"The Postman" by Paulo Acencio
That night I got home early.
I was tired and more tired because it had been so damn cold all day.
I didn’t even have time to eat.
Driving back to the central logistics center in my yellow bus, where I started my days and ended them, I nearly crashed into a car, parking a little too far in my lane.
My eyes were burning and weak. Just wanting to close.
I got there. Cleaned the car. Marked the letters of those people that were nowhere to be found - either because they had moved, or because I didn’t have time to look for them - then threw them into the yellow bucket, overflowing with hundreds of forgotten names.
I sat down at the thin desk and wrote down my numbers. At that point, I was the last and only postman in the building.
A typical day would be around nine hours long. That day had been eleven. I added another half on my paper, for the break I couldn’t possibly have taken, but that would be subtracted from my paycheck anyways.
That was without a doubt the absolute best part of the entire day. Filling out my numbers and doing so in my favor, pressing my scanner and mini printer into their charging pots, and then just fucking leaving.
At that time of year, winter was hanging so deep that it would be dark when I’d leave.
Dark when I got there in the morning. Dark when I left in the evening. Dark the next day after again.
There I was driving home. Quietly breathing. Listening to the almost silent radio, because I was too tired to listen to anything else, and I was too tired to drive as well.
Tired. Soo tired. Just wanting to close my eyes. Just rest. Rest for a moment. Four miles to home. Then three. And two. And there I was holding at the street light.
The only light on the slim, dark street.
Just one car behind me, no one else. The red of the street light filled my car and painted all of my face except a little shadow on my eyes. Hidden dark.
Then another car at the crossroad. It came from right in front. The boosted motor hauling out loud. The party inside. Some guy behind the wheel. He had black hair. There was a blondie beside him. Pretty girl. Very pretty. Maybe that guy’s girl. But she was too pretty to care.
Her window rolled down, there she was hauling at the moon! Young and drunk.
All that in just a few seconds. Them rushing by. Me hearing the music on their radio, powerful and loud.
And there it was. That blondy. She looked at me. I saw her eyes. Then a smile. Time frozen in perfection. Maybe it had been there before. Maybe she gifted it just to me.
It didn’t matter. I knew just one: I wanted to FUCK!
I spotted more people on the backseats as the car ran by. Drinking. Singing.
Right there I got electricized. I felt more energy at that moment than at any time in the last week.
The street light turned yellow, then green right away. The line of cars behind me had risen like water behind a damn. Just one mile to home.
But then, I didn’t want to go home. What was at home? Sleep!
I wasn’t tired. Not anymore. I wanted TO FUCK!!!
She had smiled at me. They would be at the pubs. They must be there.
Maybe she was his girlfriend. Maybe she wasn’t.
It didn’t matter. There would be more women at the pub. But she was something.
I just wanted TO FUCK!!
The street light green! Shinning green on my face. I threw the wheel around and turned left instead of right. I turned back.
I turned the radio up. The volume banging against my roof. I rolled down the windows.
I stepped on it and I stepped on it hard and I was racing to the pub.
It was when I saw the moon in the sky. There I was hauling at it and going faster!
Who cared? I’d just call in sick the next day. I went faster! I’d go to the pub.
I knew I had TO FUCK!!
Downtown I felt the place. The hookers on the streets. The pimps in the corners. Drunk people, screaming their way down the streets. Letting their cranky mating calls echo in no response and stumble their way into pubs and bars and clubs.
It was Friday night. I got to the place I’d usually go to. An older pub. Lots of dark wood inside.
I always liked that. Good beer and not too expensive either. And you’d find a lady if it was your day.
So far it hadn’t been, but I needed the thought of hope.
Actually, I didn’t think. My brain was just partly there.
I only FELT.
When I got into that place, full of drunken animals, the animal took over and I let him take control.
I felt calm opening the heavy wooden door. I made myself smile. I turned loud and happy and I did everything so I looked like I had a great time. Stepping inside, putting my coat away, there were a couple of people standing at the entrance, sunken in conversation.
A couple of eyes blinked at me, scanned me, lost interest, and glid away. A couple of bastards already, but a cute lady too! I strolled inside and right to the bar.
Let me tell you the story of the bastards and they were bastards for sure.
No line in front of the bar. That could be both good and bad. Leaning against the rustic wood, I calmly turned to my right, taking the opportunity to check the room.
The place was full, not packed, but there was electricity in it that was shared by everyone.
The pub felt different that night.
I turned back, facing the bartender. It was a lady that was serving and she wasn’t a pretty one.
“Gimme a pint and make it fast!”, I said and I didn’t care to be nice to her.
Her lower jar was too sharp and too long and when she smiled I thought she must be from the island with those teeth.
