Steve’s relief after hearing Sheila’s voice on the answering machine is short-lived. He squeezes the cell phone a little tighter, takes a deep breath, and readies himself for the sound of the beep.
“Um, yeah hi, Sheila? Hi, this is Steve. Steve the guy you met yesterday at the coffee shop downtown. Yeah, shoot. Now I remember you said you were working tonight. Wow. I hope it’s a slow night for you. Get it? Well, I’ve never known a 9-1-1 operator and anyway I was wondering if you and I could go out one night? I hope you don’t mind me saying that you are really hot, especially for a 9-1-1 operator. No offense. I mean, I really don’t know any other 9-1-1 operators, but you know in my mind I don’t think of them as being too hot or anything like that. I’ve never even spoken to a 9-1-1 operator. Oh yeah, I did once but it was like a total accident. I butt dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone, and I guess that freaked the guy out — it was a guy 9-1-1 operator. I never said “hello” or anything so he really must have thought I was in some kind of really bad danger or something because after a few minutes, my phone rang and I picked it up and guess what? Yup, it was the 9-1-1 operator tracing back my call and he said that he saw I was on the corner of Maple and Main and he asked me if everything was okay. Wow. I mean, that was pretty creepy, but in a really good way if you know what I mean. Have you ever called any of your customers back like that? I guess you can call them customers, right? Oh, here’s a question: when you are filling out an application for like a credit card or something asking for your work number, do you write 9-1-1? Or is there some other secret regular ten-digit phone number there that no one really knows? Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was thinking that maybe you and I could go out sometime, maybe next Saturday if you aren’t busy or if you aren’t working? Hello? What was that? Sorry Sheila, can you hold for a second? I think I heard someone downstairs.
Hello? Is anyone there?
Oh my gosh, Sheila, I think someone just broke into my house. I’m serious. I’m upstairs and I definitely hear someone making noises downstairs. There has been a rash of burglaries in my neighborhood and it’s been kind of freaking me out. Oh my gosh, I’m so scared.
Hello? I have a gun up here. Don’t try anything. I’m not afraid to use this thing.
Okay, Sheila, I’m sorry, I really have to go, like now, and hang up and call you at work. Sorry, but this is really an emergency.
Hello? Don’t come any closer. I’m calling 9-1-1 and the police are going to be here any second and when they get here they are going to find you dead because I have a gun and it is aimed right at the door.
Oh my gosh, I hear the guy on the steps. I guess it’s a guy. I don’t know why I’m assuming it’s a guy. It could be a female, right? Why not? He or she is getting closer. I don’t really have a gun. What am I going to do?
Who’s there? Don’t take another step. Stop where you are and turn around and leave. If you don’t, I’ll start shooting at the count of five. I don’t care what sex you are.
Okay, listen Sheila, I’m going to hang up now and call you at 9-1-1. Okay? I hope I get you. If I survive this, just let me know about Saturday night when you have a chance. If you aren’t interested, I mean I totally understand and that’s cool and everything. Hey, if you just want to hang out and be friends I mean that’s okay with me too. Talk to you, I hope, shortly.
I have a gun. I’m counting.”