(…) “Try drinking less,” said his assistant the next day, reinstalling the software again and running a virus scan. It crashed a call to London that afternoon, rang during a difficult presentation to the PR team, and deleted an incoming mail with important sales figures from an affiliate in Geneva. His doctor prescribed him sleeping pills, anti-depressants and Viagra.
Four days later he tripped over a kerb when the phone rang, rammed his painfully hard and involuntary erection into the pavement, broke his nose and passed out. When he woke in the hospital his briefcase had been stolen, together with it the document outlining that financial year’s strategies and hostile takeover targets, but not his phone. He was sacked.
“Tough shit,” commented his secretary when he left.
Malfoy got drunk for a week, networked half-heatedly for another, doubled his dosage of sleeping medication and then slept through the alarm for the only decent interview offer he got. He shouted drunken obscenities at former colleagues in the wine bar and a fortnight later gave up the lease on his ridiculously expensive downtown apartment and accepted a job as VP of a national telephone sales firm based in an arid industrial park on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona.
The phone rang when he turned it on after landing. He blubbered pathetically and was consequently taken aside by officers who searched his bag and person for drugs.
“That’s a lot of sleeping pills,” remarked one officer.
“Can’t sleep,” replied Malfoy grumpily.
“Lot of Viagra, too,” smirked another.
“Can’t get it up.”
“It’s fucking Phoenix.”
He showed them his doctor’s prescriptions and they let him leave.
He rented a rundown loft with rattling air conditioning but didn’t unpack his bags. He bought a few simple pieces of furniture, ate take-out and slept on a mattress on the floor. In the weeks that followed the phone rang regularly. He turned it off at night and tried his best to ignore it but became nervous, jittery and uncertain at work. Some mornings he was late, and forgot to shave. He went on a few dates with a lovely lady with luxurious chestnut hair, but didn’t try to sleep with her. He drank too much. When his young secretary heard about his problem one hung-over morning, she thought it was cool and offered to swap personal phones for a week and reroute his own calls through the company switchboard. He wandered around town with her pink, pimped and plastic piece of shit for a week.
“Any calls?” he’d ask her suspiciously each morning.
“Nope,” she’d reply, but he’d get calls from Mixie about going shopping, and the other silent ones, so at the end of the week they swapped back.
“Mixie hasn’t rung me all week,” she moaned.
His brother called.
“Where the hell are you?”
“How’s the phone?”
Malfoy hung up. It rang again immediately and he answered it without thinking or checking the caller ID as he usually did. The line was silent.
“Please”, he begged, “leave me alone.”
He didn’t sleep. The next day at work he was distraught and distracted. His phone was on silent but vibrated and buzzed across the cheap glass table and onto the floor at his first important management presentation.
“Our third quarter objectives should be – fucking god damn it!” he shouted, and threw his pencil across the room where it narrowly missed the majority shareholder. There was uproar.
He quit that afternoon and flew to Alaska the next morning. He abandoned his few belongings at the airport and threw the phone into the nearest rubbish bin. He spent two days in a cheap Anchorage hotel waiting for the last of his New York savings to be wired through, bought a car, drove north and leased a cabin in the woods beside a lake. Ten days later, hungry and bewildered, he drove through the snow to the nearest town and got drunk. He bought Bobcat Willis a beer.
“Aliens,” said Willis. “Gotta be aliens.” (…)
© andrew wheeler