It's that time of year, again. I'm buried under a mountain of screenplays as first reader for a little screenplay competition of note. And also working on my latest novel project, Endless Vacation. I've got some good stuff in the queue to finish reading, when my time frees up.
In the meantime, here's a bit of flash fiction I wrote about 20 years ago, back when cell phones were a new thing. I call it . . .
THE CALL HOME
The cellular phone gripped tightly, he pulls his BMW to the side of the road as he hears the phone ring on the other end. His breath catches at the familiar, loving voice answering, "It's your nickel." Panic closes a hand around his throat and he can't speak.
"What's the matter, cat got your tongue?" the nasal voice brays through the wires. He tries to swallow but his mouth is too dry. "Hey, Pa, it's for you. It's Marcel Marceau."
"Ma . . . Mom," he blurts out in his panic. "Don't call Pa. It's you I want to talk to. It's me, Beamish!"
"Beamish! Where have you been? We've been keeping your supper warm for you, but after a year-and-a-half the gas bill is getting ridiculous."
"I know, Ma. I meant to call but I was so busy."
"When are you going to get home? Our pyramid act doesn't get as many laughs with only two on the pyramid."
"Look, Ma. I'm in a bit of a hurry. I've got to see a client, but I just wanted to let you know I was O.K."
"What do you mean, a client?"
"Ma, brace yourself. You know I never did like the circus. I mean, it was O.K. for you and Pa, but it just wasn't for me."
"How could you say such a thing after all we did for you? You know Pa was going to pass the family nose on to you."
"Ma, please, don't make this any harder for me. I've got my own life, now." He pauses, afraid to break her heart with the truth. Suddenly, it all comes out in a rush. "Ma, I'm a C.P.A. You know it's what I always wanted. I tried to be a clown, but my heart just wasn't in it. I've got to follow my own dream."
"It'll kill your father."
The digital clock on the dash swims before his eyes as his tears overflow. "Ma, I've got to go. Don't try to call me, please. It'll cost me 1.78 a minute and besides, I'm expecting an important fax. Bye."