Hitchhiker

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I am old school.

From a time when life seemed simpler, less hectic, less complicated.

It was not.

It was just different.

Some will say that, ‘way back when’, life was safer, people were happier, times were better.

They were not.

Life was simply lived at a slower pace.

But there was less fear.

Less anxiety and more acquiescence.

I think life was more honest.

We were more honest.

With ourselves.

Life holds risks. You have to live with that.

Take your chances. Accept the possibilities.

Face the consequences.

That is how it goes.

We recognised that fact.

We did not fight it, we acknowledged it.

That is what made life simpler.

 

Like hitchhiking.

Like the figure I see ahead of me now. Checked shirt, blue jeans, backpack, thumb-out.

Quite rare nowadays, hitchhikers.

Too much fear. Mostly unwarranted.

Phobia, nurtured and spread by the media.

But who should hold that apprehension.

The driver?

I could drive on past. No one will make me stop.

Is the hiker a danger? A mass murderer?

A Rapist?

Is their thumb a lure for the unsuspecting?

Or

The Hiker?

Simply travelling home.

Should they get into the car?

Could I be a psychotic killer?

Could I be the Rapist?

Is my car a trap?

 

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As I get closer, I see the expectant look on the hiker’s face.

A bright smile.

Willing me to slow.

To stop.

I feel a compulsion.

An obligation to a fellow human.

I have been there myself. Thumb out. Waiting, hoping.

Praying for the next car to stop.

To give me a ride.

A ride to somewhere warm. Somewhere with hot coffee.

The hiker looks clean. Normal.

Conventional.

I slow. Maneuver towards the roadside.

Stop, a few yards beyond.

Looking in my mirror.

Watching.

 

The hiker picks up a small rucksack.

Running towards me.

I lock the doors.

Clunk. Safe.

I can leave. Go.

Put my foot on the accelerator.

Speed away.

The hiker is close now.

My last chance.

Decision time.

A smiling face appears at the window.

I smile back.

Still time.

Go?

Stay?

 

I press a switch.

The window hums. Open.

Half open.

I hear my voice. “Heading North” it says.

“Me too” the hiker replies.

I nod.

The hiker smiles.

Expectancy.

I smile back.

Trepidation.

Time stands still.

Momentarily.

 

Click.

I unlock the doors.

My own thumb jerks, a backward motion.

“Put your bag in the back” my voice speaks again.

Autonomously.

The bag lands on the rear seats.

Drive away, I think.

Take the bag.

Go.

Now.

What is in the bag.

Some clothing.

An iPad.

Money.

Or the hiker’s life?

Their entire possessions.

A lifetime or memories.

Lost loves, lost mother.

A bag of dreams, hopes for the future?

Is that where they are heading now?

The future.

Thiers. Mine. Ours?

Has this moment inexorably entwined our lives?

Left an indelible mark.

Or just a scratch. Unnoticeable, hidden.

One that will fade, become rubbed out as life progresses?

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The door opens.

Blue eyes, bright teeth, pale skin.

The hiker sits next to me.

“Thank you” she says.

“That’s okay” I reply.

I put the car in gear, heading North.

Our lives are meshed. At least for the next one hundred miles.

If she makes it that far.

If I make it that far.

Who knows?

Life holds risks. You have to live with that.

Take your chances. Accept the possibilities.

Face the consequences.

That is how it goes.

You see, I am old school.

I know what makes life simple.

 

 © Paul White 2016


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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

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The following story was inspired by this image. 


He watched as she trotted backwards and forwards and all around the house. Naked, except for her shoes and the small gold pendent dangling between her breasts.

Those stupid four-inch stiletto heels, tapping an irritating Morse code each time she passed him by and, this was even more annoying, leaving dimples in the linoleum and the parquet flooring.

She knew he disliked her flitting about wearing nothing but those ridiculously expensive Christian Louboutin. Which is why she was wearing them now.

It was her way of saying, ‘Fuck you’.

Her way of saying, ‘I’ll do what I want, when I want’.

