Telephone Call Panic

After a morning spent shopping at our local Walmart Superstore, I concluded that a cloud of ill-humor hung over the store. No errand-running husbands, feisty senior citizens, or soccer moms dotted the aisles. Not even an obligatory lovey-dovey couple. Just grim cart-rolling, button-pushing zombies. I tried to make a few jokes, but they all fell flat. My cashier didn’t even give me the “Bitch, please'” look I get when I’m trying to be funny. I wondered for the hundredth time if petulance is spread by a virus. Maybe that’s why they have those shopping cart sanitizers everywhere.

While I perused the dairy section looking for gooey yogurt deliciousness, my cell phone rang. It was Egor. His voice sounded so odd that I was immediately alarmed. He asked me, “Where are you?” without preamble–ratcheting up my anxiety further. “What’s happening?!” I asked, trying not to sound panicked. He took a long pause, during which my heart sank to my feet. Assuming he was in terrible trouble, or that some unspeakable thing happened to Liev, asked again, “What’s HAPPENING!”

He stammered fell silent. Sure that he was summoning the courage to reveal something horrid, I grasped the cart and panicked in earnest. Once more, I asked as calmly as I could, “What’s happening???”

He laughed, cleared his throat, and laughed some more. Irritated and only moderately relieved, I pressed him, “What’s going on?” He laughed a bit more and said, “I’m at home now and was wondering if you could bring me a donut.” For a moment, I was too stunned to appreciate the humor. Then I was relieved. Heh.

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