Somebody else's mail
He wanted to say, God, the things we want. He said: "How is the party." -- Pynchon
You could save $5,000 a year. You have won. You could win. You could change your life today. You have been blessed by God today. You could avoid hell and bankrupcy and late payments and bad debt and bad health and hunger and thirst and, and car trouble and loneliness and boredom. Today, you could.
You. You are late. You will have your gas turned off tomorrow and your couch reposessed. You have doctor's bills. Psych ward bills. You must make a payment for the full ammount. You have a small penis and a bad marriage. You owe, owe, owe, owe and we know that you will make this right because you wouldn't like what we would do now would you, would you. We didn't think so. You better sign this and put something in the mail today.
With other people's mail, the promises promised to you are never promised to you. They mean someone else. The threats they threaten are meaningless like a mad man waving away up on the top of some hill. There's freedom in not being you.
Sharika loved that.
It wasn't that she wanted to know what all those other yous were being promised. It wasn't that she wanted to know about them. Their mail was pretty much the same as hers. But their mail wasn't hers and so she could read it and it would never never make a difference to her. None. The threats would never make her lay on the floor with a blanket over her head. The promises would never make her buy an extra bottle of wine. Never. They meant nothing to her. So she read them everyday.
Today was the 532nd day.
Sharika turns her little key and opened her little box and got her little mail. She walks over to the trash can at the end of the bank of boxes. The trash can was overflowing with promises and threats. There's probably a machine somewhere that licks all those envelopes closed. They've probably programmed the machine so that it likes to lick envelopes closed and licks a billion billion envelopes everyday and the envelopes are sent away and when they come here they mostly end up in the trash can. The trash can looks like it's coming unstuffed, coming unstuffed in a loosed confetti of promises and threats all licked shut by a slave-machine.
Sharika dumps her mail in and she starts to pick out some things that she'd like to read. A fat white one with a window. A magazine offer. An insurance ad. Seventeen doctors bills. Twenty-two cell phone bills. Fourteen unknown envelopes. Then the mail lady sees her.
The mail lady is mean. She's so mean that if you tell her someone named Bazooka doesn't live at this address any more and probably never did because you doubt that any mother ever named her baby Bazooka, she will stare at you and not say a word. She will stare at you mean she's so mean. She's so mean that she delivers bad news and bills extra early and she'll hold Christmas packages until Spring. She'll open them up and look at them first and drop them to see if they break. She's so mean man, she'll call the cops. She will. She'll call the cops just as soon as deliver the mail. She called the cops on Jerald and he's blind. He didn't even know he was talking to the mail lady and he just said good morning and she called the cops and swore out a hand-upon-the-gospel oath that he was a cocaine dealer. Un huh. She sent him to jail she's so mean.
The mail lady sees Sharika and Sharika looks away. It's federal crime. You get the cops called when you're reading someone else's mail and you going to jail in Kansas man. Just like that - Kansas.
Sharika looks the other way and pretends like she's looking for cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are embarasing but people don't look at you when you're picking up butts and it'll never get you sent to Kansas. She picks one up and it's crooked and someone drove over it so it's flat and she pulls out a lighter. The end of the butt is just a little past her fingers but she lights it. Smokes - one two three and then it's gone and she throws it back where it was and looks for another. She pretends like she's not picking up mail. Mail? No. Never get no mail. Never heard of it. She walks away like she's following a Gretel-trail of of butts up the hill.
Kindred Pill watched all this. He watched from the window everyday and whatever he let it build. His apartment stank of sweat in the Spring and Summer and in the Fall and the Winter it was cold. He hadn't had the gas turned on in five years and he only left those three rooms and a broom closet to buy Chinese food in paper boxes. There were ashes in the sink and ground into the carpet. He sat at the window and he wrote. He wrote about the people he saw walking up and down the hill. Not stories, just spews. He called them spews. He deleted all of them because no one cared about those people and no one cared what he could spew. He didn't care. The public wanted certain things. The public wanted certain things, things with beginnings and middles and ends and wants. He wrote things like that and his apartment was cold and it stunk and he sat on the chair and he looked at Sharika and then he looked at the window. There were spots on the window where the rain had dried. Yesterday, when the rain stopped, the spots were taking on the light in rainbows. Today they were all gray.
He was, on the 532nd day, two-thirds of the way through a novel about a planet of people called the Eligeos. The Eligeos never needed anything. If you took a toy away from an Eligeo child the child would play with a stick. If you took the stick and everything away she would stare at you peacefully. These people, they needed nothing and they wanted nothing and so they were always happy and it drove everyone else mad and so everyone went and killed them. There was only one of them left on the 532nd day and Kindred Pill was writing the words "You are going to want to die!" when he knocked his paper box of fried rice off the edge of the table.
The box was closed. He bumped the table with his knee and the box bumped off the right edge and it fell sideways and it hit the carpet and, splosh it exploded off-white rice all over the off-white carpet.
You are going to die. Kindred wrote. You are going to want to die and then you are going to die. But first comes the desire. You are going to want it so bad that you are going to say I want I want I want and you will wish you had never ever wanted anything.