issue twenty-one

art gallery
past issues
current issue
(298 words)
The phone bill came to $85,128.52.

Scott's heart took a break and then began again, sprinting. His ears squealed like a computer hard drive trying to cool itself. The squealing got louder and louder. Scott turned to the second page and read the itemized portion of the bill, starting from the bottom. The total was $85,128.52. The assorted taxes were $15.83, the in-line insurance $10.13, the regular monthly service $38.04. Above these was the big line, $85,068 and next to it a number. The number appeared to Scott as if it were in bold, all capitals, yelling to him, his shame: 976-XXX-XXXX. Triple X plus X times four. 976. $85,068. He had called the number once. He hadn't listened for more than fifteen minutes. He knew this. The bill said he'd listened for 720 hours, said he'd been on the phone full time. He felt like it. One phone call was all he'd thought about for the past two weeks.

Scott walked toward the phone. It was off the hook. His heart gave another lurch. Cracked plastic dropped to concrete flooring.

Scott kneeled, picked up the phone, raised it to his ear.

"I love it when you touch me there, Alvin," the familiar voice said. It was Susan, Scott's girlfriend, his almost-girlfriend, his ex, telling another man what he wanted to hear.

Scott's ears exploded.

Cartilage spilled across the carpet, globs of translucent squishy stuff, cut-up rubber bands, fleshy canvas shreddings, tiny white bits of plastic bone, transistors, a miniature drum, another, sticks in the shape of chicken wings. Scott bent over, breathing hard, reaching for the floor, the parts spilling out of his head, gathering.

The phone began to bleep at him. The bleeps were high-pitched moans, gaining speed. Scott pressed the mute button, hung up.



M  C  R

This work is copyrighted by the author, Jon Morgan Davies. All rights reserved.
Jon Morgan Davies
The Sound of Numbers
When They Are Haunting You