"Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity."
~Michael Gelb

Hi all,

This story isn't quite what I intended for it to be.  Meaning I had to cut it short and rush it.  The former was maybe for the best...  I have tendency to get long-winded.  ;-)  Actually, I wanted to hold off on sending it until next time.  However... I may get called to jury duty before that.  In the event that I end up sitting on a jury, JABB newsletters may need to be postponed til that's finished.  So I just wanted to get this sent!  If it does seem like jury duty (and I may not even end up serving) will postpone JABB, I will try my best to get note of that sent.

Anyhow, I started thinking about this story while dealing with unwanted phone calls both at home and at work.  I don't want to get into the whole story but one particular company about had me calling a lawyer.  I figured this was a good way to vent that frustration!

Finally, a very happy Mother's Day to any and all moms who may be among us!

God bless,

And now a "Moment with Andrew" story...

Andrew and the Unwanted Phone Calls

May 11
th, Dyeland City

Andrew sat in the garden behind Willowveil Castle, Lulu curled up beside him, enjoying another gorgeous spring afternoon.  After being away for much of the preceding week, he was grateful to the Father for bringing him back to Dyeland.  He pulled out his pocket watch and saw that it was 4:15.  Several of the ladies of Dyeland were due to meet him at 4:30 to catch up.  With fifteen minutes to spare, Andrew slouched against a tree and admired the bright sky and fluffy clouds above.  A faint jingling noise caused Andrew to look across the lawn and see Lady JenniAnn and Fawn approaching.  Lulu shot up and the two dogs ran off together.  Lady JenniAnn smiled after them then sat across from Andrew, placing a box beside her.

"Hey there, Laja.  You're early!" Andrew greeted with a smile.

"Yep.  That's what a still organized wardrobe can do.  Back to my old timeliness.  Yay.  And I thought maybe I'd get a lil extra sun to appease you."  She grinned at him then stuck out her lower lip.  "Although I find it very unfair that you'd hold a poor, half-Irish girl to your standards of radiantly golden skin."

Andrew couldn't help but laugh.  "You don't have to do anything to appease me.  And I have the utmost respect for poor, half-Irish girls.  Especially ones that bring me raspberry jam oatmeal bars."  The angel of death looked hopefully at the box.

JenniAnn laughed.  "Lady Beth is right.  You are shameless.  But... there is that whole thing about entertaining angels so..."  She opened the box, chose one of the larger bars, and handed it to Andrew.

Andrew chuckled.  "I was just teasing you.  I can wait until the others arrive."

"There are plenty.  Eat up." 

Andrew had no sooner popped a sizable chunk of the treat into his mouth than his cell phone rang.

"Ooomph...  Crumb-y," Andrew got out as he fumbled for his phone and tried to swallow.

"Gah!  Just gimme it!"  JenniAnn cried.  "I don't know what happens when angels choke but I really, really don't wanna find out."

Without comment, Andrew handed her the cell phone.  Just as he did, he noticed Rose and Yva approaching and gave them a sheepish smile.

"Hello, Andrew's phone," JenniAnn greeted, waving to the newcomers.

Andrew watched with a cocked eye brow as a strange expression spread across the woman's face.

"Umm... lemme check."  JenniAnn put her palm over the phone.  "I just figured it'd be Lady Beth or Countess Jennifer saying they were running late but it's some random lady asking for... Andrew O'Lama?" 

Yva and Rose burst out laughing.

Andrew grew red and not from his food issues, having at last consumed the snack.  "Umm... well, see... I had that assignment in the grocery store and they asked for my last name and I realized the Father hadn't told me one to use and I panicked.  And there was a magazine on the stand and Michelle Obama was on the cover and so... a little one-letter substitute and..."

"And I thought the origins of Dr. Andrew Friend were funny!"  Rose patted Andrew on the shoulder, assuring him that the laughter was all in good fun.

JenniAnn fought to maintain composure as she brought the phone to her ear.  "Yes.  Mr. O'Lama is here.  One moment please."

Andrew, still blushing, accepted the phone.  "This is Andrew... O'Lama."

