When Allen’s phone rang and “Blocked Call” showed on his caller I.D., he almost didn’t pick up the call. Almost.
“Hello?” he said.
“I’m going to die,” a hushed voice whispered.
“I’m sorry, who is this?”
“I’m going to die,” the voice, which sounded male, said again.
“Is this a joke?” Allen asked, trying to rid himself of the chills that tingled his spine.
“Who is this?” The call confused Allen. He didn’t know whether to laugh or curse the caller out.
“I need someone to talk to.”
“What’s your name?” Allen shouted into the receiver.
“What’s it matter? I’ve never mattered to anyone.”
“What do you mean you’re going to die?”
“I’ve got a gun… and I’m going to use it.”
Allen choked back the lump in his throat. “How did you get this number?”
“I just dialed.”
“If you need help you should call the police.”
“They can’t help me.”
“I’m not sure that I can either. What do you want?”
“Reason?” Allan echoed.
“A reason to live,” the caller explained.
“I…I don’t even know you,” Allen spluttered.
“Does that mean I should pull the trigger?”
“No. Don’t. There must be something good in your life?”
Allen threw his hands in the air. He paced. “Listen,” he said, “I’m not the right person to talk to about this -”
“I’m not calling the police,” the caller interjected.
“What about your family and friends? Your parents?” Allen stared at a framed picture of his wife and his son as he questioned the caller. His wife was having a girls’ night out. His son, Max, was looking at Internet porn or whatever it is that teenage boys do behind closed bedroom doors.
“They don’t want to be bothered.”
“I’m sure they’d talk to you.”
“I’m talking to you,” the caller said. “You’re the one I called.”
Allen dropped into his favorite armchair. “I’m really sorry, but I can’t help you. I’m gonna hang up now.”
“If you hang up I’m going to do it. I’m going to shoot myself.”
Allen ran his fingers through his hair. The caller made him want to pull out what little he had left. “I don’t understand. I don’t know what you expect me to do.”
“Just give me one good reason to stay.”
“How can I give you a reason if I don’t know anything about you?”
“What do you want to know?”
“Tell me why you want to die.”
“I’m so alone.”
“Where are you?”
“In a very cold and lonely place.”
“Maybe you just need to get out for a while.”
“I get out plenty.”
“How old are you?” Allen asked.
“Old enough to know that things won’t get better.”
“Well they can’t get any worse? What do you have to lose by living?”
“So put down the gun.”
“I may not have anything left to lose,” the caller explained, “but I’ve already lost the will to live.”
“So you’re saying that you’re going to pull the trigger no matter what I say?”
“Yes…unless you can give me one good reason.”
“If you could have anything in the world what would it be?”
“What would take for you to be happy?”
“Wasn’t it the Beatles that said ‘happiness is a warm gun’?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“I guess I agree with them.”
“You’re not making any sort of sense. You want me to stay on the line or else you’re going to kill yourself, but you say the one thing that will make you happy is killing yourself...”
“I don’t understand why you called.”
“I guess I just wanted to give you a chance to stop me.”
“You know what I think? I don’t think you’re looking for someone to stop you. I think you’re lonely and you haven’t had anyone to talk to in so long that you think you have to do something as extreme as threatening to commit suicide in order to get attention. Am I right?”
“Not even close.”
Allen kind of chuckled. “You’re not going to kill yourself.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Then hang up.”
“How will I know if you go through with it or not?” Allen could almost hear the caller shrug. “You’ll never hear from me again.”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Allen argued. “It just means that you couldn’t remember the number you dialed to get a hold of me in the first place.”
“There’s something called redial.”
“If I hang up, you’re not going to hit redial any more than you’re going to pull the trigger on the gun you probably don’t even have.”
In response, the caller cocked the gun. Allen heard it.
“Why do I feel like you’re daring me?” Allen asked.
“I suppose it’s the same reason I feel like you don’t care whether I live or die.”
“No offense, but why should I?”
“Some people care about the wellbeing of others.”
“Yeah, well I care about me,” Allen said.
Allen pried himself out of the armchair. He paced some more. “Listen,” he said, relenting, “I tried giving you my advice. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but if you’re not going to listen to me then there’s not much I can do for you.”
“Just try one more time,” the caller urged. “Give me one good reason to stick around.”
Allen took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He paused in front of the large picture window that looked out onto the still blackness outside. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I’m busy,” he lied. “I have to go. Good luck.”
Allen hung up the phone and stared at the nothingness of the silent night beyond his window, wondering if the caller still had a pulse. He half expected the phone to ring again at any second. But the phone didn’t ring. Instead, a gunshot rang out. It came from Max’s bedroom down the hall.
"One Good Reason"
Copyright: © 2009 Nick Medina
Nick Medina is a young author from Chicago, Illinois. To contact him with questions or comments, or to read more of his work, visit: http://sites.google.com/site/nickjmedina/