ENTRY 0010, February 6, 2004
has been a busy time around the compound. Sheila is stumping all
over town looking for corporate support for the school. I'm
working on THREE master's classes. Not one, not two, three.
I'm insane, but at least I know I'm insane. Actually, two of the
classes are great. The third, my writing class, would be great if
it were not son damned redundant. I have taken writing classes
before, just not in the past 15 years or so.
However, one interesting thing happened in class this week. We
always start with some sort of writing exercise, to break the ice and
get the juices flowing. Sometimes the professor knows exactly
what she wants us to write, other times she opens up her Writer's Block and picks a topic
Block is pretty cool. It is a cube of a book with
several hundred ideas. Turn to a page and your inspiration gets
going. Kinda neat. Anyway, last Monday she opened the book
and read the following:
"Write a short story that begins with a phone call at 3 AM."
I wrote the story, just as I was supposed to. I like it. So
I thought I would post it here.
THE PHONE CALL
The phone rang and precisely 3:00 AM.
The answering machine picked it up as usual. No way I was
answering. I always screen my calls. I waited. At
this time of night, it could only be one of three things, bad news, a
prankster or a really wrong number. My message ground out from
the tape recorder.
"Hi, this is Jim Rockford. I'm not in right
now, but if you leave your name and number, I'll get back to you."
What seems to be brilliant referential humor at 7:00PM sounds amazingly
stupid at 3:00 AM. The message ends and the beep for the person
to speak sounds. A pause. Then a voice I don't recognize.
"The pearl is in the river." Click. He
hangs up. What? I was tired, bleary. Maybe I heard it
wrong. I got up and stumbled to the phone. The display was
blinking "1" over and over. I hit the play button. The
message sounded again. I had heard it right. What the
hell? Must be a prankster. I forgot about it and went to
bed. I did not think about it at all the next day, or the next
evening. I didn't think about it again until precisely 3:00
I'm awake, again. My message. The
Beep. A pause. And then "Basset Hounds have long ears, but
clowns like them anyway." Click as he hangs up.
I get up, look at the caller ID screen.
Nothing. Not a number, not "out of area", not "Private
number". Nothing. It's like nobody called. But the
message is on the machine. Basset hounds? Clowns? I go back to bed and
forget about it. Wendsday Morning, 3:00 AM Ring, Message,
Beep and "California Condors are endangered. Not so the Fruit
Fly." Click. Through my annoyance, I must admit I have become
intrigued. I played back all three messages and I noticed that
the voices were different. They were almost the same, but not
exactly. It was almost as if different voice actors were all
trying to do the same voice. Strange. I was definitely
intrigued. Tomorrow, I would have them.
At 3:00 AM I was already awake. I was by the
phone. It rang. I picked up before the answering machine
"Hello! Hello! Who the hell is
this? Why are you calling me???"
"I'm sorry you have picked up. I can't give
you your message tonight. Good evening." Click. I put
the phone down.
The next night the message was a bit
"We are now one day behind schedule, sir. Crickets
chirp at night, while Cicadas scream in the daylight."
That's how it went. Sometimes the message made
"Brazil is the largest country in South America, and
the population speaks Portugese." Other times it was less
The grape dangles, while that pig grunts,the chicken
clucks and the trout leaps."
The first call came more than thirty years
ago. Since that time, every single night, the voice has
called. Each time the voice is a little different, each time with
a new message. I have them all written down in logbooks.
More than 11,000 entries. As a group, they make no sense.
Every once in a while I pick up the phone before the
machine and the voice tells me that he can't give me the message.
The next night the voice lets me know how many days behind schedule we
now are. We are now twenty one days behind schedule.
Behind what schedule, I do not know.
Anyway, what's new?
-Bush is still a lying moron.
-It appears that there is now abundant evidence that the president was
planning to invade Iraq from day one. 9/11 was just a convenient
-Science fair projects came in today. Some look pretty
good. We will see.
-Sheila's mom is in Spain, travelling with friends.
-We have two working rovers on Mars. That is Too Cool For Words.
-The primaries have begun. John Kerry has pulled in front rather
quickly, and Howard Dean appears a bit nervous.
-A woman is suing Viacom, CBS, MTV, Janet Jackson and Justin
Timberlake, due to the unfortunate "Wardrobe Malfunction" during the
Halftime show of the Superbowl. She is asking for "Billions" in
damages. Geez. ( * )( ) woo hoo.
-Quizno's is using the most annoying ad EVER! It is based on some
Flash animations that have been floating around for a long time. Here is an example.
The main webpage has more
stuff like this, as well.
Well, I gotta run.