Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Summer Buddy

I was 12 years old. It was Summertime and temperatures quite often reached up to and slightly over 120°F/49°C outside. Needless to say I spent a considerable amount of time indoors, enjoying a comfortably controlled climate, away from school. My Mother worked during the daytime for the majority of that Summer. Consequentially I spent most of it alone, playing pogs, masturbating to the Mexican TV station, sorting my Marvel Masterpiece cards alphabetically, &c.

A few weeks into my vacation and the calls began. The phone would ring around noon. The first few times I answered with a standard "Hello", received no response and simply hung up. After two or three of these incidences I began answering all noontime calls in silence, slowly cupping my hand over the receiver, just listening. Silence. Just... nothing. I would hang up after a few seconds.
The frequency of these calls began to increase as did their regularity. Two weeks later almost every afternoon I'd either ignore the ringing phone, or quietly pick up and listen. My mute answering tactic was partly psychological, partly investigatory; In an act of defiance I met this callers silence with silence of my own, while attempting to gather any kind of auditory cues as to who this could possibly be. On rare occasions I could make out some background noise, the sound of a TV or even a quick bit of muffled breathing, but mostly just silence.

At this time cell phones were the size of shoeboxes and extremely rare. I'd seen a photograph of one only once or twice before. It was years before Caller ID, *69 (feature on phones which would call back the last number you got a call from), so I had no resources to aid me in identifying who this was. I became convinced it must be a bored classmate cooped up inside their house, trying to entertain themselves by crank calling me, however the consistency of the calls began to push this into a new unsettling territory beyond conventional types of prank behavior, as five or six weeks had passed since the first few calls, and they were an absolute daily occurrence at this point.
Creepy as this situation was, I never felt the need to mention it to my Mother, neighborhood friends, or anybody else for that matter. There was nothing to say simply because nothing was being said, and this was also my opportunity to play the role of the protagonist in a sort of makeshift preteen whodunnit - just what I needed to spice up a boring Summer!

Still, slight anticipatory pangs of anxiety began to set in every afternoon knowing the ring which would always come, followed by unsettling silence, or stifled breath. I had begun to get very frustrated and this led to anger. It was bizarre. Why would this person call around the same time every single day and never say anything? I couldn't understand their motivation and it had gone on too long now. It wasn't funny. Sometimes I would pick up, stand and listen for three or four minutes in complete silence before hanging up, and it would always be me who disconnected first. If I didn't answer, they would continue to call back until I did. When I finally did, they wouldn't call back. Until the next afternoon of course.

So after almost seven weeks of this, I answered the afternoon call with a moment of silence and then burst into a rage. I began insulting the caller, asking "what the hell is wrong with you?" As I continued on my tirade I glanced at the clock. It was exactly 12:15 so I finished with something along the lines of: "It's 12:15 in the afternoon on a Saturday in the middle of Summer and you seriously have nothing better to do than this? You have no friends? You have no life, you're a loser. Goodbye asshole!"

After I'd hung up the telephone I became aware that my body was shaking. My adrenaline was pumping. I Hadn't planned that, but I just didn't know what else to do. I had to try something. I was fed up with this situation, and I just let it out. It kind of felt good, and surprisingly nobody called the following afternoon. The next few days there were no calls either. In fact, from that point on the calls had stopped completely. I was shocked! I had shamed them into leaving me alone. I still speculated as to who it was or could be, and part of me regretted not cracking the case but my relief outweighed my curiosity. A few more days passed. No calls. I tried not to think about it too much and enjoyed the remaining couple weeks of my Summer vacation.

School started up again. After a few weeks of good old fashioned homework, bullying, and camoflauging my spontaneous erections in class, the whole creepy caller thing pretty much seemed relatively unimportant. I had a few thoughts now and then as to which kid it might have been, but it was complete speculation. I had never even heard the callers voice, or really gathered any kind of clues as to who it might be so I let it go.

Seven or eight weeks into the school year, I woke up early on a Saturday morning, proceeded to eat copius amounts of breakfast cereal, watch cartoons, then went outside to play, as the now bearable weather afforded me the opportunity to do so. Around noon I came inside to eat a snack.
I still remember this moment fairly vividly. I sat at the counter in the kitchen where the phone was plugged into the wall, eating some kind of snack while my Mother was washing a few dishes in the sink. The phone rang. Her hands were soapy, I was near the phone so I answered. I picked up the phone with a loud "Hello?"

There were a couple seconds of silence and then an adolescent males voice announced: "Heyyyy! It's me -- your Summer buddy! 12:15 - remember?" I looked at the clock and it was exactly 12:15. I was absolutely shocked. I couldn't say anything. I looked at my Mother. She seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the phone even rang, as she looked intently down at the dishes she was now rinsing. I quickly hung up the phone.

-Thunder Builder


smh06 said...

Who was it and did anything else happen after the last call?

Anonymous said...

Never found out who it was. None of my friends ever came clean, so I'm not sure if it was one of them. I never received any more calls, but I still, occasionally, get the creeps when the phone rings.