From a distance it looked like a wallet. That’s what Kenny thought as he walked over to the small black object that was just laying on the ground a few cars away from his. To his disappointment it was just an old flip cell phone that someone had lost. An antique in today’s world of smartphones. The top of it had a small crack. Kenny flipped it open and saw the screen dimly light up. A red low battery icon was flashing with the words “10 PERCENT” underneath it. The screen then changed to an outline of an envelope and the words “ONE NEW VOICEMAIL” blinking.
Some people had left the store and were now walking towards their cars. The mall would be closing soon and the traffic getting out of here would be horrendous. Kenny held onto the cell phone and walked over to his car and got in. He put the bag of socks he had just purchased in Sears on the passenger seat and took a bite of his ‘Wetzels Pretzels’ dinner. Kenny lived on the run, his work hours fluctuated from day-to-day. He had a non-existent social life and romance was extinct. He didn’t get attached to people and usually could care less about other people’s problems. He lived from moment to moment with no direction and no incentive. He opened the flip phone again. This time the battery icon was flashing with seven percent power remaining.
“What the Hell” Kenny thought. He often did things for that reason alone and sometimes even for just the fun of being an annoying human being. Actions like that often got Kenny into trouble but, he didn’t care. A lack of empathy was often Kenny’s philosophy and instigator.
He pressed the button that had a little drawing of an envelope on it and put the phone up to his ear. A distorted man’s voice started talking. Kenny bit off another piece of pretzel.
“You were supposed to answer this phone at the time WE told you we would call. You have failed in doing that. You can now say goodbye to your family….for the last time.”
A low scream of a woman ended the call. Kenny stopped chewing. He didn’t know what to think. He pressed the button again but, only the first three words came out before the phone died for good. Frantically he pressed every button on the phone in an attempt to get anything out of it. The phone lit up one final time to show him that the voicemail message was delivered at eleven o’clock the night before. Hours before Kenny even arrived at the mall.
“GOD DAMN IT!” he screamed angrily at the phone and then slammed it of the dash of his car, trying desperately to resuscitate any life into it. The phone broke into two pieces in his hand, rendering it officially useless to anyone.
A sudden wave of Nausea came over Kenny. He fumbled for the handle of car door and got out. A stream of cars were now heading out of the exit to leave the mall. He felt the ‘Wetzels Pretzel’ starting to come up and he leaned against his car. More people walked out of the mall. Families with small children, couples holding hands and groups of teenagers laughing at whatever life had just shown them.
For what felt like an hour, Kenny watched as the mall emptied out all of its customers. One by one different cars joined the line of traffic exiting out of the lot. A man carrying a single bag and a Wetzel Pretzels bag came out of the mall next.
Kenny always liked who he was. He was confident in his skin. Nothing ever made him want to be anyone else or attempt to be someone he’s not.
All of that changed in twenty minutes. For the first time in a long time, Kenny wanted to care about someone else besides himself-only this time he was too late. He stood there wishing to God he could swap places with anyone else who was driving away from that mall at that moment. The last person in the world he wanted to be right now, was the guy that found that flip phone on the ground.