Our Lady of Graham Bell

I was attempting to navigate the fog of 6:45AM and coffee not having kicked in yet, when all of a sudden, after nearly forty years, this reef of memory surfaced.

# # #

Me and some other guys were hanging out at a friend’s dorm room one Saturday. The phone rings.

John, whose place it is, answers, “Hello. No, I’m sorry Phillip’s not here.”

The phone rings again.

“Hello. Wait a sec, Anybody named Phillip supposed to be here? No, I’m sorry, Phillip’s not here and it doesn’t look like he’s headed this way. OK?”

The phone rings again.

“Listen, you’ve got the wrong number.”

The phone rings again. Now, John takes the phone off the hook.

An hour or so of reflections on the imperfections of the faculty goes by.

“John, can I use the phone.”

“Oh, jeez, I forgot to put it back. My mother always calls at noon on Saturday. If she hears that non-stop busy signal, she’s going to think that I didn’t pay the bill again and I’ll get all sorts of grief.”

As soon as he replaces the handset on the hook, the phone immediately rings.

“What did I tell you, that must be mom now.” Answering, “NO! YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG NUMBER!”

John hangs up the phone and then after just a second — as if afraid — pulls it off the hook.

“Put it back.”

“But, it’ll just keep ringing.”

“That’s OK, I’ll answer it this time.”

Very soon, the phone rings and I pick it up. “Hello.”

A shrill voice at the other end demands, “I want to talk to PHILLIP!”

“You’ve been told time and time again that there’s no Phillip here. He ain’t been here and he ain’t gonna be here,. If you’re like overcome by loneliness, you can stroll on over to such-and-such room at such-and-such dorm an’ ask for Anthony. An’ if’n you don’t wanna do that, that’s OK, too. JUS’ DON’ CALL AGAIN!” And I slam down the phone. The telephone’s quiet, but the room’s filled with my friends’ laughter.

Some hours go by — interpretations of various episodes of the original Star Trek, Stones albums, David Bowie, Clapton, a Humphrey Bogart movie, . . . — and we’re talking about when to head over to the cafeteria for dinner.

There’s a knock at the door. John answers. He looks in sorta quizzically, “Anthony, somebody for you.”

I can’t figger who it might be, but I jump up off of the floor where’d I’d been stretched out. A tall, skinny, young guy is standing there. He’s got long blond hair and a blond beard. His face is red and he’s shaking.

“YOU MADE AN OBSCENE PHONE CALL TO ALLYSON!”

As my ’74 Impala of a consciousness back then had headlights for tunnel vision through the darkness of the future, but basically no rear view mirrors for contemplating what had been, I was momentarily shocked into complete confusion and unable to respond or even to move. Then, I remembered the audio apparition of Our Lady of Graham Bell.

“Why, Phil (he looks surprised that I know his name), I been lookin’ forward to meetin’ ya. You ‘know, some say there’s no God, but a lookee here. On a campus of THOUSANDS, two pieces of work like you and Ms. Telephone 1976 found each other . . . If that’s not proof of a divine presence at work in creation, I don’ know what is. But, I digress. Y’r lookin’ for me, “WHADD’YA WANT!?!”

He turns and runs away.

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About Anthony Olszewski

Anthony Olszewski has written on a wide variety of topics: cage birds, tropical fish, popular culture, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and a chapter on genetics for a veterinary text book, as a small sample. He worked as an editor at a magazine produced by TFH, the world's largest publisher of pet books. Anthony Olszewski is the author of a booklet on Hudson County history, Hudson County Facts, and a book of short stories, Second Thief, Best Thief, that are sold on Amazon. Anthony Olszewski established PETCRAFT.com in 1996. A pioneer on the Web, the Site continues to provide unique information on a range of companion animals, focusing on birds and fish. As a community service, he operates Jersey City Free Books. Anthony Olszewski was born in Jersey City, NJ (Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, 1956) and is a member of Mensa.
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