‘1-900’ by Richard Bausch

Bausch, Richard 2001

1-900 by Richard Bausch, 2001

The magic trick:

Grabbing the reader’s attention with a unique, dialogue-only structure

I picked up this story one read-myself-to-sleep night. Maybe I’ll get through the first couple of pages, I thought. I’m not proud. Sometimes it takes me five sittings to read a 12-page story. Anyway, I didn’t fall asleep on “1-900.” It grabbed me from the start and held me until the end.

There isn’t a bit of description to muddle through. The entire story is a conversation between caller and call girl on a sex-talk telephone line. She’s surprised and confused by his personal questions and conversation. The reader has the same reaction – at least enough to stick around (even at the expense of sleep) to find out what he’s up to. And that’s quite a trick on Bausch’s part.

The selection:

I’m talking on the telephone, lover.

Any of them scare you?

It’s usually pretty friendly, and like I say, I do most of the talking. There’s one guy who calls to say what he’d like to do to me – an obscene phone caller. Before we were around, he probably upset a lot of nice little housewives.

What do you see in the future for yourself? You think you’ll ever be a nice little housewife, as you put it?

Are you writing a book?

I wondered if you plan on getting married someday, that’s all.

What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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