American Contemporary

A Night To Remember—George Davis

 Silence, then someone was panting on the other end of the line. “Who is this?” Mabel Thornton hollered. “Why are you doing this to me?” The calls have been coming for the fourth day. Mabel doesn’t know why, or who is making these obscene phone calls. Who does she know that would stoop so low? Henry Hackett, her cube partner at Fidelity Life Insurance? He has tried for two months to date her. She refuses him. Oh, not that Henry isn’t a good-looking man. He is a real he-man type. Single and in his early thirties. However, Mabel’s rules state ‘I will not date a fellow employee.’ 

  “Who is this? Are you afraid I’ll recognize your voice and turn you over to the police? Well, whoever you are. Please leave me alone.” She was sobbing now. 

  Monday morning and Mabel drove to the Wayfarer Diner on Main Street for toast and coffee before going into Portland to work. The twenty-three-mile drive each way; each day was usually a pleasant trip. However, today after receiving that horrible call last night would make the drive less enjoyable. 

  “How are you this morning?” Winnie the waitress asked. 

  “Okay, I guess, Winnie. I had another one of those heavy-breathing calls last night. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” 

  “Call the police, Mabel. They can help you.” 

  “I don’t think so, Winnie. I have no idea who it could be. They will tell me to change my number.” 

  “Can’t they put a tap on your phone?” 

  “I don’t know, but I’ve got to do something. I can’t discontinue my phone. My mother, in Buxton, isn’t well. She needs to be able to make contact with me.” 

  “Maybe you could change your phone number, Mabel.” 

  “I thought of that, but my mom has dementia, and if I change it, she won’t be able to contact me. No, I have to keep that number.” 

  Mabel ate her breakfast, paid the bill, and left a good tip. The trek to Portland, this morning, seemed twice as long. By the time she reached her work, she was mentally exhausted. 

 The annoying calls abruptly stopped. Mabel read in the newspaper the police caught the culprit. It was a teenager playing pranks. The police said, since he is underage, he’ll probably get a slap on the wrist and community service. Mabel was relieved, but felt sorry for the young man.

  “What’s wrong, Mabel?” Henry Hackett asked. “You look all tired out.” 

  “It’s a long story. Let’s get to work, Henry. How many files are on our desks today?” 

  “Two hundred ten, one hundred each.” 

  “Will we ever catch up, Henry?” 

  “Doesn’t seem like it, but one thing is sure. The pile won’t lessen any over time. This company is rated AAA for service, and we are…forced to keep it that way.” 

  “I know that. How long have I been here?” 

  “I don’t know.” 

  “It was a rhetorical question, Henry. I’ve been here fifteen years too long.” Mabel put on her headphone and went to work, ignoring her suitor. 

  “Mabel, how about going to the movies with me Saturday night?” 

  “No. How many times do I have to say no to you? Read my lips I will not go on a date with you, Henry.”

  “I shall continue to ask you out, Mabel. I am a persistent man.” Mabel turned her head, went online to get the daily claims; ignoring Henry

   Mabel, leaving work drove to Thompson’s Drugstore to pick up a prescription she had left that morning.

  “Good afternoon, Miss Thornton,” Stan Thompson, owner and manager said. “I have your prescription all ready for you. Will there be anything else?”

  “Yes, Stan. I’d like a package of Pall Mall’s, the old type; no filter.” Mabel has been trying to quit for two years, but can only go one day, and sometimes just hours without a smoke.

  “Thank you for your patronage, Miss Thornton. I really appreciate it. I know you could be buying at one of those large pharmacies. Thanks again.”

  “I like to keep my money in Bickford, not send it half way across America to some drug conglomerate.” 

  “I wish everyone felt the same as you, Miss Thornton.” Mabel drove home where her small mixed-breed dog sat waiting for her inside the kitchen door. 

  “Well, Bingo, how’d your day go?” The dog stared at his owner as if to say, ‘rough. You left me all alone with no water and little food. How do you think my day went?’ 

  The phone calls kept coming. Mabel was at her wit’s end, with nowhere to turn. She did contact the police, and they said exactly as she imagined they would. “Change your phone number.” 

  The next morning at work, Henry asked Mabel to join him for dinner Saturday evening. Her answer was, “You’ll never be content Henry until you make me acquiesce to your pleading. However, you can ask until the cows come home. The answer will always be a big NO. Mabel turned her chair around to face her computer, ignoring Henry’s last remark: “I’ll still keep asking, Mabel.” 

  Bingo was waiting for his mistress by the kitchen door as was his custom. As soon as Mabel opened the door, Bingo shot past her like a streak of lightning. Two minutes later, he was scratching the entryway. 

  “Come on, Bingo. Here’s your supper,” Mabel said as she put down his dish. He gulped down the entire can of Alpo in seconds and looked around for more. “You’ve had enough, Bingo. Go lay down.” As if the dog understood its mistress, he climbed onto his bed, turned three times settled down, and in seconds was snoring. 

  Well, two months to the day Henry proposed to Mabel Thornton, the two were married in a civil ceremony. 

  I wish I could say they lived happily ever after, however, they, like so many married couples had their ups and downs. Nevertheless, they stayed together for over fifty years until Henry’s death. 

  “I never thought we’d last that long,” Mabel told a friend. “I was so sure I would never date Henry. I couldn’t stand him. And then one day, like a bolt out of the blue I saw him for who he really was, a kind, gentle man. I remember telling him, ‘you will never be content until talking me into going out with you. However, Henry Hackett. Pigs will fly when I go out with the likes of you.’” 

  “When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.” 

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

September 14, 2022 11:57

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