Information, Please

I soon found I couldn't even lounge in bed peacefully. The bizarre conversation kept running like a tape loop through my foggy brain. I finally got up with a heavy sigh and headed for the shower.

Cleaner, but no more content, I emerged, dried myself off, and headed back to the bedroom to dress. It was only as I stared balefully at the phone while pulling on my socks that it occurred to me to check the call display. Fully socked, I stepped over to the nightstand and pressed a button on the phone. "Unknown Caller" was all the information that greeted me.

Figures, I thought.

I slipped on my slippers (so named for that very reason, I supposed) and headed for the kitchen to fix myself a bowl of cereal and some toast. I plugged in the kettle and took my modest breakfast to the living room so I could check the weather channel. Rain, rain, and more rain. Just fantastic.

The kettle whistled just as I was finishing my cereal. I made a pot of Earl Grey and grabbed some jam for my toast. All through this ritual, the booming Scottish brogue of the fake Alexander Graham Bell kept echoing through my head.

Finally, I could take no more of it. I wolfed down the last of my toast, washed it down with swig of tea, and grabbed the living room phone. I pressed *-6-9 and put the receiver to my ear.

I was rewarded more positively this time. I heard ringing, and then a click.

"Who's there?"

It was the same voice as before.

"This is the person you mistakenly called 'Watson' a little while ago," I said.

There was a pause. I thought suddenly of Harold Pinter.

"Impossible," the faux-Bell replied. "Watson is here in the room with me."

"Well, then," I said, "that should be enough to convince you that it was not Watson you were speaking to earlier."

A grunt came from the other end.

"I fail to understand how you are managing this, sir," he said, "but if you have somehow broken into my laboratory and established a connection to my device, I shall prosecute you to the full extent of the law."

He sounded quite authentic. If I hadn't been so royally ticked off, I would have complimented him on his acting.

"Now you listen to me," I replied, "I don't know who you are or what your game is, but I am singularly unimpressed with this prank you're playing on me. It wasn't funny to start with, and it sure as hell isn't funny now."

It occurred to me that I was playing right into his hand by getting all hot and bothered, but at this point I didn't care. I wanted to know what the hell was going on.

"Prank!? I am not in the habit of playing pranks, sir! And it would seem to me that in this instance I am the victim of a prank and not a perpetrator."

It appeared I had competition in the 'hot and bothered' category. I was beginning to wonder if this was just really good acting or if something else was going on.

"Look," I said. "I'm sure you're doing an excellent impression of Alexander Graham Bell, but your efforts are wasted on me, because I don't even know what he sounded like. Okay? So just tell me who you are and why you're doing this."

"You're making no sense, sir. You ask me to identify myself, and yet you have already said my name. What devilry are you up to?"

Devilry. That was a good word, too. Almost as good as posthaste.

"So you're telling me you really are Alexander Graham Bell."

"Of course I am!! How could you break into my laboratory and sabotage my equipment without knowing who I am?"

"I assure you, I have never been anywhere near your laboratory. If I remember my history correctly, the telephone was invented in Boston. Am I right?"

"Yes, I am in Boston. But why are you speaking of history?"

This was becoming tiresome.

"Look, everyone knows that Alexander Graham Bell has been dead for, like, eighty or eighty-five years or something like that. So let's just end this little charade now and get back to our lives, okay?"

A long silence. I waited it out.

"Who are you, sir?" he said at last. He sounded almost frightened now.

"My name is Martin Esker, I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the year is 2008. Okay? Can we stop now?"

Another silence.



The End

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