[Call Waiting, 740 words, Genre: Realistic Fiction]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
He had gone on for the tests a couple of months back. They had come back positive. It was the worst news that he had ever received in his life. Worse yet since the partner he had had, had walked out on him, leaving him alone to deal with all of the problems that the illness imposed by himself. He had been teaching in a third world country. Life had been happy, for a while. When he had gone in for the tests the partner had disappeared. That’s what made it all the more devastating. That the life that he had built up over the past couple of years. All of it, everything and in-between had been a lie.
Before he had begun teaching. He had worked in a call centre. That was where he had spent the majority of his life. Treating everybody like a number. With every single call he had to spell out to individual he spoke to over the phone that they weren’t special, that they were just a number in the catalogue, some phone number that was being randomly called to check up on their nameless insurance policy. And the amount of people that he had to tell that their insurance policy didn’t cover their particular illness. For cancer, they shouldn’t have smoked. For paraplegics who had suffered an injury at work, they should have bought the extras cover. And from what he now suffered from, they should have lived a cleaner lifestyle. Every time he had to tell someone that, he felt filthy. But that was the world, we are all forced to say and do things that we would rather not. The world was a filthy, filthy place. A place where morals and ethics don’t belong and nothing was ever done properly.
Now he was in the hospital, suffering from a cold that had exacerbated into pneumonia now that he was suffering from something else. He was on the phone, on hold, calling back the life insurance company that he had once signed up to. The same one where he had worked. The same one where he had spent most of his life.
“Gold & W insurance. How may I help you?” It was the operator. They had picked up the phone and were now servicing his call.
“Hi, it’s me, it’s Carl Deakin. Policy number four-four-six-eight-x-b.”
“Just wait until I look you up on the system Mr. Deakin.”
“Thank you.” He was sitting there in the hospital. Waiting as they looked up his reference number on their computer systems. He sat outside with various nutrients pumping into his system, hooked up to a bag that was mainlined to his arteries. He sat outside with a cigarette in his hand. Doctors and nursing staff walked past. He coughed and covered his mouth with his hand. The hospital staff all stopped and waved to him. Attempting their best to keep up a positive environment.
“Okay. I’ve found you Mr. Deakin. What exactly is the problem? What can we help you with?”
“Well, I’ve got it. I’ve got it! I fucked up and now I’ve got it!” He was doing his best to maintain himself. Trying his best so that he did not break down and cry.
“What exactly is it Mr. Deakin?”
“Well, I’m gay, I’m sick… You figure it out you farkin’ genius!”
“Oh…” There was silence on the other end of the phone line for a brief period. “Well, you should know that our insurance policy doesn’t cover ‘it’.”
“Yes, I know, I know… I used to work with you, I used to work with the company. Can I speak to your supervisor?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but my supervisor is currently otherwise attended.”
“Just get him on the phone. I know they’re not busy. I used to use that line all the time.”
“Well then maybe you’re familiar with this one. Our insurance policy doesn’t cover that particular illness and you should have made wiser decisions in your life.”
“Fark! Fark you! Fark off! Fark you! Fark you!!!” The operator ended the call with Carl swearing into the phone incoherently. And when the service dial started up through the phone. Carl dropped the phone and began to cry.
All of those years had caught up to him. All of those late nights partying and having fun. Those quiet nights with a bottle of wine with his lover in hand. And now this…