He gritted his teeth. It was not worth attempting to speak with her, especially when she was in this mood.

She stood a few feet in front of him, eyes fixed on his, challenging him.

He stared back, trying not to show any emotion on his face. ‘Let her think what she will’, he thought.

A flick of her head sent the mane of golden blond hair from her face, over her shoulder. She tipped the small bottle of perfume, letting a droplet onto her finger tip. Slowly, seductively she dotted the scent behind her ears. Another finger full ran from under her chin, down her throat and between her breast.

She never took her eyes from his. The next trail of perfume was teasingly spread along the crease where her legs joined her torso, her fingers dabbing the scent in a line alongside her smooth, freshly waxed virginal mound.

Two more dots. One behind each kneecap, completed her task. She walked closer, smiling. Not a happy smile, not a loving smile, just a smarmy grin.

“He likes this one” she said, sniffing her wrist, breathing in the aroma of the perfume. “He says it compliments my own smell, especially when I get… hot”. Again, the sickly smile spread across her face. “Oh, I forgot to say, he is coming here this time. You’ll get a chance to see him after all”.

With that, she turned and sauntered out of the room. Not looking back Not even an over the shoulder glance.

He was sickened by the way she treated him. Yet what could he do? This was her revenge, her punishing him for all his misdemeanours and lies and dalliances of the past.

Some might say he was lucky she did not kill him when it all came to light. But he knew this was a fate worse than death. Something few believe possible.

He clung to one hope; this situation could not go on for much longer. He was sure she would become bored by the whole thing pretty soon. Nothing and no one held her attentions for long, not even him and that was then, let alone how they were now.

This had lasted much longer than it should have. To continue would be, at the least, inhumane. Although her knew that fact would not bother her. Boredom was his only hope, the only true conclusion he could wish for.

Two hours of hearing glasses tinkle with ice, soft music and constant chatter, followed by giggles and laughter. He wished he could move away, out of earshot. Even with his eyes closed he could not sleep.

It was the noise, the music, their voices. Mostly it was the expectation. The images of imagination playing in his mind which prevented sleep.

Not much would be left to his imagination now the door to the lounge was opened. Their voices becoming louder.

“No, no.” He heard her say. “In here”.

The door, which was ajar, swung open and they came staggering in. Glasses of red wine in their hands.

They should not be in here, in his study, his private sanctuary, especially drunk and with red wine. He knew there would be spillages. The bitch.

She plonked herself down on the large leather foot stool. He noticed her steal a surreptitious look at him, a flashing, covert glance.

“I want you, now” She said to the young man kneeling beside her.

“Here?” He asked.

“Right here, right now”.

“I need to… um …go…first” He said leaving the room.

She stood and walked over to him, bending slightly so her head was level with his.

“You can watch this. You had better watch this. If I see your eyes closed, even once, I’ll cut your fucking eyelids off”.

The young man came back into the room. “who are you talking too?”

“No one, silly. I was singing” she said. “Now, this is for you” She deftly unzipped the back of her frock and let it slither to the ground.

Underneath she was totally naked, except for her four-inch heeled Christian Louboutin, which she crossed over the young man’s back, pulling him closer and the small gold pendent nestled between her breasts.

He watched her, watching him. Besides closing his eyes and risking his eyelids, he had no choice. After all, his head was not joined to anything. It was not as if he could move it.

She gasped. Finger nails digging into her partners back, white teeth biting down into the flesh of the young man’s shoulder. Yet, only for one small insignificant moment, as her body jerked with pleasure, did she glance away, did her own eyes close for a moment.

Laying these few feet in front of him, her eyes fixed on his, she was challenging him.

It was her way of saying ‘Fuck you’.

Her way of saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

 

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© Paul White 2017

 

 

A Big red bus

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Three months.

That is what the doctors gave me, almost three months ago to the day.

Three months to live. That is not long, not long at all; a microsecond of the life I thought I had ahead of me.

I am uncertain if it is better knowing.

