September 19, 2016

When I Was 12 I Learned The Terrifying Truth Of What Can Happen When You Prank Call The Wrong Person

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Leonid Mamchenkov
Leonid Mamchenkov

I’m not proud of some things I did as a kid.

I once threw a rock on a garter snake which was sunning itself upon the shores of the creek just because I find snakes repulsive. I once stole a Shaq rookie card from one of my friends in fifth grade and then sold it for $50 to a card shop in sixth grade. I once spent a good portion of my childhood years prank calling an elderly man in my small hometown till he eventually snapped.

beetlejuice

Is Devin there?

It all started with that simple, innocent phrase in fourth grade. One of my friends, I can’t even remember which one, was trying to call another friend, Devin Collier, and missed by just one number. Apparently, the elderly man who answered the phone really did not appreciate it.

“He just freaked out. Started screaming at me,” my friend spread the word like wildfire across the playground of Huron Forest Elementary School.

I was one of the many boys who immediately called the number once I got home and asked to speak with Devin.

“Devin never lived here. He doesn’t live here and he never will live here,” the old man screamed at me through the receiver.

The cluster of friends who had come over to my parents’ house to witness the prank erupted in laughter before the old man even hung up the phone.

That was it. The gas was spread, the match was lit and the fire roared. Me and just about every other snot-faced boy in my class at Huron Forest spent the next couple of years perpetually calling the old man who we named “The Devin Guy.”

Sometimes we called so much he simply took the phone off the hook and left it there. Sometimes his elderly wife answered, received our request to talk with Devin, and lost it. Sometimes he shot back threats which we all tried to act like we weren’t at least a little bit scared by.

We started to grow out of the pastime of calling The Devin Guy in sixth grade, but there would usually be a boring weekend or afternoon after school here and there where someone would come up with the genius idea to break up the monotony of 12-year-old boy life and declare:

“Let’s call the Devin guy.”

The same routine would always ensue. We would debate who would call him. Whoever was chosen would dial up the number. Ask for Devin. Get a response. An eventual hang up. Rolling laughter.

The Devin Guy must have loathed rainy days because it was usually days when we were stuck inside that we gave him a call.

It was one drizzly day when my cousin was in town when everything changed. Running out of video games to play, VHS tapes to watch, and basketball cards to look at, I had to find another way to entertain my one-year older cousin from New York whom I was desperately trying to impress.

“I have an idea,” I started in with the proverbial light bulb illuminated above my head. “There is this hilarious old guy my friends and I call all the time. You ask for Devin and he freaks out for no reason.”

I nervously looked at my cousin out of the corner of my eye while the connection to The Devin Guy’s line chimed in my ear. I tried to play it cool, but could feel a touch of red upon my cheeks, felt a thin coat of sweat leak from the pores of my hand and onto the receiver of the phone.

An answer. I stammered.

“Uh, is, uh, Devin there?”

The line was silent for a few seconds. I could feel my cousin’s middle school disappointment beam upon me from over on the bean bag.

“You goddamn kids. I already told you a thousand times, frickin’ Devin does not live…”

The voice cut out. The sound of a thud shot into my ear followed by hideous groans, gasps and wheezes, until I heard the word “help” uttered pitifully a few times. I hit the hang up button and acted like I did it by accident.

“That was fucked up,” my cousin announced. “Did that old guy just have a heart attack?”

“I…I…I… don’t know,” I feigned ignorance, an idea or two of what played out during the call rattled my cage, but I didn’t want to admit it. “Let’s do something else.”

The call stuck with me for days. I didn’t tell anyone at school. Even when another friend mentioned he tried to call The Devin Guy, but never got an answer. I kept my mouth shut.

It turns out the next time I would hear from The Devin Guy. He would be calling me.

Nearing 13 and a graduation from elementary school, my parents deemed it time for me to start being able to stay home alone, without a babysitter. They went to a movie around 8, told me they wouldn’t be back until around 11, and left me all alone in my spacious house on the edge of the woods.

It was at first a god send. A 12-year-old boy with unsupervised access to HBO and Cinemax on a Saturday night in the late-90s was a dream come true.

The phone rang around 10:30.

Keep in mind that this was before the days of cell phones. For those of you too young to remember what having your landline ring at an hour of the night when it shouldn’t when you are 12 and home alone, I can promise you it is a horrifying experience.

All four phones in the house rang at the same time, creating a jingling chorus of sudden fright. I jumped up from my slumped seat on the couch and switched the channel from Cinemax as fast as I possibly could.

