Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Conclusion - Of An Only Slightly Premature Holiday Kick-Off!
Conclusion – of an only Slightly Premature Holiday Kick-OffToday Tanja Cilia’s “timely” Christmas trilogy concludes. And personally, I think I saved the best for last. I have to confess I think this one’s my favourite. If anyone missed the first two, here’s your golden opportunity to read them all at once. I hope all of you enjoyed this view of Tanja’s “dark” side as much I did. Didn’t these stories remind you of looking through a mirror? Into a world where things are slightly skewered, a bit out of line, a little hazy but sharp at the same time? Please stop by and let Tanja know how much you enjoyed them!
The Ghost of Christmas Future
The calls from the withheld-number continued, and my migraines grew worse. The person who was calling me always seemed to know when I was alone. So I took to leaving it switched off. But whenever I switched it on to check whether I had any messages, the mysterious caller inevitably made his presence felt. It was not a missed call that came in when the other messages did; it was always in real time.
This was spooking me. I asked my children and my husband to swap phones with me. And the calls with the withheld-number switched to which ever phone I would be using at the moment.
I couldn’t take it any more, so I went to the Administration Department of my server. They told me I had to file a Police report, if I wanted to know who was invading my privacy; their simply divulging who was calling me would violate the Data Protection Act.
I went to the Hamrun Police Station, and indicated the screen of the mobile phone, which showed no less than 20 “withheld-number” calls within two hours. The Policewomen was sympathetic, but adamantly repeated what the clerk had said. She handed me a form to fill in, but I declined the offer.
As soon as I turned the corner, I smashed the phone against the wall, and then ground it with my heel. I knelt down, scooped up the pieces, and put them in my handbag, meaning to dispose of them bit by bit in each bin I came across.
I caught the bus to Valletta and bought myself a new mobile telephone from a different server. When it came to choosing the number, I asked each of the three clerks for a random pair of digits. The number these made up was fortunately available.
No sooner was the telephone functioning, than a withheld-number call came through. “See how popular you are?” joked the clerk. I felt faint. One of the young ladies ran to bring me a strong coffee from the eatery next door; another gave me her chair.
I took a deep breath and told them the bare bones of what had been happening. They informed me that with them, the procedure to find out to whom a withheld number belonged was the same as that of the other provider.
The only reason I had not placed a trace on my line before was not to give my tormentor the pleasure of knowing he had got at me. But it was now time to change my mind.
I was given a series of numbers for myself and all the members of my family to key into our phones immediately following a call from a withheld number. This allowed me to switch between using them.
But abruptly, on Christmas Eve the calls ceased. But, just in case they began again, I did not report this. I took to leaving my phone switched on.
On January 11, I was summoned to the Police Headquarters.
“Well?” I asked, mentally going over a list of people I knew disliked me. “Did you find the culprit?”
The Sergeant smiled wryly. “Do you remember Rom Houben - that man with the locked-in syndrome, misdiagnosed as comatose for 23 years? Do you remember how he said he was aware of what was happening all the time he was said to be vegetative, and how his imagination helped him survive?” “Yes, I do, albeit vaguely,” I replied, “but what does that have to do with the calls I’ve been receiving?”
“Do you remember Marija Refalo?” “Oh, of course I do, we were best friends in Primary School. When her Irish mum died, her dad had moved back to Gozo so his mum could take care of the family, but we’d lost touch after a couple of years...”
“Marija married a Norwegian. She’d been on holiday here - she was the pregnant woman thrown through of the windscreen in the accident where the bus overturned...” “She’d lost the baby and was in a coma, wasn’t she?”
“Yes. At first her husband had insisted she be given artificial nutrition and hydration. Then, he met someone else... and he suddenly decided that it was cruel to keep her suffering. He decided to pull the plug on her. Incongruously, the calls you were getting came from her childhood home number... an empty house. No one lives there now.”
I flinched as if someone had slapped me. “It was Christmas Eve, wasn’t it, when they killed her?”