Safely out of hearing distance of the phone, JenniAnn joined the other two by dissolving into giggles.  But their merriment was short lived when they heard Andrew utter a phrase they'd never thought to hear.

"No... I can't say that I've thought about what will happen to my family when I die."

"What in the world..." JenniAnn muttered.

"That does sound like an amazing offer but I don't think...  Oh really.  Yes, I know how important life insurance policies are.  Believe me.  But... well... no.  See... uh huh.  That's unfortunate.  But I'm really not interested.  Sorry.  I'll have to let you go...  Oh.  I did not know that."  Andrew looked apologetically to the ladies, feeling as if he was ignoring them.  "Telemarketer," he mouthed.

Yva rolled her eyes.  "Obviously."

"Poor Andrew, gentlemanly and lovely even with telemarketers."  Rose sighed and shook her head.

"Like I said it sounds like a great deal but I'm really not interested and...  Yes.  I really need to go.  Uh huh..."  Andrew ran his hand through his hair.

The next thing the angel knew JenniAnn had snatched the phone and it was lying between them, the speaker on.

"And, you see, now is really the best time to sign up because rates increase as you age and I see you're currently 34 so..."

"Excuse me," JenniAnn cut in.  "Who is this?"

"This is Diane with Daedalus Insurance.  Am I speaking to Mrs. O'Lama?"

"No...  Andrew's not my...  I mean... I'm not married," a flustered JenniAnn finally got out.

"I see.  Well, our policies do cover any beneficiary the holder designates.  Are you one of Mr. O'Lama's dependents?"

JenniAnn looked confused.  "I... I do depend on him, I guess."

Andrew moved to reclaim the phone but JenniAnn stayed his hand.

"I'm gonna get rid of her," she whispered.  "You're being too nice."

"Let her try, Andrew," Yva suggested.  "I want to get to our treats and talking!"

Andrew shrugged and drew back his hand.  He stared at the phone.

"Excellent.  Have you considered what might happen were Mr. O'Lama to meet an unfortunate end?  Surely he would want for you to be provided for."

JenniAnn grew even more pale than usual for a moment.

"Uh oh..."  Rose grimaced.

"This is ridiculous!" Yva exclaimed.

"That's it.  We're done!" Andrew declared and reached for the phone but, again, JenniAnn was too fast for him.  The color had returned to her face and she had a devilish gleam in her eye as she caught his hand.

Drawing a deep breath, the alleged dependent began.  "I imagine my needs would be few should that sad event occur.  I would, of course, move to the English moors.  Spend my days wailing.  Gnashing my teeth.  Beating my breast.  That sorta thing.  Be found 6 months later with snow white hair, in rags, be brought to a convent, and then die shortly thereafter of a broken heart."

"Laja!" Andrew cried, his expression half-horrified yet half-amused.

Yva and Rose couldn't resist laughing at the absurdity of the situation and JenniAnn's dire prediction.

"I think your big brother definitely read her one too many tragic love stories growing up," Rose teased.

"Believe me, Vincent is definitely hearing about this one," Yva responded with an amused gleam in her eye.  She could just imagine Vincent's chuckle as he heard about this particular tragedy.

"JenniAnn, phone!  I think it's time I take over!" Andrew pleaded.

Nonplussed, JenniAnn continued speaking to Diane.  "Then schoolchildren would have to learn depressing ballads about me and debate whether I was a great romantic figure or a twit with no sense of myself outside of Mr. O'Lama here."  She sighed.  "Never was a story of more woe than this of me and my... O'Lama."  She paused dramatically for a moment before speaking again.  "So... can you cover that?

JenniAnn's question was met by a click and then a high pitched beep as the line went dead.  She beamed at Andrew.  "Well, that took care of that!"

Andrew shook his head but laughed.  "It sure did.  Although you should have given me the phone.  It was my responsibility and I don't like your getting upset about..."

"The Bible says I should entertain you.  Not obey you.  And haven't I entertained you?" she countered.

"She's got you there, Andrew," Yva smirked.

Andrew chuckled.  "That's true enough.  Thank you.  Although I hope you didn't mean all of that about the moors and the dying in a convent and..."

