This is a story based on a conversation I had on Monday morning.
The number that keeps calling me called me. My dogs were at the veterinarian and the doctor had told me to keep the phone handy, to pick up if they called. The number ringing wasn’t the doctor but I felt emboldened enough to pick up when I normally wouldn’t.
There was a silence. The phone felt distant, as if I had faked the call. There was static. A suck, fast traveling light-years, a click and then a woman’s voice. “Hello,” she began. It was loud where she was. She had a small accent, one that sounded vaguely Indian. “I was hoping to speak with – ” She paused. ” – Kyle Fitzpatrick?”
I paused. Is this Kyle Fitzpatrick? “He’s not available at the moment,” I replied. “Can I take a message?”
“Is Mr. Fitzpatrick there?”
“No,” I mentioned. “He’s not available at the moment.”
“Might I ask who you are?”
Who am I? “I’m his boyfriend,” I said. “Bobby.” Call me by your name, I thought, recalling how Bobby had told me days ago to pick up when these strange numbers called, to tell them to stop calling.
“This is a very important business matter for Mr. Fitzpatrick.”
“I’m sorry but Kyle isn’t available.”
“Is his spouse there?”
A pause. I looked to the camera and smirked as the audience chuckled in anticipation of the punchline. “Speaking.”
She huffed, annoyed, her cadence at this point speeding to escape the flat surface she sat on, the hand of the man on her shoulder who was eavesdropping on us, the chatty hot room she contributed commentary to, whose walls were closing in on her and her headset. “This is a very, very important business matter,” she said.
“Kyle doesn’t do anything business related,” I told her.
“Yes, he does.”
“No,” I replied. “He definitely does not. He’s a student.”
“This is very important.” She was breathless, her voice quavering.
I worried that she was in danger before realizing how annoyed I was. “Are you a telemarketer?”
A stutter. “Excuse me?”
“Is this a telemarketer call? Because I don’t want this to happen anymore. I know you have been calling him.”
“Please,” she pleaded. “Mr. Fitzpatrick must attend to this business matter.”
“I’d like to be removed from this call list.”
She breathed heavily into the phone. “This – I – This is,” she stuttered. “This is – This is very important business for Mr. Fitzpatrick.”
“Please remove my number.”
“Can you please,” she said. “Can you…”
“Remove the number from the list,” she said, her voice becoming distant, fading, the surrounding conversation growing smaller and smaller and smaller until the gentlest click to nothing.