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911 Transcript

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Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 213
Location: SW Missouri
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Below is the result of a workshop writing exercise designed to improve our ability to write dialogue. It's also the result of way too much caffeine and too little sleep. No real possums or other entities were harmed in the writing of this story, though my husband may never look at me the same again

911 Transcript

“911. What’s the nature of your emergency?”

A whisper, a murmur, a whimper, a squeak and silence.

Michael, the 911 dispatcher, was not having the best of nights. He’d bounced a check at the gas station, was fighting with his wife, gotten the paramedics lost during his first hour on duty, been yelled at by his boss, and had a headache. This was not the night to screw with him. And he would tell everyone so later, over several beers at the bar.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t get that. Please repeat.”

The whisper increased, but only enough to make his headache worse. He got “possum” out of it this time.

He sighed, though not audibly, having mastered this very necessary skill during the first month on the job. “I’m going to have to ask you repeat yourself again—Ma’am.” Hope to god, I’ve got that right, he thought, remembering the last time he mistook a man for a woman over the phone. The boss yelled at him for that too.

The woman (he hoped), who sounded possibly elderly, settled for a stage whisper. “A possum. There’s a possum in my front yard.”

“Ma’am? A possum?”

“Yes. It’s a possum and it’s eatin’ my garbage . . .”

He tried to keep the irritation out of his voice, tried to stay professional. “Ma’am. You’ve dialed 911. You know that right?”


“So Ma’am, a possum eating your garbage is something Animal Control handles. Not 911. We deal in emergencies.”

“Oh. It is an emergency.” Her whisper grew louder, slightly indignant.

Michael didn’t try an inaudible sigh at this point, he just let fly with a loud noisy breath. He lit a cigarette and concluded he was quitting this job at the end of the shift. Yes, he was. If his wife didn’t like it this time around, she could get off her fat derriere and get a job herself. He’d had it.

So he put his feet up on his desk and let the conversation run to a natural conclusion. She was very likely just lonely and Michael was just burned out. They needed each other in a co-dependent sort of way. It would be fodder for a good story later, if nothing else. “How lady? How is vermin eating your garbage an emergency? Is he sick?”

“Nooo. At least, I don’t think so. . .” Some scuffling on the other end of the line as she apparently went to look. “No. It doesn’t look sick. But it will be worse than that soon.”

“Worse?” Wasn’t just being born a possum bad enough? “How?”

“It’s eatin’ . . . .deeeeemons.” She squeaked out the last word.

“Excuse m- what?”

“I said, it’s eatin’ . . . demons.” She was speaking in a near normal volume. Her voice was childishly high, like she might giggle, drop the phone and run off to play any minute. She was either elderly or five years old. He was pretty sure she wasn’t five.



Holy batshit Batman! A full moon. It had to be.

“And umm . . . How did demons get in your garbage?” He blew out a trail of smoke, trying for a smoke ring and failing. He erased the attempt in mid-air and prepared to try again.

“I put them there, of course. How does anything get into the trash?”

“I see. And were these demons in your refrigerator first?” He sniggered. That was a good one. He’d have to be sure and tell the guys he said that. He sucked on his cigarette, held the smoke in his mouth.

“No. They were in my husband.”

Michael choked, smoke spewing from his nose and mouth; he cleared his throat, trying not to jump to conclusions but jumping anyway. Finally, he croaked out, “In your husband? Ma’am where is your husband now?” He rubbed at the prickling hair on his forearms. The guy was probably asleep in the next room. Maybe he was one of those old men who snored loudly, watched TV all day, walked around with pee-stains on his pants, and ignored his wife. She could still just be lonely . . .

“Oh in heaven, I’m sure. After all, the demons are in the trash now where they belong.”

Michael sat up. His feet fell to the floor with a thump. “Okay. Ma’am. Just exactly what is the possum eating? And I don’t mean the demons. I mean—exactly—what—is—he—eating?”

“Oh. I think he’s eating a spleen right now. He looks to be done with the intestines. It’s the heart I’m worried about though. That’s where they live, you know.”

“Ohhh . . . My . . . God . . .”

“I told you it was an emergency.”

“I’ll have someone out there in a few minutes. Don’t move, okay?”

“Oh. So you can save the possum then? It’s not too late?”

Michael wrapped his hand around his head, trying to stop the Grand National winner of galloping headaches from blurring his vision while he dialed up the police station and the ambulance barn on different lines. “I think everything is going to be fine Ma’am, but I’m sending out some folks to check up on him just to be on the safe side. I’m going to keep you on the phone until help gets there. Okay?”

“That’s nice of you. We wouldn’t want those demons to get out again, would we?”

“No ma’am. We wouldn’t want that at all.”

“I’m glad I called.”

Michael didn’t say anything, he just dialed.
. . .once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
(The Velveteen Rabbit)

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