An Important Reminder Call

I hustle out of the bedroom, then down the stairs towards the ringing phone, moving swiftly not to pick up the call but rather to appease my growing desperation for information. The receiver rests on a small glass end table, and to my relief displays the caller ID. MAYFIELD MOVING, along with a number from an area code I don’t recognize. The ringing stops, and I hear Murph’s baritone again, Hello. The greeting ends, the tone sounds. A mechanical voice, clearly automated and pausing at irregular intervals, responds:

Hello. This is … Mayfield Moving … with an important reminder call for … Tomas Murphy. The voice’s tone changes when speaking Murph’s name, then resumes its mechanized monotone. Your moving van, and its crew, will be, arriving, at your home, on … Monday, at … 9 … AM.

I gasp. Murph’s freaking moving? In two freaking days?

We will be, departing, your home on … Wednesday, at … 5 … PM. Three full days; he must be paying the company for packing, which explains why no room, except the unused bedroom upstairs, seems prepared for moving.

We will be, arriving, at your, new home, in — another temporary tone change — Smithfield … on … Friday, at … 12 … PM.

The automated response continues, but I’ve stopped listening. I’ve moved past shock, and flown right into anger. All this investigative work I’ve done, the laws I’ve broken to find answers — and before I can get satisfaction, Murph’s leaving. Somehow, I know I’ll never see him again the rest of my life.

Goodbye. The answering machine clicks off, leaving me in silence once again. I hear a car pass on the street outside, its headlights briefly illuminating the room, and I decide it’s time to leave. Retracing my steps, I turn off all the lights, close all the doors I’ve opened, even re-engage the house alarm before walking out the service door into the garage. A few minutes later, as I watch the garage door complete its slow closing, I feel certain that all visible traces of my presence have been removed, and whatever evidence I may have left behind will be obliterated or ignored by the movers when they arrive first thing Monday. “Unless,” I tell myself silently as I walk back towards the train station, “Murph arrives before the movers, and sees something I’ve left out of place in his perfectly ordered world.” I laugh out loud at the thought; if Murph does launch an investigation that leads back to me, I’ll be grateful for the opportunity to confront him at last.

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