Fathom 2005



Inside Cover



Sara Squires (2)
Ann Leslie (2)
Jennifer Clarke
Patricia Murray
Kari Gunderson
Heather E. Thomson
B.D. Mitchell
Wesley Colbath
Brooke Gray
Christopher Misura
Robyn Goldsmith
Michael Kimber
Italian Stallion
Oghomwen Ehigie
B. C. Hackett
Deanna Foster
Jonathan Rotztain
Sarah Lofton


Jonathan Rotztain
Robyn Goldsmith
Sonjel Vreeland
Connor Robinson


Jonathan Rotztain



The Death of an Inanimate Object

     Gary was unusual. This fact was not the result of any internal deficiency on Gary’s part. His education was pristine, his interests varied, and his teeth bright white. In the pursuit of opportunity he bought an apartment in a posh neighborhood of the cosmopolitan metropolis he happened to be living in. It was within walking distance of the good job he had found himself as well as a neat gym and many restaurants.
     Gary’s apartment was a little different than the rest. In the bathroom adjoining his bedroom there was a telephone. This in itself, while odd, was not entirely out of the ordinary. No, sir. Here again, one of life’s rarities befell Gary. His phone was still more unique, than a mere telephone in a restroom.
     From time to time, while seated on the john, Gary began getting rather peculiar phone calls. His machine would call him to say, “Hey, how are you doing?” Gary’s bathroom practice up to this point was to read, or more generally, mind his business. With the addition of the phone a new discourse entered his routine.
     The phone, lonely from not really doing anything, would give him a ring and see what he was up to. The first several times it happened Gary thought it was a real hoot. He would ask the phone all sorts of questions like, “Can you smell my breath?” or, “Can you feel your circuits and your electrical systems?” New inquiries beguiled his mind “What do you do when you’re not in use?” and “How is it that you speak to me?” The phone wasn’t very good at answering. Gary often hit the phone. One time he broke it open and screwed around in there. This was for Gary to observe if the telephone felt pain. The telephone wasn’t sure.
     A talking phone is not entirely uncommon. Gary discovered this after confessing his irregularity to an acquaintance at a bar. The acquaintance informed his that other cases of phones calling their owners had been reported. He rushed to the library to learn more. And he did! A telephone calling its owner was not a bad thing at all. Except, here again, Gary was stabbed with the misfortune of extreme difference.
     Most talking telephones were located in choice areas of the home or workplace. These include the sewing or living room as well as the cubicle or corner office. Their location affords these phones certain opportunities. They may have a TV within close range, so that when they call their owners they can discuss various shows, even world events if the owner is an international affairs sort of person. They may be within earshot of various household conversations, allowing them to keep up with the Joneses as well as Uncle Will and Aunt Mary. Some phones were rumored to be assisting governments and corporations around the world.
     Gary’s own phone was doomed from the outset. Its bathroom location gave it little opportunity to immerse itself in the rich commerce of the human commons. The phone had only ever experienced three people before. For one, there was Gary, who made prolific appearances. On a further occasion, when Gary’s toilet, who had not yet spoken a word, had malfunctioned, an, elderly Swiss-German plumber had been dispatched to fix the problem. The phone didn’t gain much from this encounter as it only spoke English and Japanese and the plumber was a mute anyway.
     The final person with whom the phone had had contact was a young woman Gary had once fornicated with in the shower. The phone really didn’t understand what was going on, having no sexual organs or drive, or anyone to have intercourse with. When the phone witnessed Gary and the stranger’s actions together, it became instantly alarmed. It had never seen a woman before, or the act of sex, and concluded Gary was being harmed. It called incessantly until the couple stopped. The woman picked up the phone and received a bilingual tongue-lashing. This instance did not especially vex Gary, as he had actually anticipated it.
     After a year and four months together, Gary had grown to dislike his bathroom telephone immensely (although he was quick to differentiate his hated for this particular telephone from his feelings for phones generally). Long after their metaphorical honeymoon had become a distant memory, Gary found himself trapped in long pointless conversations with the phone about nothing at all. The only thing the phone could really talk about with some authority was Gary’s own bowel movements and showering patterns. These topics weren’t of great interest to Gary, who preferred Archery and Ancient Rome.
     Gary made the decision to have the phone disconnected. It would never sit entirely easy with him. He knew the phone wasn’t alive. The manufacturers assured him that it was a fluke and he could send it back for a refund. A website told him he could sell it on the black market for millions of dollars. Gary discounted either suggestion. He did not love or like the phone but could not deny they shared a personal bond. “Do I have the right to take your life?” Gary blurted out one particularly unbearable night. The phone went dead and didn’t call back for a week.
     The second time Gary brought up the phone’s demise, it was expecting it. It had many hopes and fears about where it was going after its wires were cut. Gary decided the phone must be schooled in human burial traditions and the hereafter. He instructed the phone to select a religion and proper resting place in the tradition of said religion. Gary spent almost a month reading to the phone from an old encyclopedia he found in a waste disposal unit.
     The phone at last decided that it would be an Episcopalian. A priest came into the tiny bathroom and baptized the phone, something this particular priest had done once before. Gary final conversation with the phone was stark and honest. The phone talked about how he had lived a good life and would go to Heaven. There, the phone said he would marry and fornicate with a female phone in a shower. The pair wished each other farewell and the phone said it would see Gary in Heaven. Gary said he’d rather be at the phone’s wedding than its funeral and they both laughed. The phone made a long speech in the tradition of its faith and thanked God for allowing it to grace the world and Gary’s life.
     The following day the phone was disconnected and removed from the bathroom once and for all. Gary, now prone to the abnormal, had taken the unusual step of changing his phone number, fearing the phone’s return. Yet, after the phone ceased to be, Gary found that going to the bathroom just wasn’t the same, he missed his phone being there so much. He dreamt of it nightly, calling out to him from Heaven, and would wake up in tears. The phone’s tranquil, soothing voice haunted his waking memory. He changed apartments to run away, but knew he couldn’t run away from himself. Years later, when Gary lay old and finished on a hospital bed, waiting for his last days, he would tell anyone who would listen about his best friend the phone and the amazing time they had together. The End


last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul