11/30/12

Scott McClanahan

PHONE GIRL

It started with the phone call. I was sitting in my room not doing a damn thing when the phone went—ring, ring—and I picked it up, expecting it to be one of my friends.

“Hello.” I said, but there wasn’t any voice on the other line. There was just this heavy breathing.

I said, “Hello” again thinking it was a telemarketer, when the voice on the other line started giggling.

“Hello,” I said again.

“Who the hell is this?” I said, going through all the people it could be.

Could it be Wayne? No, he was in basic training by now.

Could it be Randy? No, he was in jail for his third DUI.

Then the voice on the other line said, “What are you wearing?”

And I giggled too, not recognizing the voice at all.

She giggled and I giggled back.

She said, “Who is this?”

I tried thinking up a name I could tell her.

Eric.

John.

Bill.

George.

I said, “George,” and as soon as I said it I thought, “God, George sounds like a made up name.”
She realized it too and said, “George of the Jungle.”

Then she breathed sexy and said, “Okay George what’s your real name?”

I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked her who put her up to this. I knew somebody was listening on the other line. But she didn’t say anything and I believed her. I believed her and told her my name was Scott. She grew quiet and said, “Okay Scott. It’s your lucky day. Do you know what I’m doing right now?”

I sure as hell didn’t and felt my breath growing heavy. I didn’t care if it was a prank phone call or not, my hand was shaking so bad.

And then she said that she just wanted me to know that she was alone and then she started groaning.

She breathed heavy again and I realized she wasn’t joking. She moaned again. I sat in my chair and listened to her on the phone and then I thought—what the hell! This is my lucky day. She started moaning and groaning and groaning and moaning. And I imagined her bed and her body and her blonde hair.

I thought whatever floats your boat. I enjoyed it. It was all over a couple of minutes later and she said goodbye and hung up.

After that a week or so went by and I didn’t hear from her. She called again one day and she moaned some more. She called the next day and did the same thing. Then she hung up. But then the next day the phone rang and I picked it up and we just talked. I found out all kinds of stuff about her. I found out her real name was Jacqueline and she was 22 years old and worked as a secretary in a law office. She was paid like shit, but she just broke up with her boyfriend because he beat her.

He beat the hell out of her.

She told me she was a blonde in a bottle and 5’6”.

I told her what I looked like too.

Then she whispered like usual, “I want you.”

That’s the way it was. She giggled and said this was the strangest relationship in the history of relationships. We both laughed and talked about all kinds of things.

We talked about how hard it was to meet somebody in this world who you can connect with, and even sometimes when you think you found someone you really haven’t found the person, but just the idea of the person. Then we talked about how weird it was she just called a number up out of the blue because she was bored and had nothing to do. We talked about how maybe she didn’t even exist, and maybe we were just a figment of each other’s imagination. She told me even though we’d never seen each other’s faces—she saw who I was. She said that most people see faces and don’t know anything else. She breathed heavy and asked me who I was. I told her. I told her I was a twenty-two-year-old guy and I’d never even had a girlfriend really. I told her I was so lonely there was a fly living in my room for a couple of days and I couldn’t kill it. I told her I talked to it and pretended it talked to me.

I said, “Are you lonely little fly?”

I said, “Yeah I’m lonely too.”

Then we laughed and she said I should write her a love letter. She said she would write me a love letter too.

After I got off the phone, I sat down and wrote her a love letter. I told her about how much the past couple weeks had meant to me. And then I told her that I loved talking to her. I said that I knew that this wasn’t just chance. She knew me better than anyone and I was thankful for it. I thought I should take a picture of myself. I went home that weekend, and I had my mother take a picture of me without my shirt on. I put the picture in an envelope along with the letter. I finished with the letter and then at the end I wrote, “I hope this doesn’t freak you out, but I love you.”

When I got her letter there was a baby picture and a picture of a beautiful blonde girl. There was a letter she wrote that said, “I hope this doesn’t freak you out. But I’m in love with you.”

One late night after talking for about an hour, and listening to the moaning and groaning, we decided to meet up. I got in my car and drove down to a grocery store parking lot which was close to her house. I waited on her in my car. I sat out in the front seat looking around for the red sports car that she said she would be driving. She wasn’t showing up so I took out the letter that said “Love, Jackie” and then…
I hunger for your cock.

I sat and chuckled and I imagined all the people. Is that her? Is that her? When I looked out of my window I saw a fat woman and I thought—Is that her? I thought of my friend who had a girl like this—only to find out it was a guy. Why would someone like this want someone like me? I sat and looked at the picture, and a half hour passed and then an hour and then an hour and a half. I drove back to my room to call her, thinking there must have been a mix-up on the meeting place.

I drove all the way back to my room and passed a man in the street. Is that her? I picked up the phone and called her telephone number. The phone rang a couple of times and I was thinking, “Shit. She’s somewhere waiting on me.” But then someone picked it up and a voice said, “Hello.”

It wasn’t Jacqueline. It was a rough-sounding woman’s voice.

“Is Jacqueline there?” I asked, wondering.

“Jacqueline. You mean Jackie?” The voice sounded confused. “I guess this is her friend from school.”

“What?”

“Well this is Jackie’s mom and she can’t go out tonight. She’s got school in the morning and she can’t be going out late at night. ”

I held the phone to my ear and thought, “What the hell?”

Then there were voices arguing and all of a sudden Jacqueline was on the phone sounding like she’d been crying. “What the fuck is going on?” I said.

She tried playing it off.

“Oh my roommate was being silly.”

“What? Roommate? She said she was your mom.”

Then Jackie giggled except it wasn’t a sexy giggle anymore. It was the giggle of a little girl. I just asked her if she was twenty-two and worked in a law office like she said and she just giggled. I asked her if she was eighteen, thinking she was in high school maybe. She giggled. I felt like I was going to be sick.  But I still asked her.

Sixteen.
She giggled.

Fifteen.
She giggled.

Fourteen.
She giggled.

Thirteen.
She giggled.

Twelve.

She stopped giggling. She said, “Well I’m going to be twelve in two months.”

I flipped out, and she told me it was her cousin in the picture she sent and that everybody said she was going to look like that when she grew up.

I started screaming, “I can’t be doing this. This is illegal. I told her I needed to stop talking to her.”
She got mad.

She told me, “If you stop talking to me, I’ll tell my mom. I’ll tell my mom everything about the dirty talk and I’ll show her your letter.” She read me a raunchy sentence. My heart dropped. She whispered, “I want to hear you.”

“What?”

“I want to hear you or I’ll tell.”

I hung up. The phone rang. Ring, Ring.

I just let it ring and put my hand on the phone.

And even now, years later, when I see all the faces, I think, is that her? I see women at the grocery store, and I see people outside. Is that her? And even now whenever the phone rings, guess what?
I still want it to be her.

Scott McClanahan is the author of Stories V! and the Collected Works of Scott McClanahan. In 2013 Two Dollar Radio will publish his book Crapalachia and New York Tyrant Books will publish his novel Hill William. He is co-partner of the company Holler Presents. Learn more at hollerpresents.com.

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