Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
Chapter 1 of Jeff Folschinsky’s Tales from Little Lump: Alien Season, a new sci-fi comedy novella now on sale in both Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon.com.
“Hold your horses, I’m coming damn it!” I swear, there are very few things in life that get me more upset than the telephone.
Its ring is like a little child yelling in my ear, demanding that I stop whatever it is that I’m doing and immediately give it attention.
I swear I would spank it if it weren’t for the fact that the payphone in my place of business is a very well built piece of machinery, and the last thing I need at my age is a broken hand.
My only real solace is to answer the darn thing and take out my vengeance on whoever set that ringing annoyance loose in the first place.
So with the most annoyed tone of voice I could muster up, I answered the phone with my standard greeting: “Yeah, what do you want?”
“Well hello there and is this Aunt Gertie’s Gas ‘n Sip?” responded an overly polite voice that I knew all too well.
Now, truth be known, I don’t know the exact number of people living in Little Lump, but I’m pretty sure it’s less than a hundred. So the fact that Fred, the mental giant that is the town’s operator, was asking if this was indeed the place he himself called, shows you what I was dealing with here.
“Fred, you know this is Aunt Gertie’s Gas ‘n Sip. You’re the damn operator aren’t you?”
“Damn it Gertie, as an official representative of the Little Lump Telephone Company in this great state of Texas, I am trying to maintain some sort of professional decorum, which is rather difficult when you answer the telephone in that unprofessional and sassy manner!”
“Well, maybe it wasn’t the most professional way to answer the phone, but it’s my phone and I’ll answer it any damn way I want to,” I shot back at him. “Now are you going to tell me why you’re calling, or do you want to talk about phone ethics?”
“It’s interesting that you mentioned ethics Gertie, because the history of telephone service is based—“
Now I don’t normally make a habit of hanging up on people but I could already feel the migraine coming on from where this conversation was headed, so that’s exactly what I did. Besides, it’s widely known that I’m a first class grouch, so it’s not like it was going to hurt my reputation any.
It was a blissful five seconds before that irritating ringing started up again.
I answered the phone in a sarcastically innocent tone of voice. “Hello, this is Gertie. How may I help you?”
“Gertie, what the heck is going on over there? Did you know that we got disconnected?” Fred asked, clearly flustered.
“Why no, I had no idea,” I responded. Of course the fact that I just answered the phone should have been evidence that I was fully aware we got disconnected, but no one ever accused poor Fred of being the sharpest pencil in the pack.
“Fred, hold on a second while I check the phone.”
Now, there is no more blissful a sound than the clicking that the phone makes as you hang it up. And I have to admit, hanging up twice on Fred really did put a smile on my face.
You may say that’s sadistic, but I’ve always found being sadistic is a state of mind. For instance, what you call sadistic, I could call being carefully guarded with my time. Of course it could also be another example of me being a grouch, but I never really like to label people. Especially myself.
I have to admit though, I was strangely conflicted when the phone rang a third time. I have to give Fred credit. He is persistent.
I didn’t even bother to say anything when I picked up the receiver this time. I just waited for him to say something.
“Gertie, is that you? Are you there? I can hear you breathing. What the heck is going on with your phone?”
I finally answered him before he spontaneously exploded.
“Fred, I have no idea what’s going on. I must be in a bad cell zone.”
There was a moment of silence where I could swear I actually heard Fred’s mind trying to work out that last statement.
“Gertie,” he finally replied, “you do realize you’re on a payphone?”
“Yes Fred,” I said, slightly insulted, “I realize that I’m on a payphone. I was being facetious.”
“I’m sorry, did I hear that right?” he asked. “You’re getting a facial right now?”
“No Fred,” I said. “Facetious, you know, when you…Fred, why on Earth do you keep calling me?”
“Well, I’m trying to connect you with a collect call from Gene Kelly. Will you accept the charges?”
“Fred”—my tone was not necessarily annoyed, but had more of an uneasy calm that one experiences before something really bad happens—“why on Earth would I accept the charges of a collect call? The whole point of having a payphone is so there won’t be any charges. Can you not see the paradox of calling a person on a payphone and asking them if they will accept the charges of a collect call?”
“Well, when you say it like that, the whole thing seems kind of silly,” Fred replied.
“Really, do you think?” I said with relief, finally seeing the end of this conversation in sight.
“Well, he’s been waiting on the phone a long time. What do you want me to tell him?” Fred asked.
“Only one thing comes to mind. You tell him—” I hung up the phone mid-sentence, a smile creeping across my face, trying to imagine the mental aneurism that Fred was experiencing in his attempt to interpret what just happened and convey it to Gene Kelly.
Serves him right though. “Accept the charges,” I said to myself as I headed to the kitchen, “why I never.”
No sooner had I walked into the kitchen than I heard someone walking in through the front door and calling out my name. “Gertie, you here?”
I peeked out through the serving window, not wanting to waste another trip back into the store if it was someone I didn’t particularly care for.
Fortunately, it was my nephew Jimmy, whose company I actually enjoy, despite the fact his father is a first class pain in my butt.
“Well hey there Jimmy. What brings you by?” I asked as I made my way back into the store.
“A crate came by the cotton gin earlier today and Pa told me to bring it over to you.”
“Yeah, and he told me to tell you to quit having your religious crap delivered to his place of business. He said it makes his employees nervous, especially after what happened last time.”
