Craig J. Hansen

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Wrong Number

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She dials, listens to the ring tone, and as soon as she hears the click that shows someone picked up, she says, “I’m leaving. I just wanted you to know that. You don’t even care. I’m walking out the door right now and I left the kitchen a mess and you don’t even care.”

A moment of silence on the other end of the line, then the wheezy voice of an old man says, “Leave if you want to, because I think you have the wrong number. It sounds like you’ve got troubles. Well, the whole world’s got troubles.”

“I’m sorry,” she says, “I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“You’re not bothering me. Are you really walking out the door? It doesn’t sound like it. I’m getting up there, but I’ve still got my hearing, and it sounds like you’re sitting in a chair.”

“How did you know that?” she says.

“I’ve got intuition. Mostly it’s gals who have intuition. My wives, for example. Three had it, one didn’t. I know that’s a small sample, but that’s 75%. That, and my intuition, tell me that lots of women got it. But do they use it? Are you using it? What does your intuition tell you? Should you stay? Work things out? Or is it better to go? Don’t think about it. Right now, clear your mind. Don’t think. What do you feel?”

“I don’t know,” she says.

“My intuition tells me that you do know.”

“Well, your intuition is wrong,” she says, “’cause I don’t know and I wouldn’t tell you anyway. I’m going to hang up.”

“Just one more thing,” the old man says.  “If this is about dumping a man because he won’t do the  housework, you better think that through.”

“It’s not just that.”

“What, then?”

“I don’t have to tell you,” she says.

“You got kids?”


“So that’s it. You want kids, he doesn’t. Better dump him,” the old man says.  “I got two sons, one in Duluth and one in some hellhole in Alabama. Neither of them talks to me much anymore. Or maybe I don’t talk to them. I don’t know who’s got the ball right now. Anyway, when my last wife was alive, we talked  plenty, but then Marsha was a talker and seemed to know what folks wanted to hear. The intuition was strong in that one. But those two boys, neither of them has amounted to much. I miss the grandkids though. That’s the number one reason that people have kids in the first place, is to get grandkids someday. I read that on the Internet.”

“Why don’t you just call your boys? Seems like you don’t mind talking on the phone,” she says.

“I don’t mind talking under any circumstances,” the old man says.  “It’s just that I call those boys and they seem so impatient to get me off the line.”

“Ask them questions,” she says.

“Then I’d have to listen to the answers and I’d rather do the talking.”

“There you go,” she says.  “That’s your problem. You don’t listen. They could have all kinds of problems, not feel good, not know who they really are, feel like they’re getting old, feel like they have to do everything themselves, and you wouldn’t even know it.”

“You’re right. I wouldn’t even know it,” the old man says.

“And they might be thinking that they need a change, that it’s a big world, and maybe someone will appreciate them.”

“They might,” the old man says.

“And you can’t see it, because you’re too busy thinking about yourself and your own problems and you don’t even know that what makes people happy is to share their burdens and not feel alone.”

“I’ve got a little dog,” the old man says. “Maybe I’ve gotten used to one-sided conversations.”

“Well, you just call those boys and listen for once and you’ll see what a difference it makes,” she says.

“Okay then, I’ll give that a shot, if you promise to take your own advice. Ask yourself if you’re listening to your hubby or boyfriend or whatever he is.”

“I have, and I do, he still acts like a jerk,” she says.

“Then dump the son of a gun.”

“Thanks,” she says.  “Gotta go.”

“Call anytime,” the old man says.