"Course I did.  But you're immortal so we're groovy," JenniAnn assured before turning her attention to the other women.  "Hi Rose.  Hi Yva.  How goes it?"

"Confusing," Rose admitted.  "How did that all happen?  Andrew, I thought only your friends had that number."

Dumbfounded, Andrew stared at the cell phone.  "So did I..."

"I wonder how they got your number?" Yva mused.  "Hopefully they won't call again.  I get so annoyed when they get to calling Sir Sven and me.  And once they do it seems like they never stop.  They just keep calling and call..."

Once again Andrew's phone rang.  This time the angel of death himself grabbed it, sure that it couldn't possibly be another unwanted call.  The three women watched expectantly. 

The angel listened for a moment and then shook his head.  "Yes... this is Dr. Butterworth..."

Yva covered her mouth to stifle a laugh.  "Would you like to bet he was eating waffles when he dreamed that one up?" she whispered to JenniAnn and Rose.

"We are so helping him pick decent last names later!" Rose declared, resolute. 

JenniAnn drew a notepad and pen from her pocket, ready to begin brainstorming once Andrew was off the phone.

"All encompassing discounted trip to the Bahamas?  No, thank you.  I'm happy where I am.  Ohh...  I...  uhh..."  Andrew became unusually red-faced. 

"Speaker!" Yva directed.

Shell-shocked, Andrew forfeited the phone without further prodding.

Yva set it on speaker and set it among the four of them.

"And if the sensual couple's massage isn't for you then we have special passes to a local gentleman's club that..." a female voice enticed.

"Ack!"  JenniAnn and Rose cried in unison, the former covering her ears as Andrew, regretting giving up the phone, reached for it.

Yva shoved it out of Andrew's reach.  "Stop!  Go back.  Who is this?" she demanded.

"This is Adonis Vacation Tours and we'd like to offer you and Dr. Butterworth an amazing getaway.  If you'll get us your credit card number right now we'll charge you $399 and that's it!  No more fees, no air fare, it's all included!" the voice chirped.

"That sounds totally legitimate."  Yva's voice dripped with sarcasm.  "But I think my husband would object.  Not to mention Dr. Butterworth's Father."

"Oh... so you're not married to Dr. Butterworth?"

"No way," Yva affirmed.  "You could say I'm his... travel planner."  She winked at Andrew.

"Excellent.  I'd like you to know that if you purchase the initial $399 package on behalf of Dr. Butterworth, we can add on only $199 per guest!  Here at Adonis Vacation Tours we pride ourselves on trips for everyone!"

"So my Aunt Jemima could go with Dr. Butterworth?"  Yva grinned at Andrew.

"That wouldn't be a problem!"

"What about their cousin, Smuckers Blueberry?"

"Uh... sure.  $199 like I said.  But only if you reserve it now with your Visa or Mastercard or..."

"But, see, Dr. Butterworth has this step-brother," Yva continued, "he's a bit... different.  But I think he'd enjoy the Bahamas.  His name is Log Cabine.  Could he go?"

"Yes.  Again, it's $199 as long as you book the $399 package."  The voice was betraying annoyance.  "But I really need to book this now before the offer expires so if you'd please give me your credit card information."

"Hmmm...  So let's see.  We'd need to book for Dr. Butterworth, my Aunt Jemima, their cousin, Smuckers Blueberry, and Butterworth's step-brother, Log Cabine."

"Wait a second... those are all syrups.  You're playing me!" the caller accused.  "Is Dr. Butterworth still there?" she demanded.

"Hey," Andrew greeted before dissolving into laughter again at his own ridiculous false name.

"Listen, are you interested or..."

"No, Dr. Butterworth is not interested in getting scammed.  But I'm glad I 'played you' because who knows how many innocent people you could have called in the meantime and stolen from.  Do NOT call this number again, you hear me?"  Yva paused.  "Do you hear me?" she repeated, her voice forceful.

The answer was muffled but sounded none too kind before the call cut off.

"I am so sorry.  Maybe I should just turn this off and..."  Andrew ran his hand through his hair and picked up his phone. 

