She stared at the phone for fourteen uninterrupted minutes. It rang, quite unexpectedly, and she overturned her oatmeal in her haste to pick up. Of course, a wrong number. Instead of putting the phone back down on the receiver, she pressed her finger on the clicker and dialed Information. “Put me in touch with Eilena Watson in Minneapolis. Yes, that Eilena.” There was a pause as the operator put her through and Reggie studied the newspaper in front of her, ignoring the oatmeal entirely. Eilena’s greasy blonde hair and smug grin stared back at her. “Hello? Yes, I’d like to speak with Eilena Watson. No. Yes. Thank you.”
“Miss Prat,” Eilena said when she finally got to the phone. “I don’t know what you want, but I believe you are wasting your time.”
“My name is Miss Becker. Regina Becker, and I beg you call me Reggie like my folks done. I just want to help you.”
“I believe they’re going to kill me anyway. So you can go rot in hell.”
“I saw your pictures in the paper, you know.”
“Sure. So’s everyone else.”
“I know your innocence.”
“Let me clarify for you, Miss Becker. I killed four men. I know my guilt.”
Reggie cleared her throat. She waited for the dial tone to indicate Eilena had hung up, but there was none. Reggie tried to swallow. She could feel a cut on the inside of her left cheek, right where it met the gums. “Eilena Watson. I know you did not kill Montgomery, just as well as you know that I did not kill your daddy.”
“I know you didn’t kill my old man because I killed my old man. Miss Becker, you don’t know a thing about me.”
“I know you ain’t a monster. You were abused and you had yourself a troubled life and you gave them boys what they deserved. I’ve got a cousin’s husband I slept with, and he owes me favors and he’s a lawyer. “ Again there was a silence. Reggie fingered the mahogany beads of her rosary. The Lord had instructed her and she was listening. Reggie was not without sin, but the Lord understood this and he would reward her because she was a pious woman. The Lord listened to her because she listened to him, even when Eilena Watson made it difficult.
“Miss Becker, are you a white woman?”
“Excuse me?”
“A black lady I used to run with asked me if I ever noticed that white people don’t have lips. She said it’s like they’re tucked under into their mouths, and I looked at myself and I realized it was true. ‘Cause they never speak what they mean,’ that’s what she said. And I’d like to know what you’re really saying.”
Reggie peered into her mug of coffee, looking for her lips’ reflection. She would speak truly. “Like I said. I know your innocence and I got a lawyer that owes me favors. Eilena Watson, Christ asked me to save you from a society of hypocrites and men, and Eilena Watson, I will be your savior.”
There was a clicking sound on the other end, the articulated noise a tongue makes when it hits the roof of a mouth. Eilena lowered her proud voice to a quivering whisper. “Call Marlene Fisher. She’s in the phone book. Call Marlene and tell her you’re the one I was waiting for.” 
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Problem Child offers an alternative medium for publication of poetry, prose, artwork, essays, and other creative media by semi-annually publishing the Problem Child Literary Magazine. Problem Child aims to publish and promote individual original thought by creating and hosting a creative community.