“Me god I haven’t heard that one before!”, she was joking. I could truly not understand how she could be in the mood to joke around on a busy Friday night. I just casually leaned back, mumbling something like: “I am sure.”, and threw her eight bucks on the counter, wondering how the Irish made it yet behind another bar in another pub. I turned around, leaned against the wood, and looked for a pretty smile, blond hair, and blue eyes.
It was lighting in the dark with a flashlight and suddenly have the eyes of the neighbor's cat jump at you. As the only light on a cold night.
There she was.
All those people. All those eyes and her shining through all the whiskey, the beer, the smells, and the mix of Irish and British bastards.
Strong eyes she had. They were big too. And they saw me.
I caught her in time and froze us there. Our eyes locked on each other.
I saw her lips, and damn those were some nice lips. Big and full and probably so soft!
Oh and her hair! Blond! Long! Curled! Perfect!
I wouldn’t know, but I imagine I must have had the same expression as a deer at night frozen on the road. Blinded by the headlights. Standing there still, trying to decipher what in the fuck was there in front of it!
What in the fuck was that in front of me?
The girl from earlier. The girl from the street light that was hauling at the moon.
Jesus fuck, it was her! I must have smiled. I definitely did.
She slowly turned. And the way she moved her thin body over those long legs!
So elegant! So subtle. Yet so provocative at the same time. Her tits blinked at me from the side.
They were formed like giant muffins. Full and round. And oh my god I tried not to look.
Her ass. Oh, that ass. She really was something.
Just as she turned, so subtle, yet so strong, there was this gentle smile.
Gentle enough to make me believe it wasn’t even there. Too tempting to give that thought any recognition.
Then she was gone. Just like that. Disappearing in the crowd on her way to the bathroom.
“I’ve got your pint here!”, that ugly Irish was squirking. Pulling me from that dream.
The best dream I’ve had in a hot minute.
I turned and nodded. Grabbed the beer and left the bar. I strutted over to my regular booth.
Being pretty sure that somebody I knew must be around.
It was time to play the game and win the trophy.
I was sure about that.
I was sure, I was going to FUCK!
I glid on the old, red leather. The booth gave me stability. The beer tasted good. A bunch of people sitting in my booth already. Nobody I knew.
Then I realized. Those bastards sitting there were the bastards from the entrance.
Sunken in conversation again. And again, blinking up at the stranger who just decided to join them. This time there was more aggression in the bastard’s eyes.
A lady was with them. It was the one I saw coming in and she was no bit less interesting than that before. I gave them a smile.
And for you stuck-ups, in that pub, it was no particularly strange thing to take a seat in a booth with people you didn’t know. Because it always was so full.
Except for the folk sitting there were the locals from downtown. Because ever since the factories relocated, the only sustainable business downtown was that of the dealers and the pimps.
Who showed everybody what we all really were about.
They didn’t like you to join them at their booth. And they’d show you.
Luckily, those bastards that night were no pimps and no dealers. Just Irish. Damn Irish.
“Having a good night y’all?”, I asked, looking at the girl.
She had curly, red hair. A fair level of beauty. But an enormous amount of intrigue.
Innocent looking, and deeply perverted, I could tell right away.
All three guys sat around her.
They all stared at me. With disbelief almost.
They wished to just ignore me but realized the girl was about to answer. So the middle-sized fellow went: “It has been so far.”, with his Irish accent and smokey voice.
“That’s the way we should keep it fellas!”, I screamed at them with my pint in my hand.
“Where’re you all from anyways? Straight from the rock?”
“From Ireland.”, the smaller of the three guys said.
“No shit.”, I thought.
“All of you?”, I asked, letting my gaze wander over all three bastards and leaving it with that red-haired angel, smiling.
The middle-sized fellow started yapping: “Yes! We’re…”
“...we’re all from Dublin, Ireland. The best place in the world!”, the biggest of the bastards, sitting closest to the girl screamed at me.
“Here we go.”, I thought.
“But you are not.”, I whispered directly to the girl, “Where are you from?”
“London.”, she smiled.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”, I continued, taking a slow hit from my cigarette and using the opportunity to slowly turn my head and check the toilet entrance.
“She must still be inside.”, I thought.
“Why’s that?”, she wondered. G
“Yeah. Why’s that?”, the middle-sized fellow asked.
“Well, you’re just too pretty to be from Dublin.”, I loud-mouthed confidently.
Ignoring the bastard's complaints.
“Oh how do you like that guy?”, I heard from the Irish bastards. Getting louder. Sitting up straighter.
“You clearly don’t know Dublin, mate.”, the big bastard said, subtly flexing his arm muscles, when harshly grabbing his Guinness.
“I know Dublin, mate.”, I went, “But I like London a whole lot better!”, smiling at her.
“You’ve been in town for a while?”, I asked her.
