The Persistent Texter
Short Story by Iris Carden
The first text message from the unknown number arrived while I was at my desk, eating lunch while working.
“I love you so very much,” it said.
Clearly a wrong number. I texted back: “I’m flattered, but who are you?”
“You’re so funny,” the unknown number replied.
“I think you have the wrong number,” I texted back.
You’d think that would have been the end of it. I went back to the autopsy report I was reading. Autopsy reports over lunch – just another day in the life of a small town cop.
Charlie sat down at his desk, next to mine. “Greg Jenkins is back in town,” he said. “Took the mayor’s sister for a couple of thousand.”
“You’ll get him this time,” I said reassuringly. “He’s got to make a mistake.”
“He only got off on a technicality last time,” Charlie answered. “I’d love to get him behind bars. He’s only a small-time pest, but he really cheeses me off.”
I laughed, as the next text message came through: “You’re late! Is everything OK?”
I sighed, then told Charlie about my texting “friend”.
“Ring them and set them straight,” Charlie advised.
I called the persistent texter.
“I’m so glad you called!” a woman’s voice said before I could say anything. I rolled my eyes. Charlie leaned over to try to listen, so I put the phone on speaker.
“Who are you and why do you keep texting me?” I asked.
“Who are you and why do you have my boyfriend’s phone?” the woman said accusingly.
“This is Detective Senior Sergeant Angela Broadhurst, and this is most definitely my phone,” I said. Charlie was trying not to laugh.
“No,” the woman said. “That’s Gregor Gregorovich’s phone. He gave me the number last night.”
Charlie and I looked meaningfully at each other.
“Gregor Gregorovich?” I said. “Tall thin man, pale skin, long black hair and beard, trying to look like Rasputin with a bad fake Russian accent?”
“Fake accent!” she said. “He’s a Russian immigrant, only just arrived in Australia.”
“His name’s Greg Jenkins, he’s a third generation Australian and a small-time con artist. Gregorovich was his mother’s maiden name. Giving you my phone number was a new level of audacity even for him, though. What did he get from you?”
“Get from me? Nothing. We met last night. It was love at first sight. We’re going to get married!”
I shook my head. How could anybody be so stupid?
Charlie was struggling so hard not to laugh that he was shaking, and almost falling off his chair.
“Right, but he has some of your money, or some valuable object of yours. He’s failed to turn up at a planned meeting and gave you the wrong phone number.”
“So what did he get from you?”
“He hasn’t got anything from me. Well, he’s got my grandmother’s ring, but the stone was loose and he’s taking it to a friend of his, a jeweller, to fix it.”
“Did you notice the stone was loose, or did he?”
“You need to come into Main Street Police Station, and see Detective Sergeant Charlie Jackson. He will take your statement, and will try to get your grandmother’s ring back to you. ”
“But Gregor said he loves me.”
“Yeah, well, he’s said that to at least 25 women that we know of, and got money or other valuable items from every one of them. Most of them took longer than one night to hand their valuables over to him.”
“He’s not like that.”
“He is like that. He’s a career criminal who preys on women. Come in. Give your statement. Help us catch him.”
“But nothing,” I said. “Are you coming in, or do you need Detective Jackson to come to you?”
“I guess I’ll come in,” she said.
“Good,” I said. “I’m sorry this has happened to you.”
I hung up the phone, and sighed.
“Score one more for Jenkins,” I said to Charlie. “Make sure we get him.”