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, XIII

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,” and “Going Postal, XII,”

Not much happened anymore outside little Charli‘s window. Not much happened in the house, either, now that her big brother and daddy and mommy stayed home. Now, they all played all day like she did, but also not like she did.

“Go away!” her brother, Jer, snapped when she tried to watch his screen.

“I’m busy; not now,” was Daddy’s answer every time he worked on the computer.

“Why don’t you go play with your toys, or with that letters game you like so much?” Mommy said, also watching a screen.

Charli didn’t understand why Jer kept his headphones on, why Daddy gave his computer a mad face, or why Mommy sighed as she played on her phone and sat in the empty hair-cutting room. No carpool drove up and honked. Daddy didn’t have ‘at work.’ Mommies didn’t come get a haircut from her mommy.

Even Santa didn’t always come. Instead of the nice man with white hair, Charli sometimes saw a scary man with scary eyes holding the smile-presents as he climbed their front steps. She never saw when he dropped the boxes on the porch because she hid behind the blue curtains until it was safe.

The smile-boxes were the same, and there were more of them. She didn’t know why Daddy wanted so many; if they were food like Santa told her, why did they need so much? Mommy still got food from the store; Charli just didn’t get to go with her anymore.

“Oh, I don’t go into the grocery store,” Mom had told her when she asked. “They shop for me and bring it out to the car. If you came along, you’d sit in the car and that wouldn’t be fun for you.”

Charli thought about that explanation as Mommy helped put her shoes on. “Why are we going to the store today?” she asked.

“Because,” Mommy said, pulling on the shoe straps, “I need to get our groceries. Daddy went to the post office. Jer wanted to go with Dad.”

“Why did Daddy go to the post office?”

“Because they didn’t deliver some of our packages.”

“Why didn’t they deliver our packages?”

“We don’t know, Honey. No one’s answering the phone.” Mommy sat back and smiled her tired smile. “No more questions. Let’s get in the car.”

They walked through the house to the car in the garage. Charli waited for Mommy to buckle her in her Big Girl Seat, then waited for Mommy to buckle her own seat belt. She watched Mommy’s face scrunch and her eyes move while the car went backwards. Mommy turned back to look where she was driving. Charli looked out her window.

The world outside the car window wasn’t fun, like the house window wasn’t fun. She twisted around and waved buh-bye when Mommy turned onto The Busy Street. Just before she turned on her game, Charli saw Santa park his truck by her house.

The scary man was with him.

Continued to “Going Postal, XIV.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

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, VI

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” and “Going Postal, V.”

*Tick* *tick* *tick*

The kitchen clock pecked at Carol’s attention from its wall perch, a room away. She frowned and tried to focus on her TV show and her loop count. Once the clock hands touched eight and three; she’d sighed, put Ron’s supper in the fridge, and shuffled to the sitting room.

“I Love Lucy” was meant to block the ticking. The waiting.

The Corner to Corner crochet was meant to block the cold. The chills.

Maybe winter still hung around. Maybe she’d picked up a little something from her job at the airport.

Carol took a shaky breath. She’d been finding breathing harder than usual. No matter; a little eucalyptus and lavender could cure that right up. She’d be sure to mix some into the humidifier before turning in.

*Tick* *CLICK* *tick*

Nine o’clock. Where was that man? Carol had half a mind to suggest Ron go back to machining, maybe even try retirement. They could do it, now that they’d both been working a good long while and had almost paid her cancer bills. She’d been in remission for two whole years. His itchy nature could be satisfied with projects ’round the house, surely. She’d bring it up again, once he’d eaten some supper and settled down in his recliner.

A noise scramble-scritched at the door; his key in the lock. The front door opened with a screech and Ron stood against the dark spring night.

He coughed. “‘Mornin’, Care-all,” he said, smiling. He always smiled when he made that joke.

Carol looked cross, her usual response. “Now, Ron. You know it ain’t mornin’ and I ain’t yer Care-all.”

Closing the door behind him and locking it, he smiled the smile she’d loved since the day they’d met. He cleared his throat. “Reckon I picked up a cold somewhere,” he said. “Gotta get a drink.”

“All righty, Ron.” She looked down at her stitches as he walked past her to the kitchen. “Yer supper’s in there, too!”

She heard his big footsteps all over her just-mopped floor and hoped he hadn’t trailed in any mud. Once, he’d trailed in dog poop and she’d made him wipe it all up. She sighed; just another part of his job she’d rather do without.

Lucy and Ethel were stuffing chocolates in their mouths on the TV. Carol laughed to herself; good old Lucy.

Carol started a new row.

Lucy stuffed chocolates into her uniform.

Carol finished the row and started a new one.

“Had to report to the city today,” Ron said, coming from behind with his food. He coughed again, against his shoulder. She watched him settle into his old recliner, both creaking and moaning.

“Oh?” Credits ran down the screen and her finger held the loop.

He selected a carrot, whirled it in mashed potatoes and topped it with some hearty roast beef. “‘Said I needed to not deliver to wrong houses.” In went his fork.