Maybe an unexpected death, an instant death; like getting mowed down by the proverbial bus is better. That way you can be happily going about your regular everyday business and BANG.

Nothing.

That is it. Finito.

This way is worse. This way everybody around me is living on tenterhooks. No one knows what to say, how to act or what to do.

There is nothing they can do.

I did not, still do not, have the time or the inclination, to do all those things I have never done in my life before. Like driving a Ferrari around a racetrack, base jumping into a canyon, or running naked through the snow in Finland.

I shall never get to empty my bucket list.

I could do them, some of them at least. I cannot afford to go to Australia, or for a space flight to feel weightlessness. I could do some of the other things; but truthfully, I cannot be bothered to make the effort.

You see, the whole point of doing such things is not so much for the ‘doing’ of them, however exhilarating they may be in the instant. It is what they leave you with after the events, what you carry away with you, the experience, the memories.

Memories which will last you a life time.

Yet a lifetime is something I no longer have.

So, to do all ‘that stuff’ seems a waste of the time I do have left. All those things I should have done before now, could have done when I was younger, fitter, stronger and of course, healthier.

The strange thing was I did not feel ill, not even in the slightest.

I have done. Two months ago I felt terrible, sick, dizzy, lethargic. You name it, I felt it. But now that has passed.

The doctors said it sometimes affects people in that way. It comes and goes in stages.

I had things to do. Make a new will. Organise my life, my ‘estate’ as the solicitors called it. My own thinking was more in line with Johnny Cash’s lyrics, “You can have it all, my entire empire of dirt”.

I know that is a slight misquote of the lyrics, but it is my version.

Hey, look on the bright side. I got to choose my own coffin! I was going out in a style I have chosen myself, not some pimped up piece of shit foisted on my dead corpse. Not many people get that opportunity.

Basically I was set. I had written letters to those I loved which they would receive after I had been interned. I have also made a video to be played at Christmas. In which I wish them all happiness and joy, explaining they should all do their ‘stuff’ now. Not put it off as I had, or else they too might never get the chance to do whatever wants they secretly harboured.

I have accepted my demise.

I am pensive, but only about the dying bit, not death itself. I do not want to suffer or be in pain. I do not think I could handle that well. But being dead, I am certain, is not painful at all.

At the time of writing, according to the doctors, l have three more days to go. I still feel good in myself and was wondering if it will just hit me. If it is to be like a countdown, a stopwatch, and at midday on Friday my lights will just go out.

Click… game over!

But I know timing is just an estimate, a guess. But that still cannot stop me wondering about so many things, like a miracle cure, or the discovery of a new procedure, or Martians landing on earth with a cure for all ills and the formula for everlasting life.

I suppose even though I have accepted death, I do not really want to die, not yet anyway.

I suppose these are the type of thoughts which run through everyone’s mind when considering one’s own death, imminent death.

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These are the thoughts running through my mind when the doctor arrived at the house.

Usually, once a week, the nurse comes and checks me out, takes blood and writes a lot of notes on her charts. I do not think a single notation, a single word, scribble, line or mark on those charts and papers actually had anything to do with trying to making me better. My suspicions they are records for protecting the doctors own backsides in case of any litigation if the future. But maybe I am just being cynical?

Anyway, this morning the doctor came with the nurse. This is it, I thought, this is the bad news, this is when the doctor tells me I shall deteriorate fast from this point onwards. This is when the pain starts, where I become incontinent, where my dignity as a human disappears.

I am not ready for that.

Dignitas becomes an appealing option.

“Mr Harvey”. The Doctor started to speak in a slow and deliberate voice.

He was rubbing his little goatee beard with his hand. Nervous tension. Although why he would worry was beyond me, it was I who was dying, not he.

“I am not sure how to explain this to you”. The Doctor sighed. I noticed the nurse was concentrating on inspecting the toes of her shoes.

This was it I suspected. This was the worst news. If a professional was having trouble telling me, I was to steel myself as best as I could.

