Color me intrigued. A couple of weeks ago I came home to this message on the answering machine (all names have been changed):
Hey, that’s great. Hey there, good buddy. Uh, Howard, that is. How you doin’ there, pardner? Ah, I’ll be over there soon one of these days. Having a hell of a time. Bad news. Well, you know all about it. Be over there soon, I hope. Having a very–ahh, shit, you know all about it. Be over there soon, I hope. Anyway, good buddy, I gotta get a automobile license, haven’t had one for years. Be over there to see you and, uh, Stabler, the detective. Don’t know what the fuck we’re gon’ do. He doesn’t tell me anything. I gotta dig stuff. Don’t know if you give a shit anymore, I’m just sad at this whole bullshit, you know that? Yes sir, I’ll be over there one of these days. Give me a call. Jesus christ, my home number is 808-555-1234. Give me a call fer chrissake, ya dumb shit. See you later. So many things I wanna talk to you about, you know. Y’all be good. Bye.
I saved the message so Captain OCD could hear it. Using the saddish, resigned voice as guidance, I decided that the message-leaver is in his mid-sixties, single and lonely, lives in an old single-wide on the back five of a friend-of-an-acquaintance’s scrub land in eastern Washington (that because he said, “Be over there,” and that’s where we are if you’re in eastern Washington. Of course, that’s where we are if you’re in Manhattan), and he drives a clapped-out ’72 Chevy half-ton 2-wheel drive with rusty steel wheels that used to be painted white. The kind of guy who doesn’t let things like the lack of a valid drivers license get in the way of driving not because he’s a rebel, but because life just happens to him.
A few days later, I came home to another message:
Hello there, Jimmy Bob [don’t know what happened to Howard]. Heh, heh, heh. Anybody talkin’ to you? I’m, whatta ya call it? Anyway, be over there pretty soon, have a few laughs. See ya later, good buddy. Bye.
This second message makes me happy that I didn’t delete the first message, especially when, a few days later, I came home to this message:
Hello there, Jimmy Bob. I’ll be over there pretty soon, I gotta get a driver’s license for a car, I been ridin’ a motorsickle for years. Anyway. You and I gotta talk. You already, probably already, talked to Sergeant Stabler, didn’t ya? Anyway, I been so, been so goddamn brain-addled for a long time. God. I had a really bad, really bad results from one of my surgeries several years ago and I’m just now getting my senses back. Hell, I could’ve been back there in a few days, but I just didn’t know what the hell to do, ya know? Uh, when Bill disappeared and I found him three days later in the hospital I tried to get him transferred to the vet hospital, but, uh, his daughter pulled, uh [laughs], told the charge nurse I was a drug dealer. [laughs] So they kicked me out of the hospital. I thought that was pretty funny. Ah, damn. That’s great. Anyway, I bought Bill a little, nice little yacht and when I found him I said, hey, you wanna make a break for it, I got a yacht for you and a motorsickle. You got any money left, hell, we’ll go down there and we’ll do some sailing, how’s that? And he said, “brmphugmphrm” and that was about that. Anyway, after about eight months I give [someone] 50 thousand bucks, and I spent the rest of it trying to get Bill out of her clutches. Got back here and just crashed. Been drunk for a year, I think, just about a year I been drunk. Left there in October and it’s October again. So I just sobered up and my brain’s workin’ again and I’ll be back over there again as soon as I can. I’ll get a little, get a, whattaya call it, a U-Haul thing and rent it for a month or so, get me a gas heater, camp, camp stove and all that shit. Jesus christ, really is good to have a, I have a good retirement now, damn. Be good there, good buddy. Ya’ll be good there. Hang in there [chuckles]. Kick ’em in the ass. [chuckles]
No one has been home to answer his calls, yet he still leaves these messages. I’m more and more curious about him, but I don’t look up the area code because cell phones, long-distance cards, and VOIP can make area codes useless in determining where a call is actually coming from. I’m more interested than my usual nosy self is because he’s talking about where I live, names the only local hospital, and I recognize the detective’s name from newspaper articles. Last night, the phone rings and I recognize the area code, so I let the machine answer because I don’t want him to stop calling once he realizes he has the wrong (unlisted) number:
Hey there, Jimmy Bob. Give me a call. You and I got some, lotta laughs to talk about. I think we’re on the same wavelength, good buddy. Ha! Shit! I’m havin’ so much fun! Ev-ry-body hates me and you! [laughs] Horses’ asses. Yeah, I’ll be over there in a little bit. My brain’s startin’, I startin’ to feel good. Ah, man, I’ll tell you. So much fun. Have you talked, I guess you’ve talked, to Stabler, haven’t you. Okay, well, watch what yer sayin’, but don’t lie, or, you know that though, dontcha. Rest a these sons-a-bitches are ly-in’ like a bunch a bastards. Per-jer-y is prosecutable. Je-sus christ, I can’t wait to start prosecutin’ these sons-a-bitches. See you later, good buddy. Y’all be good. Bye. Good-bye, sir. Give me a call, I’ll be over there pretty soon again. Now my brain’s workin’. Holy shit, I’m havin’ fun! See you later, Jimmy Bob. Heh. You’re the only other person, human person in the world that I, that I appreciate. Yepper. Bye.
I looked up the area code: Hawaii. I’m going to have to rethink my idea of who this guy is, which won’t be easy because I’ve never been there.