Pen

The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Spring 2008 Results




Modern Efficiency

Copyright © Faye Honey 2008


You have dialled 000… sponsored by Glee, the new wonder drug for Impotency.

For Police press one.

For Fire press two.

For Ambulance press three.

You have pressed three for Ambulance…listen to the following prompts.

For birth press one.

For heart attack press two.

For bullet wounds press three.

For others press four.

You have pressed four for others. I am now transferring your call to the Crisis Centre.

“Thank you for calling the Crisis Centre, I’m Cheryl and how can I help you..?”

“Cheryl, my name is Steve Razor. I need an ambulance as soon as possible: my wife Sara tripped and fell through the patio’s glass doors, her left leg has been cut through to the bone and only a shiver of skin is holding it all together. I have placed clamps on the arteries, to stop blood flow and wrapped the wound as tightly as I dare.

Her splitting headache is a bit of a problem. I’m at a loss to know what else I could do to relieve the pain, we only have Aspros… they’re as useless as tits on a bull. We need an ambulance. Hurry, our address is 24 Myrtle Street, Willow Bend.”

“Thank you for this information, please cut out the swearing. The victim is Sara, and she has lost half a leg and a considerable amount of blood… and is sporting a king size headache, is that correct?”

“Yes… where’s the ambulance?”

“Steve, rate out of ten in your opinion how serious your wife’s injury is. For example one… two… three… etc…"

“Ten...!”

“…You have rated a ten. Seven and a half is more likely the rating. Sara still has one good leg to get around on… we mustn’t exaggerate.”

“Where’s the bloody ambulance? I need one… now!”

“Steve, I must ask you to control your language. This call could be monitored for staff training purposes. Please choose your words carefully… I heard that raspberry; grow up! Steve, hand the mobile to Sara please…”

“Sara’s passed out…”

“Steve, stay calm, help is on the way… just a couple of questions for our records.

"Speak slowly and clearly; what’s Sara’s full name and date of birth?”

“Sara Gertrude Razor, born 23-6-58…”

“Giggle… giggle… sorry, Steve, the name Gertrude always makes me laugh. Now her mother’s maiden name…”

“Sharp…”

“Her grandmother’s maiden name…”

“Blunt…”

“That’s interesting, Steve. From grandmother Blunt, to mother Sharp, now she’s a Razor… giggle… giggle… just a couple of more questions for our records.

"Have you paid the Ambulance levy?

"Mustn’t bad mouth our Prime Minster…just a yes will do!

"Do you have any private health cover?

"…Oh you don’t.

"Do you own your own house?

"…Oh you don’t.

"Do you have a hidden nest egg?

"…Oh you don’t.

"Do you have any rich relations you can sponge off?

"…Oh you do!

"Are you related to a lawyer, or do you have a good friend that’s one?

"…Oh you do!

"With this information I have moved you up the list. Please confirm that this is the victim’s address…24 Myrtle Street…Willow Bend… New South Wales."

“24 Myrtle Street… Willow Bend… you fools, in Western Australia.”

“…Oh, you’re in Western Australia, sorry about the mix up, a computer error. I’m now transferring your ambulance request to our operator who handles our interstate crisis calls… hang on.”

“Steve Razor, I’m Florence; although I’m sitting next to Cheryl I handle all interstate emergencies and I’m here to help you because I’m not from the Government or the tax department. An ambulance will be arriving at your address as soon as one becomes available. How are you coping with it?”

“Maybe I need another hole in my head, Flossy.”

“Where’s your manners, Steve...?”

Florence’s mind was preoccupied; she only had another thirty minutes before her shift ended. Gary, her new friend, would be waiting at the ‘WILD ROSE SINGLES CLUB.’ Her mind really wasn’t on the job; it kept drifting off into her fantasy world where her lust lurched. She knew tonight she would go all the way; her mind kept replaying how her night of passion could turn out… leaving her wanting.

“Florence… Flossy… where are you?”

“I’m still here, Steve… Just a slight technical error… I lost you for a moment. Steve, don’t let your wife walk around on her wounded leg, get her to hop around on the good one.”