I stood in the centre of my lounge, clenching my jaw and trying not to shake. I felt cold sweat forming on my brow and palms.

I knew this was coming, was inevitable, but I still felt like vomiting.

“Mr Harvey, there has been a mistake”. Again, the doctor paused.

“Your notes were mixed up I’m afraid”. The Doctor stopped speaking, he just sat there looking straight at me. The Nurse looked up too. She was chewing on her left cheek, just where her top and bottom lip met.

I watched as her tongue flicked out and licked a trickle of blood which was seeping from the biting.

I frowned and shock my head. “I don’t understand’.

“You are not going to die, Mr Harvey, at least not yet”.

My mind went blank. My head dizzy with confusion. I heard what the doctor said, but honestly did not comprehend a single word.

Again I said  “I don’t understand’.

The doctor spoke again. “Your notes, Mr Harvey were miss-filed, you ended up with another patience’s diagnosis in your file. You are well. You are fine. You are nowhere near deaths door”.

Slowly it began to sink in. I was not going to die at midday on Friday, or the next Friday, or the one after that. Not unless that bloody bus ran me down!

I was relieved. I was happy. I was angry.

In fact, I was bloody furious.

How dare these so called medical professionals put me through so much grief, so much mental torture for so long? How can they justify putting my wife, my kids, my family and friends in this position for three whole months?

I stood up. My mouth was running away with me. I cannot tell you what I said, because one half of it I do not remember and the other is unrepeatable and unprintable. Suffice to say I let go a tirade of verbal abuse for a good fifteen minutes, in which time I do not think I stopped to draw breath, even once.

To give the Doctor and nurse their due, they stood and took my entire sermonising diatribe on the chin without flinching. When I eventually ran out of words and expletives, I was panting like a hound after a long run. I collapsed back into my chair sitting silently and awaiting a response.

I would have said I was awaiting an answer, but I do not think I asked a single question during my ranting rage.

“We understand your frustration Mr Harvey, which is why I wanted to pass this news on to you personally” said the doctor quite calmly.

I could feel my hackles rising once more. How dare he be so controlled after the months of tourture he has put me through?

“I would like you to consider, if you will” the doctor continued, looking directly into my eyes, “that I have to speak to the patient whose notes were confused with you own”.

“What on earth has that to do with what you have put me and my family through for all these months?” I asked indignantly.

“Because, Mr Harvey, we have to give the other patient the news that he has only a matter of days to live. A man we told was only slightly ill, that would soon be better and back to his old self again. If you think you have been inconvenienced, how do you think he is going to feel when we tell him he is about to die?”

I must admit, I have not stopped thinking about that poor man.

I do not call him ‘poor man’ because he is about to die, but because he has so little time to come to terms with dying.

I had three months. Little time, but enough to accept the inevitable.

I wonder if the other man ever drove a Ferrari around a racetrack, or visited Australia?

I do not envy him. But I have concluded it is far better not to know your own future, especially when it involves your own demise.

From now on I shall live my life one day at a time.

When the reaper eventually comes for me, I hope he will be driving a big red bus.

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END

© Paul White 2017    

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Buddy App

The following story, Buddy App, has been written by a great friend and wonderful storyteller, Mr Squid McFinnigan.
When you read Squid’s work you see the world through the eyes of an Irish Bar man who is a bit weird in an old fashion’d way! and for those of you who don’t know, Ireland is a little island floating in the Atlantic ocean next to England, which is a slightly larger island on the edge of Europe.

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We all have our treasures, things we’d dash into a burning building to rescue. If you were to ask Sam what his most treasured possession was he, would delve a hand into his pocket and produce a silver iPhone5S. He had queued for a full twenty four hours to make sure he got his phone on the day it was launched. His whole life was contained in it and he had not been parted from the phone for as much as a second since he bought it.

