Short Story: Wrong Number

“What can I do for you?” reflex answered the phone as I picked up my coffee order and walked to my table, where my laptop was open.

“Yeah, hi. This is Rosa. I'm looking for David.”

“I'm sorry, Rosa. You have the wrong number,” I told her.

“Damn. Do you by any chance know a David?” she asked hopefully.

“I'm really sorry, I don't,” I sat down, opening Microsoft Word. “You really don't take no for an answer, do you, Rosa?”

“Oh, I didn't mean to pry,” she sounded embarrassed. “It's just that I really need to talk to him and you might've been a friend trying to protect him.”

“Protect him? Wow,” I stopped typing my draft.

“Okay, that's a really strong word, but you know guys, right?” she said with a chuckle.

“I guess so,” I said closing my laptop. “I mean, it's definitely something a friend would ask me to do.”

“I knew I wasn't being paranoid,” she said with relief.

“So, can I ask why you're looking for this guy?” I sat back and crossed my legs.

“Um, sure. I'm pregnant with his kid,” she said casually.

“What?” I nearly choked on my coffee. “What's wrong with this idiot? Jesus!”

“Wow. I was joking,” Rosa laughed. “He has my favorite CD in his custody.”

“Oh,” I said sheepishly.

“So, who's this gentleman so willing to defend my honor? What's your name, wrong-number-for-the-tenth-time Joe?” she asked.

“Oh, I'm Donovan,” I said with a smile.

“What do you do, Donovan?”

“Well, I write stories for video games,” I said.

“Sounds geeky,” she said.

“It is, I won't lie,” I said. “But, admittedly very fun. How ‘bout you?”

“I'm an illustrator. Mostly concept art. ”

“And you call me a geek? We call concept artists in to sketch aliens and monsters. You could work for me!”

That made her laugh. “Don't get ahead of yourself. You'll have to buy me dinner first.”

“Okay.”

“What?”

“Okay, I'll buy you dinner.”

“You're serious.”

“Very.”

“You pick. Whatever makes you comfortable.”

“Okay, you know the town plaza? The little café next to the fountain?”

“Yeah.”

“I'll see you there tomorrow at 6:00 PM. Bring a sign. Write: looking for Rosa the illustrator.”

“Deal.”

She hung up first. I was dumbstruck. I'd just had the best conversation in months and it was with a perfect stranger. Over the phone. Who does that?

I didn't realize I was smiling until I wasn't anymore.

 

~ ~ ~

 

When I neared the café, I noticed a girl with a small sign that read:

LOOKING FOR DONOVAN THE GEEK

 

I laughed and walked up to Rosa. The look she gave me demanded that I'd state my business.

I held up my sign:

LOOKING FOR ROSA THE ILLUSTRATOR

 

She smiled. “Hello, fellow geek.”

“Hey, wanna go in?”

“Sure,” she said, taking an arm I hadn't fully offered.

“You know, I expected more bags under your eyes,” I confessed.

“I expected you to look much less attractive,” she admitted. “Though your voice still doesn't fit you.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. It's like the voice of one of those guys that talk on the radio. Voices like that don't have bodies.”

“You are very honest,” I noticed.

“I know. Brutal,” she sighed.

“So…” I offered her a chair. “What do you do for fun?”

“Trick men I don't know into buying me dinner,” she said with ease.

“Well, you've done a pretty good job so far,” I said, sitting down.

“Thank you,” she smiled. “I'll take that as the compliment it is.”

“Good evening. My name is David. I'll be your server for the night,” David popped out of nowhere with his greeting. He was looking at something in his notepad.

“Good evening, David,” Rosa smiled. He looked up confused.

“Aw, crap,” he said.

“Oh, this is David,” I realized.

He seemed confused again. “I was trying to reach you, but dialed the wrong number and Donovan picked up,” Rosa explained. “We got to talking and now we're here.”

“Tell me if you need to ditch this guy, I'll make up some story to get you out,” David said. “Now, I assume you'll have the usual. And the gentleman?”

“A latte is fine,” I said.

“Alright then,” he playfully tapped his notepad to Rosa's head. “And no matter what you say, that CD is mine.”

“Show me the receipt!” she laughed. He winked and walked away.

“Do you have a receipt?” I asked her.

“No, who the hell does?” she replied. Fair point. “So, what do you do for fun?”

“Write stories for video games,” I said.

“No, that's the answer to ‘what do you do’, I added ‘for fun’. See? The answer is supposed to change,” she smiled.

“I know it's another question. It's just that I have the same answer for it,” I said.

“Oh, so you're not some cranky ass writer sitting at his desk making crap stories for games? Didn't know those geeks could be happy,” she said. “So, any of your stories published?”

“No, they're still programming a few glitches out. But the beta will be out soon,” I told her.

“What the name? Did you come up with it?” she asked.

“It's, um, ‘V: Return of the Lizards.’ And no, I didn't come up with it,” I said.

“It's a sequel?”

“No, it's the first story in the series. It's supposed to explain what happens after the series ‘V’ was abruptly canceled.”

“But ‘V’ didn't end with anything returning,” Rosa said confused.

“First, I love how you know what ‘V’ is, and second,” I said with half a smile, “welcome to my world. Try debating that with the genius that came up with the title.”

“Well, why don't you?”

“Ha. Get this,” I laughed, not meaning it, “he's the CEO's kid. And even though I'm Head of Story, I can't do anything because the CEO fucking loves it.”

“You know what?” Rosa said.

“What?”

“I'm coming in as your guest concept artist for this shitty sequel and that kid's gonna have a piece of my mind,” she declared.

“So, you'll come in and work for me?”

“Are you kidding? Make me a part of your staff,” she said. “You need a backbone and that's me.”

“Will you marry me?”

“Second dinner and we'll talk,” she smiled.

 

 

 

Image credits: 1, 2, 3