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Sorry, Right Number


Sorry, Right Number

Down at the Pub One Evening

Apparently we love our own cell phones but we hate everyone else's.”

- Joe Bob Briggs

So there I was again, at The Corner Pub, minding my own business, as I do. Christina was taking inventory of the hard stock under the cabinet on the back of the bar. It was quiet. That is until the door burst open wide and a loud voice said, “Hey, how old is that coffee, baby?”

It was Dan the salesman. I’m not sure what he sells, but he stops in every three weeks or so and usually just gets a cup of coffee. In the reflection in the mirror I saw Christina give a knowing smile. She turned and said, “I thought that is was about time for you to roll though here. It’s fresh. Barely ten minutes old.”

“You are an angel and I tell you, if you were ten years older and I were ten years younger you’d still be too young and I’d be married to an old woman!” he said with his signature smile.

Christina almost laughed at that statement; instead she closed her eyes and shook her head as she filled his cup. Without looking at him she said, “So, have you been behaving yourself or do you have a tale to tell?”

Now Dan always has a tale to tell. Always, he’s a salesman. And his tales usually would start with the word 'so', and without hesitation he began.

"So, I was on my way to Richmond, Virginia, rolling up I-95 a couple of Friday’s ago to meet my wife for a long weekend, when I decided to stop for coffee in Benson, North Carolina."

"Benson? I don't know if I've heard of it", Christina interrupted as she put his mug down.

"It’s kind of a small town. It’s nice but, really not much there. It exists seemingly to serve travelers running up and down the 95 or back and forth across I-40," he explained. Christina nodded as to understand.

"So, I had driven most of the night and didn’t want to stop rolling until I made it there, but I did desire to have some coffee."

She nodded again.

"So, it was a nice morning and I decided to enjoy the brew and the weather and a smoke out on the 'sidewalk café' they have there. Not much of a sidewalk café. Just a few tables and chairs. But still it was nice being out of the car and enjoying the morning."

"I like mornings like that", Christina chimed in. "Sitting on my deck, in my robe with the sun and the Sound right there. Enjoying my java and a cig."

I pictured that in my head. It looked nice. I've been on her deck. I've seen her drink coffee and smoke her Pall Mall menthol 100's. I've even seen her robe casually tossed across the arm of her couch. But never all at once.

"That is nice, isn't it?" Dan commented. I think he was thinking what I was thinking.

After a brief pause he continued. "So, as I sat there I heard a cell phone ringing. It wasn’t mine as my ringtone is AC-DC’s Hell’s Bells. No, this was one of those factory installed, electronic non-sense noises. I found the phone in the chair next to me. I picked it up and looked at it. The display read: Richie. Well, I was in a mood and felt a bit ornery, so I answered it."

Hel-lo-oh”, I said.

"There was a bit of a pause when a guys’ voice says, 'Is Sara there?'”

“I thought for a second and came up with an answer", he stopped to take a drink from the mug.

Christina smiled a bit. "Soooo... what’d you say?"

He smiled and continued with his fist to his ear as if talking on a phone. "Sara? Yeah, man. She’s here. But she’s in the shower. And to be honest, I plan on joining her right now. Can I take a message? I will personally deliver it to her. 'What!?, the voice belted out. 'Who is this?'” He began switching voices to enhance the conversation experience. "Why, you must be Richie, her ex-boyfriend”, he continued.

“This is Richie… her current husband! Who is this?”

“She sure loves her Richie’s, doesn't she. That’s my name, too! I guess it makes all the easier for her when she’s lost in an orgasm to only have to remember one good ole Irish name: Richie Jeez O’God. She really gets into it when between the sheets. It’s kind of neat the way she bites her lower lip when she’s about to…”

Who are you, you - this is where he accused me of practicing Matriarchal Copulation - , where are you, and where’s Sara?”

“Again, my name is Richie. I’m at the Motel 9, and Sara is in the shower and I am going to join her. See, I only get this treat when my route takes me through Benson as I’m an over the road truck driver. When it does… I call Sara… we shake it up for an hour or so, shower and then we are off on our own ways. Simple as that, pal. It’s nothing personal, just great sex. Now if it is all the same to you, I’m off to the shower. I have a schedule to keep. With that said, I ended the call."

