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

. . . Yeah. . . Dollar drafts. . . What time?. . . I told him already. . . Yeah. . . Dollar drafts. . . Dollar. . . drafts. Dollar drafts! Can’t you fucking hear, Corky? Hello? Mitch? We have dollar drafts. I mean, dollar drafts are still here. We have them. Fifteen more minutes. Sorry, twenty more minutes. Dollar drafts. . . Come on over. Shorty’s. Bah.

Hello. This is Gregory Bolton, Assistant Regional Manager for the California State Lottery Office. I assume you’ve gotten my earlier message. I am calling with regard to the KPPX interview this afternoon. I would like to stress prudence at this juncture. There will be plenty of time to celebrate and give interviews when we have validated the purchase, winning numbers and all applicable rules. Thank you for your cooperation and, once again, please call as soon as humanly possible.

This is Patricia Holmesboard calling on behalf of Victoria Sangre at Spectrum Consulting Services. Ms. Sangre would very much like to speak with you. I am leaving a message on her behalf to call sometime this afternoon. Her message is of an urgent nature.

Hello, Mitchell. This is Victoria Sangre. Money changes people, as you well know, and it would be unfair of me to press charges for what you did today at the office. I have spoken to Steve Dickson and offered him assurances that he will be transferred, with financial compensation, to the Walnut Creek branch. He has also declined to press charges. Between you and me, he is much too embarrassed to bring further attention to himself. Nevertheless, despite the drama today, I still want you to consider my offer. I assumed the helm at Spectrum Consulting Services seven years ago and have steered the company to record profits in all but two years. In that time, I’ve experienced some wonderful moments, met some inspirational people and learned some incredible lessons. The challenge, though, at this stage in my career, is to find the right opportunity to move on. It’s not easy leaving a big company behind, much less unloading your vested interests. So, why don’t you take tomorrow off and then let’s have lunch with my lawyer on Monday. Talk to you soon, Mitchell. And thank you for keeping this conversation confidential.

Hello. Cindy Triplehorn calling from the Account Services department of Valley Financial Bank. Our computers have indicated some unusual spending activity on your credit card account, and we’re making a courtesy call to verify the charges. Let me briefly itemize. At 8:30 A.M. this morning, cash machine withdrawal at the corner of Castro and 24th Street for $150. At noon today a $376.23 charge at Antinori Footwear on Sansome Street. Fifteen minutes later, $2,746.55 at Midway Computer Superstore on Market Street. $200 even at Tenderloin Tattoo and Piercings at 3 P.M. And at 4:15 P.M., $6,323.22 at Plumley’s Foreign Auto Sales. If any of these charges has been made without your knowledge, please contact our offices at your earliest convenience. I also want to inform you that today’s purchases make you eligible for a free introductory Coffee-of-the-Month subscription, a free upgrade on Sun Mountain Airlines and a complimentary one-hour session with a certified Valley Financial investment broker. Thank you again for using your Valley Financial card and have the best day possible.

Argh. Mitch. Kathleen — again. I hate you. I just got back from the Thai place and heard it all from Rachel. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not envious. I know you, Mitchell. I lived with your sorry ass for two years and I know your disgusting inclinations. Clearly, this money is going to symbolize some kind of verification of all your skewed beliefs, bad habits and tortured obsessions. I can see it now — all your unleashed dispositions turning you into an unattractive, oily changeling. Do you realize that each year you will gain pound after pound, layer after layer, until your body looks like something fished out of the South China Sea? Your mind will become crippled because you’ll have nothing to influence you positively. You’ll find yourself in a social life littered with leeches and name-droppers and restaurant junkies and beautiful, horrible people. And, yes, I’m sure you’ll land some hot chick. Just like you’ve always wanted. She’ll have short dark hair and a dynamic wardrobe. She’ll be sensitive and ridiculously brilliant, and then she’ll disappear after sucking you dry of every penny she can legally acquire. That’s what will hurt the most, Mitchell: your flawed dreams will materialize for a living moment and remind you how sorry your pansy-ass view of the world really is. Okay? Breathing. Calming down. I’m changing and going down to the corner cafe with Rachel for an herbal infusion, and then I guess I’ll come back and take a bath and finish my book. Like you care. I hate you.

