The telephone rang and rang and rang, and Brenda lay on the sofa. The sound of a hammer pounding against the bell in short, loud bursts, over and over, was drilling into her mind like a dental pick into the gum line.
Brenda could rise to answer it, but that would defeat the purpose. She knew who was calling: that tall, oafish, lout of a man who had asked for her number and, in a moment she regretted ever since, to whom she had given it. And now he called almost every day, at least once. Sometimes twice. The worst days, three times.
Brenda and The Ogre had gone on one date. It was a catastrophe, or a fantastic victory, depending on who you asked. He had talked entirely about himself, and particularly about what he currently earned, as well as his future earning potential. She had wanted to discuss the glass ceiling, feminist theory, economic disparity, world news, local news, local arts, entertainment, or even sports, if it would get him to shut up and allow her a word. Maybe even two words.
Brenda parted with a handshake. He turned it into a kiss on the cheek. And he had been calling ever since.
Brenda picked up the first five days. It was always him, and she always had to tell him she wasn’t interested. And he would call again the next day. And the next. And the next. She had thought she was clear, but didn’t have the energy to be any clearer than “I’m not interested in going on another date with you. That’s it, that’s the end. No more.”
She disconnected her answering machine when every message was from the dolt. She cancelled her cell phone when he found that number (and left a subsequent series of messages and texts). But she had her landline still, as it was the only number she had given out to employers, and they might call her soon. Hopefully. Maybe now, but it was probably just that great lumbering buffoon with his madness-inducing ringing and ringing and ringing and –
“What?” She barked.
“Hey babe, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for so long! Where you been?”
“I – ”
“So do you want to head to the movies tonight, or maybe – ”
Brenda slammed down the phone and slumped back onto the sofa. The phone started ringing again a moment later. She walked over and disconnected it.