I looked over at the sound of my name. At the time, I was holding a heavy crate of bottles for the old shop owner who was clearing a cluttered bench to accommodate the burden.
On the step outside the open shop door, our local letter carrier waved an envelope over her head.
“Letter,” she barked.
“No,” I answered.
The letter carrier grit her teeth. “I wasn’t giving you a choice—!”
Surprise seized her round face as she realized I was busy and my hands were too full to actively reject the letter.
In a flash, she darted into the shop and punched the envelope into the depths of my coat pocket before sprinting wildly back out the front door, earning puzzled glances from passersby as she tore off down the street at an impressive rate of speed which all but guaranteed that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to her to return the envelope because my hands were full and the old man was taking too long.
That mail carrier is very good at her job.
Eventually placing the crate where the old man indicated, I fished the bent envelope from my pocket and offered it to him with a bowed head. “I give you this gift as fuel for your stove.”
Taking the envelope, the old man tore it open and withdrew a tri-folded letter. His watery blue eyes down elegant handwriting. “Zvonko has the handwriting of a scholar,” he murmured.
I grabbed the page. Looked at it. Giving it back, I crouched down to tie the lace of my left boot which had come undone. “Is he lost again?”
“Not lost, no…” A furrow gathered at the old man’s brow as he read. “What in the world?”
Rising, I snatched the letter again.
The old man reclaimed the page from me with a glare and then returned it in a deliberate and exaggeratedly polite manner. “Now you may have it.”
The letter ran in this way:
First, I hate you.
Second, Lally needs your help.
I’ll explain what’s happened. We made port at Welve for supplies to continue our most recent tropical adventure when we ran into some unsavory characters who’d been plaguing the area. In Lally’s attempt to dissuade them from causing trouble for the locals, our entire crew was lured into a series of strange and dangerous contests.
When our opponents realized victory would be ours, they attacked us. Nearly all of our people sustained serious injuries including Dr. Cadfam and, among the turmoil, our attackers kidnapped three of our crewmen with whom they escaped by boat. Lally and I learned shortly after that those crewmen were taken for the bounty that had been placed on their heads by the notorious and vengeful pirate Captain Huleikre.
Most of the crew is now under the care of the physician in Welve. The ship also took damage. It’s difficult to admit but, presently, she isn’t seaworthy.
As for those who were taken, their names follow:
— Naia, our navigator
— Baer, the minstrel and swordsman
— Ugo, who continues to have no noteworthy skills aside from his ability to find the dark side of any situation and yet has the highest bounty; personally, I believe he insulted Huleikre during one of our first encounters with him thereby earning the pirate’s eternal wrath. Thus, I suppose, if Ugo is good for anything, it’s for his insults.
This morning we learned that Captain Huleikre’s ship was spotted in this hemisphere and so time is of the essence. With only Lally and I to stage a swift rescue and limited time to summon allies, I’m afraid we won’t be successful against an opponent like Huleikre if our people fall into his hands.
As Lally’s first mate, it’s my duty to support my captain by any means necessary even if that means begging the infuriating likes of you to fight by his side. If your friendship with him ever meant anything, you’ll help him now.
P.S. See the reverse side for the address where you can find us through the –th of April.
P.P.S. If you don’t help, you’re scum.
P.P.P.S. You’re scum whether you help or not, but if you don’t help, then I’ll kill you and you’ll be dead scum.
P.P.P.P.S. Don’t help so I can kill you.
After rereading the letter, I stared at the store’s front windows which were opaque with condensation from the cool night.
The old man watched me with an annoying emotion on his face. “What are you going to do?”
“Get a pastry and a coffee from the cafe on 11th street.”
I regarded the address on the back of the letter. “I have an appointment.”
[to be continued…]
Author’s note: Thank you, Jennifer Hilty, for asking (no, for DEMANDING!! but in a fun an encouraging way) for more of the “Mesa” story. If you hadn’t said anything, Mesa’s story was legit gonna be indefinitely postponed along with all my other neglected drafts/story ideas. (Yes, I’ve figured out a bunch of stuff that allows me to use the scenes I posted before and still have everything make sense. So, thanks for the push!)
3 thoughts on “The “Mesa” Story – The Beginning”
I AM DELIGHTED TO HAVE BEEN A MOTIVATING FORCE IN THIS ENDEAVOR 8D This is hilarious and the extended .S.S.S.S’s are killing me.
Also I have questions:
1) Why did the carrier lady look surprised before she bolted over and gave him the letter? She acted like she’d seen something that made her move quickly but I didnt notice anything alarming.
2) Does Mesa reject all his mail or did he just suspect his biggest anti-fan Zvonko was the sender?
3) More please??? 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’ve got an essay-worth of answers for you. Here we go:
1) The letter carrier’s surprise: She realized that Mesa’s hands were full which meant he was unable to stop her from delivering the letter to him (putting the envelope somewhere on his person), however she had to act quickly before he set the box down and lost the opportunity. Essentially, she saw a rare window of opportunity. (If that was unclear, I’ll check it out and reword it.)
2) About rejecting mail: There’s a bit of an explanation for that one. (to be continued)
A) First, Mesa doesn’t like communicating in writing because he’s not good at reading in between the lines or expressing himself on paper. Instead, he prefers to talk in person to understand someone.
B) Mesa’s friends (it’s a short list) know he doesn’t like getting/writing letters so they either send a messenger or address mail to the old man who owns the store (Mesa helps out in the store in exchange for a living space). The old man reads the letters and relays their messages to Mesa in a face-to-face exchange.
C) If mail is ever addressed to Mesa personally, then it can’t be from his friends and he doesn’t want it. (He usually tries to either dodge the mail carrier or sneak mail back into her mailbag. Also, he doesn’t consider mail to be “delivered” if it has his name on it but it’s given to the old man on his behalf→this annoys the carrier to no end.)
D) What you said about Zvonko: Lally usually posts his letters himself and so Zvonko has never needed to know that he’s supposed to address letters to the old man instead of directly to Mesa.
I think a combination of 2 things made Mesa to read the letter:
(1) Mesa and Zvonko never willfully communicate unless it’s about Lally (Mesa likes to hear about his friends — Also, it’s suspicious that Zvonko would write to him at all — Since it was addressed to Mesa, that meant Zvonko wrote without Lally’s knowledge — Why did Zvonko write anything at all? — Why couldn’t Lally have sent a message? — Did something happen to Lally? — Was there trouble??)
(2) The old man’s reaction to the letter (he was alarmed — so, yes trouble.)
Geez I used so many words.