Which is the best?

An Unusual Visitor
9 (28.1%)
The Ghosts of Our Old Loves are the Worst
3 (9.4%)
Argentine Alliance
2 (6.3%)
The Envelope, Please
3 (9.4%)
Dead Letter File
2 (6.3%)
8 (25%)
The Letter
5 (15.6%)

Total Members Voted: 20

Voting closed: April 29, 2012, 07:21:44 AM

Author Topic: Flash Fiction #45 Vote Now ! !  (Read 896 times)

Offline Tom 10

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Flash Fiction #45 Vote Now ! !
« on: April 22, 2012, 07:21:44 AM »
The Entries:

Kick off your shoes, top off your glass, and loosen your whities, it time for some good reading:

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An Unusual Visitor             

I almost sniffed it to see if it contained illegal drugs, but stopped before the idea took hold. The post mark intrigued me ‘May 17, 2006, Buenos Aires, Argentina’. It made a welcome change to bills slipping through the letter box and the handwritten script on the discoloured envelope looked so foreign. Who on earth, well, who in Argentina would be writing to me?

A treat like this deserved proper attention. I wasn’t sure whether to opt for weak and fragrant Lady Grey and some shortbread or a ginger snap, or a deeply flavoured frothy coffee and a caramel slice. These things needed the correct atmosphere. What if it was a letter begging me to help a spy escape the clutches of a military regime? I frowned as I wondered about the political state of Argentina. All I could think of was Eva Peron and felt a compelling urge to sing. Still, I thought tea would be the British thing to do, so I boiled the kettle and tidied up a little.

The curious envelope sat on the worktop as out of place as a Monday roast. Despite the scruffy exterior, understandable when you thought how long the poor thing had been in the postal system, the letter felt substantial. I expected heavy, watermarked paper with an embossed crest beside the address when I opened it. Best I get out of my pyjamas and put on something respectable, I thought.

As I skipped upstairs I blushed. The letter in the kitchen had become a foreign visitor, a guest I had accepted into my home without yet showing any hospitality. I felt I had to shower, put on make-up, address the company in a fitting manner. A frisson of excitement quivered through me. Smell, sights and sounds of Latin America flew about my imagination. In front of the mirror I stepped out tango moves and pretended to be part of a chacarera in a milonga as I bent my elbows and clicked my fingers at an imaginary partner’s eyes. Where the hell did I know that from?

Shoving the ‘too weird’ thoughts to the back of my head, I dressed, applied a lick of mascara and lip gloss and came downstairs plaiting my hair in a thick cord over my shoulder. Ah, the envelope. Tea, I think.

2006 – something fluttered in my memory, but it flew up so quickly, I couldn’t catch it. I sipped at my Lady Grey, wonderfully scalding hot – clear, clean, refreshing. Argentina! ¡Claro que sí! I snapped a ginger biscuit and nibbled it as I slid the letter opener beneath the envelope flap. With subtle slicing movements I soon opened the communication and indeed revealed an embossed, heavy paper. There sat the crest of Columbia School, Pilar. They wanted me.

I couldn’t believe it. They had wanted me all those years back.

They must think me very rude for never having responded.
I sipped my tea. Six years probably was too long since to reply.

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The Ghosts of Our Old Loves are the Worst

The morning sun burned bright overhead. The smell of freshly cut grass filled the neighborhood. Across the street my neighbor shouted “good morning Jim!” I nodded back.

Grabbing the mail a discolored envelope caught my eye. I flipped it to the front walking back into my house. May 17, 2006, the postmark stated, 5 years ago. Confused, intrigued, I stepped into my house and tossed the rest of the mail onto the kitchen table walking into my office and sitting down in my leather desk chair. I placed the letter on the marble desk and studied it closely. It was from Buenos Aires Argentina, a place I’d never gone. It was clearly for me, my name scrawled out barely legible, but I could make it out, barely, my exact name. My exact address, my mind raced through a thousand possibilities.

