Skywriting at Night

Want a good old fashioned print copy of this book?

Chapter 12

     Jet was about a block from his house when he saw Tripoli, the mailman, walking down the street. Jet loved mail, so much so that the first thing he did when he got home from school each day was check to see anything had come for him. It didn’t matter what it was—offers to buy rare stamps, letters telling him he could win fantastic prizes by selling greeting cards, or catalogs peddling orthopedic shoes—mail was love. Someone he’d never seen, and would never meet, cared enough to spend time and money on him. It was heartwarming.

     He’d only been receiving an appreciable amount of mail for about a year. Sure, before that he'd get birthday cards from distant relatives with checks his parents would deposit in an account he’d never see, he was included on the envelopes of Christmas cards since he was a part of "...and family", and one time when he was four years old he received a letter from the Vetlife Insurance Company offering him inexpensive life insurance since he was "a patriotic fighting veteran of one of the Great Wars." But it wasn’t until he’d ordered the sea monkeys from the back of the Creepy Tales No. 3 comic book that the mail flow started.

     "Why can't I get them?" he asked his mother, who having never read Creepy Tales No. 3 had no idea what sea monkeys were.

     "Because you don't need them," she said.

     "Yes I do."

     "What in the world do you need sea monkeys for?"

     "So I can learn a lot and grow up to be smart like you."

     "And just what do you expect to learn from sea monkeys?" she asked.

     "If I knew that I wouldn't need to get them, would I?" Jet answered.

     "Go ask your father," she said.

     "Dad, mom says I can get these sea monkeys if it's okay with you," Jet said, hoping for once the ploy would work.

     "What do you need sea monkeys for?" he asked.

     "All the kids have 'em."

     "If all the kids had leprosy would you want that too?"

     "I guess so," Jet said, being too young to know whether he wanted leprosy or not. "But these are sea monkeys."

     "If all the other kids have them, why don't you play with theirs."

     "I can't."


     "'Cause it's more fun to have your own."

     "It's up to your mother."

     That was all he needed to hear. The truth is it would have been nice if someone had told him in advance that the sea monkeys he was working so hard to get weren't monkeys at all—they were Microscopic Mutant Shrimps From Hell. And besides not looking like either monkeys or shrimp, they would all die within three days. If indeed they were ever actually alive.

     But it wasn’t a total loss, for it did get Jet's name on every two-bit mailing list in the free world. And as mailers do, they unleashed a torrent. With his name spelled every which way. Jet Barker, Jeb Banken, J. Blanker, and Jim Branklette.  Then one day someone in Data Central outdid themselves. A letter arrived with an adhesive label addressed to Mr. J.E.T. Jeblinken. Jet thought this was one of the funniest things he'd seen in quite some time and for weeks walked around calling himself J.E.T. Jeblinken. In fact, from then on whenever he would talk to himself he would refer to himself in the third person as Jeblinken. And as life went on he would talk to himself more and more.

* * * * * *

     When Jet saw Tripoli he knew he could save himself a whole block of anxiety by finding out whether anything had come in the mail for him.

     Actually, Tripoli wasn’t the mailman’s real name. He’d earned the nickname because his parents, having read in a booklet they ordered from the Weekly World Scene called "Ancient Alphabetic Secrets Unlocked" that the letter "E" held mystical powers, named their son Edgar Ernest Earle, or "Triple E". When he joined the Marine Corps they automatically changed the spelling.

     Tripoli was a man of uniforms. They were the invisible thread that ran through his life, the Karmic glue that held together the seemingly disconnected pieces of his existence. It began with a standard issue hospital baby gown, then progressed through the uniforms of St. Jude's School for Boys, Immaculate Misconception High School (as he called it), the United States Marine Corps, the Emerson High School janitorial staff, the security guards of Pinkerton's Security Services, and now the United States Postal Service.

     "Hi!" Jet said cheerily.

     "Good afternoon, Master Banker," Tripoli responded.

     "Do you remember if you delivered any mail for me?" Jet asked.

