Nov/Dec 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 6 November 8, 2021 |

Unknown

At the mall a woman asked to use his phone. Excuse me, he heard from behind. He had just bought A’s birthday gift, a new phone from the AT&T store. He was passing through the gauntlet of kiosks on his way to the mall’s exit, and he assumed that one of the stalls’ sales clerks was calling out to him, inviting him to sample cologne. He ignored the voice and kept walking. But the voice followed after. Excuse me, Sir. Sir. Please, Sir. When he turned, there was a small, older woman holding up a heavy purse in both hands. She thanked him and made eye contact. Trapped, he waited for her to ask for money. May I borrow your phone, she asked instead. I need to make a call. It’s an emergency. He hesitated. If it was an emergency, why was she asking a stranger, rather than a security guard, or the clerk at the AT&T store? He felt certain it was a scam. But when he revolved the scenario in his mind, he couldn’t make out what the nature of the scam would be. The worst she cou

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Bennett Sims is the author of the novel A Questionable Shape and the collection White Dialogues. He teaches fiction at the University of Iowa.

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At the mall a woman asked to use his phone. Excuse me, he heard from behind. He had just bought A’s birthday gift, a new phone from the AT&T store. […]

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