Natalie Johnson?


The phone was screaming again. Lester sighed before he picked it up.


The unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line was bored. “Hello, first I must inform you that this call is being recorded for our records. Now, may I speak with Natalie Johnson?”

“Natalie? Natalie Johnson, you say,” Lester huffed into the phone.

“Yes, sir,” the voice became slightly more energetic. “May I please speak with her?”

“Oh, sure thing, buddy, but it might take a minute to get her here. Just hold on.”

Lester turned from the phone and yelled into the next room, “Natalie! Natalie Johnson, you’ve got a phone call!”

Dimly, Lester could hear the name repeated. He turned back to the phone in his hand, “Hey, buddy, I called for her, but no telling when she’s gonna get here. You still want to wait?”

The bill collector sighed but gamely said, “Sure, I’ve got time to wait. It’s very important that I speak with her today.”

Lester huffed again, “If you say so. And it was Natalie, right? Natalie Johnson?”

“Yes, sir. That’s right. Miss Natalie Johnson.”

“Oh, it sounds like she’s coming, hold on,” Lester said then handed the phone off to a petite, blond twenty-something.

“Hello, this is Natalie,” the girl said into the phone.

“Natalie Johnson,” the collector asked. “Can you verify your birthdate for me so I know I have the correct person?”

Natalie giggled, “Sure. My birthdate is May 16, 1994.”

“Could you repeat that, Miss Johnson,” the bill collector gulped.

“Yeah, no problem. May 16, 1994.”

The girl could hear the sigh on the line as a whispered thing.

“Umm, is your mom’s name also Natalie? Because, well, I’m looking for someone older,” the man on the other side said hesitantly.

Natalie Johnson giggled again. “Nope, my momma’s name is Georgia. I can give you back to Lester if that’ll help. I have to go, anyway, I promised to help Angela June give her baby a bath.”

Before the bill collector could say anything else, he heard Lester’s voice once more, “Sorry, son. Want me to try again?”

“Try again?” The bill collector was totally off his game, now. “I’m sorry, what do you mean by try again?”

“Son,” Lester growled, “do you have any idea how many Johnson’s we got here? Bound to be at least four dozen Natalies. How many you want to try before you give up?”

The gulped air was audible over the phone line, “I don’t understand, why would there be that many Natalie Johnson’s at your house?”

Lester chuckled. “Boy, this is the fifteenth phone call I’ve gotten in the last week asking for a Natalie Johnson. You can’t expect to find the right one with just fifteen calls, can you? We’ve got blocks and blocks of multiple levels to search to find just the right Natalie Johnson for you.”

The old man shook his head, continuing, “I bet it’s a lot easier for the ones who go looking to find a Marniana¬†Terchenka. Not a lot of Terchenka’s about, I reckon, and even fewer of those have the same first name. Now, did you want to hold, or did you just want to call back tomorrow? Can’t promise I’ll have any other Natalies close by, but I can try…”

The buzzing silence of a dead line is all poor Lester heard.



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