Excerpt from the Kindle short story “Communicate”
My Kindle short story, Communicate, is a bridge work between my novel Meeting Dennis Wilson and the next novel, Switch. It’s a short-story-in-dialogue, a transcript of a July 1976 phone call between 16-year-old Brian and his best friend Margo, following Brian’s latest frustrating date with his girlfriend Christy, where, once again, the couple “took steps” but didn’t go all the way.
Here’s the opening passage of Communicate. Enjoy!
M: Hey, Bri! What’s up? Why are you callin’?
B: What do you mean, why am I calling?
M: Well, you know… it’s 10:30–
B: I needed to talk…
M: Well, I figured that…
B: You want me to hang up?
M: No, no… touchy. Of course not. I’m just… I’m surprised. I mean, it’s 10:30… I thought you’d still be out with Christy.
M: Well, what’s up? Did you go out?
M: But you’re back. An hour before curfew.
M: O.K., well… look… you want me to call you right back? Let me call you back, O.K.? Hang up and I’ll call you back.
B: You sure?
M: Brian, I don’t want your mom and dad… givin’ you grief about callin’ me up here. O.K.?
B: Well, what about your mom and dad?
M: They don’t care. So look… hang up and I’ll call you right back. O.K.?
B: O.K. Thanks, Margo.
M: No problem!
M: It’s me!
B: I figured it was.
I’VE GOT IT!
M: Yeesh… they’re not right there, are they?
B: No, Mom just started to come in.
M: Are you in the kitchen?
B: Yeah. Why?
M: Well, I can hear those TVs…
M: You don’t hear that? It’s like… dueling TVs.
B: I can hear Mom and Dad’s… I just figured the other one was on your end.
M: It’s not on my end. I’m hearing loons.
B: You sure that’s not–
M: –One just turned off! See, that’s on your end. I could hear two different TVs, and now I can hear just one.
B: Hang up, Danny.
You better hang up or I’m coming down there…
M: …and don’t try and pick back up with your hand over the phone! I can tell when you do that. Your brother’s voice sounds fainter.
What a… twerp.
B: You want me to go down and kill him?
M: Nahhhh… just bloody him up some. I’ll finish him off when we get back.
B: It’s safe on your end, too, right?
M: What do you mean, “safe”?
M: Brian, there’s only one phone up here and I’m on it. No one’s listening.
I swear I still hear a TV…
B: That’s from Mom and Dad.
M: Really? Where are you?
B: In the kitchen.
M: Well, where are they?
B: TV room.
M: Yeesh. How loud do they have it, anyway?
B: Loud enough. I can go in the dining room.
M: Does your phone stretch?
M: Didn’t used to…
B: Well, Dad got a new cord at Radio Shack.
M: They have phone cords?
M: I thought they just had parts for like, robots and ham radios and stuff.
B: Parts for robots?
M: And ham radios! Although they also have blank tapes and batteries and stuff. Christy likes their tapes.
So… are you situated?
M: Good. So what happened? You and Christy did go out, right?
M: Well, what happened? Did you guys take steps?
B: Well… depends on what you mean by–
M: –wait, wait a minute, Bri. Sorry.
I’M ON THE PHONE! WITH BRIAN!
Dad says “hi,” Bri. Mom too.
B: You’re sure they don’t mind that you called me?
M: It’s vacation, Bri. Nobody cares about anything. Mom says it’s weekend rates and Dad says by the time the bill comes, we’ll be in the states and it’ll be Uncle Pat’s problem.
So… you guys didn’t take steps?
B: Well… it depends on what you mean by “steps,” or maybe “in what direction”?
M: What… like… backwards?
B: It feels like it.
B: No, you know… you know what it feels like? It feels like… Marty was saying about how there’s this science fiction thing with black holes…
M: What is a black hole, anyway? I mean, what other kind of hole is there? A white hole?
B: Well, it’s not really a hole. They just call it that because… it’s a star that has so much gravity that it’s like a hole.
B: And even light can’t escape.
So what’s this have to do with you and Christy? You’re not saying she’s a hole, are you?
M: I was gonna say… that might not sound good.
B: No, no… it’s just… what Marty was saying… that there’s something about a black hole that slows down time, right? So that the closer you get to it, the longer it takes for you to get there.
M: That sounds like us driving up here.
B: Well, except you guys arrive.
M: We arrive. O.K. So… what you’re saying is… as you and Christy take steps…
M: …the steps get shorter and you feel farther away.