Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Cell Phone by Roger Colby

Modern man, if he dared to be articulate about his concept of heaven, would describe a vision which would look like the biggest department store in the world, showing new things and gadgets, and himself having plenty of money with which to buy them. He would wander around open-mouthed in this heaven of gadgets and commodities, provided only that there were ever more and newer things to buy, and perhaps that his neighbors were just a little less privileged than he.

—-Erich Fromm

Downtown Square, McKinney, Texas

From my old journal, The Daily Epiphany, June 26, 2001 (exactly 20 years ago):


I’m one of the last people in this best of all possible worlds to get a cell phone. I always resisted the idea – thinking it was too much or too far or too expensive. Now I have one and I really like it. It is pretty damn amazing, isn’t it – especially when I can remember when the phone company owned all the phones and only the richest of the rich could even have an extension. I was in college, in Lawrence, when we were one of the first cities to get the modular plugs. I remember when digital dialing seemed pretty cool.

I’ve even downloaded custom ringing songs to my phone from websites. Sometimes I use Dock of the Bay, but usually I use the theme song from Thunderbirds are Go.

Somewhere, I read an article about server farms that said the world was ruled by stocky men carrying cell phones and pagers. I guess that’s me. I have my pager on one pocket and my cell phone on the other. Ready for action, like a wild west gunfighter.

Driving too and from work has its own ritual. I have the little hook where I hang my phone after I remove the belt clip. I plug it into a cord that runs to my cigarette lighter socket. I haven’t seen anyone light a cigarette with one of those in years – now they are simply twelve-volt outlets. I wonder when they will change the name of them and supply them with a plug that doesn’t heat. Our MiniVan has an extra one by the back seat; the kids plug their game boys in to it.

The center console of my car has three different drink-holders. I remove my sunglasses from one and use it to hold the belt clip. My pager goes in the second cup-holder. The third holds my ID badge – which is a technological marvel in itself. Inside the badge is a slim chip. Automatic doors flanked by badge-swipers guard the complex corridors of my workplace. Some places allow me entrance, some don’t. Under the console is a space that barely holds the pack of cassette tapes I listen to on my commute. A British voice intones, “This is the end of cassette nine of The Robber Bride, please fast forward to the end before loading cassette ten.”

My cell phone hangs next to the tape player. The player pops whenever I move from one cell to the next and the phone broadcasts its new location.

Above all this, the crack in my windshield hasn’t been fixed yet. It gets longer and longer.

And today’s flash fiction:

Cell Phone by Roger Colby

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