Paul sat at the polished teak desk and stared at the bone-handled knife with the gleaming blade lying on the blotter. He reached down and picked it up and admired it. Permitting himself a smile he put it back down and adjusted the pad of paper next to it. He waited for the phone to ring.
Paul was an accomplished cat burglar with many other skills he had acquired along the way that went so well with the plan that would come to fruition tonight. He had put aside all other business knowing from experience they would call within the hour. His patience was soon rewarded.
He picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Good evening, my name is Sherry, have I reached the head of the household?”
Paul ran his finger down the list quickly and then turned to the page he needed.
“Why yes, you have. What can I do for you?”
“I’m calling from Global Vaca…”
“Yes, I know where you’re calling from, Sherry.”
A slight hesitation. “Oh. Well then, i’d like to…”
“Yes, Sherry, I know what you’d like. You see, we’ve been through this before. Several times. And i’ve asked you not to call this number again.”
“I’m sorry sir, i’ll just…”
“Sherry, shhhhh. It’s too late for that. Listen to me, Sherry. Listen very carefully, here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to do exactly what I tell you to do, because if you don’t, very bad things are going to happen. Are you listening Sherry?” Paul’s voice was cold and even.
Silence at the other end of the line followed by a whisper, “yes.”
“Good. I have your attention. How is your mother these days Sherry?”
“My mother, what does my…what is this?” Her voice rising slightly on the last word.
“Sherry, you weren’t listening. I’m going to say this once more. You’re going to do exactly what I tell you to, and you don’t ask the questions, I do.”
“Sir, i’m going to hang up now and report…”
“No Sherry, you’re not. Your mother’s name is Edith Wagner. She lives at 506 Brighton Lane. All by herself. She’s elderly. And Frail. And you wouldn’t want any harm to come to her, now would you?”
Paul could feel her trembling. He could always feel them trembling. It felt good. He picked up the knife and twirled it idly.
“Sherry, you haven’t answered me.”
“What do you want from me?”
“Sherry, I told you, I ask the questions. If you disobey me one more time you’re going to be receiving body parts in the mail. Is that what you want Sherry?”
“Please…oh God, please don’t…” Her voice cracked and Paul glanced at his reflection in the knife and allowed himself another smile.
“Sherry, get ahold of yourself. I don’t want you to alarm Kevin, Margot, Amy and Brad. They have work to do.”
“How do you…I mean…ok. I’m in control.”
“Very good Sherry, you’re learning. Now listen closely. The master calling list is in the file cabinet on the left in your boss’s office. At break time I want you to go to the coffee room with the others and then excuse yourself and go to the filing cabinet, get out the master list and remove the sheet with my name and destroy it. Have you got that?”
“Yes. I…yes, I can do that. I will do that. I promise.”
“Very good Sherry. It’s very important that you do. Now one more thing, I need you to go in at the beginning of every month when the new list is generated and make sure my number doesn’t get called ever again. You see, Sherry, not only do I know where your mother lives, I know where you live. Do you follow?”
“Yes, I understand. Please don’t…”
“Just do as you’re told and you’ll never hear from me again. If not, well…”
Paul let the implication speak for itself and hung up the phone. He put the knife down and went to the bar and poured himself a single malt Scotch. One simply couldn’t allow these people to be rude, he mused. It just wouldn’t do.