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Tyler Barton


Dale Wisely, Editor
Laura M. Kaminski, Assoc. Ed.

F. John Sharp, Fiction
F. J. Bergmann, Copy


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Someone will dial 911 two weeks after their daddy’s funeral. “Help—my daddy died.” The dispatcher will ask for the caller’s name and address (Alex Marsenbourg, 4291 Essex Drive), where he is (living room), if he’s safe (yes), where his mommy is (asleep on top of her bed), and finally, “What do you need to report?”


The caller will explain that the doctors killed his father, and the ground ate the body. After a static cold silence, the dispatcher will ask when it happened, to which the caller, rolling a red truck up and down a corgi’s back, will say, “I don’t remember. He’s dead.”


The dispatcher will say, “Yes, but for how long?”


The caller will say, “Forever,” and then he will say, “Help.”


The dispatcher will not log a report or notify police. The dispatcher will feel wrong throughout her shift, will feel her hands shaking as she types other reports, but the hands, when examined, will not be shaking but rather vibrating, charging. Meanwhile, the caller, Alex, will run a red truck over his mother’s or his corgi’s back, but neither will hear him plan aloud to bomb a hospital.


On the drive home, the dispatcher, who will be an only child, single, and not a parent, will call a number she has memorized. This call will not go on record at the police department and will never be assigned an official incident number. 


“Hello,” Alex will say, “Sorry but my mommy is asleep right now.”


“Hi—Alex, it’s 911,” she will say. “I’m Ana, I mean.”


Driving through the city, Ana will tell Alex a story about her sister being hit by a car and dying in surgery. Alex will cough into the receiver. “I’m sorry that this happened to you,” Ana will say. “To us.”


Alex will ask, “What are we going to do?”


Ana will say nothing and wait for a red-light.


Alex will ask, “Will you help me blow up the hospital?”


“That sounds like a bad thing to do,” she will say while circling the block for a space. “That’s not fair to everyone else in the hospital.”


As she puts the car in reverse and cuts it to the right, he will throw a red truck at a wall and say, “No!”


“But doctors have dads too, and moms, and sons.” She will have cut it too hard.


The line will be hot with quiet, both pairs of hands beginning to sweat.


“And sisters?” he will ask.


“Yes, and sisters.” 




Incident Number 000-0001

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