THE LIST • by sn wright

I listen to the voices. They let me know what people are really thinking and what should be done about it. I’ve even named them. I will admit it can be difficult at times telling one from the other. But they don’t seem to mind if I mix them up. Sometimes they’ll laugh about it. Sometimes not.

Charlie told me once (I named him Charlie) that it was absurd for me to imagine that everyone was out to  get me. Just some people were. And he gave me their names. I was surprised at how long the list was, but Charlie said it wasn’t all that big considering how many people were in the world. Too many.

Last Saturday when the girl scouts came to the door, Bobby (not one of my favorites), told me to invite them in. He told me they had been sent to sell me poison cookies. I checked my list to be sure and lo and behold there they were. Numbers 123 and 124. It never occured to me that the people on the list knew each other. Oh yeah, said Bobby, it was not uncommon. And here they were comin’ at me in packs now. But I could tell they did not suspect that I knew who they were. I took care of them. They’ll never distribute another poison cookie.

Sam (he only visits at night) told me that if I checked carefully I’d see that there were a couple of relatives on the list. Sam is such a stickler for details. He’d even memorized the list. I don’t know when he could have, considering I hadn’t heard from him since before Charlie gave me the names. But sure enough, he knew that number 16 was my sister. He told me she was one of the most dangerous ones on the list. I asked him why he thought so. She’s very determined, he told me. I believed him, I guess, but I decided to check with Charlie to make sure.

Yes, Charlie told me. She was very determined. Why don’t you go by there during the day when Mike is at work and the kids are in school.

So I did.

Have you seen the old lady on the corner? The one pretending to be a crossing guard? Bobby told me she took the job so she could spy on me. She has a little pad in her vest pocket and every time I leave or come back or turn on a light or flush the toilet she makes a little note in her book. She thinks I’m fooled by her disguise. She won’t think that much longer.

And the lady at the diner. She told me her name was Flo, just like on that television sit-com thing. But I’ve seen that show and she ain’t Flo. Yeah, she grinned a lot and snapped her gum, but I didn’t buy it. Bobby laughed and laughed about that one.

And now Sam’s back. He told me the guys ringing my doorbell in the middle of the night aren’t really cops. I peeked through the blinds and damn those are some real lookin’ uniforms. And those guns are so big they take up most of their holsters. They’re not real, said Bobby. It’s a trick to scare you into letting your guard down. Put a steak knife up your sleeve. They won’t even see it comin’.

I wish Charlie was here so I could double check that these guys were really on the list.

The last two numbers, Bobby said.  I didn’t expect them so soon. 

sn wright writes in Indiana.

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