The wind had blown in short gusts all day, strong and fierce for moments, then dying back down to a stillness that was more unsettling than peaceful. Fast food wrappers, plastic bags, and a plethora of newspaper circulars were sent spinning into the streets, emptying out of some unseen back alley or deserted front yard, enjoying their brief moments of unexpected fame as they are catapulted into the stage of the streets.
Its in the midst of the swirling chaos of once passed over debris that I notice the letter, unopened, its American flag still flying proudly on the corner, despite having been marred by the faded ink of the post stamp. It seemed it was being sent to an address up the block, and I scooped it up, fully intending to deliver it to its rightful owners, no real curiosity about its contents stirring me.
As I approach I see that, sure enough, the mailbox is hanging open, its gaping mouth still half full of junk mail and bills. The house, however, is clearly vacant. The lot is overgrown, more weeds than grass, really. A porch step is split down the middle, and a second floor window is shattered into spider cracks that threaten to dissolve with the next gust of wind. As I come nearer I realize the note on the door is an eviction, dated from May 15th. Only one month ago this place had been lived in, I marveled. Clearly neither the landlord nor the tenant had the impetus to make it a place that looked worth living in.
I checked the postmark, and realized the letter had been through the local post office on that very day, probably arriving here to the house on the 16th. One day too late to get ripped open and perused by whatever kind of person lived in a dump like this. Probably just some addict or washed up jack of all trades type anyhow. Too bad they hadn’t invested some time in keeping the house looking better. And I walked away, hands in my pockets. In one hand was the letter, now folded over to accommodate the pocket, and I can’t explain why I did that, instead of stuffing it back into the mailbox with all the other junk.
It was almost a week later when I saw it again, and this time I tore it opened, deciding that I was a perfectly good determiner of what was worth keeping, and assuring myself that if the letter was worth anything I would see that it got passed on. Most likely just junk mail anyhow, and besides, without me it would have been rinsed down the gutter by now and lost to everyone.
The lines blurred, seemingly incoherent, and I had a dizzy sense of having entered into a private world I was never meant to be a part of.
To be continued…