     "You know, I dare say I did," Tripoli told him. "A couple of pieces, at that."

     "Thanks!" Jet called out as he raced down the street.

     It was moments like this that made the tedium of Tripoli’s job worthwhile.

     Jet wasn’t breaking land speed records getting home in a hurry just because he thought there would be mail—any mail—waiting for him. No, there was one particular letter he was looking for.

     He knew exactly what it would look like: a plain white #10 envelope with his name and address in handwritten block letters. No computer label and no return address. No stamp or postmark either.

     He knew that when this letter arrived he would take it upstairs and put it under his mattress next to the Crazed Tales of Terror comic book he’d bought with his allowance, the Playboy magazine he found way in the back of his father's closet, and a bra and girdle ad he tore out of the Sunday magazine section of the newspaper. The letter would stay with that exalted company until after everyone else had gone to sleep.  Then, and only then, would he ever so quietly pull out the envelope and examine it closely.

     He would sit on the bed with the covers draped over his head like a pup tent. He’d turn on the flashlight he'd sneaked from the top drawer in the kitchen and carefully slit open the envelope. Inside would be a neat, perfectly crisp sheet of white paper. He’d hold his breath as he slowly unfolded it. The letter would begin: Dear Jet. It would go on to list, in chronological order, exactly what Jet should do with the rest of his life. It would include all the high points and all the confounding crossroads. And in each case it would tell him which path to take.

     The letter would be signed: Love, god. In lower case letters.

     Were his mother to receive a letter like this she would forsake all of her religions and start one of her own. Were his father to receive one he would place it back in the envelope, put the envelope in a manila folder, label the folder "Letter from God", and place the folder in the file cabinet along with his aging tax returns and newspaper clippings he thought would one day be useful. And were Job to receive this letter, he would savagely tear it into hundreds of tiny pieces, for the letter would enumerate virtually no high points and far too many crossroads.

     But when Jet would receive this letter—and he knew he would—he’d simply say "That's life", place the letter back in the envelope, and return the envelope to its rightful place between his mattress and box springs. Then, whenever he was in the throes of a major dilemma and have absolutely no idea what to do about it, he would pull The Letter from beneath his mattress, look down the list to, say, number nine, and follow the letter's advice.

     Thanks to The Letter, everything in Jet's life would go exactly according to plan and he would live happily ever after.

* * * * * *

     Jet burst through the front door and screeched to a halt by the telephone table in the front hall. The mail was sitting in a neat pile as always. Adrenaline raced through this body as he bit his lower lip and prepared to find The Letter.

     One letter for Dad. Another for Dad. Still another for Dad. One addressed to Mrs. Jet Banker, a now common occurrence which seemed perfectly logical to Jet—which is why it would go in the shoe box on the shelf in his closet along with the other letters addressed to his future wife so they could be given to her on their wedding night.

     Then his eyes landed on the envelope. His heart tried to jump out of his chest. His palms got clammy, his forehead tightened, his whole body broke out in goosebumps. He stared at the envelope, frozen. Finally he jammed the envelope in his back pocket and ran upstairs, taking the steps two at a time, bolting into his bedroom, slamming the door and diving on the bed.

     "Jet," his mother called out from downstairs, "are you okay?"

     He jumped up from the bed, took the envelope from his pocket, and shoved it under his mattress. He looked around the room, suddenly worried that someone might be watching him. His heart was still pounding.

     "Jet, is something wrong?"

     He opened the door and tried to sound like he was in control. He wasn't.

     "I'm fine, Mom," he called out.

     "What are you doing?"

     "Nothin'," he said, "I'm sorry I slammed the door."

     He gently closed the door and knelt next to the bed. He lifted the mattress, half expecting that the letter wouldn't be there because it was really just a figment of a twelve year-old's hyperactive imagination. His hand touched the paper, crisp and smooth. He slowly pulled out the envelope, looking at it for several long minutes, turning it over and over, examining it carefully. It was a plain white #10 envelope with his name and address in handwritten block letters, no return address, no stamp, and no postmark.

