I submitted this piece to NPR's Three-Minute Fiction competition, Round 10. The challenge is always to write something that can be read in three minutes, or 600 words, and for this round, the story had to be told in the form of a voicemail or answering machine message. They had over 4,000 submissions, so needless to say, I didn't win, but it was fun.
Don’t you know I been calling you and calling you all day? Where you at? Out runnin’ the streets, I bet. I told Grandma, ‘She must be at the boats, I bet that’s where she’s at.’ Why don’t you get over here and take us to the boats, huh? I bet you don’t stick to the penny slots when you’re out there by yourself. If I had a big fancy house like you I’d never leave it. I don’t know why I even bother having a phone. Nobody ever calls. I might as well just rip the damn thing out of the wall! Anyway, I was calling to tell you that Grandma fell down again today. And me with this cough. Oh, and I’m almost out of cigarettes. Next time you come, go by the Crown Liquor and get me a couple of cases. You know what I like. The Kools. And I have an appointment to see Dr. Sharma next Tuesdee, don’t forget. I don’t want to have to call a cab again, you know I can’t read them tiny numbers in the phone book. And last time the driver was one of them Mooslems, and Grandpa a World War II veteran. I’m glad he’s not alive to see this. But if he were here, he could take me to go get my cigarettes, and to Dr. Sharma. But you know Grandma, she’s always been clumsy. Remember that time she broke both arms and had to have ‘em both put in casts? We didn’t have no tortillas for weeks. I had to go down to the Boulevard and buy ‘em. Tasted terrible. She was makin’ breakfast this morning and slipped in the kitchen. I done tole her and tole her she needs to mop up better, but does she listen? I guess that’s where you get it. She slid and her feet just went straight up and she went down smack on her ass. Clumsy. I tole her, ‘See? That’s what you get for being a bad mother to me. You spit at the sky, it comes back in your face.’ I had to call Mayo over to come help her up because I can’t lift her no more. And me with this diabetes. Not that anybody cares. I mean, for all you know, we could all be layin’ over here dead and it’d be days and days before anyone found us. Bet you’re drinking too. You got that big nose like Grandpa, un otro borracho. Why didn’t you get your father’s nose? He was so good-looking, so light. Too busy to even call her mother. I wish I had money to spend like that. You think you’re better than me, with that highfalutin’ job, marrying a white man? Well, you’re just a no-account dirty Mexican greaser, just like me. Be proud of what you are. De puro sangre. I don’t go get myself a white last name and try to pass myself off as something else. I could’ve finished school and made something of myself, but them nuns never liked me. Did you hear me say Grandma fell? Why you ain’t picked up the phone yet? You need to get over here. This place is falling apart. That dirty nasty floor. Grandma wasn’t no kind of housekeeper, even when she was young. Now it’s all just gone to hell. I gotta go. My novelas are on. Did I tell you tonight they’re gonna show about who raped Marciela? It was Hector, but Fernando don’t know yet. Ay, dios mio. I gotta go, it’s starting. Call me during commercial.
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