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       The Replacement

J. Lawrence Ingram

Strictly Twilight Zone!

     Roddy Silver was traveling from town to town.  He'd been on a grueling two-week jaunt; seeing clients,

meeting with new prospects, and working his version of the 'art of the deal.'  As with anyone who is

mobile, his cell phone was an integral part of his daily life, and without it his abilities to communicate

would be hampered.  His travels were half-way done as he brought the rental car back to the airport. 

He had a couple of hours to make calls and see if he could go 'stand-by' for an earlier flight.  As Roddy

began the long walk to the main airport terminal, he felt his trusty cell phone vibrate, as a call was

coming in, and he fumbled for it while trying to sling his laptop bag from one shoulder to another.  Just

as the phone kept up it's nagging persistence of vibrating he finally got the phone out of his pocket; to

drop it immediately in a dirty puddle of water on the sidewalk.

He gingerly knelt down, as not to soil his clothing with the dirty water, reached into the puddle and

picked up the cell phone.  He held it out with two fingers gripping each side, in total dismay, to see the

water had shorted out the phone.  He could imagine now, his contacts, his email, his text messages, had

all but disappeared.  His life was in that phone!  He couldn't imagine how he would get back to

whoever it was who was trying to call.  Maybe it was that client from today.  Maybe it was the client

for tomorrow, worse maybe it was the boss who demanded an update almost hourly as sales revenue

was sagging for this fiscal quarter.   What was he to do?  How could Roddy get back with his clients? 

He tried frantically to restart the phone.  He walked into the airport and instead of getting into the

ticketing line he ran to the nearest restroom, grabbed some paper towels,  and tried to perform what he

thought would revive the dead lump of plastic and electronics – formerly known as his cell phone.

He laid out a paper towel next to the sink in the restroom.  He took the battery cover off of the cell

phone, took the battery out, and then ran the assorted parts underneath a restroom hand dryer.  He re-

assembled the phone.  Roddy tried to start the phone, and it worked!  The smallish screen on the cell

phone showed a sign of life.

“C'mon... Turn on, damn it!  C'mon...”  Roddy spoke to himself with a certain subdued confidence.

But as his ray of hope brightened for only a few seconds, as Roddy watched as his cell phone just went

blank, and he repeated the process over and over.  He took the phone apart and tried the hand dryer

trick again.  He tried cleaning the contacts for the battery.  He tried starting the phone again.  But, to no

avail, the cell phone bit the dust and with it, all of Roddy Silver's information.

“Shit...”

Another man in a suit walked in to the restroom, and looked at Roddy. 

“Cell phone trouble?”  He asked Silver.

“Yeah, I dropped it in a water puddle outside, and cant get it to work again.  I think it's totally

dead.”  Silver replied; looking to the other man as if the other man might have some sort of idea or trick

on how to bring the cell phone back from the dead.

       “Let me see your phone.”  The other man asked, and Roddy Silver handed the phone over to him.

“Did you try the hand dryer, and make sure the circuit board is dry?” The man asked Silver while he

looked at the dead cell phone from different angles as if inspecting it.

“Yes...  I've done that three times now, and nothing.”  Silver said in dispair.

“...try the contacts on the batteries?”

“That too.  It fired for a couple of seconds, and then went dead.”

Both men looked at the now dead shell of a cell phone, as it rested on the counter top next to the sink in

the airport restroom, in the same way they might look in remorse over the dead at a funeral wake.  The

well-dressed man looked at his watch as a way of signaling his half of the conversation was over, and

was politely shining Roddy on.

“I have a plane to catch.”  The man said to Roddy.

“I do too, but damn it.  How can I get a couple of calls in?”  Roddy replied.

“There's a cell phone kiosk out in the main terminal.  It won't be corporate service, but you could pick

up a disposable phone until you could get back home.”  The well-dressed man said with authority. 

“Hey, good luck with that Okay?”

“Thanks for the idea.  I'll go look into that.  Which way is that kiosk?”  Roddy asked.

