Wrong Number

Originally written under the pseudonym Danika Powers:

Wrong Number

“Hold on! I’m coming!” Heath heard the cell phone ringing as he was trying to get his key in the door while balancing the pizza box from the take-out deli downstairs, his laptop case, and the extra large soda he knew he should have not bought.

“Wait a minute! My cell phone is in my pocket – and it is not ringing,” he thought as the soda tipped off the pizza box and splatted on the entryway floor. He slowly pushed the door open, looking around to see who was in his apartment with a ringing cell phone. No-one was there and the ringing stopped.

“Must have been the neighbor’s phone,” He mumbled as he stepped over the puddle of soda slowly spreading into the hallway. The pizza box and laptop case landed on the coffee table as he headed through the living room to the kitchen for a wad of paper towels. The cell phone started ringing again, stopping Heath in his tracks. He turned toward the counter in what seemed like slow motion, staring at the unfamiliar phone vibrating and ringing next to the flour canister.

“Heh, heh, hello?” The phone was one of the flip varieties and it took a few seconds for Heath to open it because his hands were shaking. At first there was no answering sound in the phone but just as Heath took it away from his ear to look at it; he heard a voice whine, “Why didn’t you answer before? I’ve been calling for hours!”

“Uh, I, uh, I just got here. Who is this and whose phone is this?” Heath tore several sheets off the paper towel roll while he cradled the phone between his head and shoulder. He walked over to the doorway and the spilled soda.  As he bent down to wipe up the sticky mess, a pair of tennis shoes stepped into his line of site next to the puddle. His gaze travelled up, noticing the jeans covered legs, the frayed bottom of a red jersey all the way to a hard, frowning face topped off with a shiny bald head. “And who are you?” he said as he straightened up.

“I think that call is for me,” the stranger said, reaching for the phone still pinned to Heath’s shoulder by his ear. Heath wordlessly handed the phone over, then just stood there staring as the stranger turned away and carried on a hurried and hushed conversation with the caller, then pocketed the phone. He gave Heath a quick glance, then turned as if to leave. “Wait!” Heath called, “What is going on here?”

“Wrong number,” the stranger said as he started down the stairs.

“What do you mean, wrong number? Why was that phone in my apartment?” Heath followed after the bald man, peppering him with questions and getting no response. The bald stranger turned around the corner at the bottom of the steps and was gone by the time Heath got there. He stared at the empty street a minute, then trudged slowly back up the stairs.

Although he was still puzzling over the events the night before, Heath got up and prepared to go to work in the morning. In fact, by the middle of the next week, he had almost forgotten about it. Nothing strange happened again and Heath went about his days, everything the same as the day before.  That is, the same until about 10 days after the strange incident with the phone, when he was ordering a take-out pizza from the deli below his apartment. The deli owner also owned the apartments upstairs and he was working the counter when the door to the deli opened and the bald man walked in.

“It’s you!” Heath exclaimed, “Who are you and why was your phone in my apartment 10 days ago?” The man behind the counter looked from Heath to the bald man, clearly confused. “Uh, Mr. Hildago said he was your brother-in-law, married to your sister. I let him in your apartment. He said he talked to you and you were going to leave a key under the mat for him, but must have forgotten.”

“I don’t have a sister.” Heath said, enunciating each word carefully as he glared at his landlord. “I’m calling the police!”

“No, don’t do that.” Hildago was unusually calm. “I can explain”

“Then start explaining. You have five minutes before I call the cops.” Heath moved toward Hildago, waving his finger (which was shaking slightly) in his face. “And it better be good!”

Hildago’s story shocked Heath and he was having a hard time believing that Hildago had been spending almost every day for the past two months in his apartment! There was never any evidence of anyone being there, except for the one time he forgot and left his phone on the counter.

“You can’t just camp out in someone else’s apartment during the day when they are at work!” Heath was sitting at one of the round tables in the deli, Hildago across from him.

“But I didn’t touch your things, I just needed a place to set up my surveillance camera so I could watch the building across the street. It was a top secret mission and nobody could know or my cover would be blown! I did not know who I could trust because I did not know if either of you were involved.”

“So what about your cover now?” the landlord asked.

“That is why I am here today, we arrested the people we were watching last night. There is no more need for our surveillance operation. I came to return the key I took off your spare key ring the first day I was in your apartment and explain what I was doing.” He dropped the key on the table and walked out, leaving Heath and the landlord staring after him.

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