“Just a day, actually. I haven’t seen anything yet.”, she went.
“There are so many beautiful places here that you have to see.”, I said.
“What beautiful places in this shit town?”, the smallest fellow laughed.
“Just the locals know them. For example, we got Crisp Lake. A beautiful, big, blue lake. In the summer you swim in it and you feel like the world is yours.”
“It's winter einstein!”, the big guy yapped.
“In the winters I like it even better! Up there is this secret cave.”...
“...secret?”, she asked.
I nodded at her: “It's impossible to find if you don’t know where to look.” I left my eyes seeking hers after saying that.
“But you know where to find it?”, she tested me.
“Of course. It's like I said, the locals know.”
“You don’t look local.”, the middle-sized fellow said. I wasn’t and ignored her lifting my pint and talking to the lady: “This secret cave, you can climb into it and it leads you right into the mountain. And if you follow it all the way through, we’ll get up on a viewpoint where you can see the entire lake from above. And if you catch it at sunset, and see the colors, you’ll feel like a kid again.”, I finished toasting with her.
“That sounds amazing.”, she dreamed. I had sold the dream again.
“Sounds like I really have to go there.”
I smoked my cigarette, always subtly watching the bathroom in the corner of my eyes, wondering what the hell she was doing in there.
“When are you leaving?”
“In three days.”
“You’re here for only three days?”
“She just said that ye gobshite!”, the bigger bastard blasted, sticking his chest out.
I ignored him and continued: “Actually, that is perfect.”
“Why’s that?”, she wondered.
“Well, usually you’d have to wait a whole month for the sun to be just right. But tomorrow, there is this rare astronomical event, where the sun is in the perfect spot to have an unforgettable view of the sunset!”, I realized quickly that that girl was a whole lot more looks than brains and just invented a story about the moon and the sun and light and, I only care about the face you’ll make when I’ll be inside of you.
With some people, you can spot instantly what's behind them.
Not always. But as a postman, if there is just one thing you see more often than packages and letters (even if the math doesn’t quite add up) it's different types of people.
And none of those people would share a deep or intimate story every time I’d see them.
They wouldn’t tell me about their characters, lives, or hopes.
All I’d get were seconds. Seconds of somebodies day. Impressions.
I’d carry their packages and letters to their house. I’d ring the doorbell. I’d wait.
Sometimes just two seconds. Sometimes ten. Sometimes I’d have to wait for than a minute to make sure, just to realize everyone was gone. Sometimes they’d be lonely and wait for me all day and open the door just as I lifted my fist to knock.
When the door opened, a new exchange would begin.
My three to ten seconds.
First, it was about what they looked like. That would be the first second. And it would either be a disappointment or cause me to stay a bit longer.
I’d see them. They’d see me. We scanned each other. They’d check what I looked like, then they’d decide how they would behave. If they decided that I was better looking than them, chances were that they’d be a whole lot nicer to me. For some reason.
Sometimes it was the opposite too.
Married guys were different. Or those with a hottie as a girlfriend.
They oftentimes didn’t like me. They must have seen me as some kind of threat I guess.
I would have liked to tell them that even if their girl would invite me right in I couldn’t fuck them, because I didn’t even have time to pull my socks up when they were sliding off my heels, pressing in the middle of my foot.
Sometimes there was a hottie opening up. And my god, let me tell you, there were no better days than those days. Trust me, I was doing small talk at those doors!
Then I’d tell ‘em what I got for them: “YOUR PACKAGE, OH, AND A LETTER TOO!
…OH! AND A MAGAZINE!”
And sometimes I would feel good and have energy and be nice to them and joke around and often I was tired and didn’t give a fuck about what they thought!
They’d always talk to me with their eyes. That was when I’d scan the labels of their packages, and stack them in front of them. And as I was doing so, I was learning about them.
The Casey’s for example. I love them. They were a young family with too small kids. They had just moved in, so I saw them every day, and every day, they had at least four packages. On every single day of the week. Making their new home, a home.
Every time I came bye. They were always smiling. Painting a new room every day. Coming out with paint on their clothes, even their faces. It was always the entire family that was at the door.
The father smiled when he saw me. They were good people. In the wrong kind of town.
Most importantly, they were American. Not fucking Irish!
Then there was this smaller house behind a long, thin street. Called bridge street.
When I pulled into bridge street I was later than late. I was very late. And I would still have tons of packages in the back.
At that point, all my nerves had already melted. My muscles were sore and I was nothing more than a broken wreck, functioning on autopilot.
Oftentimes I didn’t even wait for the people to open their doors. I’d just throw them their shit in front of their doors, ring, and turn walking back to my small yellow bus. When I heard the door open behind my back and somebody yell: “Thanks!” or: “The mail’s sure late today!”, with a dumb laugh, I answered even before they finished their sentence, not even turning around, always with the exact same phrase: “Package for you. Have a good day!”
