The doodly-doo-doo of a cell phone rang out, and instinctively I reached for my red RAZR sitting on the desk. I almost had it to my ear before I heard Ted in the cubicle behind me say “Yelllll-o.”
I checked the screen of my unanswered cell to confirm that I had missed no calls. The juvenile in me wanted to toss my phone at Ted’s head, to explain that answering the phone like that was not cute, nor was it necessary to talk so loudly. Though we were in separate cubicles, I could stand, reach behind me over the spacer, and flick him on his ear without any effort at all.
I brushed a blonde lock away from my glasses and glanced again at the phone. Two hours until time to go home, and time seemed like an eternity on the graveyard shift. At this time of year, it wouldn’t even be light before I got home, and I wanted only to get away from Ted and everyone else, and get into the warmth of my bed.
The same doodly-doo-doo of a cell with a ringtone on default rang out across the otherwise quiet conglomerate of people walled off from each other only from the chest down. It was the last straw. I placed my own phone on vibrate to keep myself from reaching for it every time I heard that sound, but no sooner than I had plopped it on my desk than it went off, vibrating too fast for me to catch it. It jerked itself off the desk and onto the top of my black leather pumps. I grunted and retrieved the phone, flipping it open and finding myself yelling “hello” a bit louder than I had intended.
“Oy. No personal calls,” said the voice. Then there was a cackle that I heard not only from the phone, but across the half-walls from the corner where Jamie sat. I flipped the phone shut and tossed it in a drawer.
Every cat owner has learned to dread the chyut-chyut-chyut of a cat hurling up breakfast. That’s the sound which greeted me as I walked in my kitchen door. I dumped the keys and cell phone on the kitchen table, then flipped the light switch to see my loving calico preparing to vomit over my Christmas Cactus. A moment of indecision swept upon me: Should I first remove the plant from the cat, remove the cat from the plant, or run down the hall shutting doors to prevent her from running into a bedroom and plopping her vomit on the carpets. Shutting the doors became my first priority.
Without even taking time to turn on any other lights, I raced to each of the three bedrooms, the bathroom, and the utility room and pulled each door closed. By the time I reached the utility room, I heard a strange mix of a cat choking and the doodly-doo-doo of my cell.
“Now what?” I sighed out loud. “I’m busy,” I yelled at the inanimate object from across the house. I got the third bedroom door closed and I turned just in time to see a cat race across the kitchen to the entrance to the living room before beginning another round of the chyut chorus.
“Don’t go up on the couch,” I pleaded. I raced to the living room and saw the calico had instead decided that under the couch was a safer spot.
The phone mercifully silenced itself as I went back to the kitchen to survey the damage. There was a green splotch on the floor by the sink, and one right by the patio door, but mercifully, the cactus was spared. I rolled my eyes and grabbed a paper towel from the counter, passing by the kitchen table on the way to mess number one. In passing, I picked up the phone and flipped it, intending to find out who had called so early in the morning, but the “1 missed call” message I expected to find wasn’t there.
The phone was still in my hand when I heard it ring again. Only, it wasn’t mine.
My phone was still on vibrate.
A second ring was added to the first, and then another. The ringtones were joined by the sound of blood rushing to my ears, and though I felt the need to move, I couldn’t shift a single muscle. The phones were ringing behind me, from the hall.
Another phone chirped from my master bedroom. I slowly twisted to the wall behind me, to the hall’s light switch and turned it on.
Each hallway door that I had blindly closed earlier was now visible. Each had been sawn off, chest-high, and behind each was a figure, a man in a suit and tie, each holding a phone up to their faces, and each phone ringing in turn.
All mouths had been sewn shut with wire, or maybe they were stapled. I didn’t want to look too closely, but I couldn’t look them in the eyes, either. Each man’s eyes were dark, bloodshot, and wide. I felt they were somehow pleading to me.
Each struggled against the metal binding their mouths, trying to yell into their phones. As I looked toward the utility room, I realized the man I was watching struggle to free his mouth was Ted. The others I recognized in turn as my other co-workers.
Blood began pouring from the holes in their lips where they struggled against the bindings.
I tried to back away, to find my way back to the door only to slip on a spot of cat’s vomit. As I fell back, my phone vibrated in my hand.
Wide-eyed and panicked, I lifted the phone to my eyes to read the incoming number. It wasn’t a call, however, but a text.
“Personal calls will no longer be tolerated.”