I at first was going to just let the call go to the answering machine, but then thought it may have been my parents coming home from the movie and asking if I wanted them to bring me home ice cream or something. I had to answer.

“Hello?”

Long silence on the other end. I was about to hang it back up when I heard a familiar voice boom through the receiver.

“Michael.”

The voice on the other end was unmistakable. The Devin Guy. I tried to act unaware.

“Who is this?”

“You know exactly who this is, young man,” the voice of The Devin Guy shot back.

“Uh…uh…Okay. Well, what do you want me to do?”

“You think it’s funny to call up an old man at his home and harass him when his wife is dying of cancer Michael DeLisi?”

How did he know my full name? The thought flashed in my mind.

“Uh…not really.”

“Then why did you do it? You did it all the time.”

“Uh… I don’t know?”

“You sit there, watching your filthy movies without any guilt about what you’ve done to an old man who’s alone now.”

“What?”

My entire body went cold on the couch. I shot looks through the half-open blinds of my living room and out onto the front porch, but couldn’t see a single thing out in the dark.

“You heard me.”

The phone clicked off. Shit.

I jumped up off the couch. Zipped my jeans back up. Walked over to the large living room window.

My face pressed up against the gaps in the thin blinds, I peered out onto the little front porch where a couple chairs and a small BBQ grill rested. No signs of anyone.

I walked over to the front door of the house which rested in right in the middle of the living, flipped over the deadbolt to locked.

beetlejuice

Small town newspapers aren’t much different than they were when I was a kid. Pictures of dogs in neckerchiefs on the front page, high school sports stars destined to end up rotting away in refineries given star treatment in the sports page, and cookie cutter obituaries. I would actually chide my dad about reading the thing every day in his easy chair.

Having recently received a C in my math class, I avoided tossing insults at my dad while he skimmed through the paper on a Saturday morning and enjoyed his coffee.

“This is weird,” my dad muttered from across the living room, the open newspaper held up above his face in his reclining position.

“What?”

“Your name is in this obituary.”

My face burned. I gulped down a quick shot of thick, guilty saliva.

“What?”

My dad folded open the newspaper to an obituary page and slid it across the breakfast table to me.

“That old guy’s obituary. His name is Max Redmond. The bottom of his obit, says he would specifically like to thank his old pal Michael DeLisi and says he will see him very soon,” my dad explained while I read exactly what he explained.

I must have read the line which mentioned me about 10 times before I made a sound. The only thing I could force out of my mouth was something along the lines of “ugh, a yeah,” and my dad didn’t even return a word.

I sat there stiff for a few minutes, trying to figure out what I should do. Do I tell my parents? Would they even take it seriously?

I basically got the answer to the second question which rang in my head when my dad spoke up again.

“It’s probably just a coincidence. I mean Michael DeLisi isn’t a common name, but it’s not totally uncommon.”

My dad lifted the sports page down just a little bit to look over at me.

“Unless you’ve been making some old friends I don’t know about,” my dad finished with a maniacal laugh.

Thanks dad. Predictably not going to be of any help.

I tried to just go back to innocently eating my cereal like any other 12-year-old on a Saturday morning, but it didn’t last long.

“Michael,” my mother’s high-pitched voice she used when she needed me to do something rang out from the kitchen.

He was calling. I knew it. But what I didn’t know was how to react to my mom summoning me to the phone. If I told them what happened, I had to tell them everything that happened. The endless harassment of the old man until he died. The call where he had that fateful heart attack. Would I be in trouble with the police?

“Uh…coming,” I said without a plan.

The few steps it took to get to the kitchen where my mom was holding the phone with what my uncle Charlie called a “shit-eating grin,” felt like miles. I almost wanted to collapse when I got there, but figured I should play straight until things got too much worse to avoid the punishment wrath of my parents. Summer vacation was coming up in just a couple of weeks and the last thing I wanted was to grounded for the best three months of the year.

I grabbed the phone from my mom with a shaking head and softly put it to my ear.

“Hello,” I answered, trying not to sound terrified.

The voice which answered on the other end instantly told me why my mom was smiling like she stole something and put my heart and mind at ease.

It belonged to Kelsey Hargin. The girl I had been in love with since third grade. She had never called me before. Hearing her voice on the other line was actually more unbelievable to me than hearing the voice of a dead man.

“Michael?” Kelsey’s familiar sweet, lisping voice took my breath away.

“Uh, yeah, hi,” I looked over at my mom laugh at me before she walked away into the living room. “Yeah, this is me.”