She made a noise like their furnace when it didn’t want to spark. Ron caught her eye; he had such nice eyes. He nodded, swallowed, and smiled his sideways smile. “Well! Don’ that beat all!” she exclaimed.

“Ye-ep.”

“Well! …Well!”

He helped himself to the rest of his supper.

“Watcha gonna do, Ron?” Some warning about staying inside flashed on the TV. Holding her stitch with one hand, she switched the screen off with the remote.

He shrugged. “‘Could always work with Marty.”

Carol dropped her stitch. She faked a laugh. “Right.”

“I might be serious.”

She looked at her hands, pretending on finding her yarn again. “Well …it’s a good thing he’s not outta prison, then.”

Now he laughed, but it wasn’t his happy one. “Right.”

Continued with “Going Postal, VII.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Going Postal, V

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

Stan hated his job at the post office. He told his friends, his coworkers, his mother, and that girl he’d almost made it with last Friday night. For some reason, he didn’t tell his boss.

The problem was the boredom. Stan wanted to be lead guitarist in a band. “I would be The Next Big Thing,” he had told that girl. If she’d stuck around, he could have also told her about his plans: his band name, who would be begging to sing with him, and which girls would sleep with him after each show.

“Look,” Dave said in a somewhat muffled voice, after Stan spent the first part of their shift complaining, “Maybe you should publish some songs online, so people can hear your sound.”

Stan slid a package from the line and squinted at it. He felt sweaty wearing a mask and gloves. “Are you kidding? Then people would steal my ideas.”

Ian, from down the line, yelled out, “Stan -dude- do you have anything posted?”

Stan didn’t answer; just shoved the package harder than it needed to be toward Ian. Dave wiped a sleeve across his forehead and said something Stan couldn’t hear. “What??” Stan demanded.

“Nothin’.” Dave rolled a wad of advertisements and secured them with an elastic.

“I’ll bet I know,” Ian shouted. He’d shouted even before they all wore face masks. “I’ll bet he said you don’t got no songs! ‘Fact, I’ll bet he said you gotta learn guitar first!”

The room echoed in muffled laughter. Stan flushed.

Just then, a happy beeping sounded from beyond the receiving doors. They turned to see an old, white pickup truck pull up. Ron Richardson exited, sipping from a large drink. “Hiya, boys!”

Ian, Dave, and the others didn’t answer. Stan, however, never could resist. “Well, if it isn’t our friendly, neighborhood creeper! How are ya, contractee?”

Ron turned to Stan, his smile fixed. “‘Fraid I can’t really hear ya, Son.” He cleared his throat, then coughed a bit against a hand. “So! Where’s my load for the mornin’? I’m running behind after a meeting at the city.”

Stan pointed at a pile of bins and boxes behind Dave. No one moved to help him as the old man set his drink down and stooped to load a wheeled mail bin. The room remained silent as Ron filled and pushed the squeaking-wheeled bin to his pickup. And again. And again. The squeaking and his occasional cough were the only sounds in the large sorting room. After a half hour of work, he finished.

“See ya, Creeper!” Stan yelled at Ron’s retreating back on his last trip to the truck.

Ron didn’t answer. Maybe he couldn’t really hear. As the pickup chugged to life and pulled away, Stan yanked off his mask and gloves. The air felt cold and sweet. “Phew! That’s better!” Stuffing the safety apparatus into a back pocket, he walked down the line and grabbed at the edge of the wheeled bin to drag it back.

He had to push the bin from all different sides to reorient it, but Stan returned it back against the wall. “Lazy contractor,” he mumbled, looking at Ron’s forgotten Big Gulp and wiping at his mouth with his bare hand.

Continued at “Going Postal, VI.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Going Postal, IV

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

The residents of Westside City were a mixed bunch, thanks to a dispute among the planners back when a large area of it went from unincorporated to residential. Sort-of. Supposedly, Fred Simons wanted multi-family housing while Martin Gonzales thought single-unit homes were better. Ida Jenkins said she’d abstain if pressed, while Mayor Cliffstone threatened to film the whole thing if the two gentlemen didn’t sit down and discuss things like humans instead of animals.

In the ensuing debates over taxonomy and zoning, no one thought to verify whether the United States Post Office planned to include the new area in its existing route maps. Ron Richardson didn’t mind; he’d been considering an easy employment since retirement and thought a contractual mail carrier fit the bill nicely.

It hadn’t been all butterflies and roses, of course. He was required to use his own vehicle; had to bend, stoop, and lift; and not many residents acknowledged his existence. Still, Ron had done it for ten years and figured he could handle all that for another ten. Then, the current city planning board called him in.

He and the three committee members, spaced at least six feet apart, were the room’s only occupants.

“We’ve been getting some complaints from residents,” Joe Schlepp said. He tried to look stern as he squirted his hands with sanitizer and rubbed them vigorously.

“Oh?” Ron rocked on his feet in an amiable fashion. His toes rested against a scuffed bit of blue tape on the carpet.

