Barry stopped and took a deep breath. He remembered what Phil had said about not answering the phone. He resisted the urge to go to the phone but stood waiting for the machine to kick in just the same.
“Hey Barry, it’s me Jeremy. We need to talk, man. I know about Malcolm. Pick up the phone Barry.”
Barry’s pulse quickened. Jeremy was the name of his new character. This just couldn’t be happening. The voice was slightly different than the one calling himself Malcolm. He stood rooted to the spot.
“Come on Barry. We really need to talk. I think Malcolm is up to no good. You need to get on top of this man. I don’t trust him. Neither should you.”
Barry put his hands over his face. This couldn’t be happening. No one could possibly know about the new character. He had told no one. The message timer ran out and he could hear the dial tone. He went to the machine and played back the message.
Checking the sauce again and making sure everything was in order he poured himself a glass of pinot noir and sat down at the kitchen table. There had to be some way of getting to the bottom of this. It was one thing for someone to know about Malcolm but Jeremy simply wasn’t possible.
The phone rang again. He stared at it and waited.
“Barry, are you there? It’s me, Malcolm. I know you don’t like talking to me but something has come up. Pick up the phone Barry.”
Barry covered the distance in three long strides.
“Listen you son-of-a-bitch, this is not amusing. I’m gonna – “
“You’re gonna what, Barry? Call the police? Honestly, get a grip. What are you going to tell them? That one of your characters has been calling you? I wouldn’t do that if I were you Barry. Really, I wouldn’t.”
“I…what do you want?”
“That’s better Barry. Listen, we really must talk about your plot development, but right now there’s something a bit more urgent. It’s about the new character.”
“And just how would you know about him?”
“Are you kidding? Hello, we’re in the same story. Anyway, you might want to rethink this. There’s something not right about him. Can’t quite put my finger on it though.”
“Look, whoever you are, why are you doing this? Are you bored? Do you just not have a life? What?”
“Barry, I have the life you gave me. You, Barry, you created me, and don’t think for one moment that I’m not grateful, it’s just that – “
Barry slammed the phone against the kitchen table a few times.
“Enough! This has gone too far. Stop calling me. You’re not fooling anyone. Find someone else to fuck with asshole, I’m not going for it.”
He hung up the phone and looked at it with disgust. He got up and finished cooking dinner trying not to dwell on what had just happened. He decided to watch a movie he had rented while he ate. He needed something to distract himself and a good action film was just the thing.
When it was over he cleaned up and got ready for bed. As he was drifting off to sleep the phone rang. He could feel his blood pressure rising as he waited for the machine to kick in.
“Hello Barry. Jeremy here. He called you again, didn’t he? I knew he would. You really must do something about him Barry. Barry? Are you there? Come on Barry, pick up the phone.”
Barry lay in the dark and kept his eyes closed tight. Sleep would be a long time coming.
Part 5 Tomorrow