The Enormous Mailbox
Liliko’i Lane is a respite for outcasts evidenced by the eccentric and obtuse homes vying for definition with overgrown lawns. Laissez faire lifestyle is encouraged since white picket fences and artificial emerald green yards of yore only served to alienate the good people. Years had passed since the era when negative competition had reigned and there now resided a prevailing air of amity. Cardinals had come to roost on warm oak boughs as spring ushered in sunshine and a rosy state of mind for the denizens.
Sherry Salad and Richard Salsa, two long time musically minded residents of Liliko’i Lane, had already begun their practice after a shortened work day. Three houses in on the north side Salad finessed her honey-coated harp in angelic reverie while Salsa coaxed his inner warrior through his trombone three houses in on the south side. The pair tended to harmonize despite their initial intentions of solo production. They both performed at the Liliko’i block party and jointly organized a town-wide fruit festival when summer swells found the neighborhood. An untrained eye might think the pair were lovers but the truth was that their comfortable spouses encouraged their friendship for the betterment of the community. Friendships like theirs held up the entire neighborhood as if Liliko’i Lane hovered above it all on a floating isle.
Salad and Salsa’s sonic canvas met the school bus which arrived at the lane’s entry on this glorious Friday afternoon while a virile Chip Carole barbecued kebabs for his wife and incoming daughter Mary. Mary and her friend Betty Sue, a couple of eight-year-old girls, live on the lane and regularly gambol through the neighborhood when they return home from school. Weekend whimsy brought an exuberance to their play this afternoon otherwise unmatched during the remainder of the week. “Do you wanna sleep over tonight Mary? Tell your dad Mrs. Goswell didn’t give us homework and I’m sure he will cave.” Piped a wide-eyed Betty Sue sprinting ahead with a brazen smile. “Dad, can I sleep over Betty Sue’s tonight? We have no homework this weekend and I did all of my chores yesterday.” Hollered Mary with a wave at her proud papa. Chip chuckled and yelled at the racing girls, “Sure honey. Betty Sue, would you like to have kebabs with us in half an hour?” Nearing the cul de sac now, Betty Sue peered back at Chip and screamed a wholehearted, “Yes, Mr. Carole!”
Mary caught up with her infectious friend and they giggled with glee slapping hands in victory for s’mores, pillow fights, and the slew of slumber party tropes that awaited them. Betty Sue began to run backwards teasing her mate to keep up with her reckless pace. Rounding the cul de sac now, Mary looked ahead with dilated eyes of alarm at her friend’s path. “Look out Betty!” screamed Mary which caused Betty Sue to whirl around. She glimpsed an enormous titanium protuberance before slamming into the ground unconscious.
Grim and grey, Dale McCollum peered out from his lair at this development with rigid curiosity from the living room. “Dale, you jerk. How could you install that behemoth of a mailbox without expecting something like this to happen? Go out there and get little Betty Sue an ice pack! I’m calling the ambulance.” Erupted Sally McCollum en route to the land line. “No, my sweet. Let them resolve this. She simply was not paying attention and this is a lesson every person learns at some point.” Whispered Dale as he began the hollow hearted retreat to his study. Sally stamped her foot and glared at her husband shooting intense beams of heat at his back. She spat, “I cannot take your aversion to people any longer. We are getting a divorce and you can die a hermit for all I care.” The door slammed behind her as she rushed out to Betty Sue’s aid. His eyebrows raised a fraction and there was the tiniest gap visible between his lips but Dale’s divorce from human emotion was well established.
The owlish man took a job delivering packages when he was fresh out of university and never strayed from the monotony over thirty quiet years. He was used to placing packages on stoops and porches without stirring a rodent. From the road, he evaluated homes and the possibility of human interaction as a CIA agent might inspect the nuances of a suspect from afar. People eagerly anticipated packages from time to time and when he scanned the heat signature of a person bursting at the seams to receive their goods he exited stage left for a while. Dale knew how to bide time. He would gaze feverishly out at trees hoping squirrels and birds would skitter n’ flutter to and fro to entertain him during these frustrating lapses. Once the threat of contact had subsided, he slinked on back to the target abode from the angle which provided the greatest obscurity for his vehicle. Deftly he speedily walked to the front door, placed the package, and faded back to his hearse of solitude.
