The Mail Carrier’s Guide to Slaying Monsters (Pt 1 of 3): A Skewed Short Story

***just guess where this one is going…

                “Franklin, you’re doing fine physically.”

                “What a relief.  Thanks.  What about the rest of me?”

                “You still need to sell the house.  Move somewhere where people can take care of you.”

                Franklin rose.  “You ever hear of the 10,000 step-per-day thing, Doc?  I counted.  In the last forty years, I’m 30,000 steps per day.”

                Doc looked up.  He was a short man, much shorter than Franklin, and though courtesy said he should get up too, he didn’t.  “That’s got nothing to do with dementia.”

                On the way out, Franklin slammed the office door.  The waiting room was full of people staring at him, except for the kids – they were putting snot all over the books and doctor’s office toys, spreading germs by the hundred thousand.  “Hell of a place to get healthy,” he muttered, on his way out.

*****

                “Hi,” said the girl with the tattoo.  Franklin stared at it.  A snowstorm was falling on a city that had just been destroyed by a giant lizard.  The monster’s tail filled a street at the end of the last block.

                “Hi,” he said, slipping next to her.  “Nice tattoo.  Where are you headed?”

                “Uptown, Sir.”

                “Don’t call me Sir.  No one ever teach you manners?  Makes people like me feel old.”

                “Sorry.  You married, Sir?”

                “Clara passed.  That your real hair colour?”

                She smiled.  “I’m Irene.  You always talk to strangers?”

                “Yup.  But all we do is ask questions.  Ever notice that?  Never answer them.  Just question after question, like me and you.  But Clara and me were different.  We said things.  We figured them out.”

                Irene nodded and looked out the window.  Her hair was purple and pink.  Franklin stared at the tattoo.  Snow was falling on the destruction, and he fell with it, into the streets and shattered buildings, crunching broken glass and new ice alike.  Cars were overturned, leaking green blood on snow.  And before him, there was Clara Hughes, standing in a coat and snowshoes, laughing about the coffee she’d taken from the ruins of a cafe.  Same crooked nose he remembered, same thin little fingers, same grin.  Only now she had coloured hair – purple and pink, and it had grown long, dragging behind her to make a trail in the snow.

                “You’ll get cold,” he told her.

                “Sir?”

                “Never mind, Irene.  Here’s my stop.  Excuse my questions.  I have dementia.  Makes me unstable.”

                Her smiled opened up, as though they were the same, in the same boat, working to fix a rubble-strewn cityscape together.  As though they were both crazy.

*****

                Franklin jingled keys.  He found a bathroom with piss all over the floor, and stretched his legs about as far as he could to avoid the wet spots.  His penis looked impossibly small.  “Was bigger when I was a kid,” he mumbed.  “Come on now, operate.”  It took him three minutes to finish up, and then he had to uncurl himself from the awkward position he’d managed to occupy between the stalls.

                “They banned smoking years ago, Henk,” he told the wheelchair’d guy.  The room was full of smokers, all men, sitting at tables along the length of a bar that wouldn’t open till three.

                “Who’s gonna come in here and stop us?  Not like it’s gonna kill us faster than we’re already dying.  What do you want?”

                “Connections.  I’m writing that novel.  Need a publisher.”

                “Agent first,” Henk said, writing on a post-it.  “If it’s any good, agent’ll carry it on.  Try this guy.  What’s it all about again?”

                “A postal carrier.”

                “Memoir?”

                “No, fiction.  About a postal carrier who gets cancelled by technology.  First he has to deal with super mailboxes – can’t even see the people he’s delivering to anymore.  Then the internet and layoffs because there’s no personal mail.  All his buddies get axed.  But he gets terminated when on-line shopping starts up and postal carriers have to lug parcels around, and he’s just too damn old for that.  On his last day, he finds the bags of Love Mail in the warehouse, those letters people meant to send to lovers, but either didn’t know where they were or weren’t brave enough to put on an address.  So he makes it his life to deliver them, and one letter leads to this mystery…”

                “Jesus,” said Henk.  “Don’t tell me anymore.  Written any of it yet?”

                “Got time now.  Clara’s long gone.  Job’s long gone.  It’s finally time.”

                “Don’t know how many times I’ve heard that – ‘it’s finally time’.  What’s it mean?  No, don’t bother answering.  I can’t handle answers.  Here, have a smoke.”

                Franklin took one and looked around.  Everyone was doing it.  The first puff reminded him of a dumpster behind a corner store, the smell of garbage mixed with cigarettes as bikes leaned against a fence and the sun dropped from a dark blue sky.

                “Me?” said Henk.  “I got a ticket to the moon.  Cost most of my retirement fund.  They say I won’t make it back.  That I should buy a burial plot in a crater, some place to call my own.  Some place with a view.”

                “When are you leaving?”

                Henk stared at him.  “When?  When?  When?  Franklin, my friend.  I’m already gone.”

Dream hard, rage hard.

55 thoughts on “The Mail Carrier’s Guide to Slaying Monsters (Pt 1 of 3): A Skewed Short Story

        1. I figure if I don’t know where it’s going, no one else will either. I vaguely see the ending, and how many words to get there, but the path from A to B is, for me, always a little bit flooded.

          Plus it’s like -41 Celsius here with the wind chill. What the heck am I supposed to do but pretend I’m an old decrepit mailman with mental health issues, in weather like that???

  1. Only you Trent, only you, can have a blogsite that my public network denies access to. Never mind, made it eventually. This is well up to your usual immaculately weird standards.

    1. Not sure why that is, haven’t heard anyone else having that issue. Anyway, glad you fixed it.

      Dude has dementia. He’s bound to be a bit off-base, I guess. Stay tuned.

              1. I agree. I think it’s important to feel that voice in its entirety, whether it’s the tense or the timbre. But I don’t know if there is a formula for a voice. I think it’s just something you hear and that you write, as though you are putting yourself in the head of a character that is not you.

              2. I’ve never had a formula. I simply hear it in my head. Mr Moffo’s nemesis, for example. I knew what he’d done but had no idea how he would describe it, nor, until I started to write, any idea of motive.

              3. I’ll definitely check her out. I don’t mind disturbing at all. In typical modern fashion, I often feel that I need to be disturbed a bit to feel anything at all. Wow, I’m sounding moribund to myself… better write about some rainbows and sunflowers.

                Thanks for the tip Duncan, I love reading new voices.

              4. You’re welcome to the tip; I like her a good deal. And I’m very pleased indeed you like reading my voices. I have hundreds of them. It’s quite crowded in my head on occasion.

  2. oooh yeah! I love this guy. Kind of a cross between Sam Spade and Arthur Dent. Hard boiled but with a soft and chewy center. Love that about strangers only asking questions too.

  3. Oh how I love dystopia. This story — I need to know more. The part about the moon especially!! You’ve opened a fascinating door and let us take a peek. Can’t wait for you to open it wider!

  4. I will back for parts 2 and 3, Trent. Great story! I have no idea where you’re going with this. I like his book idea a lot. It’s wacky and the choice about what he’s writing gives me a sense of your character.

      1. On a mild note, I’d assume dementia as the nutty doc may have seen more of the clinical picture. The doc may be unpleasant, but he may still know his stuff.

        As a mere writer-reader with the details available in this piece, let’s for fun throw in another diagnosis involving a psychotic disorder considering Franklin’s other exploits involving communicating with trolls which he believes to be real.

    1. Oh whoa… thanks for that comment. Between you and me, short stories is really what I write, this is what I love. The other stuff is good fun.

      Thanks again, my friend.

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