“Coming out of here; it's down past the food court on your left.  Take it easy out there cowboy.”  The

well-dressed man took his leave of Roddy Silver, the dead cell phone debacle, and vanished in the

throng of people which most airport terminals are.

Roddy Silver looked at his watch, looked at the dead cell phone and put it into his computer bag. 

Silver headed out of the mens restroom and started looking for the cell phone kiosk.  He walked down

past the several places to get all sorts of food, and in the very back he saw the cell phone Kiosk.  He

stopped the clerk who was about to go on a break -as most people don't buy cell-phones at places like

this kiosk in airports.  The clerk sort of rolled her eyes, and huffed as Silver's detriment was imposing

on her merriment.

“See anything you like sir?  We have several plans and phones to choose from.  I was about to go on

break...”  The clerk said.

“I have to have a phone now...  do you have something... like a disposable phone I could use for

a few hours?”  Roddy asked.

“Yes.  But you'll have to buy the phone and an activation card with minutes.”  The clerk winced at

Silver as she could see her girlfriends signaling to come to break with them.

       Silver looked down the rack of disposable phones and one suddenly caught his eye.  “How much is that

one?”  He asked.  “How much are the minutes?”

“The phone is $39.95, and you can buy a couple of 300 hundred minute cards for $25.00 each.”  The

clerk squared up the deal with Silver.

“I'll take it.  Can you help me get it set up?”  Silver asked as he handed the clerk a well-worn

corporate credit card.

“I guess so...  Please sign here sir...”

Roddy Silver felt his world was getting better as he signed the credit card slip, and immediately started

getting the cell phone out of it's 'adult-proof' packaging.  He opened the directions sheet and began

charging the phone.  The clerk got the two minute cards ready to use.  She picked up her phone and

helped Silver with the process of calling an activation number, and pushing the various buttons on her

phone to complete the process.  She smiled a smile of accomplishment and handed the new disposable

phone to Roddy Silver.

“Thank you for your business sir, I'm going to go on break now.”  The clerk said as she began to shut

the cell phone kiosk down to go on her break.

Silver walked off into the sea of air travelers, and made his way to the ticketing counter.  He saw the

well-dressed man who tried to help him in the mens restroom.  The well-dressed man nodded to him.

“Got your phone...?”  The well-dressed man spoke while he continued towards his gate.  Silver simply

held the new phone up so the well-dressed man could see while he continued to walk towards his

airline's ticketing counter.  Silver never saw the well-dressed man again.

Roddy Silver walked up, ahead of the fifty or so people who were in a serpentine line for coach-class

seating.  His elite traveler status gave him priority over the entire line, and there were nights like

tonight where that comes in mighty handy.  The ticketing agent looked up from his computer, and

signaled Silver to approach.

“Good evening sir.  Where are you traveling to?”

“Chicago.”  Silver responded while he put his bag down, got his identification out, and showed

his status card to the agent.

“Welcome back Mr. Silver.  I have two options for you at this time.  You have a seven forty-five and

I'll put you on standby for that, and then there's an eight fifty-two that's your regular flight.”

“Excellent.” Silver said.  “how quick is security moving?”

“I don't know sir.”  The Ticket Agent answered. “But if you get down there now you should make the

standby flight.”

       The ticketing agent handed Silver his tickets, thanked Silver for flying, and Silver walked off towards

the security screening area.  The new disposable cell phone rang, as Silver worked his way to the

Security Checkpoint.  It had a text message.  Silver thought to himself that it might be some sort of

thank you message, or annoyance of a marketing message from the cell phone's company.  He didn't

answer it, or look at it, and moved into the serpentine throng of people waiting to go through the

security screening.  He sighed in disappointment.  Then, while he had a few seconds in the security

line, he pulled the cell phone out of his pocket to look at the text message.  Silver figured he'd just

delete the message as he navigated the cell phone's simple interface.  Then he saw the message, and

pressed a button to open the message for reading.  The message was a simple two-word message.

“Look Right.”

