“Stop that, Julie, you’re driving me crazy. It’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep. You don’t even look at the phone anymore you just have a dumb smile on your face and moving thumbs.
“Do you even know who you’re communicating with? How do you even address these messages if you don’t look at the screen?
“Stop for a minute and talk to me.”
“Ok Felix. I’ll explain, but first I have to tell my friends what I’m doing. I’ll tell you what I’m tweeting, ‘Hi, have to explain tweeting to my husband, Felix. This should take a while, so don’t fret my silence’.
“Now I’ll explain. This is called tweeting…”
“So I gather from your last words. What is tweeting and who do you do it to?”
“If you will give me a moment, I’ll explain it and you too can become a tweeter.”
“I don’t think so, but I’ll shut up and listen. It is quite lovely to hear your voice again. I’m just glad you’re talking to me and not… what is it? Tweeting? Go ahead I want to learn.”
“I’m on Twitter and I have a Twitter name and Twitter followers.”
“What are Twitter followers?”
“These are other folks on Twitter who want to get my tweets so they follow me. Since they follow me and want to know what I’m doing, I follow them and get their tweets.”
“How many of these folk are there on Twitter?”
“What! You’re communicating with five hundred million people every time you send one of these things; what do they call them, Twits?”
“First, they’re called tweets; second, I am only communicating with those tweeters that follow me not all five hundred million Twitter members. I only have twenty-nine thousand followers, however, many times they re-tweet my tweets and that number gets multiplied.”
“What is re-tweet,” I asked?
If one of my followers also has twenty-nine thousand followers and they like my tweet, they re-tweet it to their followers so that tweet actually reaches fifty-eight thousand tweeters.”
“Oh wow, this whole thing makes no sense to me, but one last question. What is it that you are always writing about and sending to these tens of thousands of people? Oh and also, why so many messages?”
“Oh that’s really simple. I’m telling them and they are telling me what is going on at that moment, and a message can be no longer than one hundred forty characters. Like, now I’m going to stop talking and I’m going to tell them,” as she started keying with her thumb she said, “I finished explaining Twitter to Felix so I’m back, entering mall parking.”
This conversation took place three months ago when we were on our way to the mall to do some shopping. Since that enlightening conversation, we have probably exchanged less than a thousand words via normal speech. Julie actually started to complain that since I wasn’t on Twitter she couldn’t keep me up to date on her activities and whereabouts.
When I suggested that since we slept together she could bring me up to date each evening, in bed, by telling me, her response was actually, “Yeah, like that’s going to happen.”
Today was the last straw.
It was Saturday and we were going to deliver some old clothes to the Salvation Army. Along the way, I wanted to check on the preliminary work that was supposed to have been finished on a building we were demolishing on Monday.
It was an old four floor warehouse and the explosive charges were all to be set before the team left on Friday evening. I’d been there until everyone left and it was OK then, but I made it a habit of personally checking on sites that were set up and left empty over the weekend.
Oh, I should explain, I’m a project director for a nationwide demolition company and this was my latest project. I was lucky on this one since it was in our town as opposed to most of them that were anywhere up to two-hundred fifty miles away. So we were stopping on the way.
The site was surrounded by twelve foot high, barb wire topped, chain link fencing to keep folk out, both the curious and the crooks. Since this building had been abandoned for over six years, I felt the curious were no longer interested and the crooks had gotten everything they wanted. So the fencing would keep all out for the few days we worked on the demolition. Further, it protected the vacant land after the rubble was removed.
When we got to the site, I unlocked the gate and the entrance to the warehouse and drove inside.
Keep in mind that words never passed between us. I’d had it up to my eyeballs with this tweeting obsession and was giving serious thought to breaking up the marriage.
I left Julie in the car as I went around making sure all was as I had left it the night before.
When I returned Julie was running around the warehouse looking at her smartphone screaming something about not being able to get a signal and she had to tweet.
I had other problems!
As I approached the car, I saw that the left rear tire was flat as a pancake.
I told Julie to calm down, try outside or just sit down on something and wait until I changed the tire, a process I started immediately.
I was about fifteen minutes into the tire change when Julie came up behind me and screamed in my ear, “You have got to get me out of here, there is no reception and I am almost at fifty-thousand followers. I have got to…”
She never got to finish the sentence. She jolted me so much with her scream that I jumped up and swung around only to hit her square, hard, and I believe accidently, on the side of the head with the tire iron.