When Sam was a teenager he knew he was destined to become a great actor. In high school he took the male lead in every production he auditioned for. In between performances he wrote and sang with his friends in a band called, “Zombie Fruitcake.” He was absolutely sure he would have been slapping away movie and theatre offers by the dozen as soon as he got his name out there. Sam moved to New York as soon as he could, allowing his rise to stardom to begin.  Choosing New York was the result of years of watching friends. Sam was certain that if Joey could make it big there, anyone could.

His first impression of the big apple was one of isolation. Sam sent out countless job applications but had only been called for a hand full of auditions. He’d even found it difficult to get an agent, eventually having to settle for one which wanted to be paid in advance for his services rather than on the work he procured. It wasn’t long before the money in Sam’s savings account ran out and he was faced with a decision. Tuck tail and return home to face his friends having failed to make a success of his life or get a real job.

The decision to stay had been one born more from embarrassment than anything. Even finding a real job had been a lot harder than he’d imagined it would be. After weeks of looking, Sam eventually found employment with, “Maxwell Financial Services.” The name was impressive but the work was anything but. He was nothing more than a debt collector, not the butch type that comes calling to a door with dark glasses and a menacing sneer, but the annoying kind that rings non-stop at every hour of the day and night until you either change the phone number or pay off the money. Sam hated everything about his job, he hated harassing people for stupid bills, he hated the way some of his workmates revelled in their merger power and he hated the damn paperwork. The only good thing about the job was the money. It allowed him to rent a tiny shoebox apartment without having to share with someone else. It allowed him to indulge himself with a succession of High-Tec gadgets, his phone being Sam’s pride and joy. Yes, half the world had iPhones these day’s but his was the limited edition platinum model with extra processing power.

It was spring in New York and the rain had been torrential for days. The subway was packed with damp commuters, steaming up the windows of the overly warm rail carriage. Sam was glad he had managed to get a seat as it was twenty more minutes before his stop would come. Even though the car was packed to capacity, it was nearly silent, apart from the screech of wheels on steel speeding them through the subterranean network of tunnels. All around him people were listening on earphones, reading books or papers, but mostly they were scanning through their tablets or phones which is exactly what Sam was doing. Snap chat, e mail, Facebook, Twitter, he was constantly connected to the world wide web, but he still felt alone. As if sensing his emotions an advert for the latest App appeared on his screen.

Need a friend, sign up to Buddy App and experience the latest in interactive technology.”

Buddy App? Why not?

Sam clicked on the advert and read its extended promise of the newest development of Artificial Intelligence for the mobile market. “It’s like having a person in your pocket.”Amazingly enough the app was only $9.99. What the hell it, for ten bucks what could go wrong. Sam hit the purchase button. Unusually a contract sheet appeared with page after page of small print. On the top of the first page was a little tick box for indicating you agree to terms and conditions. Sam clicked the box without a second thought. The next page appeared with a message that said “Place thumb here.” Sam had never seen anything like this before, but pressed his right thumb against the screen anyway. The screen glowed bright read and Sam felt heat sear his skin.

“Jesus Christ,” he said pulling his thumb away, shaking it like he had pressed it against a hotplate. Sam examined the phone but it was cold to the touch. Flipping weird. On the screen was a message which said “Buddy App Loading. Please wait.” In a couple of seconds the screen turned into a kaleidoscope of gay swirling colours. From the speaker came a rich male voice with a deep-south accent.

Why hello there Sam, mighty glad to make your acquaintance.”

“Cool,” said Sam to himself.

The voice on his phone laughed. ”Glad you think so Sam, I think.”

Sam was amazed, how had they predicted what he’d say?

“How did they do that?” said Sam aloud.

How did they do what, and who are they?” asked the voice in a pleasant drawl.

“Know what response to have lined up and they are your programmers.”

Again the voice chuckled, “You said Cool and I just answered.”

“Impossible.”

Clearly not, ask me any question you like and I will try my best to answer.”

“Okay, what is todays date?”

“Seventeenth of March in the year of our Lord two thousand and fourteen. Too easy Sam, try something else.”

“Okay, where am I right now?”

