Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on June 7, 1998 · Page 27
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 27

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 7, 1998
Page 27
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"He said he was leaving for the hospital," Jared reminded her. "He's probably already gone." After the fourth ring, an answering machine picked up. "This is Sean. I'm not here right now, so leave me a message." Unsure of what to say, Sara went with the obvious. "Hi, Sean. You don't know me, but by mistake you left a message for someone named Michelle on my answering machine. It sounded important, so I wanted to let you know to call her back. Hope that helps. Thanks." Slowly, Sara returned the receiver to its cradle. "It's OK, honey," Jared said. "That's ' the best you can do." Sara shook her head. "It's not enough. If the woman dies, something like this'll haunt her forever." "I couldn't tell." Ignoring the comment, she asked, "Now what time did he say they had until? "Please," Sara begged. "Someone's life may depend on it." Eight o'clock?" Sara looked down at her watch. It was already 7:15. Gritting her teeth, she once again picked up the phone and dialed information. She couldn't help herself — the man may've been a stranger, but that didn't mask the fear in his voice. Sean, whoever he was, was searching for help. And all he had found was Sara. Sara, who had missed her own goodbyes six years earlier. She decided it right there — that was going to be enough. History didn't have to repeat itself. C£T 'm wondering if you can help me A out,". Sara said to the operator. "I have a phone number and I need to know who it belongs to. Is it possible for you to look it up for me?" "I'm sorry, we don't have the capability to do that," the operator explained. "Please," Sara begged. "It's an emergency. Someone's life may depend on it." There was a pause on the other line. Sara knew she was being judged. Finally, the operator said, "Let me transfer you to a supervisor." Moments later, a woman with a deeper voice asked, "Can I help you?" Look for more stories by top writers - and the promising winner of our Student Fiction Contest Dean Koontz The master of the dark psychological thriller is the author of 34 books, most recently Fear Nothing. Gloria Naylor 15 years after her Women of Brewster Place won a National Book Award, she's back with The Men of Brewster Place. Richard Price The latest book from this novelist (dockers) and screenwriter (the Oscar- nominated The Color of Money) is Freedom/and. This week: Brad Meltzer The youngest member of the legal-thriller bar, Meltzer, 28, took on the Supreme Court with last year's The Tenth Justice, just out in paperback (WARNER BOOKS, $7.99). Now he has Dead Even (ROBWEISBACH BOOKS, $25), about a pair of young married lawyers, Sara and Jared, also featured in today's short story. Laura Zigman Her first novel, Animal Husbandry, about the demise of a love affair, is to be made into a movie starring Jennifer Aniston. Garrison Keillor ThehostofdP/a/rie Home Companion, heard on 400 radio stations each weekend/has a ninth book, Wobegon Boy. Jen Schuchman Winner of our 1998 Student Fiction Contest The Greensburg, Pa., high school senior wins a $2,000 scholarship for her story. "LITERARY CHAIRS": Match the authors to their favorite summer reading chairs, duomn m next page.) 6. Sara quickly relayed the story. She told her about the man. And the message. And the fear in his voice. The operator fell silent. Again, Sara felt the weight of judgment. Eventually, the operator said, "Give me the number and I'll see what I can do." A minute later, she added, "The number is registered to a Sean Taylor. I'm not sure if that helps you, but..." "OK," Sara interrupted. She was getting close and her heart was racing. The message was left for Michelle. If she was lucky, they'd be related. That was the only way it would work. She mouthed a silent prayer, then added, "I need one more thing: I'm looking for the number of someone named Michelle Taylor." While the operator searched, Sara checked her watch. Forty minutes to go. Finally, the operator said, "I've got six of them, but there's one here that's close. Your number ends with 6120; a Michelle Taylor at 435 W. 127th St., Apartment 1G, ends with 6210." "That's it — I'll take it." Sara quickly hung up and dialed Michelle's number. Busy signal. She tried again. Still busy. "Relax," Jared said. "Maybe she's on the ..." "What if she's not? They're running out of time," Sara said, raising her voice. "For all we know, the other person's already dead." She picked up the phone and pressed "0." "I'd like to make an emergency breakthrough." Thirty seconds later, Sara said, "What do you mean it's off the hook? Are you sure?" Feeling the sweat that started to glaze her hands, Sara put down the phone and darted for the door. Continued on next page USA WEEKEND • June 6-7,1898 6

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