Rue was known simply as “The funny old lady who lived down the road”. That’s because she lived down the road and was a funny old lady.
No one knew her very well, but she seemed pleasant enough when greeted in passing. She lived down a fairly long driveway. It would have been a good ten minutes’ walk. Rue would wander down it every day at the same time (never on a Sunday) to check the mail box on the side of the road. As far back as anyone could remember (and that would be a good forty years) she had never missed a day.
A good forty years ago she had lost a son in some war or other. Which war it was no one really knew. He hadn’t been in the war for very long when he was killed. He’d never written home. Somehow Rue hoped he had written and the letter was “lost in the mail”. Sometimes a letter can do that. But lost for forty years? So everyday deep down when she opened the mail box to check she always thought of her son.
It was a momentary thing. It was a brief daily ritual. But today was different! There was a letter there! But it wasn’t from her son as such, but almost. It was the ticket to go see his grave.
Warren had one regret in life: he wanted to be called to jury service. All his friends, at some time in their lives, had been called up. Names were selected at random (apparently) from electoral rolls. Warren felt deep down that his time would come.
He didn’t want to sit on a jury that tried piffling little nothings. There’s nothing interesting about a woman called Mabel sneaking cannabis tucked in her pantyhose into a prison. There’s nothing interesting about a twenty-year old five-fingered discount personage called Norman swiping vacuum cleaner bags from a two dollar shop.
No! Warren wanted to sit on a jury that tried murder, and not just any murder, but a murder trial that went on for weeks. Something complex, with lots of intrigue and blood. That would certainly add a spice to his life.
Such an invitation to possibly spice up his life came last Thursday. Warren nonchalantly, almost absent-mindedly, went out to his mail box on the side of the road. There was a letter for him with a logo at the top that he did not recognize. Yes! He was summoned to jury service! He should make an appearance in court next week. Goodness! At last! At last!
So as we come to bury Warren today let us remember that he saw that his lifelong ambition was about to be fulfilled: jury service. This fulfilment was the last thing he saw before being hit by a passing car as he stood too far out on the road engrossed in reading his mail.
The highlight of aging Egbert’s day was to wander out to the gate to check the mailbox. Even though the mail delivery van came past sometime between 10 and 11 o’clock in the morning, Egbert put off checking until around about 2 o’clock; sometimes as late as 3 o’clock. It was good to extend the excitement of anticipation a little. Once the mailbox had been checked and there was nothing there, all excitement had gone; all anticipation had gone.
These days there were never any bills. Most of that was done on line. So things arriving in the mail were almost certainly personal letters of one sort or another.
Who knows? Perhaps a distant elderly aunt had bequeathed him a fortune. Perhaps he’d won a free supermarket trolley dash; five minutes to gather as much free stuff as possible. Perhaps it was a letter out of the blue from an old school chum of years ago. Anything was possible.
On this particularly day he checked the mail. He was a little later than usual. It was about 4 in the afternoon. There was a letter for him there. He didn’t recognize the handwriting. How exciting!
Egbert waited until he was back in the house before opening it. It was an envelope of white powder. Egbert had been a government spy back in earlier days. These days the government were having a “clean-up”.
There were six people waiting for a job interview. It was a simple job, but with the difficulty these days of finding work, almost anything would do. The six waiting interviewees were applying for a mail sorting job. Madeline was in charge of the process.
Madeline was dressed in her Sunday best for the occasion. A little bit of power dressing, she thought, a little bit of black; in fact, quite a bit of black. She was startled to overhear, at least she thought she overheard, one of the applicants say to the others, “I don’t think much of what that woman’s wearing.”
The interviewing process began. Madeline gave each a pile of envelops and told them to sort things alphabetically into pigeon holes.
“Times up!” announced Madeline.
“But you never said it was a speed test.”
“Well what do you expect?” said Madeline. “I’m afraid you were all too slow. We shall re-advertise the job.”