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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

85_ym_yourtimeismytime_mddavis.jpg
Art by Michael D. Davis 2021

Your Time Is My Time

 

Walter Giersbach

 

          The cable TV installer had stood Carla up for the second day.  She was near tears with the kind of irritation that seethed and couldn’t be controlled by taking deep breaths or doing distracting chores.  The frustration was worse than waiting for a patient who never arrived.  At least the patient would probably say, “Oops, I forgot the date.” 

She worked to bolster her self-confidence as she stared from the telephone to the dark plasma screen television.  Carla knew she was still attractive at 36, she dressed well, and her RN degree was respected among the workers in the Santa Clara County hospital.  If only she wasn’t hobbling around on crutches, having fallen from helping a patient who had collapsed.

So where was the cable man?  This was just a business appointment without emotional attachment.  Not a date.  Was this such a hard thing to schedule?

          She had taken to referring to the installer as the damncableman, running the words together the way the Germans used polysyllables to define emotions too complex to be put into short nouns.

          He had failed to show on Monday during the 9-to-5 window they scheduled.  She had called the company’s 800 number.  The customer service clerk had said there had been a problem; would she be home tomorrow? 

Of course she’d be home tomorrow.  She was on work-related disability!  On top of that, she was still haunted by the passing of her husband, Dr. David Marshall Sullivan, who’d contracted the virus at the hospital.

She waited until noon on Tuesday before calling the 800 number and demanding to know where the repairman was.

“May I confirm your address?” the clerk asked.  This woman asked for her phone number again.  And for the confirmation number they had given her earlier.  The clerk spoke with an Indian accent, and Carla realized her voice was being shunted halfway around the world, to some place like Madras or Mumbai.

“I need that repair,” Carla said through clenched teeth.  “I’m communicating with medical patients.  I’m a hospital nurse and we may be talking life and death.”  This was a lie.  She wanted to see Oprah during the morning and a lineup of reality shows at night.  These were the shows that deadened the pain of remembering the man who had been husband, lover, friend and bon vivante.  David’s hand would have guided them into a fulfilling life together.

“He should be on the way,” the lady from India assured her.

“What is the problem?” Carla asked.

“Um, the log shows he couldn’t find your house.”

“Does he have a cell phone?  Can’t he call me when he’s in the neighborhood?”

“I will make a note,” she said.  “I will try to page him to call you.  And, please be patient,” the clerk pleaded.  “This call is monitored for quality assurance.”

The rest of the day was quiet.  Every small sound was magnified by the absence of a phone call.  It was almost as if there had been a power failure.  Well, even her co-workers probably had TVs and husbands, which is more than Carla had. 

She was so depressed that she microwaved a plate of frozen appetizers for dinner and opened a bottle of wine from David’s self-consciously small collection.

Wednesday morning dawned as blissfully cloudless as every other California morning.  This alone unsettled her, thinking the apocalypse would be waiting for just such a day to kick Californians in the ass with tsunamis, forest fires, pestilent Med flies or some other annihilation.

The telephone rang as she was updating messages and looking for friends she could network with.  It shocked her into almost dropping the phone. 

“Miss Sullivan, this is the cable technician.”

“It’s Mrs., and I thought I was imagining your call.  Where are you?”

“I’m on Osborne Street at the corner of Arroyo Seco.  Where are you?”

“Where I’ve been for three ... days.”  She almost laced her retort with an angry adjective.  “For three days.  I’m at 108 Osborne.”

“There isn’t any 108.  Just a construction site.”

“There was a 108 Osborne when I woke up this morning.  There was a 108 yesterday.  I’d say it’s a good bet there’ll be a 108 tomorrow.”

“Ma’am, I’m standing in front of where that address should be and there’s no 108.  It’s a construction pit.”

Carla opened the slider and looked out at the street.  “Where’s your truck?  I don’t see a white truck.”

“Well, it’s blue.  Maybe kinda hard to see because of the rain.”

“Look, I don’t have time for chit-chat.  I’m missing the Oprah Winfrey Show right now.”

She heard a snort of laughter.  “What, on DVD?  Oprah’s been dead for three years.”

“Don’t get funny.  I don’t criticize your taste in TV shows.”  She paused as his words struck her.  “What do you mean rain?  Are you in San Jose?”  And, slyly, “Are you drinking?”

“Ma’am, it’s pouring cats and dogs, I had to get permission to get through the police barricades because of the bomb blast here, and I’m not getting paid overtime....”

“What bomb?”  Her face went pale and her fingers groped for the cane next to her chair.

“Excuse me, lady, but a city block is missing.  Just like 108 Osborne is missing.  I know you don’t have TV, but it was terrorists or something and I’m standing in an empty street getting soaked.  Now, is this a joke?”

Quietly, Carla asked.  “What is today’s date?”

“February 29th.”

“There is no 29th.” Carla insisted.  “This isn’t a leap year.”

“Sure as hell is February 29, 2032, or my name isn’t Juan Lopez.”

“Juan, listen, this is June 22nd 2020.”

He laughed humorlessly.  “You ask if I’m drinking?”

“Juan, the sun is shining, there’s traffic on Osborne, headlines in the Mercury have Donald Trump saying we’re winning the economic war, and....”

“Trump?  The guy who was president?  He’s a freeway in Miami or something, like Reagan’s an airport in Washington.  He got assassinated after losing the election.”

“Juan....”  Her words tumbled over each other in confusion.  “Juan, I’m in the past and I’m talking to you in the future.  This is June 22, 2020, and somehow I’ve got connected to the future.”

“Lady, I’m hourly paid.  I got to get back to my truck and....”

“No, stop!  You have to tell me.  The President was assassinated?  And there was a terrorist bombing in San Jose?”

“Ma’am, I’ll file a report, but I really got to go.”

There was a series of clicks and a recorded voice came on the line.  “This call is being monitored for quality assurance and will now be terminated.  If you continue to have a problem, please call 1-800....”

She disconnected and then redialed.  A recording stated that her call could not be completed as dialed, to check her number and try again.

She stared blankly at the dark television screen.  What would David do in a situation like this?  She felt completely isolated and confined knowing the future was going to be difficult, and made more so by not sharing it with David.

#  #  #


Walt bounces among writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance, with a little historical nonfiction thrown in for good measure.  His work has appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications, including half a dozen in Yellow Mama.  He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries. He now lives in New Jersey, a nice place to visit, but he doesn’t want to die there.



If Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe, and Willy Wonka sired a bastard child it would be the fat asthmatic by the name of Michael D. Davis. He has been called warped by dear friends and a freak by passing strangers. Michael started drawing cartoons when he was ten, and his skill has improved with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He is for the most part self-taught, only ever crediting the help of one great high school art teacher. His art has been shown at his local library for multiple years only during October due to its macabre nature. If you want to see more of Michael’s strange, odd, weird, cartoons you can follow him on Instagram at mad_hatters_mania.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021