Tag Archives: short story

Customer Service

* For a brief explanation about this project, please click here.

Good to see you again sir.

Again? Have we…have we met before?

No sir, I just remember you from your photograph.

Oh. The uh-right, you’ve seen my picture because of the, okay. I get it.

Yes. And how can I help you?

I’m here to collect those photographs actually. Jennifer Cross.

 

And you are?

Her boyfriend.

John. Correct?

No.

Oh… Steven?

Darren.

 

Darren! Almost got it. How was your vacation Darren?

Uhh…fine…

Hawaii?

Yes. How did you-

I love Hawaii.

Okay, this is a little strange. You shouldn’t, uh, you shouldn’t really be looking at our photographs.

 

But how can I determine if they’ve been suitably processed?

No, I get that, but you shouldn’t be looking at them.

How can I avoid looking at them sir?

You just can. I don’t know. Just don’t look at them. Don’t interpret the photographs.

Sir, I see a photograph and instinctually contextualize it. Like words. I cannot not read a word.

No. No. This isn’t cool. I’m not okay with you investigating my life.

 

A photograph is a memory. A citation. A bookmark placed on a point of significance during one’s life.

A photograph is a personal memory man. It belongs to me. Not you.

Well, that’s where our opinions differ sir. You handed this memory to me. And I made it so.

What? What are you talking about?

My machine and I brought your memory into the physical world Darren. And in doing so it became my memory too. Such are the consequences. These are our photographs. Our memories.

I want to speak to your manager. This is just completely inappropriate.

 

How is Jennifer?

Don’t ask about her. Don’t even mention her. You don’t know her.

I’m afraid I do. She likes olive oil on her bread and she’s learning the Ukulele. Correct? Of course I am.

Give me my photographs you fucking creep!

They’re my photographs too. Haven’t you been listening?

I’m calling the police, man. This is fucked.

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The Whiskey Wagon and the Wild Women

 

The young cadet that skipped town.

The young cadet that skipped town.

* For a brief explanation of this project please click here.

That hazy blurred photograph was all I had to go on. I’d come all the way up, deep into the Valley, onto that vague carpet of suburbia some hack town planner blindly kicked off into the distance, just to get this photograph. I hate it up here. Awful little fauxdobe terracotta topped building blocks as far as the eye can bear to see all lined up waiting for the Big One to come and spare them the shame of their own crass form. Inside these cubes lies a community that all suddenly decided to tune in, get fat, find God, and sit in front of the tube allowing their bodies to congeal and wilt, and their brains to pickle and stew. They want to prune their little lawns and protect them with obnoxious sprinklers that spray onto the sidewalk preventing you from passing. Like they’ve hired some huge drunken dick to piss through a sieve. Going into the San Fernando Valley was like wading up to your knees in the Mid West.

The photograph in question was an amateur portrait of some soldier. Some handsome young military buck who probably knocked up some young thing and left Pasadena under the mask of the evening, leaving his poor old lady behind to fend for herself. Part of me doesn’t blame him. I couldn’t allow myself to recede like a dying house cat into this tragic gorge, and the tone of voice on the message his old lady left me was pretty God damn irritating. Nasal. I can’t stand a nasal woman, particularly when she’s getting on my wick about something. But the other part of me says that you don’t sneak out like some piece of shit coward. You go out like a man, and take whatever scorn she throws at you on your chin.

She’d left a message around 2am last night. I was snuggly incubated by a near quart of some cheap blushed rye that had left a thick film on my tongue and rasp in my throat. I was out. I might’ve appeared dead from ten feet had it not been for the pungent scent of a good, hard second-hand drunk that filled the air. I woke up at 10:15. My mouth tasted like brined old leather and my head felt like it’d been tumble dried with an ashtray full of loose change. After months of little tastes here and there, the odd stumble and slur, there was now a solid case to convict me of falling haplessly from the wagon.

I saw the answer machine blinking its red light at me through a gap in my fingers. I rolled over and slapped the buttons hoping I didn’t hit delete again. Her nasal voice started up like a tiny little leaf blower. I’ll spare you the peas and carrots and get to the meat and potatoes. Her husband was gone and she needed someone to find him. She looked in the phonebook and that ad I told those pig fuckers to remove caught her eye. She called me crying, scared, and explained what she needed me to do.

