Phone Calls that Stick With You

For Better

“Where’s Uncle Butcher?”

“He’s at a wedding.”


“Remember the girl with the puppy we visited.  Her.”

“Who’s she getting married with?”

For Worse

“Hey, which of the hepatitises is the really bad one?”


“You know, which is the one that Pamela Anderson has?”


“You can get that from having sex, right?”

“Yes, oh god.  Do you have hepatitis?”

“No, not me.  This guy who’s been sleeping with the oldest nephew’s cousin.  He has it.  Hepatitis B.”

“Well, yeah, that can be really bad.  You need to tell that cousin to get it checked out.”

“Well, that’s not going to go too well.”

“Why?  She should know so she can get to the doctor.”


“Wait, the cousin we know?  A.?”

“No, not A.  It’s her cousin, too.  But they’re best friends.”

“But isn’t A. like fifteen?  How old’s her cousin?”


“How old’s this dude?”

“Twenty-six.  And he’s all saying that he can’t afford the medicine and I’m all like they’ll give you medicine to treat that for free to keep you from spreading…”

“Twenty-fucking-six?!  His ass should be in jail.”

“Well, that’s why I’m calling.  It’s going to be bad when her dad finds out.  Jail’s probably the safest place for him.”

“This isn’t funny.”

“I’m not joking.  He’ll disappear.  I have no doubt.”

“Seriously, if you know this is going on, you have to call the cops.”

“B., her dad will take care of it.”

“Oh, holy sweet Jesus.”

“That’s just how things work down here.”

“Promise me one thing.  Promise me you will not do anything stupid.”


“Either go to the cops or stay out of it.”

“Well, I’ve got to go tell A. to tell her that she might have hepatitis.”

“I mean it.  There’s no one to bail you out of jail.  Stay out of it.”

“I am.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’ll be fine.  Don’t worry.”