Stolen Phone

Well, it really wasn't stolen, as my narrative will soon reveal.

It all started in the lobby of the Humboldt Senior Center on California Street. After I have lunch there, I usually sit in the lobby and check my email. As I was doing this that afternoon, I fell asleep. This often happens to me; there is something magic about the place for me and sleep. The next thing I knew, one of the staff was waking me up. She sat down next to me and said that she was "just checking in." She asked me about an effort I had been making to see a doctor. I told her that I had succeeded and in fact was going for a second appointment on the next day. "Good," she said. She then got up from her chair, and just as she was about to leave said to me, "I must tell you that you're not allowed to sleep here." "Yes, I know that," I replied. "But sometimes I just fall out without realizing it." She then smiled and walked away.

Now a week or so previously, my landlady saw me as I was walking in the garden which surrounds her house and called out, "Oh, Tom, come look at the hothouse. I've put a chair in it for you." She then led me into the hothouse and showed me the chair. She added, "I'll put a cushion on it later today." A few days later I was in the garden again and checked the hothouse. Indeed, my landlady had put the cushion on the chair.

After being chased, as it were, from the Senior Center lobby, I thought to myself, "Well, hell, I've got that nice little nook in my landlady's garden to use. I haven't tried it yet, so I'll just do it now." I then drove home and went to the garden and sat down in the chair in the hothouse. After checking the rest of my email, I began reading a novel. After a bit, I began to feel drowsy and laid the smartphone on my knee. And next to the smartphone I spotted a tiny brown speck on the knee of my jeans. Examining the speck closely I saw that it was --- a flea!  I then scanned the bottom half of the jeans and saw about a half dozen more of the little creatures.

Immediately I got up and left the hothouse and started picking the things off my jeans. There were at least a dozen of them clinging to the fabric. After meandering  around the area and removing more of them, I went inside the house to one of the bathrooms and stripped off the jeans to be able to do a better search. There seemed to be none of them left.

I then put my jeans back on and went to my room to do some desk work. I had started to sit down at my desk when it occurred to me to look for my cellphone. I checked my jeans pocket, and it wasn't there. I checked my hoodie pockets. Not there either. I then retraced my journey from the chair in the hothouse to my room. No luck.

It was a bad thing indeed that I had lost the phone. Worse still was the fact that I keep all of my passwords on the phone. I then sat down at my computer and began changing the passwords which had to do with money. I then called T-mobile to see if they could track the phone. They couldn't, but they could suspend the phone number so that no one could use it.

I should at this point give a more complete account of my experience by mentioning a fellow whom I call "Shorty." He is not, strictly speaking, a fellow, but simply a voice in my head. (I have several of these voices BTW, but currently Shorty is the dominant one.) And all morning Shorty had been warning that he had in store for me a punishment for my writing about him on a website called Intervoices.

All through the process of trying to find the phone, Shorty kept yelling in his baritone voice things like, "It was I who appointed those fleas to distract you and cause you to lay down that phone, instead of putting it in your pocket. I did this to punish you for writing about me at Intervoices."

I then got ready to go to the T-mobile store to open a new account and get another phone. I got down to my car when it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to have the paperwork for the current account with me when I went to the T-mobile store.

As I headed back to my room, I decided to take one last search along the path from the hothouse to my room.

As I approached the garden gate, I heard the ringing of an alarm. At first I thought the sound was from the old phone I had in my pocket. As I reached for it, I realized that the sound was not coming from the phone in my pocket, but was probably coming from the "stolen" phone. In fact, that phone was about three feet from me, sitting on the fender of a trailer next to the garden wall. The fender was black and the same color as the phone, making it difficult to see in the bright afternoon sun. The alarm was one which I use to remind myself to take some meds.

Part of the glee which I felt upon finding the phone was about Shorty's silence, a silence which always descends upon Shorty when he is frustrated.

Tom Arnall

October 2018