Offered With A Grin

“Leave Migel alone!”

The voice on the other end of the phone is female, a rich contralto, melodiously flavored with a Spanish accent.

“Excuse me?”

“Leave Migel alone!”

“Uh… Excuse me? Who is this?”

“I am Migel’s girlfriend!”

I try to process this. The connection isn’t great – I suspect it’s coming in via a cell phone – but even so the voice is rich and theatrical, so much so that I suspect this call can’t be for real.

Revelation hits me. I was expecting a call from Jim right about this time. I bet this is Mary, one of Jim’s co-workers. (Mary was the lady with whom I was shooting bows and arrows, as I detailed in my wandering of September 29, 2010, “Chiles and Sherds and Other Stuff, Too”).

I can almost envision the scene. Mary is working closely with Jim right now. He says something like, “Hang on. I promised Jane I’d call her.” He punches in our number. Mary grins wickedly and takes the phone. “Let me talk to her.”

So now I smile. Two can play this game.

“I have no idea who Migel is. In fact, I’m waiting for a phone call from my husband.”

The voice falters only slightly, “Leave Migel alone!”

“I have no idea who Migel is. Who are you?”

The call goes dead. When Jim calls me, on schedule, two minutes later, he has no idea who that could have been. We resolve that it was a genuine wrong number.

But the incident stays with me. I find myself thinking what I’d say if the voice calls again. I dub her “Margarita” – both because the name is exotic, and because I wonder if a bit of alcoholic over-indulgence triggered the call.

“Listen, Margarita,” I think about saying. “If you can’t trust Migel to the extent that you phone perfect strangers to warn them off him, then is he worth it?”

“But it is not him I do not trust,” that remarkable voice responds. “It is the other women. You say you do not know Migel, so I will tell you. He is, how do you say it? Magnificio! Magnificent. Other men are dogs. He is a lion!”

“Still, Margarita. Consider. Male lions are really not the best husbands. They’re lazy and good for pretty much one thing. They leave all the hunting to the women, just lie around, looking, well, magnificio. Are you sure this is what you want in your life?”

“I live and breathe for Migel.”

“Pity you can’t trust him to live and breathe for you.”

Imaginary phone line goes dead.

I’m left wondering. Who was she? Where did she get that voice? I imagine an actress or singer. It would be a pity if that voice spent its life stocking groceries or taking orders for burritos to go.

Is there really another woman? Is Margarita right to distrust Migel? Where did she get the number she was dialing when she got me? Had she stolen Migel’s cell phone, perhaps? Was she going through his auto-dialer calling every number not clearly identified?

Ooh… That could cause some problems. What if she called Migel’s boss? Some important business contact? His great-aunt?

No… My name wouldn’t have been in his auto-dialer. Did she find the number written sloppily on a scrap of paper in his pocket and come to the wrong conclusion? For a while, a local garage had a number close to my own. What if Migel had taken his car in there?

What sort of person is Margarita that she would call a stranger rather than confront Migel? What sort of person is he? Does she fear him as well as love him?

One of the most commonly asked questions writers hear is “Where do you get your ideas?”

I offer you this with a grin…

5 Responses to “Offered With A Grin”

  1. Ann M Nalley Says:

    Excellent, entertaining post! I was so intrigued, wondering how this was going to turn out… and then your closing! Indeed, I wonder what Margarita’s story is in her proverbial universe…Maybe she is a spirit of sorts who was able to contact you via cell phone across parallel universes so you would write her story. Ah, fanciful…

  2. heteromeles Says:

    Great story! Also offered with a grin:

    “This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.”

    I’ve forgotten which author added “And the Earth is flat.” at the end of that statement, but it still makes me grin when I read it. It *is* a wonderful example of a legal cantrip, written verbatim to repel evil lawyers, just like a horseshoe nailed over the barn door.

    But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this is the ultimate source of that “where do you get your ideas?” question. After all, if you wrote that little statement on your book, then you must have made everything in the book up from scratch. Right? Wow. How could anyone make all that up?

  3. Alan Robson Says:

    By a strange coincidence (they do happen, you know) another person with the same name as me lives in the same suburb as I do. Our identical names are right next to each other in the phone book, only the addresses differ. I often receive phone calls for him and I have even, on one occasion, received a bill that was meant for him!

    And once I received a phone call from a charming lady who didn’t listen to a word I said when I answered the phone. Assuming that she was talking to the other Alan Robson, she launched into a long spiel about the wonderful time they’d had together the previous night.

    It took me a long time to get a word in edgeways, but eventually I interrupted the flow of words and managed to convince her that I wasn’t who she thought I was. She rang off in great confusion and mild embarassment.

    But probably that coincidence of names would not be believed in a story…


  4. Nicholas Wells Says:

    Don’t be so sure Alan. After the life I’ve lived (however short it’s been so far), the things I’ve seen, I’ll believe a lot these days. Miracles, crazy happenings, utter off the wall strangeness….

    Around my house, all of the above, and more, are common place.

    Needless to say material is not a problem for me (though somehow characters are).

  5. janelindskold Says:

    Coincidence of names…

    I’ve got one for you. My friend Walter Jon Williams was fenderbendered by another fellow.

    They got out and compared insurance cards. Not only did they have the same name, but they were with the same insurance company, and lived in the same relatively small New Mexico town. They were not related.

    The police officer who showed up to help out looked at the information, groaned, and said, “I can tell I’m going to get a LOT of phone calls on this one.”

    I love your story, Alan… The other comments, too…

    Actually, Nicolas, I’ve noticed that people who are “plot” or “idea” driven writers often have a bit more problems with characters. I guess it’s just a trade!

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