So here we are. Driving back from her ghastly place with nothing to go on but this blurred image she left for me in an envelope under the plant pot on her porch. No sign of nothing else. I decided to stop in at the liquor store and buy another quart of that rye. I thought it best to go home at once, wonder at the blurred image of this young cadet while I throw out a towel, kick back and marinade in the petri at the base of this here bottle of sweet, sweet rye.

Ahhh, to be back.

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Mental Breakdown #4 – Actress

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Date: 3/14/2013

To whom it may concern,

I took money from a guy I slept with a few days ago. I still have it all. It’s sitting in a drawer next to me. I thought about throwing it away. But I couldn’t.

I don’t know if this is a confession, or just some way that I can push everything I have away from me and breathe, but I need this. I need you to listen to me and I need to pretend that you understand, and that the same problem befell you, or someone you know. I need to think that this landed in the hands of someone that at one time felt like they needed something as badly as I need you. When I got home I opened this bottle of wine, sobbed in bed and looked through my entire phone book for someone to talk to. I hadn’t a single a name that would be able to hear me without judging me. Scores of acquaintances, taking and giving, but no friends that I can share with. That made me feel like I’d completely wasted the last ten years of my life.

I met the guy about a month ago. He came in one night when I was cocktailing. We got to chatting and he said he was a producer for some reality show. I said I was out here doing my thing. He asked how it was going. I looked at him before I answered. I could see he wasn’t judging me. He understood. He saw me, and my dreams, and not the tray with his drink on it. I said it was going well. He smiled, and said ‘Good, I’m pleased’. But we all knew it could have been better. In the eight years I’ve been here I’ve realized that LA loves nothing more than reminding most of us of that very fact.

We exchanged numbers. He said he would introduce me to a few people that could help me. He tipped me really well, like 40%, and that was that. I texted him that night and thanked him. The texts kept going back and forth casually for a few weeks before we found time to go out.

The night out itself was really nice. We had a great meal in West Hollywood then went to a bar nearby, before going back to his place downtown. All night he’d been talking about his job, telling stories, name dropping. He talked about how he would make some calls and get me some parts. I just listened, taking it all in. At his place we talked over Jazz and stayed up drinking and taking blow, and eventually started making out on his couch.

When I came out of his bedroom the next morning there was this little pile of hundred dollar bills sitting on the kitchen work surface. There was a note on top of it.

“I had fun! Text me.”

I heard him in the shower, whistling. I looked behind, out of the huge windows at the tops of the bank buildings, and the hills behind them in the distance. I’d never seen the city from that height before. I looked back at the money. I put my hand down slowly on the bills, and took it off again as soon as I felt them. I counted them. Ten fresh hundred dollar bills.

It was like the air rushed from the elevator as it started to drop. I felt disorientated. My organs thumped inside my body, and I felt them working like they were dying. As soon as the doors opened I wanted to press the 35th floor button and go straight back up and leave the money where I’d left it. But I couldn’t. I walked quickly through the lobby and felt the cunt hostess at the front door eyeing me up and down, like I was someone else’s stain. I was dragged along, trailing, pulled by every negative emotion I could feel.

Truth is, I’ve been partying really hard over the last year. It’s gotten to be something that I no longer do because I’m happy. I wouldn’t have been in the situation I was in were it not for the fact that I’m deep in debt, deeply depressed and almost certainly an addict. In the last few months I’ve been dating a lot of guys, not because I want a relationship, but because I need to have someone to pay for me to drink, and then fall in love with me, for that night at least. And reading back over that I really feel like the sad, pathetic little Hollywood casualty I never wanted to become. But I’m scared now, because I don’t know who to call, and aside from the ten fresh hundred dollar bills in my drawer, I’m completely broke, lost and miserable.

Please, I need help. I need you to understand that I’m not a bad person. I’m just going through some stuff.

Kindest regards,

 

 

 

Anonymous

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Mental Breakdown #1 – Comedian

One

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Date: 03/14/2013

To the cleaner that finds this,

I’m just about ready to pop a bag of Xanax like Skittles and dive to the bottom of this bottle of Popov. Leave the world like a silent fart made from Guinness and Mexican street meat. Perhaps my legacy will burn brighter than my life ever did. Perhaps people will realize that I was too far ahead of my time to ever achieve the recognition I deserved. ‘He was like Hicks, Kauffman and Stanhope rolled into one!’’ They’ll read my Wikipedia page and lament about how young I was, how expansive my career could have been, and how it just didn’t need to be that way. But it did need to be that way. And at this point I think it probably will be.