I grabbed my letter opener cutting it open. The smell hit my first, it smelled of perfume, not what I expected from a five year old discolored envelope. Inside was a DVD, unmarked, I popped it into my computer the auto play starting. On the screen a beautiful woman popped up, behind her all I could see was a white wall, she appeared to be sitting on a couch. She had dark brown hair, curly, flowing over her chest, which he stared at momentarily. If I didn’t know any better I would think it my fiancé, she had died when she was nineteen, five years ago. January 18, 2006 to be exact, a single gunshot to her head, execution style, her death the sole reason I became a lawyer, a federal prosecutor, spending my career working the cases of the worst of the worst, my free time searching, every waking moment for her killer.

The girl on screen, she smiled at me, silent. Her dark green eyes peering into my soul it seemed. “Hey babe,” she began her voice sad. I hadn’t fully processed what was truly happening as she continued speaking, her voice just as sexy as it had always been. A natural sexy. “I know you are probably going to be so pissed at me by the time you are finished watching this. I would be too if our places were reversed. If you are watching this it means I am dead. I mailed this envelope to my advisor; it took a long time for me to figure out exactly what to say. I was promised it would be sent to you as soon as it was possible. I am sorry it came to this, my life was in danger. I had to go into witness protection…” her voice continued but I no longer listened. Catching only the occasional bits and pieces, something about the mob, and accidentally killing a mob boss, I sat silently confused, crushed. She’d been alive and I hadn’t caught the signs she’d left me. I began to cry, again, like I had the night she’d “died.” I could have saved her, brought her back protected her.

All I could do was sit on the couch, and cry.

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Argentine Alliance             

The manila envelope from my mailbox is discolored and beaten and the postmark is damn near six years old, but the pictures inside turn my anger at the postal service back on myself. How could I have been so stupid?

She was an incredibly hot Latina and I was an almost-separated married man with an assignment in Argentina, an expense account, and several drinks under my belt which made it much easier to not give a shit. I was minding my own business at the bar that evening, but ignoring her friends, she kept giving me the “I know you want me” look. Certain this would go nowhere, I bought her a drink or two and eventually we swayed together on the nearly abandoned dance floor. She smelled like heaven and clung to me like a rainforest leech. The dance lessons paid off; who knew? Her breath was hot and sweet and she whispered Spanish in my ear too quickly for me to understand, but somehow I got the message despite the Italian influence on her dialect.

Her friends must have gotten the message too, because they vanished after Santana’s slow instrumental. We walked the beach in the moonlight and in a private cove of boulders, her dress fell away as naturally as a receding tide. More Spanish, even faster than before, but I understood completely and did what seemed to be the right thing at the time. The sand was warm and accommodating, contrasting with the cool sea lapping at our legs, as she lay on top of me, spent and cooing softly. It was the best I’ve ever felt in my life.

Eventually we stumbled back to my rent-a-car and after a not uncomfortable ride in silence, I dropped her off at a corner in a fashionable section of Buenos Aries. Her place is nearby, but she doesn’t want me to know where, apparently. “Thanks – for everything” she says in English, and with a kiss on my cheek, she disappears into the night.

I hammered out the deal with the Argentinians in the next few days and flew home. My wife and I patched things up and it’s been good since. Really good. And now this. Pictures of me and Latina in flagrante delicto; must have been an infrared camera or the moon was even brighter than I thought.

She doesn’t want money. It’s worse than that. She wants me. Her threats to expose the evidence are nearly six years old and she hasn’t done a thing. She’s obviously bluffing but sincere. Perhaps I’d better check on the Argentinian account in person…

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The Envelope, Please           

What started as a lousy day was not ending on a happy note. I stormed through the door feeling like I just wanted to punch some holes in the wall – I didn’t. I’d have to only fix them later. I tossed my lunch bag on to the counter when the door bell rung.

“Ah shit!” I swore as I walked back to answer the door. I had all kinds of thoughts as to who it may have been who wanted to bother me that late in the afternoon. I jerked the door open to see my friendly Postal Delivery Person, a gal standing in front of me, holding an envelope in one hand, a package in the other and somehow doing a decent balancing act with a clip board.