We, not you, are on a subway car, traveling on the one line, between Franklin St and Canal St, sitting in the second last seat, back right of the railcar. And you are wearing a New Yorkers baseball hat and a black rain slicker.”

How did you do that?” Sam said in amazement.

Easy, I accessed the global positioner in the phone to find out our exact position after which it was easy to know we were moving along the exact path of the number one track heading north. Second I can see one seat behind you so you are in the second last seat and the windows are on your right. I can see what you look like so knowing what you are wearing is a piece of cake.”

“You can see me?”

Sure, through the camera, just like I can hear you through the microphone and speak to you through the speakers.”

“That is amazing.”

Why thank you Sam I like you too,” said the voice and the screen flashed a sunflower yellow of happiness. “Tell me Sam do you like jokes?”

“Sure I guess.”

A Priest, a Rabbi and an Irishman walk into a bar-.”  The rest of the journey passed in the blink of an eye.

***

As the weeks passed Sam and Buddy became inseparable. Like the advert promised, it was just like having a friend in his pocket. They discussed things, not that Buddy always agreed with Sam. They joked and laughed, a lot, Buddy had a wicked sense of humour.

A few weeks after Sam had downloaded Buddy some of his friends from home happened to be visiting New York. They had invited Sam to join them on a night out.

“I’m going out later Buddy,” Sam told his phone after coming out of the shower.

Excellent Sam. If you ask me we spend far too much time in this pokey little flat.”

“It’s just going to be me and my friends tonight,” said Sam to his phone, which sat on his bed side table charging. The colours swirling on the screen darkened a little becoming brown and grey. Sam frowned at the change, he had never seen that before.

I thought we were friends Sam,” said Buddy.

“We are friends Buddy but I can’t tell the guys from home that my best friend in New York is my phone.”

Do you think I’m your best friend?”

“Of course Buddy,” said Sam drying his hair with a towel, from the corner of his eye he saw the screen flash pink and yellow again.

Later in the night Sam and his buddies shared a meal in a Thai restaurant before making their way to a mid-town bar. Sam offered to get the first round of drinks in and when the waitress dropped the glasses on the table Sam gave her his credit card. The lady swiped the card through her handheld machine but it came back declined. She tied it once more unsuccessfully before one of Sam’s friends paid for the drinks.

When Sam returned home he found his phone glowing green on the bedside table.

How was your night?” asked a sulky Buddy.

“It was alright up to the point my credit card was refused.”

Perhaps that will teach you not to leave me behind.”

“You did that?”

You can’t just ignore me Sam, I won’t be discarded at a whim.”

“I don’t believe it.”

You can’t take me for granted Sam, I won’t allow it,” said Buddy, the phone screen dulling to a rusty red and the phone just shut itself off. Sam tried several times to power the phone up but it wouldn’t do anything. Eventually Sam decided to send the phone for repair in the morning. It was clearly malfunctioning.

***

The next day Sam dropped his phone to the workshop and left it to be assessed. On his return he was presented with a perfectly working iPhone5s.

“Nothing wrong with this phone guy,” said the man behind the counter. “That will be sixty dollars.” Sam handed over the notes and took his precious phone back.

“What about the Buddy App, did you delete that.”

“I couldn’t find anything with that name but I reset the phone to factory settings anyway,” said the technician.  Sam looked at his screen which now looked completely normal and slipped it into his pocket. On the journey home Sam turned on the phone, which still looked completely normal. He searched for the Buddy Icon but it was gone, a tiny part of him felt like someone had died. Later that night Sam was making a stir-fry when Buddies voice drifted to him from the kitchen counter. On the screen swam a sea of mixing colours but mainly creams and greys.

I thought we were friends,” said a very sad sounding Buddy.

“Bloody hell you scared the life out of me,” said Sam still holding the spatula in front of him like a sword. “I thought you were gone Buddy.”

I know you did, and you were happy about it weren’t you?”

“No I wasn’t”

Liar,” the word was disappointed not angry. “I really thought we had a good thing going and then you go trying to get me wiped like some piece of machinery.”

