Hands Free By Eric James-Olson

September 7, 2015 Comments Off on Hands Free By Eric James-Olson

“Call Diane,” I told it a second time, but I didn’t wait for an answer. I knew the answer. I always know the answer, and my fist hurts, and then the car horn blares for just a second. It blares again, but now I don’t feel my fist, and then I do. I feel it, and then I hear that recorded voice again, the same robotic message: PLEASE SAY A COMMAND. ACCEPTABLE COMMANDS ARE — CALL, PHONE BOOK, OPTIONS — BEEP.

“Call! Just dial the damn number,” I say, but it isn’t listening or maybe it’s listening too close — to the words inside the words — and it all seems out there and in there and confused. Or am I Confused? Is that it? But what’s it?

Stop. I’m here again, and Diane, yes, Diane . . . her lips are blue, but no . . . that isn’t quite right. You’ll think she’s dead if they’re blue, so they’re not blue. Maybe red? Or pink? You decide. What color? Blue you say? Ok. Blue. But she isn’t dead. Right? Right. Ok. Where was I?

“I won’t say a damn command.” I put a period there because I didn’t scream it. I should’ve screamed it, but I didn’t. I’m lying when I say I didn’t because I did, so I’ll start over. “I won’t say a damn command!” That’s better. That’s right and that’s true, so I’ll use the right punctuation and the true punctuation. Get it? Right and true? You’re right. That wasn’t a joke, and that wasn’t a punch line. Sorry. Diane I’m sorry. How many times can I —

I’m confused.

Let’s start over. I’m in my car. Well, it’s not a car. It’s a truck. Red. No. Black. Diane isn’t here, but I pretend she is. She’s there in the passenger seat, and I didn’t crash into that tree. It didn’t happen, and I’m not in the middle of nowhere making a call that I can’t make and won’t make. No. I’m not. She’s here, and her lips are blue. No. Not blue. Red. Yes. Red. Or no? You said blue right? Ok. Then blue.


This time I say, “Call.” That’s it. I say it real polite.


I say, “Diane,” and then I taste the salt. I lick the corner of my mouth.



A phone rings through the speakers. It rings again. It rings. It rings. It rings.

“But Diane,” I say, and she was beautiful then, but she didn’t hear me because the rain was pouring down and pattering hard on the roof, and she was walking so fast across campus in her polka dot boots — yellow — and I said her name but sound doesn’t travel through glass and rain, and she wouldn’t have known me then. She never knew me then.

© 2015 Eric James-Olson

Eric James-Olson writes novels and short stories. Currently, he’s working on a coming-of-age novel set in the Panhandle of West-Virginia. In addition to writing, James-Olson is a high school English teacher and an outdoor enthusiast. He lives with his wife and daughter in West Virginia. Check out his blog here: http://ericjamesolson.com

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