The First Phone Call

The ride back home was silent. Bob hoped his father wouldn’t remember Sampler.

“About Sampler, Bob, I don’t want you to be around him too much. He’s not a bad person. It’s just his ideas are absurd. I’m not sure about Dr. Optoglass either. Thankfully he didn’t charge us extra for that lecture, eh?”

“Dad, I need a phone in my room.”

Passersby on the road were sure they saw the car – an analog one if there were any – shudder before recovering.

The First Call

Paul’s mind raced. Should he? Bob obviously wanted his freedom. He’s a growing boy. Maybe there’s a girl involved. Surely there’s a girl involved!

“Done, partner. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Dad!”

Paul was happy to have Bob out of his strange mood.

The phone was installed and ready in a day. It had a keypad, too, though the phone-guy insisted it was an analog device. Paul made sure he could overhear any conversations from his bedroom, ‘just in case’.

Now Bob had to call somebody. There was only one person he wanted to call, but he was trying to find excuses for not calling her. He was scared out of his mind.

He called Professor Sampler.

“Bob? Before you say another word, I have to tell you my phone is probably tapped. So how’s everything, my boy?”

“Just fine, Professor. I love my new Veggie-saur. It is better than the T-Rex.”

The boy has tact, thought Sampler. “That’s good to know. I’m proud of you, Bob. Is there anything else?”

“Professor, I was hoping to get Cathy’s phone number.” He braced for impact.

“Hold on a second. Here it is.”

That went faster than expected! Now Bob was left with Cathy’s number scribbled on paper. Bob went through the emotional phase of ‘1001 excuses for not calling’ before he managed to dial. He dialed the wrong number the first three attempts. Two of them were harmless. The third call was to an angry actor complaining about the lack of good roles in the industry.

Just when Bob hoped the next call would, too, be a wrong number, he heard the voice that stopped him dead.

“Hello? Who is this?” There was a mumbling hum at the other end. Cathy wasn’t sure whether it was the connection or a human. “Is anybody there?”

“Hi. I’m Bob.”


“Bob. Analog Bob. We met the other day at Professor Sampler’s house.”

“What do you want?”

“I, um…”

“Who gave you my number?”

“Professor Sampler.”

“I guess he thought I could use your friendship.”

“I was hoping…”

“You can stop hoping right now. Please resist the impulse to dial my number again.”

The line was disconnected. Bob was on a high – adrenaline, fear and a weak bladder. He lay on his bed, stunned into limbo for a few hours, eyes open. Her face was right before him, but she wasn’t smiling. He felt like a fool. I’m a sad loser, he told himself in self pity. Analog Blob.

Somebody knocked on the door. “Bob, are you busy?” It was mom. Her voice was soothing, it was exactly what he wanted to hear. He opened the door.

“Are you all right, Bob? You look weak.”

“I’m okay, mom. Just tired.”

“This came for you.”


It was a mysterious brown envelope. Did Professor Sampler send him this?

“Thanks, Mom.”

“By the way, Granny Moon wanted to see you. Let’s visit her tomorrow, just the two of us. What do you say?”

“That’ll be great, mom.”

“All right, then. I’ll call Granny. Dinner will be ready in a couple of hours.”

As soon as the door closed Bob ripped open the envelope. It was more notes, but not from Sampler.

Dear Bob,

I was very impressed with your thirst for knowledge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t spare enough time to guide you in your quest for wisdom. That, and the fact that your father missed the turn on the road to enlightenment. Therefore, I have sent you some of my precious notes. They are for your eyes only, son. This should help you to see things better. He, He.

Your favorite doctor,

Dr. Optoglass.

Bob started reading like there was no tomorrow.

Next: The Sine Grating
Previous: What Noise Does