Monday, April 22, 2013

Original Story: The Delivery Man

The delivery man is out making his daily rounds when he receives an unexpected phone call. With a truck outfitted with a special 'mobile telephone,' all his customers' calls are routed directly to him.

"Hello?" he says, his voice hurried but friendly.

"Yes, this is Fred," says the voice on the other end. "I need you to come over right away."

Fred was one of the delivery man's most demanding customers. A single man who lived in a small yellow house on his route in suburban Pittsburgh, Fred had a habit of asking the delivery man to go far beyond the scope of his job.

"Well, I don't know, Fred," he said. "I have quite a few packages to deliver."

"But you don't understand," said Fred. "I need someone to help me make a rainbow!"

There it was again; another odd request completely unrelated to package delivery. Having been in the business for several decades, he had known his share of kooks. He was reminded of the stern chef who lived across town and who would constantly invite children over to view his bakery, only to berate them when their baking attempts didn't conform to his exceedingly high standards. Or the soft spoken Chuck, who was constantly in and out of work, bizarrely jumping from endeavors such as a precious metals security guard one minute to the owner of a music store the next.

"I'll see what I can do," he said, and hung up.

Rainbows, huh? How on earth was he going to pull this one off and deliver all his packages? He phoned back in to headquarters.

"This is delivery agent #A-834. Requesting direction on a customer invite."

"Acknowledged, agent #A-834," said the dispatcher. "Who is the customer?"

"10294 Reading Way."

There was a rustling sound as dispatch started flipping through his log book that contained all customer records. In an unusually brief moment, however, dispatch was back on.

"Hold for Mr. Johnson, A-834," he said.

Johnson? The escalation was extremely odd. Peter Johnson was head of the entire Northeastern US Region. He'd only met him once, a few years back at a dinner the company had for some employees celebrating 20 years of employment with them. He had received a watch and some company stock options.

"A-834," said Mr. Johnson.

"Yes, sir."

"You get back to that house IMMEDIATELY. Do you understand me?"

He was shocked. Mr. Johnson was all about speed. Get as many packages delivered as quickly as humanly possible. To indulge an eccentric local was far outside of his character.

"But sir, it's just that I..."

But Mr. Johnson cut him off with a clear, "Don't bother with the stupid packages! You get yourself back to 10294 Reading Way now, and you do whatever that man asks you. Are we clear?"

"Yes sir, I guess so."

"Good," said Johnson. And he hung up.

Confused but with a growing sense of panic, the delivery man hung up the phone and drove back to his home to try to find something that could make a rainbow. He considered a flashlight and a water spray bottle, but couldn't get the right effect. Running out of time, he tore through his closet and turned up a box full of prisms and a projector. He had come across the prisms when a package he delivered tore open, spilling its contents across the pavement. His attempts to repair the package were futile, so in his guilt and embarrassment, he had stuffed it all into his closet instead.

Why was Johnson so nervous about crazy old Fred, he wondered. He had heard whispers from other delivery men at his company that there was some type of shadowy figure that called all the shots even higher up than Mr. Johnson. For some reason, he thought of old Fred, but quickly laughed it off. He was a harmless old man who played with toys and liked to dress up. The boss he had heard of was ruthless-threatening to punish failure by transferring people out of the district so far they may as well be transferred to Never-Never Land.

He pulled up to 10294 Reading Way and gathered his things.

Who was that fearsome boss, he thought. It was said that there was no part of town that his control didn't reach. If he wanted to visit a dairy farm, he could place one phone call and he'd be there 10 minutes later, leaning all about heifers and holsteins on a personalized tour from the head farmer. Schools, fire departments, manufacturing plants: it was all the same. With one call from the boss, the entire city stopped what they were doing and allowed him to pay a visit. He would never leave without taking something, either. Today, it was a fire helmet. Tomorrow, it might be something bigger. Much bigger. Did the boss have mafia ties? No, he thought. This was something else.

Even more frightening, he apparently had to know how everything worked. They say that he was into some kind of black magic and apparently had a frame on the wall that would show him anything he asked it to. Want to know how crayons are made? He could conjure it up with a simple incantation. Bubble wrap? That too. It's been said that he who knows how to make everything also knows how to un-make it. Could thus be his sinister design?

Fortunately, there was no more time for make-believe. He walked up to the door and knocked. But he shuddered as a shadow came to the door. Why couldn't he get this strange fear out of his head?

Fred opened the door, looked at him, and smiled. "Come on in," he said. "Isn't it a beautiful day in the neighborhood?"


Chace and Shareesa said...

Oh man, Christian! I loved it! Seriously! I forgot I was pouring Baylor a bowl of cereal because I was reading so intently...then the end? Priceless.
Great original :)

Christian said...

Glad you liked it! This was a tough one to keep from getting too dark. :)

Heidi said...

This needs to be put on Facebook! Loved it and the house drawing!