"Nonsense!"  Yva laughed.  "It was fun thinking up syrup brands and, like I said, maybe it kept the caller from scamming someone who would actually believe them.  Did your phone record their number?  Maybe we could report them.  There's no way that was legitimate."

"Good idea.  But... do you usually get junk calls, Andrew?  Or shall I say Dr. Butterworth?"  JenniAnn teased.

Andrew chuckled before growing serious.  "I never have.  I don't know why this is happening now."

"Well, I know none of us would ever give this number out," Rose began, "but maybe someone used a public phone and someone got it off there.  Maybe Mick and Logan can help us figure it out later.  But for now I just hope it doesn't ring again."  She shrugged. 

"I hope not, too.  I would like to know, though, were you eating waffles when you came up with that last name?  Butterworth?  Really, Andrewkins!"  Yva shot Andrew a teasing smile.

"Actually it was pancakes and it was all I could think of!"  Andrew shook his head.  "If I'd known you'd all learn about these names I would have taken more care."  He smiled at his friends and then looked towards Willowveil.  Lady Beth and Countess Jennifer were approaching from that direction.

"Sorry I'm a little late.  Henry was headed out on an assignment and asked if I'd pack him a lunch before he left.  You're all spoiled rotten, you know," Lady Beth teased.

Andrew smiled beatifically but offered no defense.

"And I was taking care of the horses," Countess Jennifer explained.  "What did we miss?"

"Andrew has poor tastes in last names, I died, and Yva made up a syrup family," JenniAnn explained.  She beamed at Andrew and then looked to the two newcomers, gauging their confusion.

"I think I need a little more explanation than that!  You look very lifelike for a corpse, by the way."  Lady Beth shook her head and laughed.  "So who's going to explain?"

Andrew, JenniAnn, Rose, and Yva took turns explaining the two bizarre phone calls to their friends. 

"Life insurance and a seedy vacation package?  That's very weird," Countess Jennifer agreed.  "And how would they know two different names?  It's like someone submitted your number to different lists with different names at different times."

Lady Beth's face clouded.  "You don't think..." 

Andrew patted her shoulder.  "Eben?  I don't know.  I mean this is more of a nuisance than anything really distressing.  What would he think he'd be accomplishing?  Although he didn't really accomplish anything with April Fool's so..."

"Personally, I don't think Eben's sensible.  It's perfectly insensible to want to distress or annoy you, Andrew."  JenniAnn sighed and cast Andrew an adoring look.

The angel smiled at her.  "Thanks.  So maybe at some point... twice... I left my cell phone.  Someone heard my pretend last name, got my number from the phone..."   He shook his head.  "But it just doesn't sound believable." 

"Well, let's not worry too much about it.  Surely it can't happen again."  Yva looked to the phone.  It remained silent.  She beamed at her friends.  "See!"  She reached into the bag she'd brought with her then.  "Papa is very busy at the factory but he sent these with me to share with everyone."  She opened a box to reveal a wide array of candies. 

Following Yva's example, the ladies laid out all the treats they had brought while Andrew unloaded a cooler stocked with orange juice, ginger ale, and other beverages.  The angel was just laying out a tray of vegetables he'd picked during his last assignment on a farm when his cell phone rang. 

Lady Beth, nearest the phone, peeked at the screen.  "It's not a number I recognize, I'm afraid."

With an annoyed sigh, Andrew picked up the phone.  "Hello, this is Andrew.  No...  I'm sorry.  I really don't need an extended warranty on my car...  Thank you but no...  No...  No..."

"I never thought I'd want to do away with his politeness but..." Yva whispered.

"I can be his designated not so polite person this time," Rose offered.  She held her hand out to Andrew.

The angel covered the microphone.  "No, Rose.  I don't want to do that again.  It was embarrassing last time!"  He uncovered the phone.  "I'm sorry but I really, really can't stress enough that my car is already protected by the best Insurer ever..."

"How scandalous can a car warranty company be?" Rose pressed.  "C'mon, Andrew."

