dissolves into a bubble that grows bigger and bigger until it pops.

A celebration is in order. I'll book a table, phone a friend, and ensure that no further calls can get through. At least until tomorrow.


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