swordRight Number

by Aaron Housholder


Honey, it’s me. Just calling to check in. I, uh, got hurt at work today.

What happened?

Well, I cut my ribs pretty badly.

Oh, no.

Yeah, it’s a pretty good gash. I think a couple ribs are cracked. And, well, full disclosure, the gash happened when the sword severed my upper arm and then continued into the rib cage. So, yeah. A pretty good gash.

Goodness. You lost an arm?

I did. Two, actually. The injury I mentioned was the second of what you could probably call amputations. The other arm went first. But the first one was a clean cut. No damage to the ribs on that side.

Well, I suppose that’s a positive. Those rib injuries can be painful.

You’re telling me.

I’m not going to even ask you how you managed to dial the phone.

Yeah, it’s probably better if you didn’t ask that.

Mm-hmm. So, then, if you don’t mind me asking, since you’re probably in tremendous pain, how did it happen that someone was hitting you with a sword? I mean, I don’t remember that being part of your job.

No, it’s not. Okay. Well, this is a little awkward. Actually, my arms are fine.

That’s good to hear.

And, also, this isn’t really your husband.

Your voice does seem unfamiliar.

Quite. Allow me to put it bluntly, then. Your husband is dead. I wasn’t the one being hit by the sword so much as I was the one swinging the sword.

That is an important distinction.

Yes. Only it wasn’t actually a sword. I used a gun. I told the story about the sword because, honestly, I’m a little bored with my work. I don’t know what you do for a living, but do you ever find it monotonous?

Oh, certainly. I would imagine every job gets like that.

Quite so. Thank you for understanding. Anyway, I impersonated your husband and told the sword story to, you know, shake things up a little. I thought maybe the sword would be a metaphor for something, but it didn’t come together. I apologize. Let’s forget it and start over.


Good. Okay. Ahem. Hello. I shot your husband in the face, as I promised him I would.

I see. So this is a courtesy call, then. Very nice. And why did you make this promise to shoot him?

In the face. That was the specific promise. Honestly, I hate to say it, it sounds so trite and predictable, but he owed us money and wasn’t coming through on the repayment. I wish I had something more exciting to report on that front.

No, no, that’s fine. A little straightforward honesty goes a long way in these sorts of situations.

Right you are. Well, then. I killed your husband at his office this morning. I shot him in the face. There. Now you know.

Well, thank you for the information. But, since we’re being honest, now it’s my turn to feel awkward. I’m not married.

Come again?

I said, I’m not married.

Ah. I thought you were taking this all rather calmly. Your boyfriend, then?
Your brother?

Neither. I’m unattached and devoid of siblings.

Cousin? Friend?

Don’t think so.

I don’t think I have the wrong number. God, that would be embarrassing, after all this.

You should probably check.

Here, I have the number on a piece of paper. I found the number on the In Case of Emergency list in his phone, and I wrote it down so I could call you and still leave the phone on his body.


And I see here that the number I dialed to reach you matches the number on the paper. I suppose I could have written it down incorrectly.

Anything’s possible.

Well, then, I apologize for this intrusion into your day. I feel silly. I’m a pro. I shouldn’t make such careless errors. Though I admit I have enjoyed our little chat. And I should add, if you don’t mind me saying so, that you have a very nice voice. I don’t suppose you’re free later tonight?

That’s nice of you to ask, thank you, though of course you should realize that there’s nothing about this conversation that would put me in the mood for what you have in mind. Plus, I’m working tonight.

Of course I understand. No worries. It has been a rather strange conversation from your point of view, I’m sure. But one more question: what sort of work do you do, that sometimes gets monotonous, that fills up your nights when you could be meeting interesting people like me?

I frequently meet interesting people like you at work. I’m not sure how to classify my job. Let’s just say that I work in such a role that sometimes my number ends up on the In Case of Emergency list in someone’s phone. Someone who thinks he might be in trouble.

So I did write the number down correctly!

It seems likely, yes.

Well, that’s a relief. Glad I got that part right, anyway.

Oh, me too.

So you’ve enjoyed our little chat as well?

I have, yes. And I’ll admit: I’m planning to see you tonight.

Well, that would be most enjoyable. You can miss work?

No, no. I’ll find you while I’m working.

How enticing. You still haven’t told me what you do, but perhaps that comes later. But how will I know you? And where will I meet you?

See that woman in the corner of the coffee shop you’re sitting in, the blonde about eight tables over, speaking on her phone?

I see her. Is that you?

It’s not. I’m pointing her out to highlight that –

You can see that woman.

Indeed. Well, this has been fun. I’m off to work now. See you soon.

Now I’m so not sure I want that. But as the saying goes, not if I see you first.

Yes, well. Honey. It’s a bit too late for that.


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