I’ve finally come to after who knows how long. Sleep and grog assault my eyes but I manage to focus on the things in my hand. An old cordless telephone with the antenna pulled out and a TV guide dated September 5, 1998.
Inside the front flap there is a faded post-it with instructions scrawled in terrible handwriting. I recognize it.
“Call on your dear friends, those who brought you happiness while melting your brain into a soup of crossed and tangled popular culture references. They, now, are your only hope of survival. The phone will dial out once. Give them this clue: 45 North Gunman, Auntie May and her famous bunions.”
I am tied to a chair in a dusty musty room. I read the note over and over trying to make sense of it. I press the green button with the skeuomorphic phone symbol on it. Dial tone. I haven’t heard dial tone in years. The droning goes on and on as I process what is going on and then finally that familiar female voice tells me that I either need to dial or hang up.
The TV guide is browned with age and the pages are turned up, swollen and undulated as if it had spent the last two decades in a humid basement. The Grace from Grace under fire is on the cover looking snarky and independent.
Thumbing through I see program information and snippets of episodes. Jerry tries to get soup. TJ finds a cancerous spot on her thigh. Monica and Rachel wager their apartment.
“….they are your only hope of survival.”
I look more closely at some of the episode information summaries and there is a phone number next to each one. Am I to call a TV character? I must be going crazy.
I push the phone button again. Dial tone.
Fuck. I was 15. What was i watching? Mostly baseball. Maybe Will Clark can save me. Wait, he’s not fictional. Would it be the A-TEAM? They sound in my head to be a good option. Were they on in the late 90s? Do reruns count? I quickly look through the TV guide. MASH was on. A lot. They even had a phone number. I wonder if I can call fictional long distance on this piece.
No A-TEAM. Should I call Scully and Mulder? This is kind of X-File-ly. And they are, after all, cops. Sort of. OK, who else. If no one better than the x-file team, then them.
Inspector Gadget, Penny and Brain always got their man. And so did the Power Rangers. Oh Kimmy.
Would the 1998 Kimmy come? Or would 2016 Kimmy come? Would she come as the Pink Ranger? Would she bring her friends and toy robots? Yes. I am going crazy. At this point I am ready to let the crazy bathe over me because nothing else I can think of is going to save me from this smelly basement or where ever I am on North Gunman or whatever with bunions. What are bunions? Why are they famous? Are they the most delicious?
I look at the TV guide and pick up the phone. I dial.
–Tommy’s got another one down there. He’s just dialed out.
–You know who?
–Yea, 785 453 3340
–Oh, nice. Nice choice.
–OK, who do you want to be?
“Um, hello? I’m supposed to tell you 45 North Gunman and Auntie May and her famous bunions. Yes, bunions, with a B…
That’s all I know. I see, an old chair and not much light, I think I’m in a basement. It smells like basement…
I have a TV guide from 1998. That’s why I called you and not Bones…it’s a show. Fox I think. She’s a scientist, it doesn’t matter, can you find me? …
No I’m not hurt, just a little woozy and I’m going just a little crazy thinking about the situation I’m in…and that I’m actually talking to you…
Yes of course it’s hard to believe, I mean, you are a character from a TV show, of course you’re not real…
I mean, yes, you’re real, of course you’re real, but I didn’t think you were the flavor of real that would allow me to call you at some point, much less after I had been kidnapped…”
The line went down after that and my heart sunk with it. I am disappointed at how lame going crazy is. I feel sane, but this situation feels like some sort of skin, wrapping its insanity around me and distorting everything I see or hear outside of myself. If a non crazy person were to see me now, would they think I’m crazy? Would I think they are crazy? I’m never getting saved. Not by some TV character from twenty years ago, I’ll have to get myself out. My hands aren’t bound, since I had the TV guide and phone the whole time. The chair I’m tied to isn’t even bolted to the floor, and I’m tied to it with shoelaces. Wait, have I been sitting here the whole time when I could literally just walk away?
–He’s standing up. Time to go, people!
–What’s he doing now?
–Look at camera 2, he’s already untying himself. I’d say we have about three minutes until he’s up here, c’mon people, let’s move!