Eileen – Ch. 2

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The next few days were business as usual for Steve. Get up. Go to work. Come home. Tinker. Go to bed. He worked as a security guard for a local tool manufacturer. In spite of his age, he was the most senior security guard there. Most of the other guards who had come and gone were using the job as a stepping stone to bigger things – mostly police work – but Steve was happy to stay there until retirement. The work was what most people would consider dull, but he didn’t mind. It gave him time to think about his electronics hobby without anybody bothering him. He didn’t mind interacting with people when he had to. In fact most of the employees thought of him as a very friendly person, but given the choice he would work in a room alone. He never gave anybody else much thought, but since that one phone call to Illinois Electronics he couldn’t get Eileen out of his head.

He wondered daily if he had spoken to his old girlfriend. He kept pondering that for some time but figured he’d never get the chance to know for sure. He searched Illinois Electronics’ website to see if her name came up in the staff directory, but there was no Eileen listed. He searched online for her a couple of times to no avail. Figuring she had married and changed her last name, he dropped the idea of getting back together with her. Besides, he didn’t really feel as if he could maintain a relationship.

“Good evening. Thank you for calling Illinois Electronics. How may I help you today?”

“Hi. Is this Eileen?”

“Yes it is. I show that this is Steve Parker from East Peoria, Illinois?”

“Yes. You seem to know who I am.” He couldn’t get the nerve up enough to ask if she was the same Eileen he knew before. “The ball’s in her court. If it’s her, she’ll remember and say something,” he thought.

“I remember you calling about an XF-1126 resistor. Did you order that online or did you want to order it today?”

“Actually, I ordered it online the day after we spoke. You have a remarkable memory.”

“It’s a gift. I don’t forget much unless I crash.”

“Oh. Are you a caffeine junkie?” Steve asked, remember Eileen’s addiction to coffee and Mountain Dew.

“You can say that. What can I do for you today Mr. Par-, uh, Steve?”

“I was calling to place an order. I’m building a ham transceiver and I have quite a list here.”

“Not a problem. What’s the first part number?”

Steve started reading from his list. Eileen repeated each item back to him accurately and efficiently. As they were carrying on their conversation, Steve’s memory started to wander back to the days he and his young girlfriend had spent together. They never really talked about their future except that she would be waiting for him every night when he came home from work as vice president of a large electronics company. She was going to be a stereotypical 1950s-style all-American housewife.  Then it hit him. At one time he had dreams for his future. When she left, she took those dreams with her.

“Ok, Steve, your total comes to $58.53 with tax and shipping. Did you want to put that on the same credit card you used online?”

“Yes, please.”

“Ok. I just need you to verify your address.”

“This is it,” thought Steve. “If it’s her, she’ll remember the address and respond.” He quickly rattled off his address, but Eileen didn’t show even a hint of familiarity.

“Ok. Your order is complete. You should have everything with a couple of days. Will there be anything else?”

“One thing.”

“Go ahead.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Steve Parker from East Peoria, Illinois.”

“Is your last name Corbin?”

“I’m sorry, Steve. I’m not permitted to give out personal information.”

“I understand.”

“Thank you for calling Illinois Electronics, Steve.”

“You’re welcome, Eileen. I’m sure we’ll talk again-” He was cut off once more by the sound of a receiver click.

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Eileen – Ch. 1

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Eileen

“Good morning. Thank you for calling Illinois Electronics. How may I help you today?” The generic female voice that came through the phone was a little detached, but not unfriendly.

“Hi. Um… I had a couple of questions about a couple of components I need.”

“Sure. Are you looking in the catalog or on our website?”

“Website.”

Steve Parker was kind of a shy person. He wasn’t socially awkward by any means, just shy. An unassuming man of thirty years, Steve had never really ventured past his neighborhood. He rented a small apartment near the local high school; the same apartment that he had shared with his high school sweetheart since graduation. She moved out less than a year after that complaining he was too dull. Always tinkering and playing with his “radio stuff” as she called it. She was a beautiful girl, and Steve loved her very much. But being a shy person, he never bothered to venture out except for work. When she left him, he figured it had been a long time coming. All of their friends thought they were a very unlikely couple anyway. Steve didn’t take it too hard when she left.

It had been almost ten years since Steve had spoken to her, but there was something familiar about the voice on the other end of the phone.

“Do you have a part number?”

“XF-1126”

“That’s a ten K-ohm resistor, correct?”

“Yeah. The site doesn’t say what the tolerance is.”

“Five percent.”

“Ok. Thanks.”

“Was there anything else?”

“Um… No. I, uh, just need to figure something out and I’ll just order them online if I need them.”

“Sounds great!” The operator sounded like she was trying to be enthusiastic, but fell short. “Before you hang up, do you mind if I get some details from you for our customer database?”

“No. That’s fine.”

“First and last name?”

“Steve Parker.”

“Address?”

“I don’t need to be mailed anything. I really don’t like getting junk mail.”

“That’s fine. It’s just for survey information. Your zip code would be sufficient.”

“61611”

“East Peoria, Illinois?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Well thank you for calling Illinois Electronics, Mr. Parker.”

“Steve is fine.”

“Thank you for calling Illinois Electronics, Steve.”

Steve chuckled slightly at the reply and how similar it seemed both times. “Do you mind if I ask you another question?”

“No. Go right ahead, Steve.”

“What’s your name?”

“Eileen.”

“I used to know an Eileen.”

“Have a nice day, Mr. Parker.”

“Steve is fine, Eil-.” He was cut off by the sound of a receiver click.