“Hi, Steve,” she said with a smile as she handed me the clip board. “Lousy day?”

“Very.” I handed her the clipboard; she handed me the package and a large envelope that was discolored and worn besides the usual junk mail.

“Trade jobs with you. Barking dogs, biting customers, idiot drivers … Game?”

“Maybe by Friday if I lose what’s left of my common scene.”

“Nuts, thought so. Chow.”

I kicked the front door closed, looked at the package and smiled. “It’s here.” Then I looked at the envelope. The envelope appeared to have been around a while: Post marks and miss delivery stamps, there and back.

I walked into my study carefully setting the box down. Checking the front of the envelope and foreign stamps I saw the address was correct; it had my name and address correct. But the return address and original post mark caught my eye: Buenos Aires, Argentina and mailed May 17, 2006! Who did I know who lived in Argentina? I looked at the calendar: Of course I knew what today’s date was, but six years after the fact? Somebody has a lousy postal system. Finding a letter opener I opened the envelope pulling a sheath of papers out that crinkled in my hand like old parchment.

I sat down at my desk to read the letter, glance at the other papers: all legal, but in Spanish, or in this case, the Argentinian version. The only part I could make out of either the letter or court papers was the salutation and closing signature from a lawyer there. Puzzled, I took the papers to work the next day. The lady in HR was fluent in Spanish; she took one look at the legal documents and said:

“Congratulations, Steve, you would have inherited a ranch in Argentina.”

“A what … when?”

She showed me the dates on the letter and the Argentina court dates. “Back in two thousand six. This is what? Two thousand twelve?”

I darn near fell out of the chair. I missed the court dates by six years. I lost inheriting the ranch because I had to be there on the thirtieth of May – 2006! # # #

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Dead Letter File               

I pulled into the drive, snatched the contents of the mailbox at the curb then heading indoors. Dropped the mail on the entryway table, the bags of groceries on the kitchen counter then headed to my bedroom to shed anything that might remind me of the frustrating day’s work.

After a shower I slipped into my most comfortable pajamas, fixed a tall glass of ice tea and a light snack. Only then did I gather the assorted mail so I could sit at the table and hopefully relax.

Sorting always comes first; junk mail in one stack, bills in another and anything that might possibly be personal in its own tiny pile. Unless it was near a holiday or some other special date like a birthday, there was rarely any personal mail. It seemed everyone relied on emails in today’s world.

Strange . . . what is this, I wondered when I came to a worn, tattered envelope that looked like someone had spilled their coffee on it. No return address on the front, flipped it over to check the back; still no return information.

Flipped it back to the front, I checked the postmark to find it must have been spending lots of time in a lost mail file, ages in fact. It was apparently, as near as I could make out between the coffee stains, and mailed May 17, 2006 from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I’m quite sure I don’t know anyone in Argentina and can’t remember anyone vacationing there. Checking the address on the envelope, feeling sure it had been misdirected. Seeing my correct name and address, I was stumped.

Confused and intrigued, I propped the envelope against the salt shake while I enjoyed the a long drink of the icy tea and a bite of the cheese and crackers as well. I was sure if I thought about it, I could figure out who would have been to the tropics and felt the need to write me a letter instead of the usual traveler’s post card.

Not a single name floated to the top of my mind. If need be, I could list every one of my friends and family that had traveled outside the U.S. and where they had been over the last several years. None of them had set foot in Argentina.
Unable to stand the game I was playing with myself any longer, I carefully tore off one end of the envelope and extracted its contents.

Baitba Guesthouse
Is Proud To Offer You A Special Deal.If you book your flight in the next 10 (ten) days,
we will give you 50% off our normal room rate
with a minimum stay of 5 (five) days.
Please find the included sheets of tourist information describing events and areas that you might enjoy.
Guess I’ll not be going to Argentina, with or without a discount.