Silver looked up and right.  He saw the second screening line open, and jumped over to it.  He was first

in line, and began the process of stripping his belt, shoes, and other necessary items and place them in

tubs.  He pulled the new disposable cell phone from his pocket, looked at the message again and

smiled.  After the regular procedures of walking through the gauntlet of security he looked back at the

masses still in line.  He looked down at the cell phone, picked it up, and thought to himself he had a

new best friend.  He gathered his belongings up and began to walk to the gate where his standby flight

was going to be.

He didn't understand why the cell phone had given him a message, or for that matter why it was only a

short two-word message at that; or for that matter how he had suddenly gotten it.  What he did

understand was he was past an entire gaggle of crying babies in strollers, people who don't travel much

who don't know when to get out all their stuff for the security screening, or the clueless who leave

change, their tickets and identification or other stuff in their pockets to hold the rest of the line up.  He

was just happy to have spare time to pop into the terminal sports bar for a bite to eat.  Silver was a

happy man with the simple comforts in a bustling airport.  He walked into the sports bar and plopped

himself down at the bar to watch the game and grab a quick bite to eat.  The bartender spoke to Silver.

“Evening... what'll it be?”

“How about a beer and a menu?”  Silver replied.

“Coming right up.  Do you want to start a tab?” 

“No, just passing through.”

The bartender left Roddy Silver with a menu, and went to pour a beer.  The bartender was back almost

instantly with a pint. 

“Do you know what you want?”  The bartender asked.  “We have a few specials...”

Silver closed the menu, looked to cut the bartender off in mid sentence, and said. “just bring me the

turkey club.”

       “That comes with fries or you can change to a salad for two dollars extra.”  The bartender shot back

with an artificial smile.  “Blue Cheese, Ranch, House, or Honey Mustard.”

Silver, who knew he'd been closed, answered, “Honey Mustard, thanks.”

The bartender gathered the menu,  placed a rolled napkin of eating utensils next to Silver, as well as a

small lazy susan of  condiments on the bar as well.  “Your order will be out shortly.”

“Thanks,” Silver said back as his new cell phone vibrated again.

Silver wondered what or who could possibly be calling him.  It must be someone's old phone number. 

None the less, the new disposable cell phone demanded Silvers attention.  It was displaying it had a

new message.  Silver opened up the message on the new disposable cell phone.  It said:

“Purple shoes.”

Silver looked up and turned to look around the bar, and nothing.  He figured the first message was

merely a fluke and paid it no mind, until the most beautiful, well-dressed business woman walked into

the sports bar, and turned the heads of every business man in the place.  She walked to the opposite end

of the bar from Silver and began the process of putting her baggage down and sitting.  As she sat and

crossed her legs, Silver noticed she was wearing purple stiletto high heals.  She paid no mind to any of

the men, but smiled a gleaming smile at the bar keep who doaded over her with anything she requested.

Silver looked at the beautiful woman, her shoes, and looked back at the message on the new disposable

cell phone.  He couldn't figure out why the cell phone kept sending him short messages like this, or that

every time the cell phone sent him a message it was for something about to happen around him.  He

shrugged it off as the bartender brought out his food in a hurry, as the beautiful business woman began

to take up a lot of the bartenders time.

“Anything else I can get for you sir?”  The bartender asked Silver.

“Not for now, but I'll let you know.  In fact, why don't you just bring me the tab now, so I can

close it out.”  Silver replied.

“Be right back...”  The bartender turned and walked to the middle of the bar to a touch-screen

computer.   The bartender couldn't get half-way through the processing of Silver's meal bill without

having to look back and see if the Business Lady in the purple shoes needed anything, or wanted a refill

of her glass.  The bartender finally got Silver his bill, and Silver in an almost mechanical way handed

the bartender back a credit card to process on the spot.

“Here, I need to get out of here.” Roddy Silver said as he looked not at his watch, but at his new

disposable cell phone's screen for the time.

The bartender went back to his touch-screen computer to complete the transaction, while Silver

finished his sandwich, took one last good look at the legs of the Business Woman, gathered his

belongings and headed out of the sports bar towards his gate.  The disposable cell phone vibrated

 

 



Robert is a Contributing Writer-Poet for DTLAL

BRUGES BELGIUM
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