I’ve been sitting in this dank, cavernous little motel room in Fresno for two days now. There are little blood shots on the ceiling that are either from squished mosquitoes or stabbed veins. Everything white has turned the color of smoker’s fingernails, and the pipes heave and splutter before spewing their bile into the sink. The smog that hangs over the city probably comes from the crematorium for anonymous souls that slashed their wrists in their ‘luxury motel rooms’ as they fled from abject failure in Los Angeles. It’s exactly the sort of place that a degenerate fuck up crawls to die.

I decided I would try to write my own Wikipedia page. I didn’t have time to write a book, so it would be Wikipedia, a quick Tweet and a big fat ‘Fuck yourself’ post to everyone on Facebook, and I’d be gone. Yet despite the fact that it’s widely known that anyone can make a Wikipedia page, it still manages to instill a sense of legitimacy. Like, ‘Oh shit, he’s got a Wikipedia page? He must be worth something.’ They don’t need to know that he made it in a motel room in Fresno, drunk, in yesterday’s yesterday’s underwear.

I fantasized about what I’d write. I made some notes and categorized everything. ‘Early Life’, ‘Mid-Career: Seattle to Los Angeles’, ‘Final Years: 2010 – 2013’ ‘Death’, ‘Legacy’ and everyone’s favorite, ‘Personal Life’. Once I was planned and ready to start I opened it up and realized that you need to have some knowledge of internet coding. So I gave up and here I am, writing this letter that may or may not be a suicide note. It’s certainly a cry a for attention, but I don’t know whether I want you to come and save me, or to just bring your poncho and a spoon and watch me explode like Gallagher’s watermelon.

*

I feel like I owe it to you to briefly explain the “Schindler’s List on Ice” that my life has become in what could amount to its final few days.

After getting on more than 400 mics a year for six years straight, my “agent” lands me a headlining spot at the Laugh Factory. There were big promoters, producers; all the spokes on Hollywood’s greasy wheel were rolling in to see me. And I bombed. I fell apart, like a cat shit sandcastle. They just didn’t get it. They just stared at me, watching the school bus crash in super slow motion. So I did what anyone would do in that situation: I go home, get fucked up, and smash stuff. Kitty comes home from work and explodes, hits me with an ashtray and bursts my head open. Tells me to get out. I leave with all my stuff flying out after me, and pass out in the car.

Woke up covered in blood still piss drunk, still angry. I grabbed all of my stuff that lay outside, threw it into the car and started driving to Seattle. I was done with Los Angeles: The place where creativity washes up dead and bloated on the shore.

But here I am. In a motel in Fresno, out of gas, out of money, and out of everything I need to feel like things can possibly get better. I look at myself and see a worthless nobody that duped himself into thinking he was somebody for his entire life. But the game’s up. I’ve been circling the drain for years and now I’m just about ready to disappear.

But here’s the punchline of my entire life: I’m out of vodka and I have no money to buy Xanax. How much is six feet of rope?

Fuck my life. And fuck yours too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anonymous

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The Bernstein’s Wedding

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Explanation

* You can click on the images to enlarge them.

Page 1 jpeg

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Why Do You Dance? – Part One

unmade-bed1

*

The room was small. It was slightly rectangular in shape, and about eight feet in height. There were doors and doorways leading to other rooms, but this was the central room. You could tell that much from the furniture, the composition and the heavier looking door with the peep hole on the far wall. The apartment itself would have been called a ‘studio’, and this room would have been a living room in the day, and a bedroom at night. The walls of the room were an off-white that was once just white. The scuffed lacquer of the dark hardwood floors still reflected the light, albeit with a dull haze. A single bulb hung from the ceiling by a chord that matched the walls in color. It pressed a spotlight onto the center of the room. This was where she stood.

In the corner was a bed. The sheets lay ruffled and slept in. They still bore the rough outline of a deep sleep. There was a bedside table next to the bed. The lamp was on. It illuminated the small square surface of the table. There was a book titled ‘Norwegian Wood’. A glass of water sat there too. There were thousands of little bubbles inside the still water. A small astray with several crushed lipsticked butts sat full, between the glass and the book. The drawer on the bedside table lay half open. Inside thick black eyes smiled and peered out from a large glossy photograph, hiding in the still darkness that held back the light.

