Hi there, guys and dolls! You know, modern technology is certainly spiffy, but you can’t beat the old fashioned tried and true ways to get the best news, real or fake. Take last night for an example.
See, I am on a party line. For those of you too uninformed of such luxuries, let me elaborate. Way, way back, long before cel and not-so-smart phones, those things you see pictures of with a dial and holes for your fingers with an unsightly tangled wreck of a cord were what we called people on. Rotary telephones. There was a time those were the coveted things, the must have. Not only were they bound to the wall, the lines you called on were bound and gagged to your nearest and dearest neighbors.
Let’s say you wanted to place a call to your friend, mother, the new dishy guy down the street (you used to be able to just call and hang up in those days. He’d never know. and if you did it often enough, he might just get the hint he should call you. Trust me, it sometimes works.) Of course, if you got a call, everyone on the line got a little bell dingle, so great fun, all could be in on your call. The phrase, “Get off the line!” could be heard all over the land.
Same goes if you were already on the phone to someone as well. Mid-conversation, you’d hear the tell-tale click of someone picking up the receiver on the pretense of wanting to make their own call (actually, they were just bored, wanting to listen in on your confab). Inevitably that “get off the line” would be uttered by someone.
To be honest, I got pretty adept at quieting that click when I would pick up to make a call (okay fine, eavesdrop, but always for my own concern in the matter of public and neighborhood safety. You know, who’s seeing whom, what was said over brunch, and what really happened at the end of the block party. That stuff.)
Anyhoo, last night I must admit I overheard some rather shocking information. As I said, I was going to make a call. For the sake of argument, let’s say it was to my mother. When I first picked up the receiver, I heard some woman’s voice I didn’t recognize say that the ‘bitch’ had to be put down. How harsh! We don’t talk that way! I have to admit, the shock made me clatter down the earpiece. Then I walked away from the phone, wondering who the heck that could be. I know there were rumors about the divorcee, but really, that was a little severe, I thought.
Of course, I felt I should not get involved, stay off the line. It was none of my business. Right you are, I picked up the receiver again, this time more stealthily. Then I heard Mary Lou say that some he just got shot! What? In my sleepy neighborhood? I thought I knew these people. I checked through my blinds, the bejeezus frightened out of me. Funny, all was quiet, I never heard anything. It looked pretty calm out there.
So you know me. I just had to hear more. Just think of the horror – it sounded like a double murder or threat, terrible crimes of passion at the very least! If there was violence in my little town, I had to do something about it. You know, share the gossip, write about it and eventually move out. In that order. I covered the mouthpiece so they couldn’t hear my ragged, anxious breathing (or the pen I was using to write it all down) and listened some more. It hit home when I heard Mary Lou threaten that he’s in the doghouse now. Then I knew for sure, that her husband Frank’s life was the next to go in this tawdry affair.
I hung up the phone, pacing, not sure what to do. Do I flee, run to the cops, warn Frank, mind my own business or start writing my next novel masterpiece? That’s right. Got a scotch, put on a pot of coffee and started getting the next blockbuster down on paper!
Dawn rose and when I stepped outside to gather my milk and newspaper off the front step, Sally greeted me over the fence, doing the same. She came over, asking if I heard the latest. I nodded, eyes growing wide. “Aren’t you lucky you don’t have a dog,” she remarked. I shook my head, not understanding. Then I got it. Turns out it wasn’t a case of roaming romance, but of rover rabies. The Wagners had to put their Fifi down, while the Browns got to their Scruffy just in time to get him vaccinated.
Mary Lou’s Frank was not so lucky. Just as I thought, he was making eyes at the divorcee, and really did spend the night in the dog house ;-).
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.
Toodles, Barbara Jean
oh my gosh I love it! I remember party lines and then my mom got a private line because she liked to talk for hours!
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Lol – but weren’t they the just the best way to hear the news?