"Yes, can I speak with Will Tansky?"
"Mr. Tansky, this is Rick at Dandelion Wine, a new flower shop in town. We're running a promotion this week in an effort to get the word out about our store, and I'm pleased to tell you that you've been chosen to have a free bouquet of roses sent to the person of your choice. All we need is a name and an address."
"Interesting," the voice remarked. "How did you get this number?"
"Oh, we've been picking them at random from the phone book, Mr. Tansky."
"This is an unlisted number."
"Ah. Well, I, um." Rick floundered for a bit. "I...suppose I'd better come clean with you, sir," he said finally. "A friend of yours was in here last week at our grand opening and they dropped a business card with your number into our drawing. Your card was one of the ones drawn."
"That makes more sense," Will agreed. "So what was it you wanted from me?"
"Well, as I said, sir, we're offering a free bouquet of roses to be sent to the lady of your choice. We just need a name and an address, and we'll get that sent off today...and we hope you'll remember Dandelion Wine for any future flower needs you might have!"
"Hey, who can argue with 'free?' " Will said, and Rick could practically see the grin on his face. "Okay, well, I know one lady who'll be delighted to receive them. Please send them to Irene Bolles, 158 Waveland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60613."
"Chicago...wow, that's a long way away," Rick noted carefully. "Don't you have anyone here in town you'd like to send them to?"
A pause. "You have something against Chicago?" the voice said finally.
"No, not at all," Rick said, making rotating motions with his pen, as if drawing something tight. "I just wondered if there might be someone special that was local to you."
"This lady is plenty special to me," Will said coldly. "Are you sending the flowers or not?"
Instead of answering, Rick covered the mouthpiece for a moment. "Is she on?"
"Yeah," came the answer from somewhere behind him. "Line 2."
"Well, Will," Rick said, relishing the moment, "I've got someone else on the line here who might disagree with that choice."
A long pause from Will. "What are you talking about?"
Rick smiled. God, how I love this part. "It's your girlfriend Christine. Remember? The one you've been dating for the past three months?"
"Yes, I know who she is," the voice said angrily. "What I'm not getting is why you're bringing her into this."
Rick leaned back in his chair. "So you don't think it's unusual to be sending flowers to someone other than your girlfriend? Didn't think she'd find out, did you? Who is it, Will? You got somebody on the side? Little piece of fluff in Chicago you've been seeing on the sly?"
Another long pause, and Rick could almost hear the guy's teeth grinding as he realized he was caught. He bared his own teeth in a savage grin, a shark's grin. Almost time to put the jilted girlfriend on the line. Almost, but not quite. Let's hear him try and explain his way out of this one.
"You're unbelievable, whoever you are," the voice said finally.
"Oh, believe it, baby," Rick said, cheerfully. "Y'see, Will, you're on KLDQ 89.8 FM live, and I'm your host, Rick Delahanty."
"Ah. Knew I recognized that voice from somewhere," Will mused.
"Yeah, too bad you didn't recognize it in time, eh?" Rick gibed. "So tell us, Will: who's your mystery lady?"
"Yes. Well, here's the thing, Rick. You didn't do your homework too well, did you?" Will remarked, dryly. "Irene Bolles is my mother."
Rick sat bolt upright, his pen clattering to the floor. "Your what?" Will's girlfriend Christine, sitting at the nearby microphone and waiting for her chance to talk, had gone white as a sheet.
"My mother," came the reply. "What, you don't understand the word?"
Rick struggled to find words. "But you...she's...okay, if she's your mother, why doesn't she have the same last name as you?"
"She's divorced, you idiot," Will answered. "Took her maiden name back some six years ago, and by the way, thanks for bringing up THAT painful memory as well."
Rick looked at his producer, James, whose shocked expression mirrored his own. What now? he mouthed, but James flipped his hands in an unmistakable gesture: Don't look at me! You get out of this on your own. Desperately, he swung towards Christine, but she'd buried her head in her hands. No help there.
Now Will was talking again. "You really get a charge out of this, don't you, Rick? You like ruining relationships, giving people a reason to distrust each other. No, shut up, I'm going to have my say here. You get off on seeing women cry when they find out their boyfriend wants to send flowers to someone other than them, because they figure the boyfriend's got to be cheating on them. It never occurs to you -- or to them -- that maybe there could be room in the guy's life for more than one special woman."
Rick groped for the mic switch and triggered it. "Now come on, Will, that's not fair. How many guys really have a legitimate reason to send flowers to somebody other than their girlfriend?"
"That's immaterial, you asshole," Will shot back. Rick's eyes widened and he shot a look at James, who was wringing his hands -- no tape delay on live interviews. "The point is that if these women don't trust their boyfriends, then they ought to be talking to them instead of coming to you. Even if the guy does happen to pick them for the flowers, what has that really proven? Not even the most loving people think of their partners all the time."
A pause. "You make me sick. And -- you said Christine was there, right? Christine, if you're listening, and I'll bet you are, don't bother coming over on Wednesday. Actually, don't bother coming over at all, anymore. Or calling. If you didn't trust me, you could have talked about it with me, told me what was bothering you, instead of playing the coward card. Oh, and one more thing -- I never cheated on you. Don't know where you got the idea, but it was the farthest thing from my mind." Click. The line went dead.
Rick sat there for several seconds of dead air before remembering himself. He keyed the mic and said, "Umm.....this is Rick Delahanty, and you're listening to KLDQ, 89.8 FM, your home for the best new sounds in Miami. We'll be back after a message from our sponsors." He clicked the mic off, dropped the headset on the table, and reached for the nearby bottle of Jack Daniels.
"Well, that could have gone a little better," he remarked to no one at all. He poured himself a huge slug and raised the tumbler on high. "Cheers, all you bastards."
(Director's Commentary: I read a story a few days ago about a radio station -- not sure which one -- who pulled this kind of stunt routinely, and it made me so angry I had to write something up. Apparently they "catch" guys with this little "trick" all the time. I wonder how many relationships they've ruined with their meddling? I wonder how many women have used this underhanded tactic to "expose" their lover's deceitfulness? I wonder why none of them bothered to talk with their partner first to see why they were acting differently of late? This sort of thing absolutely infuriates me. Trust is everything. If you don't trust your partner, or partners, then talk to them instead of trying to trap them. If you don't trust them, then there's no reason to keep the relationship going at all.)