~ FREE SAMPLE ~
- The Phone Call
- A Beautiful Creature
- The Proper Procedure
- The Same Voice
- Drop Dead
- The Mitone Recorder
- The Rat
- Loyalty of a Good Man
The Phone Call
On that particular Friday evening I was exceedingly tired. Working for
Frank Parker, of Parker Publications, wasn’t exactly the type of work in
which you could take it easy. My job was to edit three of his magazines,
Detective Adventures, Science and Crime and Private Eye. It meant
spending hours reading all kinds of manuscripts, good, bad, and
indifferent. Which all accounted for the fact that at about 7:30 I tried
to relax in the easy chair that faced the street, in the living room of
my apartment on East 53rd Street.
I closed my eyes to get some kind of relief. The meal I had eaten at
Luigi’s was light; there were thousands of little round red dots dancing
around my two eyeballs. I opened both eyes as though to chase them away;
it was futile.
The phone rang twice.
“Odd” was the only comment I made to myself; I had a private, unlisted,
number—known only to my editor, the printer, and my personal physician.
Not once had my phone rung during the past year. I arose, went over to
my desk, and lifted the receiver from the hook.
A muffled voice asked, “Joe Delaney?”
Mechanically I replied, “Yes, who is this and what do you wish?”
A queer kind of a chuckle hit my eardrum. “You’re Joe Delaney,” repeated
the voice, and then it added, “So you think you can take my little
Butterfly away from me and nothing will happen to you?”
Remember, I was tired and that accounted for the fact my brain cells
failed to react quickly. Something had to be said and I went searching
for words. Then I found them. “What kind of a trick is this?” was what
finally came from my lips.
“This isn’t a gag,” was the reply. “I’m going to make your life a living
hell, just like you made mine. And don’t think I’m kidding; you’re going
to be tortured and when you have suffered enough, then I’ll kill you.”
Nice words to hear over a phone. I was getting back to myself and trying
to think a mile a second. “There are lots of Joe Delaneys in the phone
book,” I protested; “You got the wrong one.”
“No,” was the reply, “I got the right one. The one who works as an
editor at Parker Publications and thinks in his spare time he can play
around with my wife. You damaged my Butterfly; I’m going to damage you.”
This was getting on what was left of my nerves. “I’m going to hang up
now,” I shouted through the mouthpiece of the phone.
“Still think I’m kidding,” the voice continued. “I’ll show you I’m not
bluffing. Wait fifteen minutes, then walk down on the east side of 47th
Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and see what happens. Then
you’ll know whether this is a joke or the beginning of the end for you,
That was all; I heard a little laugh, and then I, too, hung up.
Back I went to my easy chair to try a bit of thinking. This is all a
joke on me. Some fools are having a little celebration and someone who
knows me is having fun at my expense. My inner brain snapped back, But
if you don’t take that date and walk out, you will never know whether it
is a joke.
I arose from my easy chair and looked at my wristwatch. If I walked
quickly, I could just make it. When I got downstairs, my heart was
beating so rapidly, I realized it would be silly to walk; I hailed a cab
and got out at 47th Street and Ninth Avenue. I walked slowly towards
Tenth Avenue. As I passed an alley, I turned instinctively, just
pressing my head to one side. From somewhere out of the alley, came a
baseball, thrown with tremendous force, just missing my skull. It hit
against the side of the wall and fell to the ground. I gasped for
breath, then came a little unconscious hysterical laughter from my lips.
“Some kids playing baseball,” I said to reassure myself.
I picked it up and walked down the alley, looking for the kids, so I
could return that ball. Yet I knew deep down in my heart, I wouldn’t
find any youngsters.
Slowly I walked home, trying to make some sense out of this situation.
It wasn’t a joke; there actually existed a person who was determined to
torture and eventually kill me. Why? He must be some kind of a nut, who
had a mistaken idea that I had played around with his wife; somehow, I
had to get hold of that fellow. When I reached my apartment, I sank into
that easy chair, completely exhausted. Maybe I slept for an hour or two.
But I had a nightmare; I saw an executioner trying to throw stones at
me. He missed the first five. Then the sixth hit my head, bounced off
and landed on a large bell I could hear it ring. It rang, rang, and
When my eyes opened, I realized the phone was ringing. Wearily I lifted
the receiver. “Missed you,” said the voice, “but don’t worry, I’ll get
you before the week is over. And don’t think you can trace this phone;
I’m too smart for yea.”
That was all. I knew the phone call couldn’t be traced; the devil take
the new dial phone. And the caller was probably using different pay
~ End of Sample ~