There was a window next to the bed. The heavy drapes were drawn but for a bright crack. Through that bright crack was a semi-suburban neighborhood, backdropped by the Hollywood hills. From that window one could see parking lots, pylons, chain metal fences, and the odd black silhouette of a palm tree blocking the light from the sun. Through the crack a beam of sunlight stretched across the dark hardwood floor. Speckles of dust from the heavy old drapes filled the beam of light. The drapes swung slightly from a breeze that crept in through the heavy window that was propped open by a plant pot. The pot contained a cactus, parched in dry cracked earth. It looked hours from death. The late fall breeze smelt crisp, mixing with the light scent of the stale cigarettes was being whipped around the room with nothing to cling to.

Clothes lay in loose piles on the floor. Some were waiting patiently to be folded. Others waited impatiently to be cleaned. There were lots of deep reds, browns and blacks separated by splashes of laced pink and bold childish yellows. Bras lay exposed and open on the floor. Thongs sat delicately crushed atop dresses and tucked in jeans . The chord from a hairdryer ran across the floor, under a pile of clothes, and out next to a bag of makeup that sat across from itself in front of a full length mirror. The bag was part of some carefully planned clutter. There was a circular space in the center of the mess, framed by mascara, lipstick, a flat iron, and a stagnant amber liquid inside a long stemmed wine glass.

At the other end of the room a heavy drape was nailed to the wall. The nails stuck out at odd crooked angles, clinging to the heavy, deep red cloth. A teal green sofa sat in front of the drape. It had space for two sitting, or one laying. It didn’t have any cushions on it. About four feet from the sofa sat two brown boxes stacked on top of one another. A laptop sat on the boxes, pointing at the teal sofa and the burgundy drape. On either side of the laptop sat a tall free-standing light that pointed at the sofa where someone sat or lay.

There was a doorway without a door that led to the kitchen. The shadow of a person moved around in the kitchen floor. It was long and thin, and moved in controlled motions. The thin dark lines on the floor looked and moved like arms. A naked girl walked through the doorway and stopped in the center of the room. She looked around the room. The light from the crack in the drapes cut a line directly up her body and between her large breasts that hung slightly from her chest. She pushed her hand deep into her thick black hair and cradled her head as she scaled the floor. As her eyes moved across the clutter she caught sight of herself in the mirror.

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Shit’s Still Hard

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S’cuse me mam?

S’cuse me. Mam?

Yes?

I, eh, I couldn’t trouble you for a dollar, for the bus, could I?

I’m sorry. I don’t really have anything.

 

You live around here?

I’m sorry?

Do you live around here?

Yes. I do.

Me too. Up at the US Bank.

Okay.

 

Do you think I look like Mike Tyson?

Eh, I don’t know what he looks like.

People say I look like him.

What do you say?

I say he looks like me.

That’s a good answer.

 

But I eh, I’m on that three strikes thing. You know that?

No.

Well, it’s like this: I been to jail two times, one more and they throw away the fuckin’ key. Pardon my Spanish.

I’m really sorry to hear that.

That’s okay. I’m fightin’ it. And don’t nobody want to fight with someone who looks like Mike Tyson.

Or someone that Mike Tyson looks like…

 

But it was the drugs, you know?

Yeah?

Terrible things. You don’t take the drugs. They take you.

That’s what people have told me.

Been clean for over two years now. But shit’s still hard. Pardon my German.

I’m sure. But you’re doing really well.

 

I see that you’re married.

Uh huh.

Well, don’t you tell your husband this, but you make my heart beat so hard.

That’s so sweet. Thank you.

Don’t you tell him now. And I’ll be on my way. You have a wonderful day now.

You too. You too.

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Descriptions – Part Three

You can find part two of this story here.

 

**

“So, you’ve got a skillet and a measuring cup. Anything else?” the lady asked me, looking over her little reading glasses at the receipt she was writing.

“No.”

“Okay, let’s call it $10” she said, smiling.

I smiled too.

***

He sat down on that old chair with his drink. He looked around the dark room. The outlines of things were all around him and frames hung on the wall. In that thick darkness they were just vague descriptions of some faces that could be recalled from memory. There was a single streak of light coming in from the crack in the drapes. Little speckles of dust floated in the light, making their way back to the carpet again. He took a big slow drink. The dust speckles whipped up and around with the path of his arm. He closed his eyes and breathed in through his nose as the oaky liquid sank into him, and the old damp scent that covered the room hung like a heavy leather cloak drying.

