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Michael's Phone Call

August 2007

I work in an office in Maine. We had an eccentric (but very wealthy and influential) client who was more than a little annoying, but because of his wealth and his client status, the office staff were required to let his weird habits slide.

Some of the things we had to accept with a smile on our faces ? he would often fling the office door open and walk in - and without a word wander through the office, listening to phone conversations of others, wandering in and out of whomever's office he felt like. He'd call from around the world to check our weather or check for a traffic report.

One time he was on an isolated island and rather than walk to the small general store to get a map of the trails there, he would call us on his cell at every turn and request, so we would go online to tell him where he was and where he should go from that point! Another strange habit he had was he would call the office three or four times but get distracted then leave me asking hello? hello? to dead air before he would hang up. Eventually he would call and actually respond. I know it was him because I actually asked him one time and he laughingly admitted he did it all the time.
My boss allowed this to happen. I found out later it was because the man had very few family or friends and had really bonded with my boss. He was over at his house often, the kids called him "Uncle Michael" (not his real name), my boss had become the only family or friend the man had. Sorry to go on, but this description does impact the rest of my story?

Well, one morning we got the call. Michael had been killed in a car accident in Europe. It was very sudden, and my boss was suddenly loaded down with work as Michael had named him executor of his very complicated will. Starting the day of that phone call, the office door would open for no reason. It had never done anything like it before, and all office staff were seeing it happen. The door would just fly open. I sit next to the door, and at first believed that people had suddenly stopped closing the door all the way. I began to listen as each person came in and if the door didn't sound as if it had closed completely, I got up and made sure it was closed by pushing against it and sometimes re-slamming it shut. It made no difference, several times a day the door would still fly open.

Then the phone calls started coming.

I would get several phone calls a day, sometimes three or four right after another. Always dead air, as though someone was on the other end but choosing not to speak. Eventually the phone on the other end would hang up. This happened for about 2-3 weeks after Michael's passing. Then one morning, I got a call ? preceded, of course, by several hang up calls. This call was different. It sounded staticky, like rotary phones from forty or fifty years ago, not a cell without bars. It was loud clicks and snow noise and scratches, but a man's voice that sounded as though it was really far from the phone and shouting into it. It asked for my boss. I said that my boss was on another line ? could I ask who was calling? "Well, you're not going to believe it, but it's Michael" the voice said. The rest of the sentence I couldn't hear. Suddenly the static and snow grew louder and the man's voice grew more faded, and eventually it sounded as though he hung up.

I do happen to have one other Michael in the office, but he had been in his office that day and had not called my boss. This man's voice sounded happy, and I could definitely hear a laughing, joyful tone. I tried to keep him on the line, and I could hear him speak a sentence or two more, but the static drowned his voice out.

From that day, the door opening and the phone calls with no one on the other end stopped. I believe it was Michael trying to reach his one friend to let him know he was all right. Unfortunately, my boss is a man who would consider this event and my theory terribly offensive (a joke at this dead man's expense), so I've never told him.

Maybe it's enough that Michael knows I know.

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