It’s no secret that I have done my fair share of crank calls in my time. It is also no secret that if you’ve been reading T-blawg for the last two and a half years that you would know I used to be pure evil and insane in my day. So I want to try something different in this T-pisode. It is one hell of a tale. It is also the longest T-pisode in T-blawg history! So re-read it and enjoy & share it throughout the long holiday week! It’s also my cousin’s birthday and I dedicate this one to him.
My cousin and I had been making crank calls since we could talk. Seriously. Go back and read some past T-pisodes. You’ll see. My cousin and I were the best. That is no exaggeration. We worked off each other. The key to a great crank call is having the perfect set-up guy. He gets the person on the other side of the phone hooked into the story. He plays the innocent guy that sets up the prank. This was my cousin. Then you need an over the top but believable closer. This was me. He comes in at the right time and drops a bomb on the victim. The end result is usually an outburst of fear or anger from the victim. Sometimes both. But the set-up man and the closer have to be ruthless. Always stay in character. Never break character. And always go in for the kill once you smell blood. This is how we did it. We were great at it. And we had fun doing it. Even more fun recording and sharing our calls with friends and family. We did it during the early 90s. During a time when nobody had a cell phone. There was no Caller ID. No *69. No iPhone apps to disguise your voice. We did it all natural during an era now gone. We were artists! For the most part a crank call is one and done. You only had one chance at it. But this one was different. This was our Sistine Chapel.
“The Greatest Crank Call in History”
It was the early 90s. My sister had her own phone line in her room. She and my future bro-in-law had found an apartment. Six houses down the street from our house. So it made sense for her to transfer her number to her new apartment. And when she moved out, I took over her room. Hey, I’m a man. I need space. Well at the time I was a boy. But still. Plus she left behind her big ass stereo and tv. It was sweet. About a month after she moved out I found a spare phone in our apartment. I took it and put it into the jack in my sister’s old room. It worked! I thought “Cool. Now I have a phone in here.” I just thought it was another phone in the apartment. But it was MY phone. I immediately called up my cousin to brag that I had my own phone in my second room. A week went by and every time the house phone rang, that one didn’t. I would pick it up and hear a dial tone. Weird. I picked up that phone and dialed my house number. It rang! I had my own phone that wasn’t the house phone! Or so that’s what I thought. Again I called up my cousin to brag and we start to shoot the shit. About 5 minutes into the conversation I hear my sister’s voice “What the hell are you two doing on my phone?!” Whaaaat??? It turned out that this phone was on my sister’s phone line. From her new place. Six houses down! She was pissed. She called the phone company and they couldn’t figure it out. All of their records showed that it was impossible and they thought my sister was crazy. So my sister gave up and told me to never use the phone again or she’d tell on me then kill me. I actually listened this time. My sister moved out of that apartment a year later. Talking to my cousin, he says “Why don’t you see if that phone still works?” I said “No way it still works. It’s been over a year.” I get the phone. Plug it in…dial tone baby. We were in business. My sister moved out and a gay dude couple moved in and we now had access to a phone that was untraceable. So what did we do with every spare second we had? We tormented the shit out of these two innocent victims of course! Let me make something clear if I still have any PC T-blawg fans left. It wouldn’t have mattered if it were gay dudes, lesbian chicks, a married dude and chick couple or some poor jabroni living alone. We were going to mess with whoever was on the other end of that phone. Nothing personal. Just pure, young, asshole fun.
The course of the next 4 months:
Crank Contact 1:
The phone was plugged in. Phone rings. I answer.
Some Dude: Is Joey there?
Some Dude: Is this Steven?
Me: No. You must have the wrong number. What number are you trying to call?
Some Dude: This isn’t 617-555-1234?
Some Dude: Oh I’m so sorry.
Me: It’s ok. Don’t worry about it.
I immediately call up my cousin. “I have their names and their phone number!!!!” “WHAT?! How?” He says. “HOW?!” “I’m that damn good.” I say. “Here. Call me at this number. Their names are Joey and Steven.” My cousin calls the number. I answer. “Hahaha this is fucking awesome!” I say. We immediately agree to never use our real names and if we ever get caught our alibi would be that we just thought it was my phone. We had no idea it was somebody else’s. It was the phone company’s fault. Not ours. Hey. We were 15 and 13 years old. Our first order of business? Jack up Joey and Steven’s phone bill. It was the 90s. 900 numbers were all the rage. They usually charged $3.99 for the first minute. $.99 for each additional minute. So I called them. I called all of them.
Crank Contact 2:
Joey at the same time: Hello?
Linda: Um hello?
Linda: Yes. Who was that? Steven?
Joey: No. I don’t know.
Me: Who is this? Why are you people on my phone?!
