Drink with a dead man – and apologies, 410 words
Innocuous in colour as a Rich Tea biscuit, the envelope was angled so as to fit into the grey metal cell of the Post Restante box. Illuminated by the single bare bulb in the narrow passage between front and rear of the shop, the vertical/horizontal of the letter’s shadow made of it a hitman, waiting with casual menace on an intended target. Kit Talamantes, thumb and first finger of his right hand gripping the key with which he had unlocked and pulled open the battered grey metal door, found himself reluctant to take hold of it.
Behind him, an eruption of laughter. Glancing back he saw it came from what, in rural Spain, passed for a queue; its collective amusement directed at a sun-wrinkled seventy-year old, whose purchase of stamps had drawn bantered accusations of a secret lover. Her enjoyment of the attention made a mockery of his fears; he reached in, grasped the letter and twitched it out, dismissing as overly dramatic the fingertip sensation of a sting.
Cheap, flimsy, and lightweight enough to hold the possibility of emptiness. Handwriting unknown; his name correctly spelled. Airmail sticker, British stamps, postmark indecipherable.
He made his way out of the shop. Debated whether or not to open it immediately, then decided coffee – and sitting down – might be a wiser … precaution?
Across the square, he chose a table which offered privacy. Slid a finger into the gap at the top corner of the envelope, tugged gently outward, slitting it, jaggedly, along the fold, and looked inside.
It was not empty. Not quite.
Someone had gone to the trouble of cutting a single notification from a column of an English newspaper. Had cut it in such a way as to leave it attached to the blank outer margin and the page header. Had neatly folded the strip, concertina-style, before putting it into an envelope and posting it to him. The paper was last Saturday’s Northern Echo. The notification of a wedding, due to take place in ten days time.
He knew the groom
He knew the bride.
He knew they could not marry.
With the exception of one woman no-one else on this earth should have known this. In any case, neither she, nor anyone else, would connect him, the man named on the envelope, the man he was, here and now with the man he had been then.
Because everyone from then, her included, knew he died. Eight years ago.
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Sandra.