"Andrew, you know that if it was one of us that they were calling and we were getting frustrated, you'd want to help.  Let Rose help," Yva encouraged.

Knowing she was right, Andrew handed the phone to Rose.  Just as with the two previous calls, she placed the phone amongst them and set it on speaker.

"Your standard auto warranty is in danger of lapsing.  But with our offer you can continue to enjoy peace of mind for years to come!  All we need is your social security number, Mr. Flannel, to..." the voice droned.

All five women looked at the angel of death with bemused, knowing smiles. 

"Yes, I was wearing flannel!"Andrew exclaimed. 

Rose laughed and then focused on the incessant voice.  "Excuse me, sir?"

"Yes?  Who is this?  I need to speak to Mr. Flannel."

"I'm Mr. Flannel's friend.  I'm very interested in this warranty.  Can I ask you about some things I'd like to know if it covers?" Rose asked.

"Uh, sure."

"Okay, suppose Mr. Flannel is driving and someone in the seat next to him finds themselves taken in by his amazing green eyes and/or lovely golden hair.  Maybe they swoon and, darn it, they dent the dashboard with their foreheads.  Would your warranty cover repair of the dashboard?"  Rose smiled at a beet red Andrew.

"I... I don't think that could happen," the caller got out after a long pause.

"Oh, I think it could," Rose insisted.  "Now what if Mr. Flannel notices a funny sound coming from his van and gets under the hood and just, I dunno, jiggles something.  Then the car doesn't start.  Would your warranty cover that?"

"Not if Mr. Flannel caused the damage himself.  Who just jiggles something under the hood of a car without knowing what they're doing?  That's just idiotic."

"Hey!" Rose shouted, angry.  "Maybe he's just a real go-getter!  And he was just trying to be helpful!"

Andrew was touched by Rose's defense of him and the indignant look on his friends' faces. 

"And he always ends up fixing the car... eventually," Rose continued.

"Fine, I'm sorry.  Could I just speak to Mr. Flannel?" the voice requested.

"You are," Andrew answered.  "But I'm not interested in buying your product nor letting you take up any more of my time with my friends.  And I really don't know why you'd need my social security number.  So, please, remove this number from your list and..."

"Oh... #$&*!" 

"Whoa!"  Andrew grabbed for the phone and took it off speaker.  "That was highly uncalled for!  There are ladies present!  Hey... what's..."  The angel once again covered the microphone and looked to his friends.  "I hear a bunch of shuffling noises and shouting."

"Drama in the scam world?" Yva guessed.

"I guess so..."  Rose looked at Andrew with concern as he continued to listen.

"Please put it back on speaker.  It's not like we've not heard cussing before," JenniAnn reasoned.

Andrew shook his head.  "Doesn't mean I want you to hear more."  His eye brows shot up then.

"Whatever you're listening to is clearly interesting."  Lady Beth picked up JenniAnn's case. 

"You won't ruin us forever, Andrew," Countess Jennifer assured.

Andrew began laughing, nodded, and sat the phone down.  "You kind of have to strain to listen but I think we might be on TV... sort of."

Drawing nearer the phone, the five women and the angel strained to listen.  And then they heard some of the most dreaded words in the English language for criminals...

"I'm Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC and we're investigating a story on telephone scammers.  Could I please speak to you?"

Then the line went dead.

The group shook their heads but smiled knowingly.  Without further interruption they turned their attention to their snacks and each other and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon devoid of useless life insurance policies, Bahamanian getaways, or excessive car warranties.

Weeks later it would be revealed by Mr. Hansen on his show that a hacker employed by a telemarketing scam "company" had gained access to some records held by Andrew's cell phone company.  Unbeknownst to the angel, the last name on his contract changed with each new assignment.  And so it was that the hacker had at various times grabbed the names of O'Lama, Butterworth, Flannel, and a host of other ridiculous names Andrew was glad his friends never heard about.  As annoying as the calls had been, Andrew held fondly to the memory of that afternoon.  During low points of the assignments that followed he only had to think about English moors, Smuckers Blueberry, and a dented dashboard to bring a smile to his face.

The End


JABB 274

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)