After much agonizing, I took a prompt from Cameron: The oldest cell phone in use. I combined it with an idea from Wendy (but to tell you would spoil it!) – Amy
The psychologist adjusted his paisley bow tie and nudged his horn-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose. He leaned back in his chair and said, “It’s time to reverse the tables, Jim. To change the tide. To flip your luck.”
Jim pursed his lips and stared at the small hole forming in the toe of his leather topsiders. When was the last time he’d bought himself a new pair of shoes? He didn’t know; Lorraine would know. He forced himself to meet the doctor’s scrutinizing stare. Sometimes he thought Dr. Tempus sounded more like a salesman than a doctor. “And how am I supposed to do that? She left me. I can’t exactly reverse things and leave her now, can I? I’ve tried to reason with her. She won’t come back.”
Dr. Tempus stroked the black walnut desk as if it were a fine mink and picked up an ivory pen. The office was filled with the best furniture, the most expensive artwork, the most luxurious fabrics. Jim thought he’d even seen that pen selling for hundreds of dollars on QVC during one of his recent insomnia attacks. The doctor smiled and his bleached teeth sparkled. He used the pen like a pointer, poking the air as he spoke, “It is time, Jim. Time to take charge of your life. To make things happen rather than let circumstances drive your destiny.”
Jim sat straighter in his chair. He felt a lightning bolt of heat surge through his body. “Do you mean I should confront the jackass who took her away from me? Have you seen the guy? He’s her trainer at the gym, for crying out loud. Arms the size of my entire torso!” Jim shook his head in an attempt to erase the image of the Neanderthal who had stolen his Lorraine.
“No, old sport. Of course not.” Dr. Tempus put down the pen and leaned across the table. “Calm down. I meant, find yourself a new woman. A new life. Put the past behind you, or, rather put these current circumstances on a channel where you never have to reach them again.”
“A channel?” Jim scratched his receding hairline. “What?”
Dr. Tempus rose from his desk and walked around so he was standing in front of Jim, looking down at him, his arms crossed on his chest. “You are merely on our Basic Counseling Rate, is that right? I recommend you upgrade to the Platinum Package. Trust me. Your life’s a mess. You can’t do anything more here.”
Jim’s eyes stung with salty tears. “I c-c-can’t? But I thought you were going to give me skills to cope, communication tools to use with Lorraine, strategies to avoid depression…”
“No, old chum. Those were the old ways. We have advanced! We are in the 21st century and have much better results in less time. How about it, will you upgrade to the Platinum Package?”
Jim thought he’d read about it in the brochure, but he wasn’t sure what it entailed. Still, better results in less time sounded appealing. “Does it have a money back guarantee?”
Dr. Tempus leaned forward and put a reassuring hand on Jim’s shoulder. “Of course it does. What do you have to lose besides your crappy life? All it takes is one swipe of your credit card and you are guaranteed a new existence.”
Jim reached into his back pocket to grab his wallet and pull out his VISA card. Dr. Tempus swiftly swiped it into an attachment on his iPhone and then returned to his chair behind the desk while Jim signed the screen with his finger. He looked up and saw Dr. Tempus setting a globe-shaped cage full of ping-pong balls in front of him. The doctor then opened the desk’s front drawer and pulled out an ivory-colored, bulky contraption with a small antenna. As he stood up and walked back, Jim couldn’t take his eyes off the thing.
“Is that an, a…phone?”
“Why yes, it is. In fact, it’s probably the oldest cell phone in use. Quite powerful,as you will see. The latest in counseling techniques.”
Jim squirmed in his chair; he felt a small bead of sweat forming on his forehead.
“You won’t regret it, Jim. I promise you. All my clients have been satisfied beyond their wildest dreams.”
Dr. Tempus put one hand on the globe and spun it, hard. “The first thing we have to do is find a year.” The gold cage whirled and the ping-pong balls clattered like popcorn in a kettle. When it stopped spinning, the doctor opened the cage and pulled out a ball. Jim saw numbers appear across the white surface.
“1922,” said the doctor. “Ah, that’s a good one. I couldn’t be happier for you. Lucky boy.” Before Jim could react, the doctor had plugged the numbers into the phone, set the ball down, grabbed Jim by the shoulder and thrust the phone up to his ear.
“Bye, old sport. Have a good life. The world awaits!”
As Jim vanished, the doctor set the phone down, crossed his arms, and smiled so broadly, his bleached teeth sparkled. He wondered who was scheduled for his 3 o’clock.
Thank you reading Amy’s story… here’s how she chose her challenge:
1.) Wendy- If I had a time machine
2.) Cameron- ” quite possibly the oldest cell phone still in use ”
3.) Jen- Bluesy jazz, smoke-filled joints, barbecue and the king
4.) Erika- Because we all wish for unicorns, and unicorns are scarce…
Amy is a proud member of the BBB’s and is seeking representation of her middle grade novel Tunnels & Traitors. She’s currently working on another middle grade, The Renaming of Hubert Humphrey Lee. Check out her blog Sunny Spells at amymoellering.wordpress.com.