Operator

“David, quit bugging me.” Joshua said in exasperation. “You’re gonna get us both in trouble.”
“So?” David laughed, then flicked the rubber band across the room.
“OW!” said the kid who had been hit.
“David Chung, sit outside until you master your behavior.” The teacher tried to look professional, but was failing.
“Told you so.” Joshua muttered.
“Just shut up, okay, just shut up!” David yelled.
“Now, David!” The teacher seethed.
“Whatever!” David muttered sulkily. He went and sat outside. He took out his phone, and noticed the number 0. Operators are supposed to help you, right? He hesitated, then dialed 0.
“Operator, what’s your emergency?” said a cool, female voice.
“I wish my friend Josh never existed.” Replied David.
“Okay, anything else?”
“Nope.” David said easily.
“Thank you for your phone call.” Was it his imagination, or did the voice have a sinister tone in that last sentence? David looked at the phone. It’s not real. He convinced himself. He went into the classroom.
The teacher was drinking from a mug of coffee. He put it down.
“Are you an office aide?”
“What? No!” David said, shocked. “I’m your student. I think this qualifies for cruel and unusual punishment.”
The teacher looked at him strangely. “Do I know you?”
“Yeah.” David said like the teacher was stupid. The whole class was watching by this time. “I’m your student. I sit in that seat.” He pointed to the seat he sat in, and realized Joshua wasn’t in the seat next to it. “Where’s Joshua?”
“What on earth are you talking about?” The teacher asked in puzzlement.
“My name is David.” David said hurriedly. “My friend Joshua and I-”
“There is no Joshua or David in my class. There hasn’t been since the year started.”
“But the name of the school is Frederickson High School, right?”
“No.” This time the teacher did look at him strangely. “It’s Memorial High.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It was called that to honor one of the many heroes in the world.”
David went weak in the knees. He remembered the opening of the high school, how Joshua had yelled loudly that Memorial High was stupid name since you didn’t know what you were supposed to memorialize. It was then that the high school’s name had been changed.
“Mr. Chung?” A voice came from the doorway. It was an office aide. “Your parole officer is at the front office.”
David went miserably with him. He looked at the GATE sign standing proudly in the window. He remembered how Joshua had urged him to study, and helped him get into GATE. When he got to the office, a bearded man was sitting to the right of the principal. The principal was frowning.
“Um…Hi.” David said nervously.
The bearded man raised his eyebrows. “That’s the first time you haven’t called me punk.” He cracked a smile. “I think we might just be getting into the hang of it.”
“Yes, yes, Mr. Inglewood. But just get on with the meeting. I want the high school’s only jailbird to be free of parole.” She hurried out of the room.
“You’re my parole officer?” David blurted out.
Now it was the parole officers turn to look at David strangely. “Yes, you’ve been on parole for 2 years, if you don’t count the 400th time you violated it and spent a few days in prison.”
“And how exactly,” David asked as calm as he could, “did I get into jail in the first place. I forgot the details of my escapade.”
“You were caught with LSD.” David now remembered the time Joshua had prevented him from hanging out with the “cool crowd”. “You were going to a party,” continued the parole officer, “and were bringing it with you, underneath your coat. A police cruiser came by, and found the drugs you were carrying. You violated it for the 400th time by carrying a cigarette, which you claimed was for your father, who didn’t smoke.” He took out a manila folder. “We have your records,” he said, waving it around.
David nodded slowly. “Do you know someone by the name of Joshua?” He asked casually, even though is heart was thumping.
To his surprise, Mr. Inglewood laughed. “If this is another one of your tricks, David? Trying to distract me with one of your questions eh?” He continued chuckling. “Ah David. What will juvie do without you?”
“It’s not funny!” David yelled. “I called the operator, and my whole life turns upside-down! Besides, if you know everything about me, then why don’t you tell me what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Tran!”
His parole officer raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you know? From what I recall, your family if very friendly with the Trans.”
“What do you do? Stalk me?” David asked sulkily.
“It’s our job.” Mr. Inglewood cracked a grin. “Now, about the Trans, they had a miscarriage.” His smile faded. “They were very sad, especially when you were born. They’ve been honoring you for a while. They always wanted to name Joshua, ‘cause they wanted to name their son that.”
“Oh.” David said quietly. He’d made a wish using a cell phone and it worked! What else could it do? “Um…Mr. Inglewood? I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Not much of an attitude this time?” He cocked and eyebrow. “Go ahead.”
David nodded and tried to steadily walk to the door. He thought he failed, big time. He lurched out into the passageway, and wobbled to the bathroom door. He locked it. The cell phone came out of the pocket and was held at arm’s length. David hesitated for a moment, then pressed the 0.
“Operator, what’s your emergency.” The spine-chilling yet, generic voice came out of the phone. David mentally prepared himself.
“Um, Operator, I have a question.”
“Shoot.” The voice replied.
“If I make a wish and I tell it you, does it come true.” He blurted.
The voice paused. “Took you long enough.” It smirked.
“Yeah, well, I want a refund.” David said angrily.
“No refunds. Sorry.” The voice said sarcastically. “Anything else.”
“Can I undo a wish?” David asked.
“All you have to do is wish the wish never happened.”
David took a deep breath. “I wish that everything was the way it was before I made the wish.” He crossed his fingers and stared at the phone. He felt a sudden jerking sensation, and was still looking at the phone. It didn’t work! He thought angrily. Then he noticed his surroundings. He was standing in the middle of the hallway. The GATE class was still studying inside. He took a deep breath, and opened the door.
The teacher looked up. “Ah…Mr. Chung. Gotten over your behavioral problems have we.” David could have run up to the teacher and hugged him.
“Yeah. Yeah I have.” He said, blinking back tears of relief.
“Well good. Get back to work on the paper you were supposed to be doing, and maybe I won’t give you a detention for interrupting the class, again.”
David surprised everyone by nodding. “Right away, sir.” He replied respectfully. The teacher raised his eyebrows, but made no comment.
David made his way to his seat in the back of the classroom. “Joshua.” He whispered. “I need to talk to you after school. Meet me at the dump.” Joshua looked at him curiously, but didn’t make any comments.
Later that day, Joshua and David were sitting on piles of scrap heap and David was explaining what had happened. Joshua was staring at his hands.
“Look man, I’m sorry I wished you away. And I told you to shut up. I just, lost it. It was my fault.” David said.
Joshua looked at David. “It’s kind of hard to believe. You know,” He said, waving his hands around, “that you could make wishes by dialing 0.”
“It’s true.” David said fiercely. “I’m not going to wish again, though. It’s not worth it. My life’s perfect.”
Joshua nodded slowly. “I see your point. I mean, you wish for something you always wanted, like popularity, but then, but then it just turns out to be fake. Not real, you know. And then something always goes wrong. It might not be the popularity you wanted.”
David nodded. “Tell me about it.” He looked at the phone for a moment, then tossed it away, saying, “Who needs wishes anyway? Better to earn it yourself.” He Joshua then walked away.
A street kid came out from behind the teetering pile of junk. He looked at the phone, then looked all around him. He dashed, and picked up the phone quickly before retreating to his junk pile. He hesitated, then dialed 0.
“Operator, what’s your emergency?” The kid grinned.





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