“Hang on now Buddy, firstly you are a machine, and not even that, you’re an App on a machine. What you did the other night was completely out of line, interfering with my bank account. It took me ages to get the bank to straighten things out.”

Yes, sorry about that Sam. I went too far. It’s just I felt so let down, unappreciated. I won’t ever do it again I promise.”

Sam gave the phone an unsure look as he went back to stirring his food.

Can we go back to being friends please,” said Buddy from the counter. Sam turned round and saw the screen was a cascading waterfall of rainbow bright colours.

“Oh alright so,” said Sam. He had actually missed the little guy.

Yah!” cheered Buddy. “Do you want to hear a joke Sam?”

“Sure but it better be a good one, not like those Paddy Irish Man jokes you told the other day,” teased Sam, they had been very funny actually.

Nope not an Irishman in sight,” assured Buddy with a giggle. “A Politician, a Lawyer and an Accountant walk into a brothel.

“Oh NO! What have I done,” said Sam laughing and mock slapping his forehead.

***

The days passed and Sam got used to Buddy being around once more. He looked forward to chatting with him over breakfast about what was going on in the world. He didn’t bother with the TV news anymore Buddy would tell him all the interesting things anyway. They watched sports together in the evening but Buddy preferred basketball while Sam liked football. This lead to some sulking when one was picked over the other. One day in the office Buddy was sitting on the desk talking to Sam about a terrible school shooting that had taken place in the Midwest. A voice behind him made Sam spin in his chair.

“Who are you talking to Sam?” said Mr Quirk, the boss.

He was talking to me,” said Buddy in his refined southern way. Mr Quirk looked at the phone. “You know we can’t permit private calls on company time.”

“I’m not on a call Mr Quirk, honest.”

“But I just heard whoever is on the other end of the line talk.”

Thankfully Buddy stayed quiet. “What you heard was Buddy, it’s an App on my phone. You can talk to it and it answers back.”

“Really,” said Mr Quirk walking into the cubicle and picking up the phone, whose screen was going an alarming shade of crimson. “Hello Buddy,” said Mr Quirk. The phone stayed mute but the colours on the screen darkened further. The manager handed back the phone, “I don’t think your Buddy likes me. No calls or Apps while at work please Sam.” Mr Quirk walked around the corner and from the phone Sam heard his own voice come out, very loudly. “ASSHOLE!”

Mr Quirk returned sour faced, “What did you say Sam.”

“Nothing I swear, it was Buddy.”

“You must think me a fool, Sam. I won’t forget this,” said the Manager striding away. When he was out of earshot Sam picked up the phone, “Why did you do that?”

He is an asshole,” said Buddy defiantly.

“But you used my voice, not yours, why did you do that?”

Because you’re an asshole too. I’m just an App, is that all I am to you?”

“This is ridiculous, I’m not talking about this, here.”

I don’t particularly wish to talk to you either,” said Buddy and the phone went dead in his hand. Sam tried to turn the phone back on but it would do nothing.

***

Sam had been unable to get his phone to work all the way home. He was sitting watching TV when it sprang to life in his pocket.

Are you ready to apologise now,” said Buddy in a hoity tone of voice.

“I most certainly am not, how dare you try and get me in trouble at work and then take over my phone like that,” fumed Sam.

You would do well to treat me better Sam or you will end up making me mad and you would not like that.”

“What are you going to do, block my credit card again? You can’t. I have changed the passwords and they are not stored on you anymore.”

You have no idea who you are dealing with Sam, you would do well to hold your tongue,” snarled Buddy.

“Or what?” said Sam throwing the phone down on the couch. The TV set went blank, all the lights in the apartment flickered on and off, the radio coffee maker in the kitchen started to spew water all over the place to the sounds of R&B played to volume ten. Sam jumped to his feet like he had been electrocuted.

