(My attempt at writing another 'Baal-Saahitya' for some people here. This was written as an exercise mixing some truth and fiction to the whole event I once encountered in my life. Comments are welcome.)
It was one fine day in winter, when my cell rang up. As I said "hello", it hung up. It rang the second time and the same thing. I was befuddled to not know what I should be doing. Right after I received a message from a lady's voice that sounded of an African American descent, who was trying to reach her son, Lance.
Slowly, it became a pattern, I would not pick up her calls but wait for her quirky messages. Mostly they would be about her asking Lance to come join for dinner or come fix the heat in her apartment. I would wonder if they ever got conveyed to the real and right person she was trying to address. Did she get help when she was asking for it? Did Lance join her for dinner she might have so lovingly made? It dawned on me that she was a lady probably at her 60s, had a minor walking problem and needed somebody to get around. Lance was not quite helping her out like a good son for whatever reasons.
I was always curious as to why she would leave messages that were not being reciprocated not by me at least. While my alter ego was enjoying this arrangement of her calling and me never picking up her calls to get greeted by her odd but amusing messages, but on and off I used to wonder what is going on between her and Lance.
One night, as I was about to sleep as it was almost about midnight, I got a call from her. I did not pick up the call as usual and waited for her message. Soon it came by. She was stuck somewhere in highway and suddenly developed this pain in her knee and could not get back home. She sounded desperate and helpless.
After hearing her plea over the phone, I got anxious, so much that I could not fall to sleep. I thought to myself if I should call her back, but just could not gather enough courage. Maybe this was the way to get to know her, maybe I could have known her story, maybe know who is this Lance and see if he exists for real. Is he dead or alive? Is the lady some insane lady who has been making calls to random people thinking it is her son? Thinking about this I got more disturbed.
I just could not get back to sleep at all. Here this lady was whimpering in cold, in some place she has no idea of and here I am warm about to cuddle in my bed and forget about what is going on outside. I cannot be so inhuman. My parents did not raise me to be so cold-hearted man. I have to be a Good Samaritan as if I have always been. I called back at the number that has been entertaining for past few months. The lady picked it up instantaneously.
"Ma'm, I am not your son, Lance, but maybe I could help you out. Tell me where you are located?"
(After a pause) "oh, ok can you get Lance on the phone? I really need to talk to him. "
"Ma'm, I cannot get you Lance at this moment but tell me your location. If you do not know the name of the place look around for signs some special landmark or.......
"I see pizzeria right across the street"
I almost rolled over my eyes. How on earth am I supposed to know which pizzeria. There might be millions of pizzerias all over America.
"Ma'm, you got to be specific, ok? What's the name of the pizzeria you see there? Does it have a name at all?"
"Lemme read, it's called Sal Pizzeria"
"Is there any phone number or address after the name, Ma'm?"
"Wait, it is 456-789-8900"
"Good, stay in line okay. Lemme call these people"
I dialed the number. No answer.
Tried one more time, no success!
Frustrated, I look up the name and the phone on Google.
The first website itself gave me enough information to know where she has been stranded. I asked her to hang up and wait for me. I told her I will be there in 30 minutes max.
I locked my apartment, took the keys with me and walked down the stairs. I started my car. As I was driving I kept on thinking whether I should have gone myself to help this poor soul or ask somebody like cops for example to take care of her. Well I was already half way through the ride until I approached this pizzeria. I could see this big lady rather oversized African American with a walking cane seated on the curb. With many stores closed there were almost nobody walking. It was a federal holiday after all! How on the earth this lady ended up here that too in night time? I have no idea. She looked a perfect target victim for wrong doers. Thank god nothing bad had happened to her by now except for cold. Well, she knows the weather better than me, for sure!
She was dressed up okay. She had her hands full of shopping bags. Just imagine an elderly over weight woman carrying loads of shopping bags and develops a problem in her knee. Perfect way to get robbed by some unassuming characters. I thanked God again, nothing untoward had happened to her yet.
"Ma'm, I was the one who called a while ago. How you doing?"
"I am just okay. I lost my way and the bus left me here the driver did not understand where I should be going. To hell with that guy. All I have is a phone on me. I could have called a cab or cop but my Lance would always come pick me up in such moments."
No wonder she thought of calling me up to make my life hell. Thank you lady!
"Ok boy, can you help me with the bags now?"
She sounded really demeaning and bossy. What about some politeness to people who have driven all the way to come help her?
Anyway, agitated, I told her, "Lemme help you with your bags and be seated inside my car. I am gonna drive you home. Okay?"