Joey: Um excuse me? You’re on our phone line.
Me: NO. You’re on my phone. Get off.
Joey: Linda. Our lines must be crossed. I’ll call you right back.
Me: No. Linda. I WILL call you right back.
Linda: Um ok Joey. Call me.
Crank Contact 3:
Me (dialing too)
Me: Who is this?
Joey: WHO is this?
Me: Don’t worry about it.
Joey: Please get off my phone.
Me: You get off my phone. I’m trying to call Linda stupid.
I call up my cousin. We set up a game plan to drive Joey crazy. But agree to never talk to Steven. For now. It’ll make it seem like Joey’s nuts. In the meantime, I also call Tokyo, Italy, Australia and Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends hotline. A lot.
A few days later after looking out the window for hours, I see Joey come home. I tell my cousin to call.
Crank Contact 4:
Me: I got it Joey. It’s for me.
My cousin: Hey what’s up man!
Me: Nothing. What’s going on?
Joey: Please get off my line!
My cousin: Who is that?
Me: I don’t know. Some asshole. Ignore him. He goes away after awhile.
Joey hangs up. We laugh. He picks up again.
Me: What’s up for tonight?
My cousin: Oh I got the old ball and chain and the kids nagging.
Me: Roger that.
Joey hangs up. Picks up.
Me: JOEY! Cut that out! It’s annoying. I’m trying to talk over here.
My cousin: What is that guy’s problem?
Me: I don’t know.
Joey hangs up. Picks up.
Joey: How are you on my phone?
Me: Didn’t we cover this already? You’re on my phone.
Joey: I called the phone company. They said what you’re doing is illegal.
Me: No they didn’t.
Joey: Yes they did.
Me: No they didn’t.
My cousin: Joey. You’re so annoying.
Joey hangs up.
We laugh. We hang up.
Crank Contacts 5-61:
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Joey had the number changed about 4 times. Each time I would answer the phone and ask what number they were calling. After awhile they stopped telling me. The word got out about the phone to his friends. Joey called his sister Linda a lot. He would talk about his life. His job. Issues with Steven. I would listen. Sometimes occasionally adding my input. He didn’t like my advice when he told his sister he and Steven got into a fight. I suggested that he shave his chest and have Steven light candles and pour hot wax on his nipples to make things better. He told his sister to ignore me. A lot. She asked a lot about what the phone company was doing about the matter. He said nothing. They can’t figure it out. He also bought a whistle and would occasionally blow it into my ear. I didn’t appreciate that. Time to step up our game.
Having been in that apartment a bunch of times when my sister lived there, I knew the set up of the apartment. The building. This was really helpful in the scheme. I ran over to his house one day. It had 3 apartments. Joey and Steven lived on the 2nd floor. It didn’t have lockable mailboxes. So I stole his phone bill. I wanted his latest phone number. I got it. I also wanted to see how much the bill was. Only a measly $1452 for the first month’s work. I knew we could do better.
Crank Contact 62:
Me: I got it Joey. Damn
My cousin: This guy still? What the fuck?
Joey: I hate you two!
Me: Joey. We’re sick of you. We’re going to have to do something about you.
My cousin: Yeah Joey. You crossed the wrong guys.
Joey: Yeah ok.
Me: You don’t believe us? We’ve been in your apartment.
My cousin: Joey. You’re on the second floor.
Me: That’s right. At 205 blank street.
Joey: Do you pieces of shit work for the phone company?
Me: Fuck the phone company. This is what we do.
My cousin: We learn about our prey before we kill it.
Joey: This isn’t funny.
Me: Who’s trying to be funny?
My cousin: We’re in the basement. Right now.
Me: We might come up through the front door now. Step over that creaky broken step at the top of the first set now. Or we might wait until Steven comes home later. Let you both fall asleep. Then come in through the back door in the kitchen. Next to the fridge. Creep across the kitchen. Sneak by the bathroom. Into the bedroom.
My cousin: Stab Steven.
Me: Stab Steven. In front of you. And let him bleed out in the closet next to the radiator in the bedroom.
Joey: Oh my God!
Joey hangs up. We hang up.
Crank Contact 63:
Joey immediately calls Linda.
Joey: LINDA! THEY’VE BEEN IN THE APARTMENT!!!
Linda: Who Joey?! WHO?!
Joey: THE GUYS FROM THE PHONE LINDA!
Linda: How do you know?!
Joey: THEY JUST TOLD ME!
Linda: They’re just messing with you.
Joey: THEY DESCRIBED THE APARTMENT TO A ‘T’! (*Haha. He said “T.”)
Linda: They heard you talk about it on the phone. They’re probably listening right now.
