Going Postal, XIV

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,” “Going Postal, IX,” “Going Postal, X,” “Going Postal, XI,” “Going Postal, XII,” and “Going Postal, XIII.”

Ron was just your average sort of guy: tallish, wideish, oldish, kindish. He drove his reliable old pickup with the reliable old hardtop around the neighborhood every day; often, he drove around several times a day.

Some of the residents talked to Ron. Most did not. Most didn’t notice him or his truck, despite its nearly always being full to bursting with their latest Amazon packages and Domino’s pizza coupons.

Mrs. Hempsworth remembered the last time she’d spoken to the mailman, although she couldn’t recall his name. She thought about their odd, stinted conversation as she peered at her community mailbox from behind her lace bedroom curtains.

Not only had she not seen the white-haired, blue-eyed mailman much lately; she’d not seen her packages for two weeks. When she phoned the post office, no one picked up. Didn’t they know she couldn’t drive? Didn’t they know she didn’t own a car? Didn’t they know that a lady like her couldn’t trust a driver these days?

Mrs. Hempsworth shuddered.

In her seventy-two years of life, she’d never imagined life the way it currently was. Even her father’s tales of The Great Depression or the racial tensions of the 60’s and 70’s didn’t seem as bad as now. “Oh, how I miss it!” she sighed, thinking over her childhood, happy marriage to Lloyd, and lonely retirement.

She’d had Bunco. She’d had an eventual prospect of Happy Meadows Retirement Home. She’s had Days of Our Lives, for Pete’s sake. Now, she had a television full of bad news. She had neighbors who’d left or barricaded their doors. She had nowhere to go because nowhere was safe.

A noise from downstairs startled her from her reflections. She didn’t move; the old, heavy bureau was already in front of her bedroom door and all her necessities were in the room with her.

She sighed. “May as well get it over with.”

The sounds from below increased: furniture moving, drawers opening. She closed her eyes and imagined her phoning the police; imagined a time, now gone, when the police both existed and responded to home robberies.

Expecting masked mobs or bobbing flashlights, Mrs. Hempsworth opened her eyes and looked down at the street outside her front walk. The street, however, appeared mostly empty. The only thing she could see was a white, covered pickup truck, parked at an odd angle to the curb.

THE END

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Going Postal, I

Ron was just your average sort of guy: tallish, wideish, oldish, kindish. He drove his reliable old pickup with the reliable old hardtop around the neighborhood every day; often, he drove around several times a day.

Some of the residents talked to Ron. Most did not. Most didn’t notice him or his truck, despite its nearly always being full to bursting with their latest Amazon packages and Domino’s pizza coupons.

One day, Mrs. Hempsworth happened on Ron at the exact moment she went to retrieve her mail. Startled, she supposed she ought to make small talk. “Oh. Um. Hello.”

Ron didn’t look up from sorting his elasticized mail bundles into various slots, yet his voice sounded cheery. “Howdy.”

“Lovely day.”

“Oh, yes.”

Mrs. Hempsworth didn’t know what else to comment on, and cast about for a subject. Her eyes fell on his overstuffed vehicle. “Lots of packages.”

Ron stopped his shuffling and turned her direction. His pale blue eyes met her paint-lined browns. His gaze shifted to his truckload. Back to her. He blinked, surprised. “Yes.”

“Erm,” Mrs. Hempsworth fumbled. “Does it take you a while to deliver them all?”

Another blink. “Yes.”

“Oh.” She paused, out of her depth.

Ron helped. “‘Course, it’s been worse lately.”

Now she blinked. “Oh?”

“Yep.” Ron went back to sorting. “Everyone’s been orderin’ toilet paper off Amazon. It takes up too much space.”

She blushed, but the mail carrier’s white whispy hair was bent over a bin. He straightened, proferring a medium-sized package that weighed less than it appeared. Charmin was printed across the top.

“11259, right?”

She nodded and accepted her delivery without her realizing it. The man closed up the community mailbox, locked it with a key, picked up his empty bin, and headed back to his truck. “See ya,” he called, without looking back.

Mrs. Hempsworth watched the battered pickup drive away, the shifting packages within it sliding against the open windows of the hardtop. She clutched her toilet paper to her chest in a paranoid gesture, then relaxed. What did it matter that the mail carrier knew about her orders? It was his job, after all…

Continued at “Going Postal, II.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens