Snail Mail to the Stars
Old fingers worked slowly and aggressively. The ink ran in fat black lines, legible despite the aging and depleting state of the fingers behind the pen.
Hello again Roger, how’s Trish?
I haven’t heard from you in a while, going stir crazy yet? Retirement can be trying; I know it hasn’t been easy on me. I have hobbies, but you know all about that.
How is the grandbaby? Rianne and Butters good parents? I’m sure they are. They seem like they’d make great parents, time will tell.
How’s Riggs? He still with Lorna?
I guess I’ll get into the ME news, nothing much to tell. Bobbi still lives down south and I talk to her on the phone now and then. Gary still won’t talk to me; I don’t know what to do. I think he’ll come around eventually.
The weather’s nice here, hum-hum, I guess that’s about it.
Oh wait! Yesterday I was walking on my way home and I noticed a sold sign on the real estate sign next door, so I did some investigating. You wouldn’t believe it, but there he was, Roy Hobbs. I don’t remember if he said he’d moved in or was helping a friend move, I was too befuddled and excited. He signed a receipt I had in my pocket, I hope I bump into him again. I’m sure I will.
Well, that’s all for me.
Write whenever you get the chance,
The old man slid the note into an envelope, sealed it, licked the stamp and wrote the intended address. It was his daily routine, his effort to keep in touch with the world. He didn’t get nearly as many letters back as he sent out, but he sent more than three hundred letters a year.
He’d lived an exciting life and had scads of friends. The letters and his memories kept him busy and happy. He also did puzzles, fed pigeons and walked; mostly to hand deliver his letters to the red box at the end of the street. Delivering the letters himself was a must, proof he was still a useful member of society.
It may not sound like much; but was plenty for him.
The old man stepped out into the fresh air, there was a chill, he wore a poncho, one he recalled fondly; a gift from Blondie. He and Blondie traveled awhile through some of the southern badlands, camping as they went, smoking little cigarillos and quietly taking the world in through every sense. Wonderful times.
Looking out, hopeful, but seeing nobody around, he stepped past his neighbors’ home and shuffled toward the red box. It seemed to get further and further away all the time. By the time he slid the letter inside, he was breathless.
After a few deep breaths, he turned to shuffle home. The neighbors’ house was dead, it was a letdown, but the old man had a plan. He’d write a letter to Mr. Roy Hobbs, get everything out, make a new friend.
He set to writing.
Two hours and the chore was through. He’d written and rewritten until he got it down to the exact words he wanted to say. It was about three o’clock when he headed back out, poncho on despite the warming temperature.
It wasn’t easy, but the old man made it to the top of the three-step landing. He knocked; doorbells were for salespeople and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Coming,” he heard a feminine voice inside.
The old man worried that perhaps he should recall the woman’s name, he knew all about Roy Hobbs and the women in his life. Aging has a way of muddling. The door opened before a name came to tongue.
Not to worry, it was none of Roy’s woman, “Hello there, is Roy in?”
“I’m sorry you have the wrong address, we just moved in and…”
“Oh yes of course, I wrote a letter for Roy, could you see that he gets it?”
The woman assessed the man at her doorway, he wore a filthy swatch of rug, a hole cut for his neck and head, baby blue slippers on his feet, white cotton pants, “Are you from…?” she started to say and then heard her husband call out.
“Is it an old man?”
“Yes, I think…”
“Coming, I’ve got it!” the husband called running from the basement to the door.
The wife and the old man stood in uncomfortable wait of the thumping approach.
The husband reached the door, “Hello again,” he held out his hand.
“Oh goodness, we haven’t met, no way; I would’ve remembered meeting you for sure. Do you live here Mr. Hooker? I was looking for Roy, but I didn’t expect another famous person,” the old man shook the husband’s hand, crunching the freshly sealed letter, “I wrote that for Roy.”
“Oh, is this the old man from yesterday that came while we unpacked? The one that thought you were some character from a…”
“Shush honey, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name sir,” said the husband, smiling at the old man.
“No, I haven’t told you. This is the first time we’ve met, I would know!” the old man beamed with delight, it wasn’t every day he met T.J. Hooker. “I’m Sam Clemmons,” the man leaned in to whisper, “folks call me Mark though.”
“Right of course,” said the husband, fighting a smirk.
“Is he trying to say that he is…” started the wife, hushed once again by the husband. She complied and they stared at the old man.
After a few long moments, “Well, I shan’t keep you. I’ve got work to do. Ms. Sheridan,” he added and bowed. He worked his way down the stairs and onto the sidewalk. He never looked back.
The husband waited until the old man was out of sight, he closed the door.
“What was that all about?” asked the wife.
“I get a kick out of that old guy; he came back after the first meeting. He wrote me three letters yesterday. All addressed to and from different people. I had to look them up, but they’re names from movies and books and things. He writes as if he lived in movies, says the poncho he’s wearing…”
“… is from Blondie, Clint Eastwood’s character from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He’s full of the fun kind of nuts.”
“Is he from the home?”
“I assume as much.”
“Why do you do that? It’s mean. Playing with a senile old man.”
“What’s mean? He keeps meeting celebrities and I keep getting the TV star treatment.”
“Oh come off it.”
“I mean it, next time he comes I’m calling the home,” the wife was firm, turning her back to the husband.
“I don’t know why you’re being so bitchy; didn’t you hear what he called you?”
The wife tried not to care, but there was a strong curiosity, despite the old man’s confused state, “No and I don’t want to know.” A lie.
The husband recognized the tone, “Ms. Sheridan, don’t you remember T.J. Hooker? That old man just confused you with a young Heather Locklear.”
The wife huffed and stormed off.
Three hours later, the doorbell rang; the wife ran to answer, disappointed to find a Purolator employee with a package and not the old man and his confused idolatry.
S.L. Dixon was born and raised in Southern Ontario, Canada, he is a graduate of Niagara College’s print-journalism program. His stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies around North America and in the United Kingdom. Currently, he lives in a British Columbia coastal mountain range with his wife and cat.