W. Bruce Cameron: My mind is sharp as a tack, and I rarely lose things, but recently I’ve noticed that personal items have been attempting to run away from home. My cell phone, for example, took advantage of a momentary lapse in security to make a bid for freedom, covering its tracks so cleverly I couldn’t actually recall the last time I’d seen it.

After a few days, I hit upon the idea of dialing my own number. Sure enough, a male voice answered.



“Hello!” I almost shouted. “Am I glad you answered!”



“Yeah? Why’s that?”



“Because I’m the person who lost the cell phone. This is marvelous.”



“Can you hang on a second? I got another call coming in.” With a click, he was gone. I stood holding the telephone receiver, not sure I’d heard properly.



“OK, I’m back. Sorry about that,” he apologized.



“No problem. I’m just glad you found the cell phone!”



“Me, too! It sure has come in handy.”



“Ahh . . . ” I faltered. “Well, I guess that’s fine that you’ve been using it, but it’s my phone, and I’ll want it back.”



“Your phone? Finders keepers, pal.”



“Well, right, but not with cell phones. I mean, that’s my number. It’s got my voice-mail greeting on it and everything,” I argued.



“Yeah, that reminds me – what’s the voice-mail password? It says I’ve got three messages.”



“Are you crazy? You can’t use my phone!”



“Well, who’s going to stop me?” he challenged.



“I will! I’ll call the phone company and have it shut off.”



“You can’t disconnect me without giving me 30 days’ notice. That’s the law. Oh, hang on, I got another call.”



I sat on hold, seething. He clicked back on. “That was your doctor’s office, confirming your appointment tomorrow. You got medical problems? Guy your age, you need to be careful.”



“What do you mean my age? You know nothing about me.”



“I know you’ve gotten old enough to forget where you leave your telephone all the time.”



I was about to retort when I had an idea. “So, what’s your name?” I asked him innocently.



“Sorry, I don’t give out my name to people who call unsolicited,” he said. “Don’t want to wind up talking to a bunch of telemarketers.”



“Well, I was thinking, you’re right about the legal notice. I need your name and address so I can get it to you.”



“Oh, I am so not falling for that. Hang on.”



Absurdly, I found myself jealous that the phone thief was getting so many phone calls – apparently he was a lot more popular than I.



He came back on. “OK,” he said, “we’re trying three-way calling. Mrs. Cameron? You there?”



“Hello?” my mother’s voice responded.



“Got your son here, too.”



“Isn’t this nice,” my mother commented.



“Mom, it’s not nice. This guy took my phone and he won’t give it back.”



“I’m sure it is all a misunderstanding,” my mother soothed.



“You should call your mother back sometime,” the thief said. “She’s been trying to reach you all weekend.”



“How can I when you’ve got my phone, you jerk!” I shouted.



“That’s no way to talk to a friend, not even in fun,” my mom admonished.



“I’m just trying to say he should be more considerate of his mother, Mrs. Cameron. I mean, I’m taking my mom to Florida for vacation.”



“How wonderful!” my mom gushed.



“Hey, Bruce, do we have roaming on this phone? I’ll be down there a month.”



“A whole month?” my mother asked.



“Yep. I love my mother.”



“Well, I suppose Bruce has been too busy to spend time with me.”



I put the receiver against my forehead so it could feed my headache directly.



“Plus,” he added considerately, “he’s got all those medical problems.”



“What?”



“Didn’t he tell you? The doctor wants to see him tomorrow.”



“Well, for heaven’s sake! Bruce, why didn’t you say something?”



“It’s nothing, Mom.”



“I’ll be right over!”



“No! Mom, I’m not sick!”



There was a click. “I think she hung up,” I was informed. “Listen, this has been fun, but I got to run, too.”



“Fine,” I said.



After all, I knew how to reach him.



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