Herb’s blog, Herbdate 22117-688:
I had originally posted this last year on September 19, 2019, which would have been Herbdate 21778. I don’t know the original number. That had been a total rewrite of a piece that never saw the light of day but was in the ’09 folder. When I looked it over I decided to rewrite it a little. I added some detail and changed it some. Please enjoy reading or re-reading Dave Gets What He Deserves. I left the prompt until the end.
Dave Gets What He Deserves
When a day and a half went by and she hadn’t gotten a call or a text or even an old-fashioned e-mail, she started to worry. Al always called or texted her. Always, as in, all the time. They were best of friends and could carry on a conversation until a battery died, but she had never gone this long without a call before. When she tried to call, all she got was voicemail and it was full and wouldn’t accept any more messages. This was freakout time.
Dixie didn’t know if she should call the cops or what, but decided to drive over and check on her first. What could possibly have happened? As she pulled into the visitor parking lot at her friend’s apartment, she saw a tangled mass of plastic and wires lying on the ground. Curious, she stopped, picked it up, finished parking, and looked at it. It was the same color and brand as Al’s, but that would be impossible. Nobody loved a phone the way Al did. This mess had been run over several times so she couldn’t be sure, but how did it get to be here?
Fearfully she raced up the stairs, fumbling for the spare key she had been given after the great lockout fiasco of ’07, tore open the door and said, “Al? Al? Alex?” Finally, a voice from the bathroom called back to wait a second.
“Where’s your phone? I found this in the lot…”
“I threw it out the window. My ex has a new game he’s playing these days which I’m sure he thinks is dreadfully clever. He’s been writing my name on bathroom stalls everywhere his janitorial service takes him. It’s in the vein of, ‘For a good time call Al, 123-4567’ although, depending on where he’s cleaning, he changes it. In men’s rooms it’s Alexandria, in women’s rooms it’s Al. Unless he’s cleaning at a gay bar. You would not believe the things that have been promised in my name. Some I didn’t even know existed!”
“What kind of person calls a number from a bathroom wall?”
“That’s what I would think, too. Let me tell you, no normal person would.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Before or after I kill him?”
“If you go to prison who will melt my phone battery? Have you called the cops?”
“Yeah, and the judge, too. Unless I can prove it’s him or unless someone threatens me with physical harm, there’s nothing they can actually do. They went and talked to him but he’s too slick to be intimidated.”
They went and got her number changed and with the phone insurance and trade-up she had coming she made a sweet deal on a new phone. They also devised a plan. Even though she didn’t have the coverage that her ex did, she started doing the same thing to him, using his business number. Dave had never been ambitious and was the sole employee at his company. He never took on very big jobs and never hired any help. Soon, Alexandra and Dixie had covered much of the town, even slipping into unoccupied men’s rooms on occasions.
Tess was an unfortunate, lonely girl. She had been big all her life and mercilessly teased. “Ol’ Two-Ton Tessie” was now up to 550 pounds and could barely walk three or four steps. She lived in a black hole of depression and anger, seldom leaving her little apartment. She hated going anywhere, especially to the store, because people would stare at her as she rode on her scooter through the store and even watch what she bought. She didn’t have any friends to go shopping with her or for her and she hated people and being around people. She hated their rude remarks, usually in a whisper behind the back of their hands, especially when she picked up the sugary cereal and frozen pizzas and snack cakes; and sometimes even to her face, “You wouldn’t be so fat if you didn’t eat all that junk.” She had given up explaining her life to strangers and now just told them where to get off and mind their own business. She was thrown out of one store because she threatened to sit on someone. Never mind that the person had provoked her with some of the rudest remarks she had ever heard. Her feelings didn’t matter since there must be something wrong with her in the first place and no, she didn’t want an officer to come. The ones that hurt the worst, however, were the little children who would come up to her and ask her why she was so fat.
It’s a commonly known fact that the foods that are the best for you are also the most expensive while the tastiest foods that come in the biggest packages are frequently the cheapest; and when you’re on disability every penny matters. She knew she needed to go back to the doctor and get some other kind of help, but Medicaid only paid for so much and she was not a particularly resourceful or brilliant person. With her scooter, that weighed over 300 pounds, which she needed these days to go anywhere, she weighed too much for the bus system wheelchair lifts with their 600 – 800-pound capacity limits. The Americans with Disabilities Act had helped a lot of people but it didn’t help everybody. And after that taxi-cab fiasco…well, she just stayed at home, eating bon-bons and watching soap operas.
