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June 11, 2005

Today we have the conclusion of this little tale, provided for our reading enjoyment by a reader in another state. Here's Part II of this epic tale:

THE OLD PHONE- PART II

When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memory of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity, I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciate now how patient, understanding and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on a trip west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half hour between planes. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there. Then, without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please." Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice say "Information." I hadn't heard this but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"

There was a long pause. Then came the soft-spoken answer. "I guess your finger must have healed by now." I laughed. "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"

"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, "Information." I asked for Sally.

"Are you a friend," she said.

"Yes, very old friend," I answered.

"Sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."

Before I could hang up she said, "By the way, did you say your name was Wayne?" "Yes," I answered.

"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you call. Let me read it to you."

The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant. Far as I know, this is a true story.