“Well, you tell your father they put those hazard symbols on those boxes for a reason. I swear that man has about as much sense as a Billy Goat. Thank god you take after you mother, that’s all I have to say. Okay, so where is it?”
“Oh, well it’s in the back of the pick-up. Where do you want me to put it?”
“Take it to the back entrance. I’ll meet you back there and we’ll put it with the other stuff.”
“You’ve got it Aunt Gertie,” Jimmy said as he left for his pick-up.
I’ve always liked that boy. He’s always had a good head on his shoulders, which is surprising considering his father. I don’t like to speak ill of family but my brother Neil, Jimmy’s father, isn’t the wittiest person. I’ll put it this way: if you were putting together an army for a battle of wits, he would be the cannon fodder. He has a surprisingly good head for numbers though, which is why our father put him in charge of the cotton gin; which just goes to show that everybody is suited for a particular calling.
“Gertie, you mind telling me why you didn’t accept my call?” A voice came barreling in through my front door in the form of Gene Kelly, the owner and sole DJ of our local AM radio station. His particular calling, which he’s rather good at, is annoying the ever-living heck out of me.
By the way, his real name is Grace Kelly. His mother was a real big fan of the movie actress, and I suspect she really wanted a girl because she didn’t bother to change his name when he came out the wrong gender. He changed it to Gene Kelly because he thought it sounded more masculine. No one had the heart to tell him about the dancer Gene Kelly.
“Gene, what in tarnation are you thinking, coming into my place of business like that? You about nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“I’m sorry, but I have important business to discuss and your shenanigans over the phone required me to rush over here post-haste. Do you mind telling me why you didn’t accept my call earlier?”
“Gene, you made a collect call to a payphone. Am I the only one in this town that sees a problem with that? You know what, if it makes you feel better, I promise to accept the charges from now on.”
“If you don’t believe me, than go back to the radio station and give me a call.” I gave Gene the most sincere look I could muster up.
For a few moments he looked like he was actually considering it, before common sense got the better of him.
“Gertie, you must think I’m a complete idiot.”
“Gene,” I replied, “I don’t think you’re a complete idiot. I was just hoping you were enough of one so you would get out of my face right now. What is so gosh darn important?”
Gene sighed in relief, as if he were releasing pressure that was building up because he couldn’t tell me what was on his mind right away. The sadistic side of me wondered what would have happened if I held out a bit longer.
Gene then looked at me with all seriousness and said, “Gertie, I need to call a town meeting.”
Now the problem with living in a town like Little Lump is when the City Hall burns down because of a careless clerk with a fetish for aroma therapy candles, the city doesn’t have enough money to rebuild it, so my place of business becomes an unofficial meeting place. I don’t mind most of the time but some people, like the iggit that was standing in front of me, abuse the privilege.
“What in heavens for?” I asked, followed by a heavy sigh of my own, fearing that I knew what was coming.
“I heard another message.”
Yep, I had been afraid of that. A few weeks ago, Gene began claiming he was hearing messages coming through his radio equipment. He said it was the government sending messages to aliens, or extra-terrestrial visitors, as he likes to call them.
“Not that again,” I said, feeling the migraine from earlier coming back.
“Now, I’ve got a recording this time.”
“You had a recording last time. Fifteen minutes of some lady calling out random numbers.”
“That was them speaking in code,” Gene replied defensively.
“Gene, your recoding sounded like it was a couple of seconds short of someone yelling out bingo!”
“This one is different though. I’ve got a recording of voices talking about landing coordinates, and they make reference to Little Lump on several occasions. This is hot stuff and is going to break this town wide open!” Gene exclaimed triumphantly.
“Aunt Gertie, where the hell are you?” I heard Jimmy yelling from the back of the Gas ‘n Sip.
“Damn it Gene, see what you made me do?” With all this nonsense going on, I had completely forgotten about Jimmy.
“Sorry, I’m on my way,” I yelled back.
“Gertie, what about that town meeting?” Gene pushed.
“Gene Kelly, if anything is in danger of being broken wide open right now, it’s you.”
Now I’m not a big woman, but I can be intimidating when I want to be and I guess I was intimidating enough for Gene, because he shut up about that stupid town meeting long enough for me to exit.
Well truth be known, he might have still been talking but I just tuned him out. It’s a useful skill. I highly recommend picking it up.
END OF SAMPLE CHAPTER
Jeff Folschinsky’s plays have been seen at various theaters across North America. He is also creator and staff writer for Perilous and The Trials and Tribulations of Vicky Vixen, a serial late night soap opera spoof at the Eclectic Company Theater in North Hollywood, California. Jeff’s plays The Unsinkable Bismarck, A Pill By Any Other Name Is The Wrong Dosage, Rendezvous and Revelations and Kisses From Abroad are published by One Act Play Depot. His full length play Turkey Day that had it’s world premiere at The Eclectic Company Theatre, is published by both Norman Maine Play Publishing and Big Dog Play Publishing. His play he co-wrote with Tyler Tanner The Singing Bone is published by JAC Publishing. Jeff has written and produced the popular podcasts Virgin Falls, Pasiones Obsesionantes, The B-Movie Bastards and Cult Movie Cuisine. Jeff has also written a movie with Tyler Tanner and Stephanie Wiand called Revenge of the Bimbot Zombie Killers which was directed by Joe Camareno and is due to be released later this year.