poison control, fragment 2…. ‘customer service’

-or- “to whom shall i tell my grief  *


(blank) cradled the receiver between his chin and shoulder, while at the same time peering with one eye through his binoculars, lenses poking between the slats in the blinds, focused on the nearly deserted street corner at the end of the block outside. The easy listening selection piping through one ear suddenly cut off, mid-note, followed by a click.

“A Cut Above Incorporated, how may I help you?”

(blank) straightened up in his chair with a jolt, the binoculars now dangling around his neck, shades drawn. “…Uh, yes…..I….”

“May I ask who’s calling, please,” the voice on the other end interrupted.

“Who am I you mean…oh, my name, it’s (blank),” the voice on the other end interrupted again.

“Thank you for calling us, (blank). You are interested in the Ginsu Special X4 Series, item no.1999389?” he asked.

“Well, yes, but—-“

“Do you have your credit card information ready, Mr. (blank)?”

(blank) pretended to fumble through his wallet, his shirt pockets….rustled some stray papers, garbage. “Oh, yes….yes I do, but I had a question about product number…..” he trailed off.


“Yes, that one,” (blank) continued. “I was wondering if…….” (blank) paused, thinking… “I was wondering if that package included the white bone swiss army knife as well..?”

“Yes it does, sir,” the voice answered readily. A brief yet noticeable silence. The voice went ahead, “Now then, Mr. (blank), may I have your credit card information?”

(blank) paused again. Deliberately this time. A brief silence on the line, becoming each second much larger, much more silent. Sounds of breathing. (blank) relaxed, sat back in his chair and put his feet up, winding the phone cord around his thumb. “What’s your name?” he said finally.

A Cut Above Inc. paused as well…a pause to rival (blank)’s. “I represent A Cut Above Incorporated, sir. How may I help you?”

(blank) paused, again. “That’s an interesting question.” The cord was now wrapped taught around his thumb, up to the first knuckle, the skin red at the end. “My dad died this week,” he said, flatly.

“I’m sorry to hear that, sir………..”

“He….he hung in there…..he’s a fighter, my dad….was a fighter. Anyway. Parkinson’s.”

A Cut Above sounded as if to swallow, perhaps lick his upper lip. “Oh. Well…that’s very unfortunate. Certainly sorry to hear it.” The two men at either end of the receiver shared a very respectable and mutual silence, then. “…my grandfather. He had it. The Parkinson’s.”

“It’s rough.” (blank) began unwinding the cord from his thumb, then winding it around his left index finger. “Yeah,” he sighed. “You a married guy…?”

“Doug. No, sir.” A faint tapping sound coming from A Cut Above’s end. “Umm….yes, it is difficult. Very sorry, Mr. (blank)……..uh….about the Ginsu Special, however, do you—“

“Oh yes,” (blank) picked up. “Of course. I apologize. Yes indeed, I have it right here. My card number is………………………”


(blank) had laid the phone back in its cradle, taken up his binoculars again. He peered outside from the third floor, from behind his shades…..between the slats…..a brand new set of titanium specialty ginsu knives along with a bonus white bone handled swiss army knife only two to three weeks from his doorstep. And a perfectly healthy dad some three hundred miles away…..whom he had not heard from nor thought of in many years. No telling the delivery estimate on that item.


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