Kelsey stopped my heart with a little laugh on the other end.

“So, what’s going on?” She asked.

Oh man. What was going on? I had no idea how to answer. Did I tell her about reading the funny pages with my dad? Make up something cool?

“Uh, nothin.”

Great. Brilliant answer.

The rest of most of the call went on pretty much the same. Small talk. Chit chat. The kind of question and answer process which would usually take place when I got trapped at grown up parties and had to talk to my parents’ friends, but didn’t really know what to say. It was kind of pathetic, but I was still too ecstatic. I had given Kelsey my phone number in each of our last three yearbooks and it finally looked like she had jumped on picking up the phone and dialing my seven-digit combination. Maybe it was fate when our teacher assigned us seats next to each other a couple weeks ago. Maybe she told Mrs. Morgan to do that? Stop. Don’t be crazy.

The only thing of real note in the call occurred at the very end. The parting pleasantries between Kelsey and I had been exchanged, but she stopped me frantically before I went to hang up.

“Michael, wait!”

“Yeah.”

“Do you have a phone in your room?”

“I do.”

“The thing is, sometimes I can’t sleep at night and I need to talk to someone. Is it okay if I call you late? You just need to answer on like the first ring. Hopefully it doesn’t wake up your parents,” Kelsey explained.

“Yeah, I can.”

I would have agreed to just about anything at that point.

beetlejuice

I couldn’t sleep that night. I checked the alarm clock next to my bed about every five minutes with my hand poised just inches away from the phone which rested next to my bed. I heard my parents go to bed around midnight and prayed that they were the snoring, deep sleepers I had always known them as.

It was nearing 3 a.m. and the 49ers phone next to my bed had yet to jingle. I yawned and wondered if Kelsey was pulling off some kind of awful prank to make sure I never slept again and worried and hoped I would fall asleep at the same time. I didn’t want to be a zombie the next day for my Pop Warner football game, but I also didn’t want to miss Kelsey’s call if it came.

My salvation came at 3:03 a.m. The phone rang for about half a breath before I picked it up.

“Hello,” I whispered.

A giggle answered on the other end and I took a deep, deep breath.

“Hi Michael,” Kelsey’s sweet voice eventually cut through the laughs.

“Hi,” I answered back nervously. “Can’t sleep?”

“Uh…yeah,” Kelsey suddenly sounded nervous. “It’s something funny.”

“Oh what?”

“I had been waiting to call you for like a year. I just couldn’t work up the courage, but Melissa is sleeping over and she forced me to call you, or she was going to.”

I literally gulped. Couldn’t get words out to respond.

“Uh…wow…uh.”

I heard giggling again, this time it sounded like it was being produced by more than one source.

“Melissa told me I should ask you something.”

“What?”

“Well, the thing is, she says I can only ask you in-person. You’re awake, right?”

My knee-jerk reaction was a snarky comment about how I was talking to her right now on the phone, so clearly I was awake, but I bit my tongue.

“Yeah.”

“You still live up the street from the church with the huge steeple, right?” Kelsey asked. “I remember selling Girl Scout cookies to your mom a couple of times. The purple house with the swing set out front?”

I blushed in the dark of my own bedroom.

“Yeah. I live there.”

“Want to meet us down at the church? On the front steps? I live just a few blocks away and can be there in like 15 minutes.”

I couldn’t breathe again. It was risky to try and sneak out of the house without my parents hearing. If they woke up and didn’t find me in my room, they would explode and probably file a missing person’s report in about five minutes, but I had to do this.

“Yeah. Meet you there in 15 minutes?”

“See you there,” Kelsey confirmed and then shot out a giggle. “Bye.”

beetlejuice

I regretted my wardrobe choice as soon as I got to the church. I should have just kept it simple, but overthought things and tried to get suave as a small-town 12-year-old. I sat on the front steps of the church dressed in the slacks, dress shirt, and fancy shoes my mom bought me for my great grandmother’s funeral, sweating on the hot early-summer night.

I looked beyond desperate and trying too hard. I thought about running back home to get the Redskins jersey, black Nike shorts, and matching shoes I should have worn, but figured I couldn’t risk missing Kelsey and Melissa.

To make matters worse, the worry that this whole thing was an elaborate prank by Kelsey, or some guy in my class, grew by the second. I didn’t have a watch on me, but I was pretty sure it was at least 10 minutes past the 15 minutes we were supposed to meet. I fought through the fear though, sitcoms and stand-up comedians said stuff about women always being late, right?

