Tuesday 5 February 2019



I hear the phone ring. I’m in the back kitchen. I know that by the time I reach the front hall door where the phone sits the caller will have hung up.
“Can you get that?” I roar to my husband who’s better positioned. “Though it’s probably Emily again,” I add.
Stephen is half deaf. Too much cold water in his ears. Too much sea swimming to be precise. Both of his ears were lopped off by the experts years ago, but whatever sort of botched job they did he can’t hear with his right ear. That means he always has to sit at your right hand side, walk at your right hand side, no matter what- if he wants to hear you, of course, which isn’t always the case given the way I’ve taken to rambling on. He shuffles down the hallway and into the kitchen.
“Was it her?” I ask.
“It was nobody.”
“It had to be somebody.”
“They hung up.”
“That’s not good! Maybe burglars checking if we are here!”
“I don’t think they do that.”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“You’ve heard of everything.”
“Made it up is what you mean!”
“That too.”
He sits at the table and pulls out the crossword.
“It was probably her,” I say.
“Four across. Songs of … and Experience? She rang this morning so I doubt it.”
“Innocence. She often rings two or three times a day.”
“She must have nothing else to do.” We both laugh at this. “Innocence? How did you know that?"
“William Blake. I think she’d have better luck on one of those sex lines,” I say.
“And what would you know about those?”
I think about her voice. Low. Seductive. Husky collusive whisper.
“Have you ever actually listened to what she has to say? Maybe if we listened the whole way through she’d give up. We’re not engaging with her,” I say.
“To engage could be fatal. Nine across- moneylender who charges exorbitant interest.”
“How many letters? Given that it’s clear we don’t want to hear her side of it, why doesn’t she just give up? It must be evident to her. It must be frustrating!”
“I don’t think she has feelings, love. Six letters.”
“Tell that to the sex -line chatters.”
“Well, she’s not calling about sex. I’ve gleaned that much. She’s after money.”
“Usurer. Do you suppose we have to pay every time she calls? Like it’s reversed charges?”
“She’s calling from Stillorgan. We have free local calls.  No, it’s not that. Usurer? Are you sure?”
“How do you know she calls from Stillorgan? Our nine-ninety-nine yoke from Woodies doesn’t show caller ID.”
“She phones Ann too. She says it’s always a local number.”
“Well, that’s a relief!”
“A relief to know she’s harassing somebody else?”
“Usurer, like Shylock. Not much in use, but keep it in mind. Maybe Emily’s a usurer.”
“A new service provider?”
“How many letters?”
“No, I mean Emily!”
“What kind of service? That’s the question.”
“Questionable service!” We both chuckle.
“Still, if they used an actual person instead of a pre-recorded tape at least you could tell them to sod off." I say
“They’ve done that. You’ve done that. Persuade with promise of reward. Five letters.”
The phone rings.
“Definitely Emily!”

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

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