The mailbox was an idea, a firm denial of the sociable life he scoffed at, that was formulated after years of enduring amicable package delivery to his door. Years of growing increasingly aghast time after time at all the people in the same line of work as him who gleefully greeted people left Dale with no choice but to design the monstrosity. He vowed their plastic palace behavior would be kept at arms length forever more. He contacted a mason and had the massive mailbox built posthaste. The receptacle was large enough to fit all of Betty Sue and Mary quite snugly to ill effect. This boded well for his agenda as he enjoyed wood work in his free time and with such spaciousness the deliverer could quite easily fit materials for entire projects in the box.
He was fortunate to sustain a career with a deafening allegiance to silence and solitude. He was lucky to live in a country where this behavior was allowed if one was clever about how they plied their trade. He is now quite possibly the loneliest man on the planet with his exasperated partner on the way out staring at a world rife with drama from behind the glass. “How did it come to this?” he wondered aloud in his study.
A crashing door shattered his moment aside. Sally stormed past his study and began feverishly packing her clothes. She bellowed from their dinghy closet, “I am going to hole up with my parents until I can find a real partner. Good luck keeping all of this together without me.” Silently her spouse on the fringe came to her side and in a hushed tone uttered the words, “But Sally you can’t leave. I love you.” Sally dropped a pair of jeans, found his eyes, and retorted, “If you love me Dale then why on earth has it come to this? A real partner takes responsibility for their choices and propels their partner forward. All you do is drag me down. For heaven’s sake, we have never even been to the annual fruit festival right out our front door that everyone else relishes.”
The beaming sunlight Liliko’i Lane had bathed in all day found a swarm of clouds at her reply. “That fruit festival is for squares and you know it. Salsa and Salad are posers. They have this stupid festival every year to perpetuate their impossible love.” Spat Dale who ruffled his hair in frustration. “Please. They are not squares. Look at Klaus Schwarz. The father of the girl you ostensibly injured I might add. He helps us every year with the leaves and he always has witty things to share. Just because you don’t entertain his conversation surely does not make him a bland person.” “Klaus’ an arrogant prick. He’s a good guy. Sure. But he is simply the alpha male who is making sure the pack is in line. I can see it in those beady brown eyes of his.” Sally sighed openly at this and shook her head. “I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. He does not strike me as the type at all. Look at all of the community work he does with the homeless. He’s just friendly. Are you honestly jealous of Klaus?” Dale glowered at her question and barked, “Jealous of that nincompoop? You cannot be serious.”
Sally resumed packing her clothes at his grotesque response. Long late afternoon shadows began to creep in the room as if a demon was afoot. Realizing his existential turmoil Dale stumbled along, “Aww come-come on babe. This is ludicrous! Klaus is fine and his daughter was unlucky today. These things happen.” “They do happen and when they do I expect my loved one to take responsibility and behave admirably. Not like a cavern dweller terrified of the light.” She shook her head turned away and began gathering her jewelry from the chest in the closet.
Dale took a moment to analyze the gravity of the situation, as he is wont to do, before lowering his gaze to his shoes. He gulped and then squeaked, “I know how difficult it must be to live with me at times but I have provided for you and I am willing to change.” Stricken by ajada at his vagueness she shook her head and began to pace the room. “What does change mean? I’ve heard you say this countless times before and I need to know now. What does change mean?” A sonorous deep breath hearkening back moments prior to their marriage found Dale’s body. Arms akimbo he made a knowing sigh and relinquished his expectations of life on mute. “Alright fine. It has come to this. I will make an effort to form friendships with other people besides you for the health of our marriage.” He rolled his eyes in submission to the sensible life tugging at his coattails for so long. Sally grabbed her chest as if to hold on to the moment. Awestruck, she gave him a warm hug. Tearing up now she said, “You can start by going over to the Schwarz’s place and apologizing for your damned mail box when they return from the hospital.”
He promptly released her and proceeded to move with conviction toward the vestibule. Seemingly taken over by a deity, he began to tie his shoes with surety. “Where are you going Dale?!” Sally questioned him with disbelieving eyes from the living room. Dale smiled and in his same renewed voice stated, “I am going to find the Schwarz family at the hospital. I have to make things right again.”