On red alert. My heart racing. Every sound I heard took on a huge magnitude. I had already brought myself to my feet and ran to the side of the church to hide because of the distant backfire of a car engine and the rustling of bushes across the street which eventually revealed to be produced by a possum. I swear, I hadn’t caught my breath in hours.

The sound of approaching footsteps dropped my heart. They had finally made it. This was not some kind of awful prank.

I fixed my hair and stiffened my posture in anticipation of the arrival of Kelsey and Melissa. I tried to plan out a look that would make it seem as if I wasn’t just standing there, counting every second until I could lay eyes on Kelsey.

The footsteps got closer. I sucked in a deep, deep breath and kept my eyes on the sidewalk on the side of the church where I heard the footsteps approaching.

I waited patiently until the footsteps broke off, headed in another direction and left me alone waiting in the near dark and soft wind again. What the hell? The footsteps had almost been there, but then they stopped.

I had to investigate. I stepped down off of the entrance of the church and into the front yard. I looked down the horizon where the steps had come from and immediately saw a side door to the church slowly closing. Whoever walked up had just walked into the church.

My mind raced. Did Kelsey think I was meeting her inside the church? Shit. It was a huge risk for a 12-year-old boy to walk blindly into a church in the middle of the night, but I had to do it. I couldn’t risk Kelsey going in there, not seeing me, and then leaving and forgetting all about me and the important thing she needed to ask me.

I dashed across the stiff grass of the yard of the church and up to the heavy door on the side of the faded white church.

The door was so thick, I could barely pull it open, but I managed and revealed a candle-lit sanctuary. Lined with mahogany pews which faced a stage and a twin mahogany casket, the room was lit by just two candelabras set on each side of the casket.

I gave the room a quick scan and saw no signs of human life. Well, unless the body I saw lying in the open casket from a distance was alive and well.

“Kelsey? Melissa?” I whispered out into the heart of the room and heard my voice awkwardly echo through the cavernous space.

I received no response at first, but then there was a crash over from the front of the room. I looked over and saw that one of the candelabras had fallen over onto the carpet.

My gut instinct told me to run. This had all been a mistake, but I couldn’t when I saw the fallen candles of the candelabra begin to ignite the carpet. I had already abandoned religion by age 12, but I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I had run away and a church had burned down when I could have done something.

My conscience fueling me, I ran down into the heart of the room, zig zagged through some pews, and made my way up onto the stage where the candles had just started a fire in the thick carpet. The fire was small enough to where I could easily stomp it out in a few swift pounds of my cheap dress shoes.

I was confident I had extinguished the flames well-enough to where I could see myself out the door and forget all about my meet up with Kelsey, but my human curiosity got the best of me. I was alone in a dark church with an open casket resting next to me. I had to take a look.

I took a few hesitant, shuffle steps over to the open casket and took a look in. What I saw was far less creepy and gruesome than I thought it would be. I simply saw an old man with closed eyes, dressed in a suit lying on his back. I don’t know what I thought I would see, but it was a little bit of a relief to see something so mundane as what looked like my grandpa taking a nap.

Finally content, and a little bit over thinking about Kelsey for the first time in quite a while, I headed to the door, excited to get some sleep.

I heard another crash come from back up on the stage of the church. I stopped cold about five yards from the door and the safety of the outside world. I didn’t want to, but it was a natural reaction of my body, like a deer stuck in the headlights. I was frozen.

I was able to fight my body and start to move forward again, but then the sound of footsteps came back, but not the soft playful ones I heard outside which I thought belonged to Kelsey and Melissa. These were hard, heavy stomps.

The footsteps almost seemed to have a drawing effect, like they were pulling me backwards toward them. It took me a few seconds to snap out of the trance they seemed to have me in and turned myself around.

I immediately laid eyes upon the old man who had been in the casket, up on his feet staggering in my direction like a zombie, just about 10 feet behind me. His yellow eyes shined like a cat’s in the night and his mouth slowly dropped open as he finished another clumsy step in my direction.

“Are you looking for Devin?” The question dribbled out of the old man’s ashy lips before they formed into a devious smile.

My frozen muscles finally let my brain take over my stopped heart and I turned around, made a mad dash for the door, and burst out into the night.

The time it took for me to run the few blocks from the church to my front door probably would have broken world records. It seemed like a matter of only a few seconds before I was leaned up against the inside of my locked front door, trying to catch my breath.

I gave it a few moments before my head started to come back down to Earth and my body started to feel like it belonged to me again. What the fuck was all that?