"You didn't?" Christina giggled. He smiled to her as he took another drink.

"So, I stubbed out my cigarette, finished the last gulp of coffee and started to head to my car when that phone rang again. I picked it up and saw that it was Richie again. I pressed the talk button and before I was able to say anything his voice was screaming, '… I’m coming for you and for her! If y’all decide to go anywheres else, I’ll track y’all down. I can track the GPS on that phone…'” and he kept going like that when I got an idea."

"Oh no. What?” she asked. It was clear she was getting into his story. I'd never seen her like this before.

"So, I turned the volume down on the phone and carried it to my car and tossed into the passenger seat. I figured that as long as he was talking he really couldn’t track the phone very well. I’d drive up the road and somewhere along the way, I’d throw it out onto the side of the highway and he’d end up looking in some field for nothing."

"That's just plain ole’ mean, Dan." She was now beginning to think about what he was doing.

"So, I started the car and realized that I needed fuel. So, I drove over to the Exxon station across the street from the café and the Motel 9. I pulled up to a pump and across from me was an 18-wheeler. While the car was filling I walked over to it and I got a better idea. It was while I was considering this idea when lady luck blessed me."

With his hands cupped around his mouth he said, “Hey buddy, can you give me a hand? It was the driver. The trailer was one of those that are like a long dump truck with it’s top is covered with a roll up canvas. I looked at him and said, “Sure, man. What do you need?”

“I’m having trouble getting this canvas tied down and I gotta to keep these soybeans covered ‘til I get to Bay, Arkansas.”

“Sure, what can I do?”

“Just climb up the front end and hold that black tie down in place.”

"So, in a moment’s notice, I was on the trailer but before I pulled down on the tarp and strap, I tossed the phone into the bed. It was short work, he thanked me and by the time I got back to the car, the pump had shut off. The truck and I were soon rolling up 95. He turned west on 40 and I never saw him again."

"You're cruel..." Christina barked at him.

"So, in a little less than three hours later, I was in Richmond with my wife checking into the Marriot. We went for dinner, then a play and then cocktails and dancing. A nice night out."

She was giving him the 'eye' if you know what I mean. He continued.

"So, the next morning I let my wife sleep in and went down to the coffee café where I had a cup, read the paper and listened to the TV. The only other person there was the waitress. The local news was on and out of the corner of my ear I heard a voice say, '…and from Benson, North Carolina a man is in custody after leading the highway patrol on a high speed chase across Highway 40.' I looked up and what I see is a North Carolina State Trooper being interviewed."

"The officer was saying, 'He started out firing shots at the Motel 9 then left the parking area and proceeded up 95 at excessive speeds to where he then began heading west on I-40, pulled in front of a semi-truck and abruptly applied his brakes...'”

Christina looked at him with her jaw dropped.

"So, at this point the newscaster continued with the details of the story. It went something like this, 'Richard, ‘Richie’, as he is known by the local law enforcement, Ulysses Cartwright, 28, of Benson, was described as ‘a man possessed’ by the Motel 9 manager who said that Mr. Cartwright drove his 1996 Mitsubishi Mirage into the motel’s parking lot at a high speed, quickly stopped the vehicle and began shooting a handgun in the air screaming the name ‘Sara’. He then, according to the manager, pulled out a cell phone and looked at it for a few seconds before getting back into his vehicle and raced onto highway 95 north. The 911 calls made by various guests in the motel as well as from the motel manager alerted the Highway Patrol which led to the chase that at times was in excess of 100 miles per hour. Patrol car dash cams caught the moment when the small car pulled in front of the fully loaded west bound truck then locked up his brakes. Mr. Cartwright was not seriously injured in the crash but his vehicle did not stand a chance against the big rig. He was treated at regional hospital and will be charged upon his release. News Channel 23 found the Sara in question, Sara Leslie McSwain-Cartwright, 24, and also from Benson and Mr. Cartwright’s wife."

"They found her?" She was amazed.

