Only Moderately Insane


For exactly seventy-five weeks the old man’s telephone rang at precisely 8:43 a.m. every Sunday morning.  The first few weeks he allowed the phone to ring without answering but then one morning he lifted the telephone to his ear and said “Hello”.  There was, at first, a brief silence after which he again said “Hello”, this time louder.  Another moment of silence passed and the old man pulled the phone from his ear, preparing to hang-up, when a soft feminine voice said “hi, how are you?”

The voice was one he had heard for almost fifty years.  The tone of the voice and manner in which the words were spoken were unmistakable. It was the voice of the old man’s wife.  Almost instinctually the old man asked, “Who is this?”  His heart was pounding within his chest while a great sense of fear engulfed him as his wife had been dead for more than eighteen months.  The old man, before hearing the answer to his question, coarsely and angrily said, “this is a cruel hoax and don’t call back”, and he slammed the telephone onto the desktop.

The telephone rang at exactly 8:43 a.m. the following Sunday.  The old man didn’t want to touch the phone and he backed away from it.  The telephone continued to ring.  He thought to himself that it couldn’t be the same voice he heard a week ago, but what would he say if it were.  He, almost cautiously, approached the phone, put the receiver to his ear and said “Hello”.  The voice he heard one week before said “Hi, why did you hang up on me last week?”

The old man asked “Who is this” and the caller laughingly replied, “After almost fifty years you don’t recognize my voice”.  The old man was frightened and confused but he talked to the voice on the phone.  They talked for more than an hour.  He spoke of events in his life since his wife’s passing and the voice talked of past times, some of which, only the old man and his wife would know.

Whether or not the old man really believed, at least in the beginning, the caller was his wife is difficult to say, but it is a certainty that as the weekly calls continued he accepted that somehow, and without searching for an explanation, the old man and his wife spoke every Sunday morning.  Those calls continue even to this day, and as the old man sits with the telephone resting on his lap he looks forward to the arrival of 8:43 a.m. on Sunday morning.

The old man recognized that all the other aspects of his life were reality based.  His decisions were prudent and derived from logical thought.  He didn’t have visualizations of objects that were nonexistent, and the only voice heard that may possibly be considered by others as illusory, was that of his deceased wife.  He believed we all have a touch of insanity dwelling inside us and that small particle allows us to accomplish astonishing things.

The old man knew others spoke to inanimate objects as if they were alive.  Gamblers ask cards to be lucky ones, athletes pray for hard spherical objects to act in specific manners and those who are devoutly religious routinely ask for help from a divine being that has never been seen. Some squander fortunes asking clairvoyants to assist them in communicating with the dearly departed.  Although they are thought of as foolish, they are considered quite sane. Therefore, why can it be wrong for the old man to enjoy Sunday mornings engaged in conversations with his wife? After all, these conversations in no way disrupted the lives of others.

The old man, even to this day, understands the possibility exists he suffers from some form of yet undiagnosed psychosis. But, he believes if that were the case and a symptom of the psychosis manifested itself in the form of auditory hallucinations of a ringing telephone and imaginary conversations with a deceased spouse there would be no clamor of opinion calling for treatment or institutional placement as he was most assuredly, only moderately insane.

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