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Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Abducted Kids
Topic Started: Jan 18 2017, 04:37 PM (107 Views)
Slam
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My Critique Process
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In some ways, it felt like any other day for Gary Cliff working his mail route. Hot sun up in the air, kids heading past him on their way to school, dogs running up to greet him or bark at him (dumb little bastards, bless ‘em), just the same old fresh morning air that kept the spring in his step.

It was all overshadowed, of course, by the uncomfortable smog that had hung over Kingman for the past several weeks. A class full of kids going missing, probably dead, would do that to your mail route.

His mailbag was heavier those days: suddenly handwritten letters were a lot more popular than they had been in years, no doubt relatives from out of town trying to send their regards. Felt kind of shallow, as far as he was concerned.


Dear Babs,

We were so sorry to hear about Susie. Our deepest sympathies go out to you in this dark hour, and we’re praying daily that she comes back to us unharmed.

Love,
Concerned enough to write but not concerned enough to come down to your backwater town.



He was being judgemental, but he shrugged. Despite his profession, he never thought that the pen could carry the same sentiment as the presence. Sure, Kingman was out of the way and not exactly LA, but it was a good town to visit, and right now being there for your family should’ve made even a drive up to the darkest reaches of Alaska enticing.

Another bunch of kids walked past him, this time middle schoolers. One of them looked tense, as his two friends shared their opinions on what had happened to the Kingman Class at a volume all could hear; he had half a mind to smack them both across the back of the head. ‘Have a little courtesy’ he silently bemoaned, but he couldn’t really hold it against them.

How were the kids supposed to react? The siblings had it bad enough, but what about the kids going into high school next year, or the ones who were in the lower years at Cochise? Maybe some of them would be relieved: those terrorist bastards had never struck the same city twice so far, but he knew plenty of the kids would be up late at night, some of them crying into their mom’s arms all freaked out over it, begging them for some safety that their parents had no way of giving without homeschooling them. His own kids were only six and four, thank God, so they didn’t understand all that well what was going on, but he could tell they knew something had happened.

The kids weren’t the only ones staying up at night, he knew from experience. What if his kids had been just twelve years older? What would he be going through right now? What were those parents on his route going through right now? Some of them had support groups, some of them had gone to very dark places, but none of them were in a state he wanted to try and imagine.

Another dog barked at him. “Ah shaddap, ya stupid mutt.” He threw back at him or her, but it was as playful in tone as he could muster. The whole thing was depressing, no doubt more than that really, but what could he do? He wasn’t a cop or a soldier (he’d thought about it in his youth, but he didn’t like guns or violence, or working out more than a brisk walk), he was just a mailman.

He put another envelope with a handwritten address through its door. This, he supposed, was the best he could do.
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