I was in the kitchen a while back and my cell phone rang. When I answered it, I was surprised. It was a phone creature. I could tell because there was a pause after I said hello.

This was the first time I had ever had a phone creature call me on my cell phone. Phone creatures, for you out there who have never read this junk I write, are what I call those pesky solicitors that call you on the phone wantin’ to sell you stuff you don’t need, or want for that matter.

I like to have fun with them at their expense. Janet thinks I’m bein’ childish. Sometimes she’s a real doo doo head. Anywho, this is how the call went.

“Mr. Mitchum?” the creature asked.

“The butterfly’s wings are crunchy.” I replied. “I repeat; the butterfly’s wings are crunchy.”

“Uh ... I beg your pardon?” the creature said.

“Give me the counter sign,” I said.

“Counter sign?”

“What? You don’t know the counter sign?”

“Uh ... no sir. I’m calling to make you a fantastic offer.”

“Is it an offer I can’t refuse?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean.”

“The last time someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I woke up in bed with a severed goat head.”

“Sir?”

“So,” I continued, “you’re not with the agency, I assume.”

“What agency?” she asked.

“Good. That is the correct answer,” I said. “So why didn’t you give me the counter sign?”

“Sir, you have me confused with someone else. I am a telemarketer.”

“Good cover,” I said. “I’m a chicken sexer.”

“A what?”

“A chicken sexer,” I replied. “I look at little chicks and tell whether they are little boy chickens or little girl chickens.”

“That’s what you do for a living?”

“No! That’s my cover! I can’t tell you what I do for a living. Not unless you’ve got a grade five or higher security clearance.”

“Oh,” she said. “But Mr. Mitchum ....”

“So,” I said, cuttin’ her off, “since you’re callin’, I assume the package has been delivered.”

“Package?”

“You know; the tamales.”

“Tamales? You mean real tamales?”

“It’s code,” I said.

“Code for what?” she asked.

“Enchiladas,” I replied. “That’s code, too. You know; a code for a code. Didn’t you read the memo? And, if you did, I hope you ate it afterwards.”

“Look sir,” she whined.

“Look at what? Give me the coordinates.”

“Sir!” she yelled. “I’m no spy!”

“Don’t say that word!”

“What? Spy?”

“Aaaaaiiii!” I exclaimed. “Our cover is probably blown now! When they hear that word, it sets the wheels in motion.”

“They? Who are they?”

“The listeners. They hear everything. The black helicopters are probably on their way now. Your best bet is to go to the safe house.”

“The safe house?”

“Yeah. Taco Bell.”

“Taco Bell is the safe house?”

“It’s code.”

“Code for what?”

“El Chico,” I replied.

“But of course it is,” she sighed. “Listen. I think you are messing with me.”

“I can’t mess with anyone. Not since I got shot in the Yukon.”

“Don’t tell me,” she said sarcastically, “that’s code, too. Listen buster, I’ve got better things to do than to talk with a nut.”

“Does this mean I’m not gettin’ my tamales? And by tamales I mean enchiladas.”

She screamed and then hung up.

“Heh, heh,” I laughed as I turned off my phone.

Have you ever felt like someone’s eyes were on you? I was feelin’ that feelin’ right then. I turned and there was Janet, standin’ in the doorway with her arms crossed.

“What?” I asked.

“I’m about to make you an offer you can’t refuse,” she said.

I smiled. “OK,” I said, “but I get to wear the cheerleader outfit this time.”

She tilted her head to the side, gave me one of those half-eyelid looks, and growled, “What is wrong with you?”

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.