Even though he’d been here as long as he had, the scent of age was slightly transparent. The new paint smell now hid a few feet below the surface. Over the years it had drifted out of the little crack in the window, and slowly sank into the old carpet he laid over the varnished pine. Every time he stepped on that old carpet he could feel the hard wood beneath, and smell that old sour scent rising up, leaving the new paint trailing behind it. When he sat on the chair a plume of dust-speckled smoke being pushed up and around him, consuming his body. He would let himself sink into the chair and be embraced by the scent of use. He could faintly smell the people that sat in it before him. He could smell the rooms that it had been in before this one. And I think he could faintly smell himself. Something about those deep breaths said that he was in there, somewhere.

He sat forward in the chair and reached for the old lamp with the watercolor shade. He pulled the dainty little beaded string. Light burst around the room and brought detail to everything. The warm golden hue bathed the faces on the wall, pressing a white ball of light on the glass of the frames.

Noir shadows, exaggerating every expression of the room, pushed up to the ceiling at fierce gradients. The corners of the room remained dark. From that heavy darkness I watched him take another drink and scan the faces on the wall.

He put his hand on the lamp and tilted it, moving it slightly, turning the shadows at their base. He looked at every face on the wall, allowed every detail to sink in again, and moved on. The light came around to the corner in which I sat. I felt its warmth cut across me. I watched his eyes scan across the photograph next to me. His eyeballs twitched onto every feature. They moved to me. I saw his lids widen from behind his glasses. His hand slid into his coat pocket and pulled out two photographs.  He held them up and dropped the light onto them. I fell into darkness. The light lit the photos and reflected back to him. The shadows cut thick black lines across his face. He lifted the light back to me. I saw that a little smile had formed on his tired face.

He stood up and started walking towards me, lifting dust and pungent scent up from the old used carpet. He picked me up off the mantle piece and lay me face down. I felt him unscrew the back of the frame and pull me out. His fingers felt drunk, clumsy, impatient. He took me back to the chair and sat me on his lap. He put down pictures of these two older people. They were new. I hadn’t seen them before. He carefully opened the drawer on the little side table next to the old chair. He took out the picture of that little black and white boy again. He looked at the picture. The corners of the photograph quivered in his hands. A tear formed in the corner of his eye and burst across his lid, before sliding down the contours of his expression.

He placed the little boy down carefully next to me. We looked a little alike. I was a year or two older maybe. We both sat, on a knee each, under the older people. He looked at all of us together. Another tear rolled down his face, caught on the tip of his smile. He threw back the last of the whiskey into his mouth. The rounded edges of the melting ice cubes hit his lips, and slid to the bottom of the glass. He looked to the ceiling and started to weep. We lay on his lap as quiet as tears, together, just transplanted memories that sank like diving bells into the scent that drowned us all.

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Descriptions – Part Two

You can read part one here.

*

“You got something good there?” I heard someone say. I dropped the postcard into the box and closed the lid.

“No. Just things. Nothing valuable.” I said, as I pressed my hands hard onto the top of the box. I felt my shoulders arching up a little, and the lid depressed into the box. I felt the paper inside crunch a little again.

“Old boy had some nice suits,” he said, leaning over me and pawing through the jackets. The smell of mothballs and dust whipped up, past me in a breeze, masking the smell from the shoebox as he pulled out a blazer. “What do you think?”

I turned my head around. The man was about 60 years old. He had a magnifying glass around his neck. In his hand was a porcelain swan. He held it by its neck. His other hand held the tweed jacket up to his front. His bottom lip was pushed out, waiting for me to say something.

I tried smiling.

“Suits you.” I said.

His lips curled into a smile and he turned to the mirror beside us. I looked at him holding the man’s jacket.

“You know, I think you’re right. Not for me though. This is Harris Tweed. Quality.”

He folded the jacket over his arm and walked away.

“Happy hunting, There’s some great stuff here.”

I nodded and tried smiling again. I watched him walk towards the door. He stopped and looked at the pretty porcelain models on top of the almost empty bookcase. He lifted up his magnifying glass and bent into a long, thin ballet dancer. He checked out every angle. He turned her over and looked at the bottom. He put it back down and shook his head as he walked out, into the crowded hallway.