Dude. It’s me. I’m drunk. I’m walking down the street to catch a cab. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! Taxi! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! . . . Okay, I’m getting in the cab. I’m in the cab. We’re moving forward. . . Huh? 2343 Canyon Street. . . Dude, we gotta talk. Are you rich?
. . . Are you stinking rich? Oh my God. I think I’m gonna be sick. Okay — steady. Look, Holmes, are you still gonna hang out? Are you gonna get bored with me and Alf and Corky and Sven and all the guys? Are you gonna move to some other town? Am I sounding like a stupid girl? Probably. But here’s the thing that scares me: The moment I saw you on TV I thought you were in trouble, or dead. I don’t know. It was like that little cowboy kid in the Chocolate Factory movie — you just got zapped into tiny TV particles and out of this world. Set my mind at ease, Mitch. Convince me that nothing is going to change. Maybe I’m being a girl, but I get attached to things. Not just people — ways of life. I need your steady influence. The way you stay calm through everything. Your pregnant silences. We’re not girls, okay? That’s understood. But, we’re getting older and our bonds are getting more crucial than ever. If you disappeared now, I’d feel like you’d never even been there. And I’d be pissed. Understand? Now call me, brother, and prove me wrong. Okay. The cab is slowing down. I’m getting out of the cab. Bah.

Hey Mitch. Eddie again. Whew. Listen, I’ve been leaving messages for about a month now, and this is — what — my third message today? I know what it means when a friend stops returning your calls; believe me, it’s happened to me a lot. You get the message and move on. Problem is, I sit around and wonder what I did. Was it something I said? Did I insult you? Did I forget your birthday? I have to tell you, Mitch, I’m getting sick of the world. I’m getting tired of picking up the phone to call a friend and remembering that that person is not my friend anymore. I’m getting tired of seeing old friends in the grocery store and avoiding them because they’ve been avoiding me. I can’t describe how bad that feels. It’s like an internal bruise. So, why am I leaving this message? Do me one last favor. Call me sometime tonight after you get home, and I won’t answer the phone. Just leave me a message and tell me why I’m so damn unappealing.

The main question is, does it make you happy? Will it make you whole? I’m standing in my closet again and I’m just throwing clothes on the floor. One. . . after. . . the other, and it feels great. Why? Because Rachel and I were talking about fake nails and how we’ve always wanted them, the kind with little designs painted on them. But how we never had the guts to go through with it. That’s what it came down to. I don’t like any of my clothes. I wear maybe three ensembles, and I can’t stand to look at what I wore before the surgery. All of a sudden, I can just throw these clothes on the floor and they’re gone — out of my life. I feel better. I thought you’d like to know. I feel like I can move on and be a better person. Sometimes I miss you, Mitch, but I realized today that I made the right decision. We made the right decision. Tommy’s not going to court, by the way. Did I already mention that? So long, cowboy.

It’s Nick. There are four of them. Two tall old women and a couple of old goats in spandex shorts and golf shirts. And, here I am, sitting in the middle of the court, the fluorescent lights streaming over my shoulders, holding this firm blue ball in my hand, bouncing it against the wall. We did say sixish, right? I can feel them staring. Sometimes they tap the window with their rackets. I look over and they shrug. “Are you going to play?” their eyes say. “Does it look like I’m going to play,” my eyes answer. “I’m obviously waiting for someone and reserved this court like a week ago in case you want to ask around.” This is not like you, my man. I’m disappointed. I’ll be awaiting word.

Hello, Mitchell. This is Gregory Bolton. Every so often — I would say almost every month — I have to make this particular kind of call, and I can tell you it is not a pleasant task. Sometimes it has to do with something I may have done wrong, and sometimes it has to do with something someone else may have done wrong. Either way, I have to make the call. In this case, I don’t think either of us has made a mistake. Nevertheless, I’m sitting here having to make this call and you, unfortunately, are having to hear it. This call might have to do with a number of things. It could possibly have to do with the fact that you are originally from another state. There’s a very good chance that your eyesight or mental faculties are impaired. But the fact of the matter is that the California State Lottery, unlike some lotteries in neighboring states, draws its numbers at 9 P.M. sharp on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Why it is done at that time and not at 11 P.M., as it is done in some other states, is not a matter for this phone call. What is a matter for this phone call is that our computer server is running again, and I have tracked down the winning numbers selected at the East Avenue Grocery on Divisadero yesterday evening. I am assuming that this is the ticket in your possession. The problem is that this ticket was not purchased before the 9 P.M. drawing, but rather at 9:02 P.M., making it eligible for this Saturday’s drawing. Let me say this, however: it is probably the best thing that could have happened to you. Being rich is not all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen many happy people leave this building with those ridiculous big checks and wander off into broken, shattered lives, their personal relationships and living environments poisoned by greed, egotism and intense jealousy. Put away all notions of what you might have done with a big bag of money and go back to your life — probably to enjoy its simple pleasures more than ever before. Okay, this call has been accomplished. Feel free to continue playing the lottery, or not, as you desire, and have the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

This is a message for Mitchell Burnett. Chuck’s Video again. There is someone here who would like to rent National Velvet. I held it for you all day at your request, but you never came by. It is our policy to hold videos only until seven-thirty, so I am going to let this person rent it. Just give me a call sometime if you want me to hold it again. It’s a great movie. Take care.