(Original fiction by Hamilton Gryphon)
At 3:00 a.m. I was sitting at a picnic table in the backyard of a house that provides peer-support recovery in my city. My city is Charlottesville, Virginia. I had camped there three nights leading up to the fateful one that I was about to encounter. You can’t really call it camping. It was sitting at a picnic table as long as I could stay awake and lying down on the bench when I needed to doze.
I was writing the 12th installment of Losing Faith. A series, I must say, that has shaped up very nicely. My efforts were illuminated by a flood light in the parking lot next door. In the middle of a rather convoluted sentence, my cell phone rang. I pulled it from my pocket; Washington D.C. area code–at 3:00 a.m. It had to be a drunk dialed wrong number.
“Mr Gryphon, this is Wallace Hitchcock. I am a special assistant to President Obama. I am calling you this morning on a matter of great national concern. Your country needs you, Mr. Gryphon.”
“No Shit!” I’ve been waiting for your call. What took you so long? It might be too late though, even with the help of my majestic skills. This sinking ship may be already sunk. But let’s get right down to business. There are several things I need to determine before we proceed.
“First and foremost: No Bullshit, who is this, really?”
“Mr Gryphon, I assure you . . .”
“Assure your momma, Joker. This is certainly a giggle and very convincingly acted, but whoever put you up to this must know me well enough to know that I am not so loopy to fall for this for a second.
“So, I am seriously flattered and genuinely amused, but the game is up, Bobo. Who told you to call me so I can call them to tell them how much I love them for such an unexpected chuckle?”
“Mr. Gryphon, the President of the United States of America told me to call you. Look, I anticipated and planned for this reaction. Do you have access to the number of the White House switchboard?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll play along. I guess I can get it from Information.”
“Good. Call the switchboard. Give the operator your name. They are expecting your call and will put you straight through. You don’t even have to give them my name.”
“I don’t even remember your name.”
“Wallace Hitchcock. I’ll be expecting your call.”
“Well, hot damn, this is fun,” I thought. But it approached and promised an anti-climatic conclusion. I would call the White House and give them my name. The operator would ask how they could help me. I would give them the whole story concluding with the instructions to call the White House and give them my name.
The operator would tell me that no one with the name of Wallace Hitchcock worked for the Executive Branch and most certainly that no one told the switchboard to expect my call.
I would apologize and disconnect. The operator would forward a recording of the call to Homeland Security and surveillance would begin immediately. Was I just some poor dupe of a mean practical joke or was I a serious nutcase who might or might not be a threat to the President. An investigation would have to be launched. It had the promise of an investigation that could seriously harass and annoy me for God knew how long.
I was no longer amused.
Why not just NOT call and forget the whole thing? Why not deny the evil joker the satisfaction of seeing me jerked around by the federal government? Why not? Why not, indeed?
Well, there was still a tiny speck of my long damaged ego that allowed for a possibility even beyond the realm of possibilities that this was the Real Deal. My country needed me! I got THE CALL.
What kind of unpatriotic asshole would I be if I didn’t at least, figuratively and literally. return the call? Besides, I love endgames even if I know I am going to lose. I hardly ever resign the board.
I called 4-1-1
“City and State”
“Washington D.C. The White House.”
“The number is area code blah blah blah and yadda yadda yadda. Connecting you now.”
“White House, how may I direct . . .”
Fuck ’em. If they want me so bad, they certainly know where to find me.
(TO BE CONTINUED)