It was late in the afternoon, and I assumed it was safe. I was working on my second glass of the day when I heard the summons. Deliberating on just how expensive it used to be to operate a typewriter. You know. The paper; those ribbons. It all added up. I have a printer, but it is forever out of ink. I seldom use it. Better just to bang away at the keyboard one fingered and send it out into the ether. The costs are marginal. And no need either for indented paragraphs, since no pulp is involved. Chainsaws. A damn sight easier on the eye these days. Unless one is especially anal and hankers after tradition.
Anyway. There I was, doing nothing much in particular when I heard a persistent knocking. I don't have a bell, I can't abide the Pavlovian ring to it. If I still possessed a manual typewriter, an electric one even, I might never have heard the sound of bare knuckles on wood. Not over the relentless hammering these old machines served up when stroked.
I stopped typing and made up my mind to answer it. I might just as easily have ignored it, you understand, but there I found myself, in front of my own front door, my fingers already on the key, turning it, and that - as they say - was that. Done fucking deal.
The parcel courier could not have grinned any wider if he'd tried. It split his face ear to ear. One more wound in a weathered face. Rained on by hatchets. Inured to the fortune cookie. Had I ignored his knock, as expected, he would have been forced to drag his package back down the stairs unclaimed.
"Can you take this parcel for your neighbour, buddy," he rasped.
"Which one ?"
"Oh, well," I hesitated. "I suppose so. I hardly know her, you know. Just to nod to. In passing."
"You'd be doing her a favour."
Fucker. He had me and he knew it.
"I'll put a card through her door."
Calculating the return trip upstairs to be worth the trouble.
The old bastard sounded worse than me. A three pack a day habit. Two at the very least.
The stairs are a killer.
"Oh, all right," I conceded. And scrawled my name where prompted.
Lol. He looked like a Lom, as in Herbert. In full makeup.
I closed the door and took a long cold look at that package. It was big, though not especially heavy. A millstone around my fucking neck.