Joey: THEY MENTIONED THE BROKEN FUCKING STEP! THE BROKEN STEP! THEY SAID THEY’RE GOING TO KILL US IN OUR SLEEP!!!
Linda: Oh my God! Where’s Steven?!
Joey (crying): AT WORK! AT FUCKING WORK!!!
Linda: Get out of there Joey! NOW!!!
Joey: Ok. I’m leaving. Oh my God. Why is this happening to me?
I go to the window. I watch Joey run out of the building like he’s being chased by the dude in Scream! Jump in his car. And speed away. I take the phone out of the wall. I call my cousin from my real phone and tell him what happened. We thought we may have had crossed the line there a little bit. The cops and the phone company came the next day. I could see them out front on the street. In their backyard. Climbing telephone poles. Then they all left. And nothing happened to me and my cousin. We couldn’t believe it. I think we would’ve stopped at that point. But the story got even more interesting.
My brother in law worked at a clothes store in the mall at the time. His former landlord told Joey’s concerned sister Linda that he worked there. She goes up to him and asks him if he and my sister were ever terrorized on their phone when they lived there. She tells him that two psycho teenagers have been threatening her brother. They’ve taken over his phone and have been in the apartment. My bro-in-law knew it was us. But he covered my ass. And said he had no idea what she was talking about. He asked if they called the cops. She told him they did but neither them nor the phone company can find out how or why it’s happening. The police even traced the calls but they go back to her brother’s apartment. My bro-in-law told me everything. And he said he wasn’t going to tell my sister what we were doing. I say “So there’s no way we can get caught then?” He laughed.
Crank Contact 64:
My cousin: Heyyyy. What’s going on?
Steven: Listen you two fucking assholes. We’re sick of your shit! I called in from work waiting for this. I’m going to find you and kill you.
Me: No you’re not.
My cousin: We’re untouchable.
Steven: We haven’t seen a phone bill in over 2 months. OUR BILL IS OVER $7200!!!
Me: That’s it?
My cousin: How many pages is it though???
Steven: FUCK YOU! YOU’RE DEAD!!!
Me: No. You’re dead.
My cousin: You’re dead Steven. Joey too.
Steven: COME DO SOMETHING THEN!!!
Joey (in background): Don’t temp them Steven.
My cousin: That’s it. I’m loading my gun.
Me: I’m sharpening my knives.
Steven: I’ll KILL YOU!
Me: No. I’ll kill you.
Steven: FUCK YOU!
Me: Fuck you.
Steven: FUCK YOU!
Me: Fuck you.
Steven hangs up. We laugh. We hang up.
While all of this has been going on, my other cousin got married and moved in across the street from Joey and Steven. They all put together a neighborhood crime watch. My cousin and I told him about our great scheme. Our cousin meets Steven and Joey for the first time at his place across the street and they quickly share their story of terror with everybody. Everybody is concerned. And frightened. Not my cousin. He sat there and held in a stomach full of laughter the whole time. His wife noticed this. After they all left my cousin’s wife asked him what the hell was wrong with him. He laughed and told her it was his nephew and me who were the crazy phone stalking killers. He thought it was awesome! She thought my whole family was full of assholes and she married into it. She was right.
Crank Contact 65:
Me: Ello ello?
Linda: I’m not talking to you.
Linda: He’s on the phone already.
Joey: Oh god.
Me: Shh Joey. Linda. Baby. What are you wearing right now?
Linda: Just tell him.
Me: Tell me what Joey?
Joey: You two assholes win. We’re moving.
Me: WHAT?! No! We’re having so much fun!
Joey: Fuck you you piece of shit.
Me: How does Steven feel about this?
Joey: Fuck you.
Linda: Fuck you.
Me: Such profanity in your family.
Joey: I’ll talk to you later Linda.
Me: No you won’t.
Linda: Fuck you. Bye Joe.
Me: Love you both.
It turned out that would be the last time I would ever speak to Joey, Steven, Linda and all their other friends and family members who we terrorized over the past 4 months. A moving truck pulled up the next day. I called my cousin and told him I’m watching Joey and Steven packing up and leaving. They only lasted 4 months in that apartment because of us. We managed to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in phone bills, countless phone conversation interruptions, broke countless laws, ruined relationships, made multiple food deliveries they never ordered all the while remaining completely under the radar of our victims, the phone company and the police. It was our greatest crank call achievement. And it turned out to be our last. We grew up and stopped the crank calls. We went out with a bang though. Years later when I moved out of my parents’ place into my own, I saw the phone jack while packing. I stuck the phone in for the first time in 6 years. I heard the Spanish people who were then living in the apartment on the phone. It just wasn’t the same though. But I still smiled. Knowing that my cousin and I once pulled off “The Greatest Crank Call in History”. Legacy sealed brother.
Until next time. Always take it there.