This trip to the store was different, however. The new big box store near her house really was handicap accessible, even the bathrooms. Just because a building is ADA compliant does not mean it is accessible to everybody. Many shops and even city-owned places only were as accessible as the law required, so this store was a wish come true. Not that she liked using a public restroom. Why did people feel free to comment on her bodily functions or whisper things like, “I hope she doesn’t break the toilet.” She was fat, not deaf. Anyway, as she sat there, she saw something written, “Dave likes ‘em big! Call 765-4321.”
To call Dave a jerk was to bring him up a notch in the world and to call him a snake-in-the-grass or a slug was an insult to both creatures. He was a little man, in stature, in mind, and in spirit. Dave was a worthless piece of human scum who took advantage of everybody and everything. He wasn’t that way when you first met him, no; he was good-looking and charming, but the more you got to know him, the less you liked him. He was coarse, uncouth, vulgar, loutish, ill-natured, ill-mannered, uncivil, and churlish. Even if he had the ambition to grow his business out of the little storage room/office space he had, nobody would have worked for him, so when the calls started coming in, he became apoplectic with rage.
“Dave’s Janitorial. You drop ‘em or slop ‘em and we’ll stop and mop ‘em. Dave speaking.”
“Hi Davey…” said some woman’s voice (or occasionally a man’s) from the phone.
SLAM! He had to be careful not to break the phone and he had to be careful how he answered if he wanted to make any money. He would probably have to change his number, but then he would have to change his listing in the phone book and get all new business cards and stationery printed. He knew it was Al, but when he tried to call her, he found she had changed her number. He let forth a vituperative string of epithets into the air describing his ex’s antecedents, personal habits, and choices of friends and attempted to get back to work. That idiot bookkeeper had quit on him and now he had to try to manage everything himself. What a pain in the…
“Ring,” went the phone again. A paying customer this time, maybe?
When Tess heard the answer on the phone was from a business, she tried to think quickly, but just hung up the phone instead. Dave cursed loudly into the phone, then slammed it back down and cursed more than before.
Tess looked up the name of the place and discovered that it was just barely within battery range. It didn’t take long for her to learn a lot about Dave and his habits and whereabouts most of the time. His good looks had caused her illness-riddled mind and battered ego to develop a little world of her own making. A world with her and her precious Davey. Never mind logic or that the places he hung out seemed pretty unsavory and never mind that she had never spoken with him, she knew – knew, mind you, that they were in love.
She lived in her mental illness spawned little world, cruising past his place and glimpsing him now and then while he lived in the cruddy little world of his own making, too. Then one day she saw an attractive redhead accost her precious Davey as he left his office. She never knew about Davey’s ex or anything else from reality for that matter. She was only sure that someone seemed to want to hurt him. She had seen enough soap operas to know when things were about to get violent. She had to do something and quick.
Dave and Al stood in front of the brick building that housed Dave’s office, arguing. Tess, in her clouded mental state, started heading for the fighting pair. She knew that if she couldn’t ride the bus because of her and the scooter’s weight combined was too much, then she had some kind of power. She would bear down on the redhead who was threatening her Davey and pin her to the wall, and she would become Davey’s hero and he would fall in love with her. Unfortunately for Tess, in her deranged state of mind, she didn’t think about the real speed of the scooter but just that it seemed to her that she was racing along. She was moving as fast as the machine could go, groaning and squeaking and getting up to about 15 miles per hour, but Alex saw her coming and jumped out of the way easily. Tess crashed into the wall with enough force to loosen several bricks, missing Dave by the merest of millimeters. She hit her head against the wall, knocking her unconscious. Her weight shifted, tipping her and the scooter over. Dave could have been okay if he would have just jumped back and let her fall, but by some instinct, he tried to stop her and push her back up and all of Tess’s weight and the weight of the machine fell on top of him. Right on top of him. The machine pinned Tessie so even if she had been conscious, she could barely have moved. He had his wind knocked out of him and her chest squarely covered Dave’s face. He made some feeble attempts to kick her off while Al tried in vain to move her off him as she dialed 911, but she wasn’t strong enough to move the scooter and Tess by herself. By the time help arrived, it was too late for Dave.
The prompt, from The Writer’s Block, was, “Invent a character who sees a phone number on a restroom wall. Describe what happens when he or she dials it.”
This was completely unexpected…in more ways than one.
Thanks. I hope that’s a good thing.
Great story with a surprise ending
Stay well and Laugh when you can
Great story! Wow is right… I wasn’t expecting the end.
I also love that all that came from a prompt. Clever!
Thanks. Sometimes prompts help me, but not always.
Herb this is scheduled for my podcast in February of 2022
Thank you so much! I am highly honored.