By Jon Moray
“Hello? I hope I’ve reached Monte. Monte, if you are home, please pick up the phone. I found your cell phone on a bench while jogging through the park about a half hour ago. I found the home contact and called. Forgive my intrusion, but I also snooped upon your text messages to and from your family. Monte, please do not go through with it. Please do not commit suicide. I know what you are going through. Trust me, it may be the stroke of fate that your cell made its’ way into my hands. My name is Charles Alperton, and I am a facilitator with a suicide support group that meets at the 7th Street Community Center.“ I peered into the phone as If I could see the person through the speaker holes. My other hand was tapping off beat on my kitchen counter top. My hope-meter was low and fading fast.
“Monte, hopefully it’s not too late. If you won’t pick up, please hear me out. Monte, I have been where you are. I have been at death’s threshold. You are not alone. Please tell me your story. Please allow me and my group to provide support. If we get cut off, please keep this one thought in your head, there are people out there who can help you. There are people out there who WANT to help you.” I now began to pace like a centipede around my living room furniture. My easy chair didn’t look like its called and my nervous involuntary response of biting my lip engulfed me as I searched the walls for what to say next as if the answers were hidden in the plaster cracks.
“Monte, it was stories from others struggling with life’s issues that steered me away from the lures of the afterlife. I saw the passion in their eyes, the erratic tones in their voices and the tears streaming down their faces that made me realize I was not alone, that I can relate. At my first meet up I knew I was in the right place. Instead of wrestling with my problems alone, I became part of a team figuring out the answers with other group members who I now call friends.” I continued stumbling through my words while surprised at how much time I was given on the answering machine.
“Perhaps the reason you left your phone behind was because you didn’t want to hear from loved ones anymore. Perhaps, the reason you didn’t throw your phone in the lake was because deep down, you wanted, you needed a voice of experience. Maybe the voice you wanted was from someone that didn’t have a relation to you, someone that would tell you what you needed to hear. Maybe the voice you need is mine.” As long as the machine was allotting me time, I would input my words of wisdom. If only if Monte was listening on the other end.
“Monte, an innocent bystander, a person passing by on the street saved me. Help me save you. Let me be your bystander. The prevention center is in the middle of town and hopefully not far from you. Take one step through the center doors and you will have taken a big step towards getting past this turbulent time in your life.” With each word I imagined him picking up the phone by some form of telekinesis, if not sheer will.
“Monte, pick up the phone or better yet, come down to the center. Let this voice message be your crossroads. Let this voice message be your turning point. I’m heading down to the center now and I will have your cell with me. I would love to give it back to you. I hope to see you soon, my friend. You lost your phone, now find your yourself. Until then…”
I slowly hung the phone, lamenting the worst had already happened. I grabbed my keys and headed out the apartment to the center seven blocks away. I walked at a slow pace, mentally replaying my choice of words spoken on the recording. The center was now within a half-block when I noticed a man, sloppily dressed, sad in demeanor, pacing in front of the door and holding a cardboard sign with words written on it with a marker. As I neared, the block letters on the sign read “LOST PHONE, REWARD LIFE.”