Sunday, March 29, 2009


Please read this all the way to the disclaimer at the bottom

On a cool March day in 1876, the story goes, Jonathan Phelps West was strolling down
a Boston street when a window in a building he was passing suddenly opened. A man
leaned out and bellowed: "Watson! WATSON!!" He pounded his hand on the window
sill in frustration. "Damn the man! Can't he hear me?" The man pointed down at
Jonathan. "You there."

Jonathan paused and looked up. "Ayuh?"

"What's your name, my good man?"

"Jonathan P. West from Upton , Maine. Who's asking?"

"Alexander G. Bell. How would you like to earn a dollar for delivering a message?"

Jonathan scratched his chin. "Depends where I have t' deliver it."

Mr. Bell tossed down a dollar coin. "Just go down that flight of stairs there to your right to
the cellar door, knock on it, and tell my assistant Mr. Watson it's not working. Could you
do that for me like a good fellow?"

Jonathan looked at the silver dollar in his hand. He rarely if ever came to Boston because
people here were so strange. But it seemed easy enough, and a dollar was a dollar. "Ayuh,
I'll do it." He nodded to the agitated man and took the stairs down to the cellar door and

The man who answered the door was younger than Bell but just as agitated. "Yes? What is
it? I'm busy!"

"Your name Watson?"

"Yes? Who ARE you?"

"Jonathan P. West from Upton, Maine."

"Yes, yes, and what do you want? I'm busy here!"

"Man named Bell asked me t' come down here and tell you it's not working."

Watson's face turned so red Jonathan thought the man was going to have a stroke. "I
KNOW it's not working." He turned back towards a table with some strange contraption
set atop it.

Jonathan got a good look at the thing. Even from standing in the doorway across the
room he could see the problem. He pointed at the wire dangling beneath the table. "It's
not connected."

Watson turned and looked. "Oh. Er....thank you." And then he shut the door.

Jonathan was left outside. He shook his head, pocketed the silver dollar and climbed back
up the stairwell to the street. He looked up at the still open window. Bell was no longer
there, but as Jonathan walked off down the street, he could Bell shout one more time...


City folk sure were strange.


This piece of FICTION was written for the "What If" (69th) edition of the Carnival of


Les said...

Being an "old telephone man", I had to laugh. I can tell you from experience that it always took a little common sense to keep those things working :)

Sheri Fenley said...

Great Story!

Bill West said...

Thanks, Les and Sheri!

Linda Hughes Hiser said...

Thank goodness for Jonathan West!

Kiril The Mad Macedonian said...


Great story!

Bill West said...

Glad you liked it, Lindalee and Kiril!