Leaning back in a black leather swivel chair while he pondered the day ahead, Jimmy Dietz closed his eyes against the rising glare from the room’s only window. For perhaps the millionth time, he cursed his decision to select the only bedroom in the house with eastern exposure for his home office. That had been the whole point, of course, to leverage the insistent sun as a secondary alarm clock, this one to force his weary mind to catch up to his body’s head start.
He was tempted to steal another glance at the clock, but knew it would only bring disappointment. It would be at least another five or ten minutes before the sun would rise above this petty torture and continue its ascent towards a more fitting celestial perch.
He did cautiously open his eyes, however, when a familiar buzzing cut through his silent lamentation. Grimacing against the opportunistic sunlight, he took in the sight of his shuddering iPhone as it vibrated on the desktop. He reached for it, half expecting to feel the sting of an angry electrical bee when his slender fingers closed around its cool metal housing.
“This is Jimmy,” he informed the caller.
“Hello,” he tried again when he received no answer. “This is Jimmy.”
Still no one. He removed the phone from his ear and looked at it, realizing his mistake. He was talking to a text message notification. He tapped the prompt on the screen to view.
CALL ME, the message read.
Jimmy recognized the number as belonging to an agent he had worked with on a rental transaction the previous month. It was burned into his memory by the scores of similar messages he had received in the ensuing weeks.
The phone jumped in his hand.
ITS URGENT, A new message assured him.
911, another added for good measure.
Here’s a thought, Jimmy seethed. Why don’t YOU call ME?
Resisting the urge building up within him, Jimmy instead began to slowly count to ten. Just as the throbbing in his carotid artery started to ease, his phone buzzed again.
“Seven,” he breathed in disgust as anger flooded his happy place before he had the chance to find it.
ITS STEVE WILLITS WITH DESERT DOMICILES RLTY
“You don’t say,” Jimmy hissed at the empty room.
RE 8539 E. RAVINE PKWY
Jimmy stared at the screen, incredulous as a series of messages came through in rapid succession.
TENANT SET OFF ALARM
DOESNT RMEMBR CODE
DOG BARKING AT ALARM
WONT GO IN BC OF DOG
Jimmy began to laugh.
R U THREE?
Jimmy laughed even harder. For the life of him, he didn’t understand the younger generation. How could anyone in sales prefer one way communication to an actual dialogue with a real, live human? How was anyone supposed to hash out anything of consequence one line at a time?
Then again, he thought, maybe he was the idiot. Why use a perfectly good texting device to make something as antiquated as a phone call? The other party might not go along with whatever I have to say.
DOG JUST BIT A COP!!!
Not for the first time, he wondered how much longer he was for the business.
WHY WONT YOU ANSWER???!!!!
Smiling, Jimmy relented. Out of practice with the virtual keyboard, it took three minutes for his thumbs to find the right sequence of characters. Breaking the apparent protocol, he scanned his message for grammatical errors. He swore as another message came across in the interim, interrupting him.
He pressed send.
Because this is Pizza Hut, asshole.
A response came back in seconds.
THS FUNNY 2 U?!
No. Jimmy replied, quicker this time. You’re right. This is serious.
No response. Jimmy’s smile broadened as he pictured his counterpart staring intently at his phone, eagerly anticipating the forthcoming assurance that helicopters would scramble and the world would stop until this latest fiasco was resolved by anyone other than himself.
He lingered for a moment, savoring the new aroma of freshly brewed coffee that emanated from the adjoining kitchen as he gave that expectation room to grow.
Satisfied, Jimmy finally began typing.
He realized that the sun was no longer in his eyes. He relaxed his defensive squint, his hazel eyes rounding into their usual mischievous shape. He scanned his message for errors and pressed send. He then placed the phone on the desk, stood, and strode out of the room in search of caffeinated goodness.
On the desk, the phone remained momentarily illuminated, briefly displaying the sent message.
No pets allowed. Eviction proceedings started.
The screen went dark.
Moments later, in the empty room, the phone began to ring.