Then I’d jump in my bus and race off to the next one.
Man, I don’t miss that job!
A young family lived in that small house on bridge street.
I forgot their name, it might come back to me later on.
They had three kids. Two little boys, that looked pretty much identical to each other.
Always with their mouths open.
Always some spit dropping from their round faces.
Looking up at me with their big eyes.
And then there was their newborn also. The mother would always carry at in her arms.
I never saw the father, but I got the feeling that he was still very present.
The mother didn’t look old, but not young either. She looked, well she looked like a mother.
She was round. Not fat. Just round. With a round face and big round eyes. Same as her kids.
I wouldn’t call her pretty. Let’s just call her a mother.
She looked like she was full of love. She looked like her life was full of cuddles and booboos and kisses and love. That was who she was. That was what she was made to be. Then, finally coming into her own.
If somebody asked her what she had done all day, I am sure she would say: “I was cleaning the house. I was helping Jason with the homework. I cooked spaghetti and I bought a new sweater for Patrick.”, or something similar to that.
As postman you have a lot of time by yourself on the streets to think about those things.
Anyways, when I ringed at their door, it was the same procedure every time.
I’d have to wait. I’d listen to some organizing screams inside as she was getting all her children together, so they wouldn’t be able to run around the house on their own.
Then she would lead them to the door, like her small pack of sheep and finally, she would open.
Right away I was hit by the heat. Their home was warm and even more, it was hot in there. But in a good way. In a loving way. It smelled like love. It smelled comfortable and safe.
It smelled like cinnamon and warm milk with honey and through the entrance, I’d always spot some toys in the living room. Life was good in there.
The four of them would be standing there. With red cheeks. The two boys, well-fed and loved and happy, looked up at me. Their small mouths always open. The mother with a stressed smile. Always slowly moving from side to side with the baby in her arms.
I’d always have to pull myself from the stun of that home of love.
I’d have to remember to scan and stack their packages and give them their letters and home decor magazines.
For a moment I would forget how late I was and how many houses still were in front of me and how my sock slid down to the middle of my foot and all I wanted were just a few more seconds of that warm home. Of memory.
Then the door fell closed and they were back to their normal life, playing and laughing and having fun, as I was standing at the entrance alone. Back in the cold.
It was the only home I really took my time for.
I also always wanted them to think that I was doing a good job.
That I was being a good postman.
When I saw children I always had to prove to them that I wasn’t such a loser.
In the end, I got over it as soon as I started making some more money.
What does it matter anyways?
Nothing but a memory today.
And what do they matter?
They are lost in time eventually.
Even the good ones.
It might even be better to be forgetting those good ones when you’re living in a hole.
Because when you are truly living in the hole, it’s the good ones that bring you the most harm.
When you really remember what you’ve had. You realize what you’ve lost.
I had not met loss yet.
But I would soon enough.
I lit another cigarette when the middle-sized fellow went to get another round of beers.
The red-haired lady liked me. I saw that she was used to getting all the attention from men.
She knew exactly how to use her looks to empower herself.
To me she was boring. She’d be a real drag. Suddenly I couldn’t stand her.
As she had been telling me in the last five minutes about her home in London and her trip to visit her friends I had zoned out and thought about those weird people from my job.
“Where are you blondie?”, I thought. Again I turned to the bathroom, knowing that I wouldn’t see her. Surprise struck, as the door to the women’s bathroom swung open and the angel reappeared.
My head jumped back to the red-haired London girl before she would have the chance to spot me.
“Put your number in here. We should go for a coffee as long as your are still in town.”, I told her, pressing my phone in her hand.
For a second she stared through me, trying to spot a hinge of insecurity, then giving up and giving in. She grabbed the phone.
“Okay. Maybe you’ll show me that secret cave as well.”, she said.
“Maybe. As I said, it is very secret.”
“Is it?”, she asked. I can’t tell you why but for some reason I hated that girl. Just wanted to get away from her. Such a drag. Such a bore. Everything about her. No grace.
Then blondie passed. I leaned back and took a hit of my cigarette. The way she walked.
No wasted movements. Pure elegance. She passed and walked up to the bar as the line of men that had built up in front of the counter just passed to the side, letting her glide through, all the way to the counter. Wolfs, I thought.
I smiled at the London girl. A smile as if it’s all right. As if she was just a little, unknowing girl.
One good hit off the cigarette, then I pressed it out and flushed the smoke down with a big gulp from my beer. I got up, the girl staring at me, waiting for an answer.
“Are you leaving?” she asked.
“You must excuse me.”, I told her, turning to the two Irish bastards that had just turned silent:
“Excuse me, gentlemen.” I slid out of the booth and strolled away.