Road To Portland: Part 24: Gertrude To The Rescue

The phone rang.

Startled, Janice jumped. She began to tear up again but the steroids won over and he gritted his teeth. By the second ring, he was in a seething, white hot, murderous rage. Before the third ring could insult him, he ripped the phone from the wall. Who needs a landline?

Then, because he couldn’t speak to whomever called… she began to weep. Great salty tears pooled on her table and landed on the shattered handset. Mustering the diminishing reserve of courage within a tragic mind, she opened her English journal and wrote. (She was supposed to keep a journal for composition class and the star struck professors ate this shit up).

0830: Buy a new phone.

Then she collapsed in a miserable heap on the floor. Her two cats watched.

Her coffee pot chimed, the day’s brew was ready (Death Wish coffee enhanced with several tablespoons of gluten powder, protein, whey, something macrobiotic with an unpronounceable name, six capsules of various “stuff”, and the purple shit he got from Dimitri down at the docks). It was a thick concoction of legal supplements, prescription meds, sketchy remedies, useful vitamins in doses never imagined in the natural world, and unidentifiable voodoo. The end result had probably never before existed on this planet. She poured it in a cup and added organic honey from mountain clovers.

She drank heavily. It tasted surprisingly good. It would probably make a lab rat into a lizard and then turn its balls into cubes… before it imploded.

Powered by the strength of coffee, she faded back into he. He glared at the toaster with a malevolent eye. He drank this every morning. It either “took the edge off” or “put the edge on”. At this point he had no idea.

His ass vibrated. Panicked at first, he almost went back into a rage at his involuntary butt muscle’s twitching. Then he recognized his cell phone. It was in his rear pocket and vibrating against an ass that (he admitted with due humility) was rock hard and shapely.

Holding down the anger and focusing on his tears he answered.


“Gerald. Are you on the dope?”

Rage again.

“Dammit Grandma! They’re nutritional supplements, and my name is Janice!”

“Where’s your landline phone? I called but you didn’t answer.”

Janice surveyed the electronic rubble on his kitchen table. His vision vibrated. Before he knew it, the phone was swinging though the air. There was a mighty crash as it went through the window.

“Was that the bay window? You know that’s the expensive one. It cost $175 last time you broke it and that was only Wednesday!”

“I can afford it.”

“Listen up.” Grandma’s voice was soft as a hug and strong as iron. “I’m going to be there soon.”

“Grandma! I…”

There was a scuffle on the other end of the line. Grandma had lost control of the phone. “Janice, honey? This is your mom. Don’t let Gertrude scold you. We’re super proud of you. We’re always…”

Further wrangling over the phone, Grandma was back in command. “Don’t listen to my daughter, she’s an idiot.” Another pause and Grandma took a deep breath. “I should know, I raised her. Forgive me. The 1970’s were… well you had to be there.” Another pause as Grandma held the phone cupped in her hand and shouted at her daughter (who must have been in the muffled background on the other end of the line). “Leave me alone! I’m talking to my grandson. Or granddaughter. Or whatever the fuck it calls itself. Shouldn’t you be at work!?!”

There was a pause. More inaudible conversation. A door being slammed. Janice, soothed by the sounds of home, was momentarily at peace.

“This is Gertrude again. I’m coming over. I’ll catch the bus. You’d better be there.”

“It’s a bad time Grandma, you see I…”

“Excuse me? Did you hear me say ‘may I please be invited’? No you didn’t, because I didn’t ‘ask’ your permission. I’m an old lady and your grandmother. I’m coming and you will be there to greet me. We need to have a talk.”

“Um…” Janice was speechless. It was useless to argue with Gertrude.

“Good. Wait for me. And one more thing; stay away from your cats.” The phone went dead.

Janice sobbed for a while, then flung the coffee pot at the wall, then drew a hot bath, then heaved a curling iron in the water, then shrieked when the circuit breaker went off and the room went dark. This continued all morning. The apartment took a beating during the wait for Gertrude’s arrival.

If you’ve ever seriously considered throwing a phone out the window, you might want to click below.


About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

Adaptive Curmudgeon is handsome, brave, and wise.
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