I opened up the box and looked inside. I tried to find the postcard again. My eye was caught by a glossy, once bright blue sky shining at me. I pulled it out. It was a photograph of a man standing on the beach by a lake. He was a little tanned. He had been in the water. His hair looked like it had dried in the sun. He wore these blue and red shorts. I looked at his face. He was squinting in the sunlight. He had a slight smile on his face, like he was about to stop.

I lifted my glasses to my forehead and pulled out the little diamond loupe I picked up from a sale I was at way back. The photograph turned to group of soft edged blurs. I brought the magnifying glass to my eye and looked for his face. I put the loupe away and slid my glasses back down my nose, bringing clarity back to the room.

I turned the photograph over. Right in the center read “Bill and Me on Lake Erie”. The handwriting was different. It looked feminine. The letters curled. They were careful and perfect, but slow, almost regal. There was a date written in the corner. July 3rd 1971

“Bill, and Me” I said to myself

I turned the photo over again. I looked at his face and that faded smile. He was ever so slightly out of focus. Like one of them had just moved. I turned and looked around the room. There were people picking at Bill’s clutter, deciding if they wanted to make it their own. I looked at the pictures of people that he knew that hung in frames on his wall. There were lots of people smiling. I imagined those people coming through this house after Bill died, taking the things they wanted. I wondered if they’d missed this box. I looked back at Bill, on his own, almost smiling. I looked back at the faces in the frames on the wall.

I went into my jacket pocket and pulled out the photograph of Margaret that I’d brought with me. I arced my back a little. I cast a shadow over the two photographs. I looked over each shoulder. I held them next to one another. Margaret’s picture was taken maybe a year or two before. Something about her look told me that much. Bill looked a little more modern. But I couldn’t be sure if I was mistaking age for modernity.

As I looked back and forth between the two pictures, keeping an ear on the people behind me, I thought that they worked. I imagined Margaret taking a photo of Bill, and Bill taking a photo of Margaret. Their expressions weren’t so different. But Margaret’s was a little happier. Like that smile probably continued after the shutter was closed. Maybe that’s what made me think her picture was older.

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Descriptions – Part One

I found what I was looking for in an old worn shoebox. The shoebox was in the bottom of the closet. The closet was in the corner of the study. The study was at the back of the house, over looking the over grown garden. I knew that they would be somewhere like that. I’d checked under the bed in the man’s room. I’d looked in the drawers in his dresser. I looked on his messy, cluttered desk. I knew that they would be somewhere. Somewhere hidden, so that they didn’t interfere with anything around them.

I pulled out the shoebox and looked around before I opened it. There were people mulling around, picking things up and checking price tags. A lot of things didn’t have price tags. Some people liked those things. I was one of those people. I could hear them in the other rooms haggling over prices of things. I heard people saying things like, “Oh, this would be nice in the den” and “I wish this hadn’t been painted white”.

I looked back at the shoebox. It was an old thing. Maybe from the early eighties. The old price tag was still on the box. The corners had been frayed and bashed in. They had started to burst out of their shape and show their little card fibers. I could smell the box over the smell of mothballs and the carpet. It smelt like old paper that had been soaked in the rain and dried in the sun. Everything in the house smelled so old and stale, but this box had a little freshness still trapped inside it.

I opened the box and saw a mass of paper and cards and receipts and pictures. All the paper had turned a light brown and a little crispy, like it had been blasted by time. I pushed my hand down onto the paper. I heard it crunch a little, like dead leaves. I started carefully picking through the box. The same handwriting marked everything. It was the handwriting of an older man. It was sharp and pointed. It was elegant. Thought was given to each dip and swoop of the pen. I started to flick through things, pulling something out now and again to look at it. I looked at strips of paper with thoughts and reminders written on them, postcards, from Paris, Rome, Cairo, letters, from Ohio, Delaware, Ontario, and photographs, from places I didn’t know.

I pulled out a postcard. It was a painting of some 50s saloon bar in Vegas. I turned it over.

“We need to talk when I get home. I’ve been thinking” it read. There was no address, no stamp and no sender information. Other than the handwriting.

I sat the box down and stared at the words again. I ran my fingers across the back. I felt the bumps in the ink like braille. I closed my eyes and breathed in. I smelled everything in the house around me, and imagined the man that lived there, and what he’d been thinking.

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