She went down like a dropped sack of potatoes.
Now, I won’t take up a lot of space with the inner conflict I suffered for the next hour or so. As far as I could determine, Julie was dead and I’d killed her.
Add to that, I’d made no secret of my growing anger and frustration at the fact that I, Felix Sabatello, had been replaced by a smartphone and tweets. No one would really believe that I had accidently whacked my wife in the head with a tire iron. Whacked her in the head… yeah, accidently, not so much!
Finally, I came to a decision. On Monday morning, the building would be demolished by the setting off of two hundred strategically placed explosive charges in a very carefully calculated sequence and the entire building would implode.
The pre-demolition inspection for anybody left in the building was my responsibility and I would see to it before the crew, my crew, arrived.
I would leave the flat tire on the car, put Julie’s body in the trunk, disable the emergency trunk release, and put the tire iron in the trunk with Julie’s body.
It would look like she was trying to get the spare out and was pulling at the tire iron which is mounted in the trunk door. It fell down on her head, she tumbled into the trunk, it locked and there she stayed. Because the emergency release wasn’t working, it would appear she was accidently trapped inside.
The car would be a compressed flat piece of metal buried under four floors of brick and concrete. If they eventually pulled it apart, Julie’s body would be equally compressed and the accident would be explained away simply.
That was it. A great idea and my problems would vanish.
Gone would be an accident that would result in my being accused of murder and… a woman who had replaced me, Felix Sabatello, with a smartphone and tweets.
I set the whole thing up, left the building locking the doors and the gate and walked the four miles home.
“Who’s there?” I was shouting at the front door. Someone had been banging loudly and it had been going on for… I had no idea for how long.
It was 2:30 Sunday morning. I had only gotten to sleep a few hours before, so I wasn’t thinking too clearly. As I came downstairs I yelled, “Calm down, I’m coming.”
I yelled again, “Who’s there?”
The answer that came back surprised me, “Detective Lieutenant Richard Cantor, Mr. Sabatello, please open the door.”
I told you I wasn’t thinking too clearly, so I just took him at his word and opened the door.
Within seconds two uniformed cops knocked me to the floor and twisting my arms behind my back put handcuffs on me. They then lifted me off the ground and as they half carried, half dragged me to a police car, the guy who I guessed was Detective Lieutenant Richard Cantor announced, “Mr. Felix Sabatello, you are under arrest for assaulting and attempting to murder your wife, Mrs. Julie Sabatello. You have the right to remain silent …” after which he went into the entirety of the Miranda warnings, which I had only heard before on television or in the movies.
As we were traveling to police headquarters, my brain started working and I zeroed in on the charge I was being arrested for ‘…assaulting and attempting to murder’, not murder. I took a shot and after clearing my throat asked, “Lieutenant Cantor, you said attempted murder; I gather Julie is not dead, is she?”
“Mr. Sabatello”, said the detective, “you do realize you are under arrest and charged with serious crimes, correct?”
“Yes”, I responded.
“And you understand your rights under Miranda?”
“Yes”, I responded again.
“Then yes, Mr. Sabatello, your wife is alive, seriously injured, but not critical. She is currently in the hospital under observation for a serious concussion. She’ll remain there for a day or two.”
I tried to stay calm, but my head was spinning. OK, she was alive, but how did she get out of that locked trunk in that locked building inside those locked gates. If she was alive, she would tell them the whole story. I decided to simply find out what happened after I left.
“So, I guess someone saw the whole thing and contacted you.”
“I don’t know at this point, Mr. Sabatello, if anyone saw the ‘whole thing’ as you call it, but you might say someone did contact us about Mrs. Sabatello’s, shall we say, plight.
“You see, Mrs. Sabatello came to in the trunk of the car where you left her and clenched in her hand, with what she refers to as a ‘life grip’ as opposed to a death grip, was her smartphone.
“Through a series of four tweets she broadcast her plight to her followers on Twitter. It went, as they say, neural. By 1:30 this morning, we had gotten ninety-six thousand e-mails and over twelve thousand phone calls. You might say, Mr. Sabatello, that Mrs. Sabatello is free and you aren’t thanks to a smartphone and tweets.”