“Yes,” Ida Jenkins agreed, her voice muffled behind a paper face mask. She read over a printed page that waved slightly in her gloved hand. “One resident says her package was delivered to the wrong address. Another claimed hers never arrived…. Another says it went to the wrong house, and another, and another…”

In the awkward pause, Ron answered, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Bob Spineless frowned. “Mr. -”

“Ron -”

“Mr. Ron, we cannot have this level of irresponsibility from our mail carrier. If we receive any more complaints, we will need to consider offering your position to another applicant.”

The happy rocking stopped. Ron’s affable smile did not, although it tightened.

“Do you understand, Mr. Ron?” Ida should have known his real name. She had hired him. She had his name printed at the top of her complaints sheet.

“Sure. Sure.” Ron turned and left. The committee didn’t seem to notice. Not only did no one talk to him on his route, no one had really talked to him here. Apparently, they all only noticed problems, problems that were the fault of incorrect address labels and lazy post office sorters.

Each downside of the job came to him with each step he took away from the city government meeting room and toward the city government parking lot.

For an entire decade, he’d delivered everyone’s packages faithfully. Lately, he delivered everyone’s panic-buying supplies. He drove from before sunup to after sundown. He carried everything from canned goods to ammunition.

Ron exited the double-glass doors and descended the double-wide front steps.

Since he was a contractual mail carrier, he had no official vehicle. The post office workers treated him like a civilian. He saw their sideways glances and sneers as he picked up his allotted bins and assigned bundles every day, multiple times a day.

He unlocked his pickup truck and got in.

Contract workers didn’t have health insurance, either.

Reaching for his Big Gulp, Ron realized his throat felt sore. He felt tired, but maybe that was because he felt warmer than usual in the cold, April sun.

Continued at “Going Postal, V.”

 

©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

Going Postal, II

Continued from “Going Postal, I.”

Little Charli Andersen loved to watch the world from her front window.

On Garbage Day, the garbage truck came. On Not-Preschool Days, her big brother’s carpool pulled up and honked. And, every day, Santa Claus parked his white pickup truck at their street’s mailbox.

At least, she thought he was Santa Claus. He was old and had white hair and sometimes brought presents to the porch. Her mother didn’t show Charli what the present-boxes had inside, but she knew they must be something happy. Almost every box had a smile on the side.

Today was no exception. *Ding* beeped her touchscreen game. *Snip* *snip* went her mother’s scissors. *Oh, I know, Honey* said the lady in the haircut chair.

A blink of white from beyond the window reflected onto Charli’s game. Santa was at the mailbox again! She watched him ease out of his truck and shuffle to the back. Her hand hung poised over the screen as she saw him pull out a large present, heft it to a new position, and stagger toward her house.

Charli saw the usual smile on the package’s side. She had to know what Santa brought this time, before her mother took it. Glancing up to confirm that her mother was busy working, Charli set the tablet down and snuck to the front door. She opened it just as Santa arrived at the top of their porch stairs, huffing.

“Well, hi, little girl!” he said, smiling. He set the box down near the edge and leaned against the railing.

Charli smiled and looked at her feet. She didn’t know what to say, now that she’d finally met him.

Santa scratched his face. He didn’t have a beard. “Didja like the rain we got yesterday?” he asked.

She nodded, still looking down.

“Didja see the rainbow?”

She jerked her head up in surprise. He still smiled kindly at her. She saw his eyes were the color of the sky. “No,” she said.

He gave her a sympathetic frown. “That’s alright. You can see one next time it rains.”

Another nod. She ground a bare toe into the doorstep in a twirl. “What’s in the present?” she managed to ask.

“Hm? Present?” He looked confused, Then, his attention turned to the large box at his feet. “Oh! Well! …This isn’t a present-”

Charlie’s face fell.

“-Not this time!” he added, holding up a reassuring hand.

Her expression lightened, curious.

“Yep,” Santa said, “Looks like this big box is some fancy food storage for your big family.” He gave a soft chuckle.

Her mouth puckered and she scowled.

He laughed outright. “Ha! This’s some high-quality stuff. ‘Time’ll come, some people’ll kill for this stuff! -Now, run on inside and tell your mommy about it so no one takes it. ”

She nodded again, and scuttled back inside. Her mother liked knowing about packages. She didn’t like when Charli opened the door without asking.

Continued at “Going Postal, III.”

 

©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

Dear, Sweet Sugar Report

“Looks like t’mail’s come,” Private O’Boyle said. He leaned over the M-2’s exposed, greasy innards and smiled at his friend.

Pfc. Flanagan grinned back. The two watched a soldier unloading a canvas bag.

“Betcha got one from Mary,” O’Boyle teased. He dodged Flanagan’s kick.

“Oh; aye? And what of you, Joseph O’Boyle?”

O’Boyle pretended sudden concentration in securing a bolt. A smudge of grease almost worked to hide his half-smile.

“Aha!” Flanagan said, “I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

“You’re not foolin’ anyone! You’ve had more Sugar Reports from Miss Josephine Callahan that the rest of the unit put together!”

airshow-2580500_1280

Written with a few ancestral names for this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch:

February 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a sugar report. Use its original meaning of a letter from a sweetheart to a soldier, or invent a new use for it. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 18, 2020. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit: Pixabay