This is Mitch, please leave a message and I’ll return your call.

Yo, Mitch. It’s me. Trying to track you down. Corky and Donovan and Alf and me are going to Shorty’s, so meet us there after work if you feel like a few beers and some wings. Or, whatever. Bah.

Hey, Mitch. This is Andrea. Could you give me a call? I’m still at the office. I will probably be here for a while. Talk to you soon, okay? Bye.

This is a message for Mr. Mitchell Burnett from Chuck’s Video. National Velvet is back in. I’ll hold it until seven-thirty pm.

Ugh. Hello, Mitch. It’s Kathleen. I’m calling your cell because there’s no answer at work. No answer — like, the front desk is just ringing and ringing. Anyhow, I think we should have dinner sometime. And no, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. We’re grownups. I think. And we can get through this. I’m hopping in the tub and going out for Thai food with Angelique. Edward gave me his tickets to see Annie Get Your Gun and I may go to the Mayflower Grill this weekend with Rachel or Alfonse. My dad’s doing okay, by the way, and Tommy is not going to court after all. Like you care. I still love you, Mitch. Even though. Bye-bye.

Hi, Mitch. It’s Eddie. Have you ever seen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Well, you look just like Dr. Caligari. It’s a good thing! They played it last night at the Castro right after Eraserhead for some reason. Random! Anyway, I need my copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead back. I need it because my class is starting in 10 days and we’re supposed to have read the first couple chapters by then. So, I need it. I’m at home. Later.

Hello. This is a message for Mr. Mitchell Burnett. My name is Gregory Bolton, and I am Assistant Regional Manager for the California State Lottery Office. I am calling in reference to the message you left with my assistant regarding the lottery ticket purchased at . . . let’s see . . . East Avenue Grocery on Divisadero. I am still gathering data and I need you to either bring the ticket to the lottery office at your earliest convenience or fax me a copy of the front and back of the ticket. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back.

Greetings. It’s Nick. Did I ever tell you I hate my breasts? I’ve been working out like crazy and my arms and abs are how I want them, but my chest is so damn skinny. I’m thinking of getting implants since the steroids aren’t working. Little implants, nothing to worry about. They won’t turn to fat, which is the thing. I have to meet Rita seven-ish. So, don’t be late tonight. Ciao bello.

Ugh. Kathleen again. I’m standing here in my closet, surrounded by all these outfits, wondering why I bought half of them, yet unable to let them out of my life. It may sound completely superficial, but I think a lot of superficial things ring true after a while. Do you miss me? I have to say, this is very hard. I know it’s my fault. I brought it on myself, on us. It’s just that I realized there’s been only one day since I was 14 when I didn’t have a boyfriend. I feel like something’s going to happen any day now. Something . . . different. I hate that feeling. So, guess what I’m going to do? I’m dedicating my new philosophy to you. Here it is: From now on, I’m getting exactly what I want out of life. I have lived way too long in my own shadow. Remember a while back when you threw me that little birthday party? Did I ever tell you that while you and Angelique were dancing to “Crystal Blue Persuasion” I felt this burning desire to grab the cheese knife, slip out of the wheelchair, crawl over and sever your Achilles tendons? Am I evil? We all have our reasons for doing what we do. But, it’s a new day and a new philosophy. Nothing will stop me from getting what I want. Okay? Okay. I think I’ve found a top that looks good. It’s small, green, sassy. It’ll go great with my new pleather pants. Ugh, I’m blabbering. Hanging up now. Bye.

Shazaam! Where the hell are you, Dipstick? We’ve got a table at Shorty’s — finally! — and Donovan is telling us about this outrageous chick he met on that cruise to Alaska. It’s a good story. She jumped off the ship and had to get helicoptered out of there. He found her in Fairbanks doing tarot in a coffee shop. They’re engaged, dude! Get your ass over here. Dollar drafts end in . . . 25 minutes! Bah.

Listen, it’s Andrea again. I’m still at the office. I’ll be here for another half-hour or so, until the cleaning crew finishes around your workstation. I did what I could with Victoria and Steve, but I think security has already been notified. You may be getting a call from someone. Do me a favor: Don’t come back to the office, please. It’s not a good time. Okay? Call soon.

Mitch. Eddie. Oh my God. I just saw you on TV. Call me. A.S.A.P.

Mitchell, this is your mother. Your father and I have been talking seriously about something. We’d like to discuss Kathleen. Let me just say that I believe I raised you irreproachably. I never showered you with love, nor did I ever take too firm a stance. I gave you your privacy and allowed you to make your share of ludicrous decisions. We have all done that. Even your father. Nevertheless, he and I cannot stand back and allow you to marry this woman. I am pleased that you cared for her after her predicament. I respect the financial support you gave her. I think it was commendable of you to skydive with her after her recovery, despite our misgivings. But you are still a young man, Mitchell. And, believe me, I know what this Kathleen person is up to. It didn’t take me but a few days to see that she’s using you to get to your father. I saw the way she looked at him. Your father is still an extremely handsome man, and I’ve spent a good deal of my life batting away the harlots. The way she commented on his home office, his bookshelf, the inane comments on Heidegger — as if she could possibly make conversation with him on the subject. Her choice of outfits was absolutely insulting. Did you tell her we had a pool? If not, I have no idea why she would wear such a thing around the house. Your father agrees. He, like I, think you should postpone or outright cancel any kind of conjugal agreement you have with Kathleen. Tell her you need time to think, and gradually avoid her. I hope you are having a nice week. Please come up and see us this weekend if you can. Have a good evening.

It’s Nick again. Did I ever tell you what happens when I’m washing this particular frying pan of mine? I’ll be scrubbing the inside with detergent, my mind blank. When I turn the pan over, the image of this same woman comes to me. It’s uncanny. She used to work at the Earth Tones Grocery. When I first started seeing her there I totally avoided eye contact, because that just doesn’t work. Not in retail. After a few visits, I realized that she was avoiding eye contact with me. I started trying eye contact again, but she wouldn’t look at me. She dragged all my things across the scanner, tapped out the fruit and vegetable codes without missing a beat, sorted all my items by cold and perishable, dry and wet, bulky and soft. I’m not in love or anything, but it’s been six months or so since she quit working at Earth Tones and for some reason I think about her every time I wash the back of my non-stick frying pan. Hound Dog, you are really good at this kind of thing. Let me just ask you, why the hell does this shit always happen? See you at the club. Don’t be late.

Holy Shit, Mitch. It’s Anthony. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did you just body-slam Steve Dickson? Did you just reach between his legs and around his shoulders and lift him over your head and body-slam his ass? I’m sorry, but I have to be sure. Did you take off your belt and whip his hide up and down Main Street? I thought so. Man! I’ve never seen Andrea’s face so red. We’ve got to talk. I have this feeling that I’m not going to be seeing you around the office any time soon. Come down to The Twister tonight if you can. I’ll buy you a fruity beverage. Or maybe you’ll buy me one, Daddy Warbucks. Bye.

Hey there. Eddie again. That was definitely you on the news. And now I’m wondering where you are. Listen, I have called a couple of times and I’m going to wait for you to call me. I’m hanging up the phone now. See ya.