the search for gerald

prose by Caterina Baffa, ’17

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.*

“Gerald?” crackled an elderly voice, practically bursting Sam’s still sleeping ears, “Gerald, it is absolutely imperative that you come right now!”

“Wrong number, weirdo,” Sam grumbled.

After ending the call and slapping his flip phone onto his nightstand, Sam snuggled back under his black, fluffy blanket. Just as his eyes began to droop, the phone blared again, blasting Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “How High the Moon,” so loudly that the song lost all its character and seemed to just be a cacophony of notes. Sam jerked up, eyes flaring with irritation.

“What?” he yelled into the small phone.

“I told that I needed your help, Gerald!” an old woman screamed with a tremendous anger that nearly shook the phone, “Why would you leave me here alone?”

Sam paused for a very long time, rubbing his eyes while this random woman breathed heavily into the receiver and into his ear. Wet, heaving breaths.

“Who is this?” he asked quietly once he felt more awake.

“Gerald! I can’t believe you!” she shrieked in horror, “You must help me with these cookies before they -”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sam woke up with a mean headache, drool spilled onto his pillow.

“Oh, god,” he mumbled as he fumbled out of bed.

To his surprise, his cracked blue flip phone slid out of bed with him. But he always left it on his nightstand, right next to his water bottle and iPod. Pulling the screen up to his line of sight, Sam’s dark eyebrows jumped up in surprise.

What was a blurry photo of a bowler’s uniform doing on his phone? And what was the red and green smudge in the corner?

*This sentence quoted from the first line of City of Glass by Paul Auster.


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