Peter John McLean

Wire Switching (Fiction)

Lynette is blowing up my phone and goddamn if I don’t deserve it. The gravity of everything has yet to really hit me, so I feel bad – but I know I will feel worse later. Right now I just feel moderately alive.

By the time I made it back to my apartment my phone read twenty missed calls from her, but not a single text. She doesn’t want to text me because she doesn’t know what to say, I figure. She wants to call and get a read on my reaction – girls, they’re too good at that. I toss my phone on my bed while I go to make coffee.

This is because of last night, because of Gerard, the lanky guy with a wide stretching mouth whose sweaters are always as close to skintight as wool can manage, and because I’ve been feeling old. This guy, he barely knows how to play chess but can quote Karpov and recite colorful anecdotes about the London System, has an opinion on Kasparov vs. Deep Blue. He uses intentionally dense language, sneaks business acronyms and jargon into conversations wherever possible. I kind of hate him.

Last night we were at the same party, mutual friends and all that – Lynette invited me, who knows who invited him. We get to talking over drinks, my martini, his merlot. We’re sizing each other up, as always, but this time over antics. It starts with casual remarks about a much younger me putting Nair hair removal cream in a friend’s beard while he was sleeping; pretty soon we’re comparing the size and historical relevance of the churches we’ve burned. Except it gets serious and he tells me about this thing he does. He calls it wire switching.

“So dig this,” he says, “I hook up with some girl at a party or whatever. I get her back to my place, we drink, we fuck, we pass out. But I wait until I know she’s asleep and I pick up her phone off the nightstand.” He starts to giggle. “Hold on, you gotta have a notepad and a pen to do it right. The first couple of times I didn’t bring a notepad or a pen – way harder without that shit. Okay, so you take the notepad and the pen and you jot down the names of her friends and the exact names of her mom and dad in her contacts on the phone. The names have to be perfect or she’ll know what’s up.”

I nod, I’m curious now.

“Yeah so you just switch them. The first few times I did it I was an unscrupulous retard with that shit. I switched moms and dads, which almost never matters. The real trick is how you switch it. You find that special guy in her phone and you swap that with her mom or her dad. She’s way more likely to send some hot and heavy guilt ridden text right after she slept with you. That’s going to her mom. Now you switch all of her friends. Now when she’s dry snitching on her frienemies, she’ll tell Jessica how stupid Jessica looked instead of Amber. Oops. There goes that friendship. She’ll unknowingly sabotage at least a few friendships before she realizes what you’ve done. Takes fifteen minutes and is all but guaran-fucking-teed to cripple her emotionally and spiritually. Very high ROI.” Gerard leans back on the hard edge of the granite countertop and that pompous look on his chiseled Catholic face absolutely screams authenticity. His story is too detailed, too insightful, to be fabricated.

I am disgusted with how impressed I am. I’m envious that he thought of it and I didn’t (is he wittier than me maybe), but I also just loathe him. What kind of godless man-child does this shit.

The following drunken hours blur together. Droll conversations about the economy or whatever with some thin-haired guy who stands too close, occasionally glancing at Lynette who winks back, wandering around the house looking for the toilet and so on. The whole time I was thinking about Gerard and his innovative approach to emotionally and spiritually eviscerating a young single woman’s reality: a swift, murderous punishment for anyone who dares to have sex with him. How does word not get around about this, surely it will eventually. Maybe not. Who knows. The more I weigh it in my head the more absurdly envious it makes me; I’m aging into the thirty-something land of boredom while Gerard and his clean shaven Roman jaw are deliberately crushing the hopes and dreams of women everywhere. Zero consequences. Why can’t my life be so glorious.

At the end of the night Lynnette gives me a look and it takes nothing more than a look after that many hours and so many drinks and so on. We’ve been eyeing each other all night. We go back to her place, except after she passes out I wait a little longer and then reach over her to her phone and go straight to work.