“Technical error my arse… I recognize heavy breathing when I hear it.”

“Steve I can’t understand you… you’re making spluttering and flatulent noises… so immature.”

“Stuff you… Send an AMBULANCE!

“I will send the ambulance when you stop shouting and crying… you’re not a baby… grow up.”

“Listen bit of fluff… my wife’s dying… where’s the frigging ambulance? Get the shit out of your ears, we’re waiting for help.”

“Steve, you’re lucky we’re not being monitored for staff training purposes… language… language… Now for our records. I have a couple of questions to ask you…

"…your date of birth?”

“23-6-58.”

“…Oh, you were born the same day as your wife, how cute.

“What’s your mother’s maiden name?”

“Dick head...!”

“I’ll ignore that answer… you’re coming across as either not the full quid or you’ve been drinking.

"Please answer the survey questions which have been put together by our staff when they were bored. They must be answered by either the victim, or, if unavailable, a member of the family, which means you, Steve. Answer the question with a number between one and ten…

"How do you rate this ambulance service out of ten, so far?”

“Invisible...!”

“Do you mean you have given the Ambulance Service a ZERO?”

“My bloody wife is slipping away, send help!”

“Steve, has any member of your family ever made a hoax call to a Crisis Centre?”

“Haven’t got a bloody clue…”

“Steve, will you confirm that this is not a hoax… nuisance calls take lives… I’ll give you an example…

"The Hoax...

"Mavis reported her husband Harry had collapsed; he had a history of heart disease. When the ambulance arrived they found the victim drunk as a skunk sprawled out on the kitchen floor. His wife said, 'No harm done; now you can give me a lift into town… bingo starts in half an hour… and he’s too drunk to drive.'.”

“Florence, a bloody ambulance now and you can stuff your hoax!"

“Steve…have we met...?

"Your voice sounds familiar… Good news! The ambulance is on the way, now to finish the hoax story…

"When Harry sobered up, a hefty fine was waiting. Mavis ended up winning the jackpot at bingo. So keep calm. Every cloud has a silver lining.

"Oh! I nearly forgot, silly me, please confirm if this is your address… 24 Myrtle Street, Willow Bend, Western Australia.”

“I’ve been trying to tell you, you stupid bitch… my wife has died!”

“Oh our condolences to you, and your family… now this could be your lucky day… ‘YES WE DO CARE BUDGET FUNERALS’ have a special this month… buy one coffin and you’ll get one free.

"Please wait till I read the list, before you make your selection.

"No.1… wooden coffin stained with maple lacquer, and comes with silver or brass handles, a selection of plastic flowers, and pipe music playing Amazing Grace.

"No.2… Recycleable coffin made out of durable cardboard, painted with colour of your choice and a selection of flowers painted on the casket. This package is popular: just tip the deceased out, reach for the hose, give it a squirt, and it’s now ready for that unexpected emergency.

“Steve…can you hear me… please answer me?”

Steve, in shock, was shaking and laughing all in one action. He has always liked the name Steve, instead of Gary, which was his real name. He always wanted a wife named Sara, not Shirley.

He was pleased with himself having to point out to the boring operator that the victim was waiting for the ambulance in Western Australia, not in Sydney. He headed for his car with the vision of his wife flying through the glass doors… knew that vision would stay with him for some time.

That was a slip of the tongue when he gave his home address, Sydney. However, the ambulance and police should be arriving somewhere in Western Australia just about now.

His wife’s injured leg was exactly how he reported it. He only forgot to mention the axe he had left embedded in the middle of her forehead.

With his sadistic mood running hot, Gary climbed into his car and headed for the‘WILD ROSE SINGLES CLUB’. Tonight with binding chains rattling on the floor his mind was focusing on his date with a certain Crisis Centre operator … named Florence.

“Steve… speak to me, where are you? How rude, he has hung up on me… back to you, Cheryl.”

“You have dialled 000… sponsored by Glee, the new wonder drug for impotency… first used to rid dogs of fleas… this is Cheryl, how can I help you...?”