The brief moment of relief catching my breath and head provided quickly subsided. I was out of the church, but I was far from out of the metaphorical woods. My forest-side house was still a dark and twisting nightmare and the image of the old man, who I now assumed was The Devin Guy was still on two feet on a mission to get somewhere. Most likely my house, I assumed.

I tried to fight through the fear and make sense of my surroundings for a few moments. This was MY HOUSE, there was nothing to be afraid of. Whatever happened back there at church was just in my head or was stuck back there at that church. It wasn’t going to get into my house.

My little internal pep talk over, I ran through my house in the dark until I got into my room and softly shut the door and pushed a dresser up under the handle. That would probably be enough to give me a sliver of a chance to find sleep, but I tried to make myself not think about whether or not dead people could be thwarted by Ikea furniture and a flimsy wooden door.

The window which rested behind my bed was my next point of entry to seal. I jumped up onto my bed and split the blinds to catch a look at the blue near darkness of my backyard. Nothing was out of the ordinary. The pool lights were off and the eight-foot deep water in the deep end swayed just a little bit in the summer wind. The rest of the backyard was dead except for the bleating chorus of the crickets over at the back of the yard in the taller grass. For a second I almost felt like they were playing the high notes the orchestra sounds out when a killer in a slasher movie attacks, but that had to just be my fear-addled mind playing tricks on me.

I had never been so happy to be lying in my bed. I looked at the clock next to me and saw that it was just after 4 a.m. I could grab a few much-needed hours of sleep before my mom would wake me up if I could fall asleep within the next half hour.

The phone rang. So much for that thought. It rang again. I jumped down out of the bed and tackled it like a defender desperately trying to take out a speedy opponent on a kick return.

I frantically picked up the phone and prayed the ring and a half didn’t wake my parents.

“Hello,” I exhaled into the phone, breathless.

“I’m sorry,” the soft and comforting voice of Kelsey answered back on the other line. “I’m calling so late,” she went on. “But I just can’t fall asleep. Some freaky stuff happened here and I can’t get over it.”

“You never showed up at the church,” I fired back a little harsher than I planned because I still couldn’t catch my breath.

“Yeah, that’s why. So we were getting ready, but then, I started getting really weird phone calls from some old man.”

I watched the hairs on my forearm which was holding the phone rise before my eyes.

“He would just start yelling at me whenever I picked up the phone. He didn’t make sense, but I heard him say something about being outside, so we decided to not go to the church. Sorry. We didn’t want to call you either and have you not pick up and wake up and freak out your parents. I’m so sorry.”

“That’s okay. That’s okay. What did he sound like?” I asked.

There was a long silence on the other end.

I heard Kelsey’s voice change in an instant. It suddenly sounded like there was a deep-throated, chain-smoking man on the other end and not the soft-spoken, 12-year-old girl of my dreams.

The man’s voice was instantly familiar once it spoke. It was the same one which called out to me back at the church when I was on the verge of peeing my pants.

“You really thought this was Kelsey, Michael? You think the prettiest, most-popular girl in your class wanted to be with your candy ass?” The voice seethed through the line with equal parts rage, disgust, and ridicule. “She wanted nothing to do with you. I just wanted to confirm where you live you little prick.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I pleaded.

“Fuck your apologies and excuse my French, little man. You’re only apologizing because you’re pissing your little pajamas right now short stuff. Otherwise you would still be laughing about calling a god damn World War II veteran every week and giving him shit. Well the tables have turned Mikey and I’m going to show you a few things I learned over in Iwo Jima you punk. I already showed your parents. You wonder why they didn’t wake up when the phone kept ringing?”

I noticed I was hearing double of the voice in the phone and outside of my door on the last few words of what was coming out of the phone.

A pounding on my door confirmed my last thought. The door and the cheap dresser which was sealing it shook.

I started to cry. I didn’t even care. All I could picture was the gory scene of my parents I imagined rested down the hall in their room. I couldn’t believe my stupid pranks had led to something so horrible. I just wanted to have a little fun. I didn’t think about who I was hurting. I was just a kid. A stupid boy like anyone else. Why did this have to happen to me?

No time for laments. I had to move and move fast if I was going to survive this. I thanked God for the first time that I didn’t have a screen in my bedroom.

I whipped around and slid my bedroom window open, felt the rush of the balmy night on my already-steamed face. I wasted no time in climbing out the window, thanking my not-so-lucky at the moment stars that I had yet to take my shoes off.

