Putting on his headphones Jonny resolved to take things as they came and not anticipate any problems. With Al going to bat for him he could get on top of this thing. He only needed to stay focused and maintain his groove. His engineer singled the countdown and Jonny hit the on air switch.
“Good evening friends and foes and all you fence sitters out there. Jonny is back with you, here to hear, lend and ear and face the fear. Let’s get right into it. The lines are open and I’m listening.”
The board lit up and it was show time once again.
“Caller number one, what’s the word?”
“Hi Jonny, Ralph here. How’s it going tonight?”
“It’s going great Ralph. Well, so far anyway. Still battling with your neighbour?”
“Yeah, Jonny. That idiot is still coming home falling down drunk every night and blasting his stereo. Damn cops won’t take my calls about it anymore, hell they told me I should move. I’m at the end of my rope, Jonny.”
“Well at least your feet aren’t dangling Ralph.”
Smacking his forehead as soon as the words left his mouth Jonny felt like kicking himself. The suicide had hung himself. Damn, not a good start.
“Hell, Jonny, not me, but I wouldn’t mind seeing that bastard next door doing it.”
“Ah well, Ralph, the cops have too many other things to do. If you can’t work it out with your neighbour you just might have to move. You hang in there now.”
Damn, he’d done it again. His engineer was laughing hysterically in the booth and Jonny gave him a one-finger salute. Better move on quick. He hit line two.
“Good evening caller, what’s on your mind?”
“Same thing that’s been on it for days now, Jonny. You, you’re on my mind. That was awfully crass, don’t you think? I see you’re still short on remorse.”
Sitting bolt upright Jonny felt his pulse quicken. It was him again. He did indeed sound just like Al, but this time Jonny was sure it wasn’t him.
“One had nothing to do with the other caller. You wanna tell me your name?”
“Call me whatever you like, Jonny. It’s not like you care. Life is cheap as far as you’re concerned. I’m thinking you’d change your mind about that if you knew yours was going to be a lot shorter than you imagine.”
“You threatening me are you? Look, I told you, that guy was responsible for his actions, not me. I told him to…”
“Yes, yes, I know, seek help. How very trite. You can fool yourself all you like Jonny, but there’s a price to pay. Keep that in mind.”
The line went dead and Jonny felt his temper boiling so he told his audience he’d be right back after the break and went to commercials. When he went back on the lines went berserk with callers wanting to discuss the previous caller and the suicide. It was all out of hand again and Jonny went into damage control mode.
Al called at last and ran the script Jonny had prepared for him. It helped a bit, the remainder of the calls were more sympathetic to Jonny, some even wishing him well, but the mystery caller was playing hell with his carefully crafted plan and he was at a loss to know what to do. He slept fitfully again that night and sat down in the morning with his coffee to work out a new plan.
Tomorrow, Part 6