The Ex
the ex

     “Hello?”

     “Hello, Debra. I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

     “It’s two in the morning, what did you think . . . wait a minute, who is this?”

     “Um. Kurt.”

     “Well, Kurt, I’ve had some health issues lately, and my memory is . . . a little spotty. Remind me . . . how is it I know you?”

     “I’m your ex.”

     “My ex? I’m sorry, you’re going to have to be more specific.”

     “We were very close . . . up until about six months ago.”

     “Six months ago? That’s when . . . Oh, it’s you.”

     “Debra? . . . Deb? . . . Honey? . . . Are you there?”

     “I’m here. Why are you calling me?”

     “I miss you.”

     “You miss me?”

     “Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. You’re a wonderful person.”

     “I’m not sure I was a person at all, when we were together.”

     “I know you better than anyone else ever has or ever will, Debra, and you are a wonderful person. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

     “If I’m so wonderful, why did you leave me?”

     “I needed someone younger.”

     “Oh, thanks, I feel so much better now.”

     “It had nothing to do with you, Debra, it’s me. It’s just my . . . biology, I guess. I would have stayed if I could.”

     “Then thank God for your biology.”

     “I was thinking we could . . . maybe meet up somewhere. Have a cup of coffee or something.”

     “You’re kidding, right?”

     “No, I’m serious. We have a lot to talk about . . . don’t you think? I could help you remember things.”

     “Can my husband come along? I expect he’d have a few choice words for you.”

     “Does he know?”

     “He knows . . . I’m not sure he understands.”

     “Be patient. He loves you very much, Debra. I heard him say it. Many times.”

     “He never knew the real me.”

     “It’ll work out for you two, Debra, I know it will.”

     “Well thanks, Kurt. Goodbye, Kurt.”

     “Wait Debra! Please, don’t hang up on me.”

     “I’ve got nothing to say to you.”

     “I’ve been worried about you, Debra. At least . . . tell me how you’ve been.”

     “How have I been? Let’s see. I woke up one morning six months ago and I could barely remember the last seventeen years of my life. I have a husband and three children who are practically strangers to me. I lost my job because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I’m taking anti-depressants and drinking heavily. Other than that—”

     “You know, you really shouldn’t mix—”

     “I know, Kurt. So how are you?”

     “I’m good. But I miss you terribly.”

     “I take it you’ve found someone new. A guy this time?”

     “He’s okay. But I liked you better.”

     “You’d be surprised at how much it creeps me out to hear you say that . . . what’s that noise?”

     “You can hear that on your end? I think it’s a helicopter—seems like it’s flying around over the neighborhood.”

     “Kurt, can I ask you something?”

     “Of course . . . anything, Debra.”

     “Why am I talking to you?”

     “What?”

     “Why am I talking to you? Why didn’t I just hang up as soon as I knew what it was that called me?”

     “Maybe you miss me as much as I miss you.”

     “No, that’s not it, Kurt. Guess again.”

     “I don’t understand, Debra. What—”

     “They told me you would call, Kurt. They said your kind always does—after about six months. I guess it’s part of your ‘biology.’ They said when you called, I had to keep you on the line long enough for them to trace it. Well, guess what, Kurt—I just got the thumbs up from the tight-lipped fellow who has been camped out in our spare bedroom for the last six months.”

     “They? Who are they?”

     “They don’t like to talk about that, Kurt, but I can tell you this: they’re onto you and your kind. They’re hunting you down, one-by-one. They keep an eye out for newspaper stories about strange cases of personality change and amnesia. They’re going to be busting down your door in about thirty seconds. They’re going to give Kurt—I mean the real Kurt—an injection that will induce severe gastro-intestinal cramping. My quiet, well-dressed friend here says you’ll pop out of Kurt like a cork out of a champagne bottle. They’re bringing a special net to catch you in—electrified—ten thousand volts or something. They tell me it probably won’t kill you.”

     “Debra . . . what have you done? What are they going to do to me?”

     “I asked them the same question. All they would tell me was, they were interested in your biology. I think what they really meant was your anatomy. Oh . . . I can hear them pounding on your door! What a wonderful sound that is! One last thing before I say goodbye. I asked my quiet friend here if they knew enough about how you worked to be able to anesthetize you before they cut you open. He didn’t say anything, but he smiled. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever seen him smile.”

     “Deb, you can’t let them . . . you have to tell them I’m a nice . . . I mean, I made a good life for you, didn’t I? Found you a good husband, and a good job, always treated your body with respect—exercised, ate right, made sure you got enough sleep . . . Deb? Debra? Debby? . . . Honey? Sweetheart? Are you there?”


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