     This was The Letter.

* * * * * *

     Jet didn't say a word during dinner. This was such a rare occurrence that Erta, remembering Jet's actions when he came home from school, thought he might be taking ill. When Jet hardly touched his dinner, she knew he was.

     "Are you feeling okay?" she asked, placing the inside of her wrist against his forehead.

     "Uh huh."

     "Does he have a fever?" his father asked.

     "He doesn't seem hot," Erta said.

     "Your stomach bothering you?" Jackson Robert asked.


     "You feel achy?" Erta asked questioned.


     "Is your head stopped up?" Jackson Robert the Grand Inquisitor continued.


     "Does your face hurt?" Job chimed in.


     "Well it's killing me," Job said, laughing uproariously by himself.

     "Mom," Jet said quietly, "can I be excused? I have a lot of homework tonight."

     He left the table and went to his room. Try as he might, he couldn't concentrate on his homework. He kept staring at the clock, willing it to move faster so everyone would go to bed and he could get on with the secrets of his life.

     Finally, he couldn’t wait any longer. There was a map outlining the path his life would take sitting under his mattress and he was supposed to wait until everyone went to bed? No way!

     He pulled out the letter and, holding his breath, tore open the envelope. The piece of paper he pulled out wasn’t the pristine virginal sheet he expected. It was wrinkled and smudged and stained by drippings from what appeared to be sky blue Popsicles. This was a bad omen. He carefully unfolded the page, working out the creases with the palm of his hand and took a deep breath. The letter read:

 Dear Jet:
This is your life. You will not get another chance. Read this if you dare.
1. You will be left back in third grade.
2. You're parents will throw you out of the house because your so stupid.
3. You will join the circus and be in the freek show.
4. You will become a homo and marry the bearded lady.
5. You're children will look like her but be uglier like you.
6. They'll be homos too.
7. You will all be thrown out of the circus and move to a turd tard farm.
8. You'll give them cooties and they'll throw you out too.
9. The bearded lady will run off and be a whore.
10. You'll beg your brother for money, but he won't give you any because you're a homo.
11. You will die in Montana.
P.S. The truth hurts, doesn't it?

     He let out a sharp cry of pain and crumpled the letter in anger, tears welling in his eyes. He’d made plenty of mistakes in his life, but none as bad as the one he made three days earlier when, in a moment of brotherly weakness, he’d told Job about The Letter.

     He yanked open the door and ran to his brother's room, throwing the door open so hard the doorknob smashed into the fish tank. Water poured out the hole like a big drainage pipe, fish flopping around the floor.

     "You asshole," Jet yelled, tears streaming down his face, "you wrote that letter!"

     The figure under the covers remained perfectly still, the only sound in the room was the fish flopping around the floor.

     "You're an asshole douchebag scumbag jerk," he screamed, "and God'll get you for this."

     The figure in the bed still didn't move. Jet grabbed the blanket and tore it off the bed. His eyes had adjusted to the darkened room and he could now see that the bed was filled with balled up pillows where his brother's body should have been. As he turned in momentary confusion he heard snickering giggles coming from the closet. He yanked the door open, smashing it into the wall. Inside he could make out the figures of Job and the neighborhood kids—Ralph Marconi, Bobby Biggs and Timmy Padgett—stuffed in the closet with their hands clamped tightly over their mouths, trying to stifle the erupting laughter.

     "I guess you were right, weren’t you?" Job said, bursting out in laughter. "The truth hurts, doesn't it?"


Chapter 13 ]

Chapter:  1   2    3   4   5   6   7   8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18
                 19   20    21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34  

  Skywriting at Night - a novel by Mad Dog

[Home] [Doggy Style Archives] [Blog]  [Novel] [Playground] [Plot-o-matic] [Porn-o-matic] [On The Road]
[Grand Highly Illuminated Xmas] [Who the hell is Mad Dog?] [Work Stuff]
[FREE Newsletter]  [ ] [Linkage] [Search]

1998 - 2013 Mad Dog Productions
All Rights reserved