Going Postal, XII

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” “Going Postal, V,” “Going Postal, VI,” “Going Postal, VII,” “Going Postal, VIII,” and “Going Postal, IX,” “Going Postal, X,” and “Going Postal, XI.

Art perched in his favorite, familiar location doing his favorite, familiar thing: scouting for the mailman. Ron had been unpredictable over the last few weeks; if the government wouldn’t use it to spy on him, Art had considered installing a camera. Maybe he could ensure the feed stayed on a closed circuit. His brother, Larry, knew a guy who knew about that sort of thing.

An approaching white pickup truck grabbed his attention. Art raised his binoculars; yes, it was Ron. It was also Ron’s usual time and his usual parking spot. Art frowned as he saw Ron exit the vehicle and scan the area -that was not usual.

A rustling came from behind the porch, followed by a thud. Art had enough time to drop the binoculars and turn before a strong, dark arm pulled at his neck and a sharp, bright blade glinted across his view. The arm tightened. The blade brushed against his cheek, then poked into his neck.

“Arthur Jackson Williams,” a tough voice said.

Art tried shifting but the knife turned painfully. This guy knew what he was doing. “Who are you?” Art whispered.

The guy gave a short laugh. “Yeah, right. Let’s just say I owe your man, Larry, a thank-you.”

“Larry? Uh -we don’t talk much… I barely see him-” More pain came from Art’s neck, cutting off what he thought to say in a deep intake of breath.

“Don’ waste my time lyin,’ man. Larry talked about you all dah time. He talked about you’ deals, about you’ connections, about you’ weapons -” Right next to Art’s ear, the man added, “Even about you’ precious Rachel.”

Art’s mouth felt dry. He didn’t know how this guy knew about Rachel. He didn’t even know who this guy was.

“I think you know enough to share some of that stuff you’ve been hoarding. If not…” Another twist. “If not, I think you know where your body’s gonna end up.”

Art swallowed.

“So, you’re gonna tell me dah combination to that room downstairs, nice and slow. Then, you’re gonna put on some fancy bracelets I’ve got for ya. Then, you’re gonna keep your trap shut with this tape till I get what I want.” The guy spoke so close to Art’s ear that Art felt his hot breath. “Otherwise, I kill you and bust into dah room anyway.”

Art’s instincts failed him. “You won’t hurt Rachel?”

“Only you, princess.”

He gulped, then slowly whispered, “Oh three. Fifteen. Sixty-seven.” It was the birthday of one of America’s greatest leaders. Art recalled that fact with happy pride just before the world went dark.

…..

The world still looked dark when Art awoke. His head hurt so badly he rolled to the porch’s edge and vomited into the hedge. Through spotty vision and throbbing headache he scanned the area but saw no one. “Eurgh.” Unsheathing his favorite knife, he stumbled to the front door and opened it. He stumbled into the house. He stumbled down the stairs. He stumbled to the end of the hall and stopped at the open, swinging door to the armory.

No sound came from the dark, open door. He moved forward, still blinking against intense pain. Stopped. Sighed. Yes, many of his guns and a few ammunition cases were gone; but, there -still in her place of honor- hung Rachel.

Art groped forward to the Springfield Model 1816 Musket and stroked her barrel. “Rachel,” he whispered affectionately.

Continue to “Going Postal, XIII.”

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Going Postal, III

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” and “Going Postal, II.”

Not many people talked to Art. He liked that. From his steel-toed boots to his copper-lined military cap, Art was practicality and self-made efficiency. He squatted at the dark corner of his covered porch, eyes on the neighborhood. Every fifteen minutes, he raised his binoculars and did a sweep of the area.

Art was waiting for the mailman.

Today, according to the electronic message from Guns, Gurneys, and Steel Blades, his package of ammunition would arrive. He knew what a hot item his purchase was; those who took the coming threat seriously were stockpiling. He’d seen the signs: necessities disappearing from store shelves, people filling extra cans at the gas station, and prices of guns and ammunition rising.

Even his ignorant, soft-shelled neighbors demonstrated mild panic. He’d watched Mrs. Hempsworth looking around as she cradled package after package of toilet paper. The Andersens kept purchasing food supplies. And he, Arthur Jackson Williams, seemed to be the only suspicious one on the street.

There! The mailman’s pickup truck! Art lifted the binoculars and fitted them to his eyes. Amidst the happy-faced brown boxes bursting in the mailman’s cargo space, he spied his package. Setting his shotgun, Bowie knife, binoculars, pistol, and tactical belt to the side, he rose and moved down the stairs at an easy pace.

He arrived just as the mailman exited his truck.

“‘Morning, Ron!” Art’s tan, unshaven face creased into a smile. His eyes remained vigilant.

Ron seemed surprised and turned his whole body to meet Art’s approach. “Oh! Mornin’!”

Art wasn’t fooled for a second. “Nice day, eh? How’s it been so far today?”

Ron considered, frowning. “Oh, not bad. Just -” he paused.

“Yeah?”

“Just-” his sky-colored eyes searched their source for inspiration. “Just a lot more packages lately.” Ron smiled vaguely and shrugged.

I’ll bet, thought Art. Aloud, he said, “Bet that’s a real pain in the -”

“Yep.” Ron laughed, agreeing. “Yep.”

“Sorry for adding to that, Ron. Really.” Art nodded toward the pickup’s hardtop. “I thought they’d use UPS.”

Ron shook his head. His white hair floated against the movement. “Nah; Post’s cheaper. We’re better, too!”

“Ha! You’re right!” Art folded his arms. “Well! Don’t go overloadin’ yourself with too many o’ these Amazon deliv’ries, alright? These softies can shake a leg and try their chances at a store sometime! -Maybe experience the real world!”

Ron’s smile broadened. He laughed again. “That’ll be the day!” He went to the open-space window of his hardtop and removed Art’s package. Cringing at the weight, he slid it free and walked a step. Art unfolded his arms and came forward.

Taking the box from the old mailman’s arms, he said, “Whoa, Ron. Wouldn’t want you hurtin’ something. You’ve got all that toilet paper to deliver still!”

Ron laughed a third time. “Yep!”

“See you next deliv’ry!” Art turned and headed back home.

“See ya!”

Without looking back, Art heard the familiar unlocking of the community mailbox. He heard the familiar whistling of the contented mailman. No one seemed to worry about what Ron delivered; what Ron saw. But Art knew. Art knew.

Continued at “Going Postal, IV.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens