I’d forgotten this story until I started digging around in my archives for fiction to post.
I love this premise.
I may have to revisit this one…
Sorry, Wrong Number
It was bound to happen.
I have an unfortunate habit of setting things down and walking off. Purses at the checkout. Gas tank caps on the pump. Once I left my high heels in the gym locker room. I still wonder if I’d have made it to the car if the receptionist hadn’t seen me.
I try, really. I traded my purse for a small wallet with my license, debit card, and a few dollars. I take an inventory of my possessions every time I leave the house.
So when the fast food clerk called me back to the counter and handed me a cell phone, I just stuck it in my pocket, thinking I’d forgotten it. Again. I’d been busy admiring the broad shoulders and dark hair curling on the nape of the neck in line in front of me.
Back in the car, I juggled my burger while signaling a right turn when the phone started ringing. “Your Gal Friday.”
“Who is this?” The man’s confusion vibrated through the air.
“You’ve reached Michelle.” I tried to sound professional and upbeat. I would have pulled it off except the driver in front of me stopped suddenly.
“Oh no!” I slammed on the brakes too. My left over fries spilled onto the floorboard and Mrs. Mendoza’s appraisal report followed.
“Who are you?” Now he sounded exasperated.
I glanced over my shoulder before pulling to the curb.
“I told you, this is Michelle. Your Gal Friday.” Was this guy nuts? He called me. “How can I help you?”
“I want my phone back.”
“Okay. I do errands and shopping for people.” Good, a simple fetch and drop. I’ve picked up engagement rings from the jeweler, bouquets from the florist, even a crate of live chickens once, so a phone should be simple. “Where is it and where do you want it delivered?”
“You’ve got it!”
“I do?” I ran a quick mental inventory of today’s errands and came up blank. “Where did I pick it up?”
“How should I know? I just want it back.”
I sighed. My lunch was spread all over the car and I’d have to clean it up before getting the Benasso triplets from school. And now a difficult client. If I had any fries left, this was just the salt to top ‘em with. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have your phone. But if you’ll give me its location, I’ll be glad to get it.”
“This isn’t funny. I’ve got phone numbers and pictures stored in there and I want them.”
“Fine.” I waited for him to give me the details.
“That’s better.” He took a deep breath. “Where can I get it?”
I closed my eyes and sighed. “I don’t know. Where is it?”
“I just called you on it.” He choked out the words through a clenched jaw.
Finally it clicked. “Oh. I’m sorry. You’ve called the wrong number. This is my phone.”
“Are you sure?” For the first time, I heard a little doubt in his voice.
“Yes.” I was about to lean over and start picking up fries when a sound came from under the fast food bag. A melody that sounded suspiciously like my ring tone. “Uh oh.”
“Hang on.” I set his phone down – funny how quickly it changed from being my phone to his - and scrabbled under the sack. Yep. I stared at the second phone in my hand until it stopped ringing.
I put the first one to my ear. “Are you still there?”
“Yes.” The exasperation was back.
“I’m really sorry. I was buying lunch-”
“Lunch! I left it at the Burger Barn.”
“The clerk gave it to me. I just assumed I’d set it down and forgotten it. I do that sometimes.”
“You didn’t steal it?” He sounded suspicious.
“Of course not.” Now I was annoyed. “Who do think I am?”
“I have no idea!”
“Well, I didn’t steal it.”
“So I can have it back?”
“Just give me your address and I’ll drop it off right away.” I glanced at the clock. Oops. “I mean I’ll get it to you later.”
“I have a two o’clock deadline. But right after that, I swear. On my honor as a Burger Barn lover.”
He paused. Did he expect me to drop everything and rush to him? It’d do him good to wait for it. Maybe teach him a lesson, not to be so careless with his belongings.
Finally I heard a sigh. “I’ll meet you somewhere.”
I dredged up my professional voice again, hoping it would out-rank my eye roll. “Just give me an address. I can be there after two.”
“I guess…” I could hear his brain wheels turning. “The Burger Barn will work. I’ll be there at two.”
“See you then.” I flipped the phone closed and held it, comparing. It was the same model and color as mine. So this was hardly my fault.
Time flew with three six year old girls in the back seat. By the time I got the papers dropped off and the triplets delivered, it was after two. I rushed into the Burger Barn. The place was almost empty but even if it had been crowded I would’ve been able to pick this guy out. Familiar shoulders with curly brown hair, he had a milkshake in front of him and another across the table.
“Is this for me?” I set his phone on the table and picked up the frosty cup.
“A peace offering.” He grinned. “I’m Max. And I’m sorry.”
My heart skipped a beat. I don’t know how else to describe it. “Thank you.”
“I’ve lost a couple of phones already and couldn’t believe I did it again.”
“You misplace things?”
“All the time.” His rueful tone melted me. “I forgot concert tickets once. We had to listen to the show from the parking lot.”
“That’s awful.” My sense of superiority fled when he nodded agreement. “Well, it’s not that bad. I had to drive a hundred miles to get my checkbook when I left it at my sister’s.”
“I failed to remember my puppy at the park,” he confessed.
I shook my head. “Took my nephew to the wrong grandparents.”
He extended his hand. “You win.”
I sure did.