Your character is stranded in the middle of nowhere and their phone has enough battery for one call. Who do they you call?
Paul was your average 30 year old man, pale skin, hair thinning at the temples, slight paunch, just enough to make him tighten the belt just a bit more around his pants lest it escapes out below him. He worked hard for a living, doing odd jobs from playing a clown at birthday parties to doing voice overs for the Virginia Lottery. It paid okay, and since thankfully he did not have a kid or two or a wife in tow, he was a happy camper.
Paul was the kind of guy who could blend in with any crowd. Wait, that isn’t accurate. He could get lost in the crowd. One of those mild mannered soft spoken humans who people don’t notice much, even if they ran around in a pelican costume. Paul liked that some times. Especially when he was in junior high and wore a jaw brace that his mother insisted would be good for his speech. Or the times when he let go in the closed band room and everyone closed their noses and looked all around, but didn’t once suspect him. If he were just slightly crafty, he could have gotten away with a lot more, but he was not crafty or shrewd or even a prankster as a kid.
He slept at the same time, in the same sheets his aunt had gifted him for Christmas, he had dinner at the same time watching Tom Brokaw on the TV he salvaged from his cousin’s home, showered at the same time listening to 99.5 ‘s War of the Roses, every time dreaming of having a volatile relationship like the ones he heard. Then he would shudder and cross himself and say a small prayer for the cheaters and the cheated alike. He loved his oatmeal, and he liked his coffee with just one creamer, like the way he was advised to by his dad. He picked up his mail everyday before dinner and usually threw them all into the green recycle except from the occasional postcard from his bacpacking sister, a stark contrast to his rooted self.
If his life were made into a movie, it would be a documentary that even the movie critics would have slept through. There was a comfort in that thought as much as rueful remorse.
One fine day, he came under the spotlight. All he did was to audition for a role of an ordinary telephone salesman. Lady luck must have been cleaning under the couch, for she dusted the bunnies off him and shoved him on the table under the bright light. People loved him, and his ambivalent hesitant smile when he said his line.
Perfect! Shouted the director. He is our man.
The next hour flew while he was asked to sign documents, and was slapped into a pair of gray overalls and given a schedule. The days were a blur, with each day being a flurry of activities, new faces, slaps on his back, checks rolling in and most importantly when every single person he met in the corridor, elevator and on the road started waving and acknowledging his existence. He ate a different breakfast every day and even got himself a cell phone, which was an irony to begin with.
He warmed to the attention, and was beginning to bask in the glory of it all. His time had come.
Strong light attracts bugs too. Corporate jealousies were under-rated.
One afternoon, he was picking up some oranges that he suddenly had a fancy for and he felt a slight pinch on his back. The next morning he woke up to the rough sands pricking him under, and the sun shone on him bright. Slightly groggy, he lifted his head up to see he was laying on a beach, with a thick clump of trees behind him. When he could get himself on his feet, he looked all around and scratched his head. He had no recollection of the past few days (it must have been at least two days going by the growth on his chin) of how he got to this place and how.
He explored. He shouted. He ran around in circles.
He was indeed alone. No roads, no people, no animals (ones he could see at least) and no electric wires anywhere, not even any fish when he walked knee deep into the waters. Just sand, sun and the trees. A haven for some, Paul was getting slightly nervous. He was getting increasingly hungry, thirsty and that made him sad.
He ruminated till sunset on his life. The downs, the ups and the fantastic play of it all. He now was sure God was just playing a mean trick on him and he was somehow caught up in a reality show so popular these days, and strained to see a hidden camera in the dim twilight.
Exhausted he fell asleep. The next morning, nothing changed. The evening didn’t bring much change either.
He kicked small pebbles, and made sand castles. He climbed the trees and pretended to be a lost pirate. This new surrounding unlike his single gray apartment had plenty to offer.
When the sun came up the horizon, Paul resigned to a life on the island. It was in a way being his old self again. Unseen, unnoticed, and unheard of, a simple man with simple wants, left to his own destiny.
He started smiling again.
That afternoon, he was walking along the waters near the rocks. His eye caught something shining between the rocks usually under high tide. He climbed up and reached under. His fingers wrapped around a slightly scratched metal and out came his cell phone. Paul looked at the cell phone for a very long time. He then flipped it open.
To his surprise, there was one bar of battery left. The signal on the other hand was strong.
He stared at the bars hard, and looked up at the island and trees. Closed his eyes and allowed his whole life to flash in front of him.
He then made his decision.
He dialed the only direct call he had keyed in to his phone. A 1-800 number to the company’s telephone operator.
Paul closed his left ear with his forefinger, bent his face down a little, and in is signature voice that had entertained thousands of Americans all across the nation said “Can you hear me now?”
With a click, the line went dead.
He flung the phone far and wide into the waters and ran into the woods. His new solace.