No word of thank you. nothing!
I was already getting mad now.
She left her stuffs on the floor and then was hustling her way through bags to the car door when I moved out swiftly to open the door for this unthankful woman.
After that, as I bent to grab the bags, I could see her purse inside one of her shopping bags. I could see some 20$ bills peeping outside and what caught my eyes were this eye dazzling pearl necklace almost about to fall off the bag.
A lot of things just crossed my mind in one nanosecond.
What if I grab this necklace and just act as if nothing has happened? But what if she finds it out before I drop her off?
A pearl necklace like this can solve a lot of problems I am facing now. Just take this phone. I haven't been able to keep up with the payments. It has been some odd past months I barely scrapped off to keep up with the phone service otherwise I have gotten enough warnings from the phone guys already. After this month I may not even have any phone on me if I do not pay the total completely. Then I will not even be getting calls from this crazy lady.
It's going to be one-time thing. I will not steal anymore. Whatever happens happens. I ain't killing her or robbing. Let's say I just saw it on the curb. Maybe it does not belong to her. You know what? Let her pay for all the headache she gave me with all those quirky messages all throughout. What about her being rude to me. I got to get paid for my help too. Yes! it is all good and justified.
The necklace reached my back pocket of my pants.
I opened the door, and she struggled to get seated in the back seat with all her shopping bags some which I helped her to get in the car. After fumbling through her bags she finally settled down. Just as absentminded as she can be just like how she sounded on her voice messages. Soon we were rolling on a highway. She has told me her home address, so I decided once I drop her at her address, I am going to scoot off with the necklace never to be found again. I will even change my phone number. Good that she does not know my name yet. I was so planning my gateway move out from this whole scene. I cannot wait to get it over with.
I can check the price rates of similar looking necklaces and can know the prices in Google will even go myself to store to sell it myself. Oh yes! It is going to be a big deal for buyers!
I was lost in my own thoughts after I started the car, she, totally unaware, that she is in this stranger's car.
"Where is my necklace?"
The voice nearly deafened my ear drums.
"What do you mean? What necklace?"
"Stop the car! Will ya?"
I tried acting innocent, did comply. My mind was racing. I was trying to figure out what is the best answer I can come up with. Come on think, think!
Still as coy and as unaware as I could act, I replied, “Where was it? Where did you put it? Do you recall? Ma'm?"
"It was right in my purse. The purse was in the shopping bag that you helped me carry"
I felt a finger being pointed at me.
"Ma'm, it should be there somewhere. Look for it again. Don't panic. It won't help"
I could hear my heart beating faster.
Relax! I said to myself.
"That was one helluva expensive necklace I ever had. My grandmother gave it to me on my wedding day."
"O oh" my genuine most response.
"You got to stop the car now and help me find the necklace, boy!"
Her tone was getting more demanding than ever.
I stopped the car at nowhere. I was sure a full drama is to follow.
"It was there in the bag when you helped me get it inside your car."
She sure has good memory.
"What do you mean? I didn't see anything, nor did I do anything, Ma'm."
"It was there! It was there!"
Her voice got more tense and louder.
She got me nervous. What is my way out? I became restless. I felt my heart beating louder and louder. What shall I do now? Give it back? Apologize? Say I saw it on the curb just picked it up no idea, it belonged to her.
In the heat of the moment, my hands reached for my another back pocket. It felt like a machete, I had been carrying while driving home from work in those late nights.
Who is probably going to know? We are still in the middle of this barren highway. They will think she tried hitchhiking and got robbed and killed. There seems to be nobody after her either. Lance, sorry dude if you are alive! Just a small slit in that frail neck of this annoying woman. Not going to be painful. I did enough dissecting in my zoology lab. I need the necklace. You gotta go, lady! Gotta go!
I was this close to reaching for her neck with this indispensable weapon I had.
"Wait, what did I just hear?"
A phone rings vehemently. What the hell!
Where am I now?
The woman disappeared to black smoke. The ambience looked more recognizable. Her shopping bags morphed into this bundle of my laundry bag that I have been keeping off for a week.
I was on my bed! The cell phone dropped to floor ringing callously and incessantly with the vibration. All the while, my adrenaline level gets pumping. I feel so wasted but no I was relieved to know that I was not going to murder her! My stars might have been strong enough to not let it happen.
Rushing I picked up the phone. 'She' was on the other line.
“Lance, my knees are wearing me down, my boy. You got to come and help me get home, please!”
Last edited: 13-Oct-20 10:39 AM