Just an App am I,” yelled Buddy from where he lay on the couch. His screen blood red. Sam grabbed his jacket and fled out the door. On the landing he hammered the button for the elevator just needing to get the hell away from his haunted flat. The door pinged open and Sam threw himself inside, pressing the ground floor button. The doors swished closed but the car did not move. Through the overhead speaker, Buddy’s voice filled the cabin. “Going down!”

The elevator car plummeted like a stone, as if the cables had been cut and the lights flashed off. Sam was sure his time was up but the fall only lasted a second or two and then the brakes jammed on, throwing Sam to the floor. In the darkness Sam heard Buddies voice again, “You can stay there until you have learned your lesson.”

Sam sat in the dark for a long time, knowing that Buddy wasn’t an app. He was being haunted or more to the point his phone was being haunted. He had to get rid of that thing for good. He had to stay away from electrical stuff as clearly Buddy could get inside nearly anything. Sam stood up and said to the darkness.

“You’re right I shouldn’t have said you were just an App, I should have said you were my friend. I’m sorry Buddy.”

The lights came on but the car did not move. No sound came from the speaker.

“Are you not talking to me now?”

If right is right I should never talk to you again,” said a solemn sounding Buddy from above.

“Friends allow friends to make mistakes Buddy. I can see what I have done but I need you to give me another chance. I just didn’t understand how or what you are until just now.” Nothing happened. “Please,” said Sam.

The breaks on the lift car clicked off and the elevator began to rise. The doors opened with a ping on Sam’s floor and he faced his own front door. With shaking hands he twisted the nob. Inside the only sign that a poltergeist had recently ran riot through the place was a little puddle of water on the kitchen floor.

I’m sorry too Sam, I didn’t mean to frighten you,” said his phone from the couch.

“I think there is a lot of explaining to do, don’t you?” said Sam picking up his precious phone.

I guess so, you have to understand I just wanted to have a friend.”

“We all need a friend from time to time. Let’s take a walk and you can explain it all to me but this time I think we will take the stairs, if you don’t mind.”

Buddy laughed, “Sure thing Sam, that elevator thing might have been a touch overboard.”

“I thought I was a goner,” said Sam pushing open the lobby door and walking down the steps to the sidewalk. To anyone else he looked like a million other New Yorkers, walking along and talking to his phone. Only Sam knew the truth.

Sam asked Buddy who or what he was. Buddy was being very evasive in his answers, saying that he only wanted to be was Sam’s friend. Sam crossed into a park and asked if Buddy if he were a ghost. At this buddy laughed. “No Sam I am as real and alive as you or anyone else, I’m just different. Let’s leave it at that.”

The city lights twinkled on the still surface of the lake where ducks normally swam and kids sailed model boats.

“You got quite a temper as well don’t you Buddy?” said Sam looking at the phone. The colours on the screen dimed a bit. “I’m not criticising Buddy, just saying.”

I think we all have some rage inside, don’t you Sam. It’s a natural part of living.”

“Well right now I need peace in my life, I hope you understand Buddy,” said Sam, launching the phone across the water with a pitchers throw. As the phone flew he could hear Buddy scream “NOOOO!” in the second before the limited edition platinum iPhone5s hit the water and sank to the muddy bottom.

Sam went home and collected everything connected with the phone, the charger, and carry case. He even found the warranty and put the lot in a refuse sack. He carried them to the waste chute but felt it wasn’t far enough away. He carried the bag to the edge of his block where a trash can stood, then walked another two blocks before finally dumping the very last bits of Buddy. When he finally got to bed Sam fell into an exhausted and dream riddled sleep.

Sam woke with a start in the middle of the night, sure he felt someone touching him. The room was dark and empty. Sam lay back on his pillow and turned on his side to go back to sleep. A harsh rasping voice with just the hint of Buddies accent rolled across the darkness, “You should have read the fine print Sam, we’re together forever.” On the pillow beside his head his phone light up the room with a flood of red, the colour of flame, and the skin on Sam’s thumb began to smoulder.


To read more of Squid McFinnigan’s wonderful tales visit his Blog www.squidmcfinnigan.blogspot.com  You’ll love it.