The petitioner dialled the number. It was a very short one, but you had to dial it in a certain way, with a certain feeling, to get the right place.
‘All lines to this route are busy,’ the sweet voice said. ‘Please try again later.’
He’d heard the voice over and over for the last three weeks. He was doing it right, but they just didn’t have time for him.
So, with a sigh, he dialled the other number. The one that was much longer, with a bunch of sixes in it.
‘Hello,’ the gravelly, sinister voice said. ‘What can I do for you?’
‘Am I talking to the head honcho?’ the petitioner asked.
‘Of course,’ said the voice. ‘I handle all calls personally.’
‘Good, good. I’ve been … uh … trying the other line for a while now. It’s been engaged all along.’
‘Oh, he’s a sweet old biddy, but he can’t really manage the volume. You shouldn’t give up on him. Wait a while. Good things will come.’
‘Uh, I don’t think so. I’ll go for what you have.’
‘It’ll come at a price, mind you.’
‘Yeah, the standard, right?’
‘No, we have a whole line of options. For every kind of pocket.’
‘Oh, good, good. I’ll take the standard, though. He kept me waiting too long.’
‘Right then. One soul, against what?’