The Telephone Rings
The telephone rings. I’m in my underwear at my desk and the phone’s right there next to me even though I’m not expecting anyone to call nor can I imagine especially wanting to talk to anyone except maybe Virginia, Beatrice, Josephine or one of the others who got away with an invitation for drinks, catching up, lying around together in our underwear. I pick it up. It’s a man, deep voice. Officer Poe, he says, and I don’t know any Poe and he says, “Is this Stephen Broder?” and I say that’s right but I still don’t know any Poe and he says, “it’s about your wife, Mister Broder. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you but your wife is dead.”
I don’t have a wife. Not I don’t have a wife because now she’s dead and naturally distanced but I’ve never had a wife and I tell this to Officer Poe. “I don’t have a wife,” I say and he says, “You have to come down to the morgue to identify the body and also we’re going to need you to stick around for the foreseeable future due to the suspicious and shadowy nature of her death.”
He hangs up and I’m holding the phone thinking this is all some kind of joke, some friend’s practical joke and then I think you’ll be no friend of mine after this, Officer Poe or whoever you are, and then the phone rings again, and either I’m a widower or I just don’t have a very good sense of humor.
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Portland Fiction Project
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