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I found a letter stuck behind the wicker basket we used to collect the mail. It must have fallen out from one particularly heavy mail day and lodged against the wall. It had been there long enough the envelope was beginning to yellow with that peculiar patina paper develops when the acids in its base structure begin to eat away at its core.

The postmark read May 17, 2006…from Buenos Aires, of all places. The only person I knew who had ever been to Argentina was Father Voight, who had traveled there on a pilgrimage of some sort in the late 90s.

The letter could not possibly be from him. He had died in that horrid plane crash in the Amazon on his way home, almost twenty years prior to the letter’s postmark. It had been nasty business.

As I recall, seventeen people died just trying to get to the wreck, and no one on board the aircraft had survived. At least no one had ever been found, although there were many passengers that were “unaccounted for,” which everyone took as a euphemism for lost in that vast uncharted wilderness and presumed devoured by crocodiles.

A tattered piece of dry and brittle newsprint floated out of the envelope and landed at my feet. The headline it proclaimed caught my eye, even with several of the headings letters cracked off and missing: First Symposium of Christian Theology Tackles Holocaust-Shoah.

An English-speaking newspaper clipping from Argentina? It didn’t make much sense to me. I looked at both sides of the newsprint, but the news stories were generic and national, with no indication where the paper had originated.

I shook the envelope and a second small sheet of paper fluttered to the ground. It was a hand-written note, inscribed on a small, lined notepad sheet. The words it contained sent a shiver through me I still cannot abate.

“(unreadable): this symposium attempts to disavow the facts of Jewish irrelevance by calling for Christian communities to recognize their permanent need for the contributions of Judaism. Can this communitarian behavior be allowed to continue? Is it not now time to again take up the banner your grandfather tried so valiantly to plant in the soil of the Fatherland? Allied forces presumed the charred body he left behind was his own, but we know how Eva fled with him to Long Island, the one place Roosevelt would never think to look."

“We, his heirs, must finish what he started. The meeting is arranged for the 23rd. You must let us know…are you in, or are you out? We will proceed, with or without you.”

Those words horrified me. I looked at the name and address on the envelope. The address was correct, and the name was mine, but my name was also my father’s, and he had lived in this very house until his death in late 2005.

Could it be? I decided it was time to read my late grandmother’s diary.

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The Letter

The room swam and I had to sit as I read the letter. It was from Dad. He’d disappeared back in 2005, leaving my mother, sister, and myself alone.

This was the first contact from him in seven years and it was two bloody years too late. It explained that he had gone to Argentina for a dodgy business meeting and had been set up with drugs in his bag. In those days, Dad was a bit of a lone wolf – always disappearing off for weeks at a time, but always coming home eventually with presents and wads of cash.

But not in 2005.

He’d gone off without any explanation and had just disappeared. We’d tried to trace him, but as soon as we’d said to the police he’d done this before, they lost interest. We never even considered that he’d gone abroad.

But no contact from him since then.

His letter said that he was innocent of the crime he was charged with, but guilty of others. He had a child in Argentina from a long-term lover, but wanted to beg my mother’s forgiveness. It also said that he’d been sentenced to nine years for drug smuggling, but would be out in six if he behaved himself. Finishing, he’d apologised to us all, again asking my mother to forgive him. He said he wanted to come home when he was released, but understood if she never wanted to hear from him again. He’d asked us to keep in contact, that he was sorry, and that he still loved us all.

But we’d never received his letter.

For the first few years we worried and just wanted him back. Was he still alive or lying dead in a ditch somewhere? But gradually we’d given up hope, thinking it was his choice to leave us.
Our mother had taken it the worse, never understanding why he would leave us. It had become very tough for her – money was tight – and she’d become ill with worry. She’d never wanted to dissolve the marriage or seek divorce, always hoping he would return, but now it was too late.

I still kept the death certificate close, and re-read the words. Time of death was almost two years back. Cause of death was pneumonia caused by malnutrition. Was it from a broken heart? I’d never know. Now it was too late to find out.

My mother had tears in her eyes as we both agreed. Why hadn’t Dad’s letter reached us sooner?