A Bad Place Full Of Bad Jerks
A Bad Place Full Of Bad Jerks

Smooth Talker

It's 8:15 p.m. My phone rings.

I immediately dread answering it. Ordinarily the kids could keep themselves entertained for a while longer no problem, but taking this phone call would guarantee a swift and speedy descent into chaos, crying, and unnecessary hair-pulling. Plus, nobody calls at night unless there's a problem. This is not going to be a good phone call.


I check the caller ID. Don't know the number. Probably a telemarketer, I think. Just let it go to voicemail.

The phone rings on. But maybe it's something about the house. Or maybe it's somebody from work. Did I forget to turn something off at work?


I have to answer it. I don't want to answer it, but I have to answer it. I swipe.


There's a long pause. A very long pause. A pause long enough for me to realize how long this pause is, to conclude that this has to be a telemarketer, to wish I had never answered the phone, and to comprehend that I still have the option to hang up without having to talk to anyone.


Maybe it's important, I think. Give it another second.

"Yes," she finally speaks, "is this, uh, Diary Morbless?"

Jesus, not even fucking close, I think. Then the greatest idea ever hits me. She said my name so wrong, I'll pretend I don't even know who she's talking about. I'll pretend it's a wrong number, and she'll go away forever. It's bulletproof.


Impressed by my own ability to think on my feet, and in spite of being a terrible liar, I put my genius plan in motion. "Uh, no, this isn't him," I reply, much less confidently than I had imagined.

Unperturbed, she forges on. "Really? This is the number we have for Diary."

Shit, I think, that was supposed to be it. I tell a tiny lie, and she hangs up without any further questions. Is that so much to ask?


Utterly lacking a backup plan, I improvise quickly. And by "quickly" I mean "after an eternity of a silence during which I try to remember why I thought this was such a brilliant scheme three seconds ago."

"Uh, no ... sorry," I reply. That's all I got. What an idiot.

She starts talking again, which definitely wasn't part of the plan. This was a horrible idea. I have to end this now. "Sorry," I interrupt without hearing anything she says. "Uhhhhh … sorry. Bye."


I hang up.

She doesn't call back. I don't blame her.

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