Down the Line
“God damn it! Do you have any idea what time it is?!”
“Another day another dollar, eh Eve?”
“Don’t even talk to me about it, Alisha.” Eve replied. “God, how much longer?”
“Roughly seven hours and fifty-eight minutes.”
“Honey, that was your first call, and you’d better do better on your mark next time or I don’t fancy you lasting long around here. Hang on...Mrs. Butterfield? Yes, hello. This is Alisha with Allomated Insurance...no, I’m not selling anything. This is a courtesy call...yes, that’s right. We were just going over our records and we think that we can probably save you hundreds on your life insurance. Yes, that’s right.
What do you have to do? Just allow me to set up a time and one of our representative can stop by and show you everything you need to know....three o’clock Wednesday is perfect. Have a wonderful day... Yes! Another sucker! Score!”
“How do you do it?” Eve marveled.
“I’m all charisma!” Alisha giggled. “Who’s next? Bring it on!”
Eve smiled and shook her head sadly. She pushed herself away from her ‘desk’, which was actually just a three foot section of a thirty foot shelf that she shared with her fellow telemarketers. She had moved into the new city a week ago and had only been working here for three days. Never the less she was already best friends with the woman who occupied the next three foot section.
“Soul mates in Hell.” Eve muttered to herself.
“Thursday at five?” Alisha chimed into her headset. “Perfect...”
Eve couldn’t believe it, Alisha was amazing. The woman could not only sell water to a drowning man, but she could make him feel like he was getting a good deal at the same time. Her tight black curls bounced animatedly as she closed in on another mark. Eve swallowed her pride, pulled herself back to her computer, and tapped the enter key. Her palms started to sweat as the phone rang for the third time.
“Please just be an answering machine...” Eve prayed.
“Yes...Who is this?”
“This is Eve with Allomated Insu...”
“Goddamn it! If you people call my house one more time I’m going to hunt you down and wrap that Goddamned phone cord around your throat and throttle th...”
Eve disconnected the call lest it end up being recorded to ‘assure quality service’. She welded her eyes shut and hesitantly pressed the key that would connect her with the next victim on her automated list. After two rings the click of someone answering caused her heart to momentarily flutter.
“I...I’m Eve from Allomated Insurance...”
“Allomated Insurance.” Eve repeated louder as if it would bridge the language gap.
“No, no hablo Ingles.”<i/>
“Of course, sorry to trouble you.”
“Sorry to...never mind.”
Eve disconnected the call. She glanced down at her watch. Only seven hours and forty-two minutes left. She pushed herself away from the computer once more and tilted her head back. Staring up at the flickering fluorescent light above her she tried her hardest to fight the sting of tears.
“I can’t do this.”
“Sure you can, Sugar.” Alisha sang sweetly.
“Tell ya what, survive the day and I’ll buy you a drink, or two, after work.”
“If I survive...”
The next few calls didn’t go as poorly as the first. Although she had yet to set up any appointments. Eve had just suffered her sixteenth hang up in a row and was one more call away from giving in.
Looking once again at her watch caused her stomach to feel like she’d just swallowed an electric eel. The eel squirmed around for a minute and jabbed her a few times before settling back down. Just as Eve was about to forfeit Alisha’s drink offer when a caller finally agreed to meet with one of their agents.
“Really?” Eve asked, accidentally sounding shocked. “I mean...how is Monday? Good? So around two? Thank you, and have a terrific day.”
“Score.” Eve confirmed.
“That’s great Hon, I told yo...Hello, Mr. Orrnet? Yes, I’m Alisha with...”
Eve didn’t bother listening to the rest, she’d heard it a thousand time. Somewhat heartened by her success Eve pulled up the next number with a touch more courage. The phone had barely rung once when it was picked up with a loud clatter.
“Hello? Vanessa?” A desperate male voice answered. “God...I didn’t think you’d call.”
“No, I don’t have time, just listen.” He interrupted hastily. “Look, I’m in trouble...big trouble, and they are going to think you’re part of it. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I never thought it would get this out of hand. You kn...”
Eve was so shocked by the rambling voice on the other end of the line that she found her tongue frozen to the roof of her mouth. He had been cut off by a sharp crack that threw static into Eve’s ear through the headset.
Eve heard the distinct thud of the phone being dropped. She didn’t know what to do next. She looked to Alisha, but she was deep in battle with a ‘victim’ of her own. Over the cheap headset Eve heard a brief struggle and a sharp cry of pain.
“Who are you talking to, Josh?” A distance muffled voice mocked. “Your little bitch?”
“Hang up!” Josh screamed.
“No, no, I want to chat.” The cruel voice continued. “Keep him still for a minute.”
Eve was terrified, her full attention was set on the metallic buzzing in her right ear. Her pounding heart was screaming at her to hang up, but her body was frozen. Someone retrieved the discarded phone and breathed into it with a heavy chuckle.
“Hello, Sweetness, you still there?”
“Y...yes...” Eve responded before she realized that he wasn’t really talking to her.
“Good. Now then, you’re little boy toy here has playing around. Tell us where he’s been, and I’ll consider letting him live.”
“What?” Eve gasped. “I...I don’t even know him, I’m just a...”
Eve was cut off by the man’s disgusted snarl. Eve’s heart jumped as an agonized scream rattled in the tiny earpiece.
“No! Don’t hurt him!”
The only response Eve received was the quick paced beeping of the disconnected line.
“That didn’t sound like a sale.” Alisha said without much concern.
“I...I...” Eve stuttered. “I think I just witnessed a murder.”
“Welcome to Miami.”
“W...what should I do?”
Alisha raised a disapproving eyebrow. She leaned over to Eve’s keyboard, and with a casual tap she pressed the enter key which automatically dialed the next caller on Eve’s list. Eve didn’t even notice the phone ringing.
“Hello? Hello?” The stranger on the line repeated. “I can hear you breathing you sick fu...”
Eve disconnected the call without saying a word. Still numb with shock she shook her head, hoping to help clear it.
“I have to call the police.”
Alisha rolled her eyes and brought her attention back to her own work. Eve slammed the only number she could think of at the moment into her key pad.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Hello this is Eve with Allomated Insurance.” Eve replied automatically. “I hav...hello? Hello?”
“What happened, Sugar?”
“I don’t believe it...”
“They hung up on me.”