by Dw. Dunphy © 2001

The phone was ringing.

Jennifer had to do a double take since it was quite uncommon for pay phones on busy city streets to suddenly come to life. She wondered whether to pick it up or whether to walk on by. She, apparently, was the only pedestrian to have noticed it but she chalked that up to the usual Manhattan apathy.

It was ringing and, after the ninth toll, she realized it wasn't going to stop. She walked to the small enclosure, attache case firmly grasped with her left hand, and picked up the receiver with her right. "Hello?"

The voice on the other hand was husky, thick, probably exaggerated to disguise itself and sounding in desperate need of cigarette intervention. "You have started the bomb."

"Wha - what?!" she sputtered in shock.The first fleeting thought told her this was a sick prank but on second thought, the calculated tone of the man's voice, made her reconsider. "What do you mean?"

"That phone has been rigged to explode the moment someone picked it up to answer it. Congratulations, you've triggered the detonation device."

"How do I stop it? How do I -"

"The bomb can be stopped by either pressing the six button or the seven button... but you won't know which button is the right one."

"What if I pick the wrong one?" she shouted.

"Don't shout at me" he insisted.


"Alright, if you pick the wrong one, the phone will blow up, seventeen brand new fox-fur coats will be delivered to the uptown offices of PETA, causing a riot, the Hormel company will donate one thousand cans of Spam to the "vegetarian starvation relief fund" which will provoke violence, carnage and rampant mustard lootings, a battery of rockets with several prominent astrologers and psychics and David Hasselhoff will be lauched into the suffocating coldness of space and all the television networks in all the world will be forced to run Knight Rider and Baywatch marathons in tribute to him, all day, everyday, 24-7."

"God, that's horrible!" she said, aghast at the cruelty of the plot. "Can't you give me a hint at which button is the right number so I could stop all that from happening?"

"No. You have ten seconds to make your decision."

"Oh... oh no... oh..." she nattered, her finger hovering over the six, then the seven, then the six. "Is it you?" she came within a hair's distance from pressing six.

"Seven seconds."

"Oh no... Is it you?" Was it the seven? She decided to press it, the pad of her index finger touched the cold, silver button but did not press. Something deep within told her it was the wrong choice.

"Four seconds!" the voice on the other side catalogued.

Her finger darted back to the six and pressed it. "There. It's done." There was no explosion, at least not the fiery, pay phone kind.

The caller, on the other hand, was none too happy. "No! No, no, no, no, no, they always pick the six!! Why, why, why??"

Jennifer hung up the phone, wiped the flop-sweat from her brow and ventured on toward her destination.

Alas, from a secluded plateau somewhere in California, a distraught David Hasselhoff, strapped to a rocket alongside several prominent astrologers and psychics, closed the lid of his cell phone and pushed down the antenna. The mega-marathon would have to wait for another passer-by who could not mind their own business. LaShanda the Seer looked at him and snarkily commented, "I knew that was going to happen!"

"Shut up, 'Shonda," Hasselhoff sneered. "Just shut up."

x x x

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