The crickets kept orchestrating their high-pitched song when I landed in the backyard. I shot a look back into the room and saw the dresser tip over and onto the floor then watched the door open and saw just a glimpse of the dead old man’s shining eyes before I turned and started running.

My mind clouded by a storm of dark fear, I didn’t think about where I was. I took off in a sprint at the edge of the swimming pool. It was a terrible idea. As soon as I took off like a racehorse out of the gate, I slipped on the wet edge of the pool and found myself soaring through the air with my face flying at the hard tile of the lip of the pool.

I tried to put my hands out and brace for impact at the last second, but it was no help, I was going much too fast, my skull was going to collide with that hard edge of the pool at breakneck speed. I winced and readied for the pain of what was going to happen next, but before I did, my eyes caught one last glimpse of the world. That little last sliver of life I saw was of the old man with the bright glowing eyes and skin as gray as a rainy day sky jumping down out of my bedroom window and looking my way.

Then everything went black.

beetlejuice

I woke up in the sky. For a second I thought I was in some kind of afterlife, but then a cold morning wind whipped by, raised the goosebumps on my skin and chilled me to the bone and I knew I was all too alive and all too awake.

Once I collected my head, I realized I was hanging high above a familiar sight – the courtyard in front of my elementary school. I looked down at the beige building with a muddled head and was horrified to see about 20 students gawking up at me with open mouths, pointing and laughing.

I looked down at my body for the first time and literally screamed. I was completely naked except for the only old pair of tighty-whitey briefs I owned which were tethered to the flag pole I was hanging from. I scrambled and tried to cover myself, but it was no use, there was no way I was covering myself up.

I turned my attention back to the students who continued to congregate in the courtyard to look up at me and double over in laughter. I hung my head in shame and prayed that some kind of school official would come over and take me down soon.

The relief of being alive and/or not being tortured by the old man who I had been harassing should have served up a hot plate of relief, but I actually wished I was dead instead of hanging on the flagpole above all of my peers in a pair of underpants. Especially when I looked down again and saw a haunting familiar face work its way through the crowd.

Kelsey.

The love of my life for about 12 hours walked into the heart of the crowd with what at first looked like a look of concern, but then quickly turned into a smile, and eventually laughter.

I wish that crazy old dead man would have just killed me.

The only good thing the old dead guy’s punishment did was get me out of school for a day. Within 15 minutes of waking up on the pole, a janitor hoisted me down and turned me into an office full of school officials who were trying not to laugh while they grilled me about who had put me up there. Sadly, I think they let me go thinking I had done it myself as some kind of sad, miscalculated plea for popularity.

My parents were very much alive (it turned out the old man was bluffing about doing them in the night before) and didn’t really know what to make of it. They kept asking me who I thought did it, but I told them I had no idea. I think they were worried I did it myself as well. They told me to just get some rest in my room for the day while I’m sure they searched for child counselors.

I tried to find sleep, but it was no use. All I could do was lie on my back in my bed, stare at the ceiling and think about how I wished I had never called The Devin Guy.

I tossed in my bed while my brain teased of sleep for a couple of hours before the phone rang and fully jarred me awake. I let it ring for a good seven or eight times before I had to answer it. I rolled out of bed, crawled over to the phone on my floor and picked it up.

“Hello,” I whispered.

I was greeted on the other line by a long, low, rolling, raspy laugh which eventually transitioned into words.

“Ah Mikey boy. How’d you like that?”

“What the hell?” I fired back. “My life is over.”

“Oh Mikey. Oh Mikey. My life is over, not yours. I know you’re sad your little imaginary girlfriend saw you up there in baby underwear, but you got what you deserved. No hard feelings. We’re eye for an eye now. Tooth for a tooth. Gandhi said it? I think.”

I tried to think of a response, but couldn’t get one out. My jaw locked in the early stages of a sob and brain addled with torture.

“But we are square now Mikey. You got me. You got me really good, but now I got you. Don’t worry. I’m not going to do you in the way I did that Jap that crossed me in Iwo Jima. But I just want you to keep one thing in mind. I’m going to be watching you from my new place up here and I’m going to make sure you never do anything like you did before to old people. Alright?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I muttered.

“Because if you think about doing that. I want you to keep something in mind. Actually, I’ll put it in a song.”

I let out a deep breath as the old man’s voice was replaced by the scratching static of an old record playing. Some old timey big band style music started to play softly through the speaker of my phone.

I recognized the song from somewhere, but not sure where. Maybe an old movie, but the lyrics were familiar and haunting. I listened to them for about 30 seconds before I had enough and hung up.

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day TC mark

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