When I pressed the button it stopped beeping, clicked and spun and a tired sound came into the room. “Hello, this is Frank,” it said. “I wanted you to know that my son, Johnny, died from an overdose of heroin last night. I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else.” There was a long uneasy pause, the dial tone burred, and went silent.

He hadn’t left a phone number and I felt a sudden sense of panic. I didn’t know any Frank. I pressed the button again and tried to recognize the intruder. “Hello, this is Frank. I wanted you to know that my son, Johnny, died from an overdose of heroin last night,” it said, but somehow the voice had changed. There was a vacant tone of relief in it as it repeated, “I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else.”

The cold burr of the dial tone returned and the whirr and click of flashing plastic was ready to do it all over again. I pressed the button a third time and the flashing clicked and beeped, sending out its horror from a voice I would never forget.

 

J.S. Kierland

J.S. Kierland is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and the Yale Drama School. He has been writer-in-residence at New York’s Lincoln Center and Lab Theatre, Brandeis University, and Los Angeles Actor’s Theatre. He’s written two Hollywood films and rewritten several others but refuses to talk about them. Over 100 publications of his short stories have been published around the country in Collections, Reviews, and Magazines like Playboy, Fiction International, Oracle, International Short Story, Trajectory, Colere and many others. He has also edited two one-act play books, and has “15” of the best of his short stories published as a collection from Underground Voices, along with a novella ebook titled HARD TO LEARN.

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