The Phone Call


“Hello? Mook? Great to hear your voice. Where you at?”

“Shit. One phone call. Just like the movies.”

“No charges yet, huh? Well, it’s the weekend. Maybe on Tuesday.”

“Mook, slow down. It’s a holiday weekend. Courts are closed on Monday.”

“The gang’s all fine. It’s just you.”

“A lawyer? Gosh, Mook, that takes money. Lawyer will want a retainer.”

“There’s some bad news along that line. Not bad bad, but—”

“I think they’re usually talking thousands up front. Look, we divvyed up the take back at the house—”

“Yeah, everyone got away, but you. Your share—”

“I wouldn’t call it a flawless getaway. Mook, listen up, sometimes these calls . . . They listen in.”

“I’m trying to tell you. High two figures.”

“Uh huh. Listen, Mook, you’re not the only one. We gotta rethink the strategy. One thing’s for sure. Bottle redemption centers are out.”

“Sure, sure, we’ll hold it for you. No matter how long.”

“Mook, calm down. There’s a complication. I was starting to say, the getaway—”

“No one else got nabbed. It was just this school bus—”

“Settle down, Mook. Lemme explain. You ran in one direction, everyone else jumped in my car. We hightailed it, turned a corner—”

“I wouldn’t call it hot pursuit. It’s just that this bus—”



“Simmer the fuck down. The bus overturned. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. No kids. It was empty. No one—”      

“Let me talk, damn it. No one was killed. It’s just that the driver—”

“Did you hear what I said? Did you hear? No one was killed. But she’s pretty banged up.”

“What’d’ya mean, she who? The driver. She’s in the hospital.”

“They won’t say. But worst case, things could get sticky.”

“Mook, I really don’t wanna spell it out for you.”

“Well, I don’t think that’s called for. I know you’re agitated. I can hear it.”

“Okay, absolutely worst case? It could go down like this. The bus driver doesn’t make it. Murder one.”

“Not fair? Who said anything about fair? Actually, it could get worse.”

“How? You shittin’ me? Someone killed during the commission of a crime? You watch movies, right?”

“Look, I know you were no where near. It don’t matter. You’re in capital crime territory if someone gets killed.”

“Of course you’ll get a lawyer. You’re broke, right? Public defender.”

“Like I said, Tuesday. Although with the long weekend—”

“Wednesday for sure. Bail hearing with a PD.”

“Right. By then we should know about the bus driver.”

“You might not need bail. You could get recogged.”

“That’s right. If the judge don’t recog you and sets bail, they’ll hook you up with a bail bondsman.”

“Don’t be so negative. You’re no danger to society. Or a flight risk. You’ll get bail. Unless.”

“You know unless what. The bus driver.”

“It’ll be a whole different ball game. I’ll tell you—”

“Settle down. I’ll tell you this—”

“Mook, you keep shouting, they’ll take away the phone. I’ll tell you this. Will you listen? We’ll be here for you.”

“I’ll tell you exactly what the fuck that means. We’ll do everything we—”

“Your cat? Consider it done. The treats are where? I’ll go as soon as I hang up. What else?”

“I’ll water the plants. Consider it done. Anything—?”

“Mook, I wouldn’t go down that road. Stay positive.”

“We can invest it for you. In a couple years—decades—you’re talking hundreds—”

“Put it out of your mind. You’re gonna get out.”

“Well, no, obviously. But a lot would have to happen. The bus driver—”

“Mook, this is pointless. Look, even if it went capital, it’d be years.”

“Gas chamber, I think. I can check.”

“You’re right. Someone there would know. Good thinking.”

“When you’re right, you’re right. You’re right. Hindsight is always twenty fucking twenty.”

“I’m with you. Big mistake. Like you always said, coffee shops. Hit ‘em fast and get out.”

“Mook, listen to me. Are you listening? Are you finished shouting? No more bottle redemption centers and their goddamn dogs. It was a mistake.”

“The dog is okay. I missed. It’s just the bus driver.”

“Stay strong. You’re not alone.”

“Put a cork in it, Mook. It’s just an expression.”

~ fin ~


Joe Surkiewicz moved to Vermont after thirty years as a reporter, freelance writer, newspaper columnist, and nonprofit flak. Now he’s writing fiction, stuff he actually wants to read.