Books: An Abridged Existence (excerpt)

Jen wakes up several hours later. The sun has gone down, and it is dark outside. Looking at her answering machine, she decides to check the messages again, since she was not able to listen to them earlier.

The first message is from a telemarketer. As is the second, the third, and the fifth. The fourth message is from someone she never heard of, a Harold something or other inquiring about some sort of shipment of gems from Africa. The sixth is a message from the lawyer, P.J. Mortimer, and the seventh is a message from Carl asking if she had gotten the message from Mortimer. And the eighth message is a blank message.

The message from Mortimer simply tells her to call him back at some point. She decides to call him first, and then Carl. Since it is well past normal business hours, Jen leaves a message on his answering machine. She leaves just a short message, saying that she received his message, and that he should call her back when he gets her message.

Then Jen returns Carl’s call. He is home, although it takes seven rings before he finally picks up the phone.

“Hey, Carl, I got your message. What did Mortimer have to say?”

“Hello. He just wanted to let us know that the airline has decided to settle the case out of court. He practically told me that we’d never have to work again. Seems like the airline doesn’t want us to talk about it either, since they’re making us sign forms saying that we will not talk about our near fatal peanut allergy to anyone. So, how was your day?” Carl inquires.

“Eh, you know, got gas, cot some coffee before work, spilled the coffee, got distracted, got pulled over, got let off with a warning, arrived late to work, just a slightly above average day for me. Oh, and my work place burned down, so I quit, after being told I was fired. How was yours?” Jen responds, acting like her day wasn’t very special at all.

“Eh, routine. Did some more work on inventions and devices and such. Sid’s insurance found him a place to live, so he left earlier during the day. Wait, did you just say that your workplace burnt down?” Carl exclaims. He clearly is not paying very close attention to what Jen is saying, since he nearly missed the whole part about her workplace burning down.

“Yup, the fire department even made an appearance. The made sure the ashes were put out well,” Jen says, somewhat sarcastically.

“Wow, it seems like everyone’s been having issues with things combusting. I hope I’m not next,” says Carl, who seems actually worried that something of his might catch on fire next, possibly even himself. He makes a mental note to check the fire extinguisher later.