The Mailman / 14 May 2002

The Mailman is ageless, always shifting. His face is malleable, the expression so neutral that it simply reflects the onlooker’s intentions. He is lusty, he is racist, he is murderous, he is dumbly complacent. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the awkward bumps and folds around your crotchatorial area. I posit: Complex and inconvenient surgery five, ten years ago, not fit for public discussion but it happens and it was scary at the time but in retrospect really not that big a deal. And yet. The truss he had to wear for six weeks, the truss remains years after the fact. He got used to the truss, it brought him some degree of comfort. It creates a kind of intense calm. He takes his time putting it on every morning and is loath to remove it before bed. He thinks no one knows it’s there, his toneless face twisting into a kind of naughty smugness, but I see it, plain as day. It interrupts the rhythm of his walk. It gives his voice a pinched quality — sure, I’ve opened the door right as he’s filling my mailbox, waiting for the perfect moment, eager to catch him off-guard to see what his eyes do, what his words say. And a good afternoon to you or whatever, a flatlined smile as he hands me the mail, You get the personal touch today, no extra charge. I bark out a laugh and he returns it, identical, right down to the pitch and the shape my mouth makes. I slam the door shut and throw the mail in the coat closet with the rest. In there is a story told in fingerprints, saliva, anthrax, nine-digit numbers, Erasermate. In there it smells like the Mailman’s apartment, I’m sure, wood pulp and perfume samples, stacks of folded demands and questions, nothing that anybody would ever want.

Previously / Nina Garland
Next / The Water Pipes

Joshua Green Allen

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