"Yeah, it's a small world. So the screen now showed a rather attractive young woman speaking, 'All I did was go out for some coffee… and do a bit of grocery shopping… and nothing else. In the five years that we have been married it has been one jealousy after another. I’m done with him… and all like him.' The newscaster concluded the story with the comment that no one was injured at the motel nor was the trucker and the truck only received minimal damage. So then the waitress turned to me and asked, 'Wow, how do things like that happen?' No telling in this crazy world, I said to her as I paid for my coffee and turned to go back to my room. Then I heard 'Sir…’ the waitress was calling to me. 'Your phone… you were about to leave your phone behind!' I smiled at her and said, thank you. You might have just saved me from a lot of trouble.”

"And how do you feel about all of that?" she asked with a certain sound that was almost judgmental.

"So, for the rest of that weekend, in the back of my mind I was thinking about Richie and Sara and the trucker. No one was really hurt but Richie. Sara is better off without him and the trucker has a great story to tell for days on end. Richie, if his wife was truthful, and I believe she was, was headed down this road anyway. It just got sped it along a little bit. Still the same, I’ve backed off on being ornery to anyone, unless I know them.” He smiled at her finishing his coffee. “Gotta go sweetheart."

He smiled at her as he put a five and some ones down. She smiled back without saying anything and as fast as he entered he left. She stared at the door for a moment and sighed. "Ten years older and ten years younger would be alright. I like going to plays and have cocktails and go dancing", she said to herself as she picked up where she was before he came in.

I thought about that story a long time. I thought about the mean spirited things I have committed in my past and wondered about the ripple effect that it must have had. We are solid creatures, but our lives are as fluid as the water in the Albemarle Sound. We often don't think about how what we do for sport, spite or in ignorance affects those around us.

A few weeks later I found out that the story was true and that there was an epilogue to it.

On October 17th, Richard ‘Richie’ Ulysses Cartwright was found guilty on the following charges:

- Communicating a threat

- Brandishing a firearm

- Firing a firearm in city limits

- Careless and reckless driving

- Excessive speed over the posted limit

- Failure to yield to a Highway Patrolman

- Using a vehicle to inflict harm

- Resisting arrest

- Possession of drug paraphernalia

- Possession of a controlled substance (marijuana)

- Driving on an expired license

- and littering

He is now serving 15 to 20 years in the Men’s Correctional Institution in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sara Leslie McSwain-Cartwright divorced Mr. Cartwright, got back together with her high school sweetheart and has moved to San Francisco. She posted on her Facebook page that she and Susan were very happy and were always meant to be.

Russell ‘Rusty’ Johnson, truck driver for K&G Trucking of St. Louis, was given the Driver of the Year award after his superiors reviewed the dash cam footage and saw how expertly he was able to stop the truck without leaving the lane he was in and ‘kept his skills and cool in a rough situation’. He still tells of that day to anyone who will listen.

And the Apple iPhone 4, well, according to GPS records, somewhere west of Knoxville, Tennessee its battery died out. It was never seen or heard from again.

The ripple effect; think about it sometime.

Fun Facts about Soybeans...

Soybeans have grown in familiarity with the rise of edamame and vegetarian-friendly soy products, but here are a few interesting facts about soybeans you might not know:

  • One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons.
  • Soybean oil provides an environmentally friendly fuel for diesel engines.
  • During the Civil War, soybeans were used in place of coffee because real coffee was scarce.
  • 98 percent of the soybean and livestock farms in the country are still family farms.
  • U.S. farmers first grew soybeans as cattle feed.
  • 45 percent of the world’s soybean acreage and 55 percent of production is in the United States.
  • Soy ink is used to print newspapers and textbooks.
  • Soybean is used in plastics, wood adhesives and textiles.
  • Soybeans also find their way into candles, cleaning products and hair-care products.
  • The soybean is the highest natural source of dietary fiber.
  • Farmers across the U.S. grow soybeans that have been harvested into yields of about 2 billion bushels a year.
  • About half of U.S. soybeans are exported to major markets including Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and South Korea.
  • More soybeans are grown in the United States than anywhere else in the world

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