In September 2015, I wrote a short piece I called ‘Assimilated‘. A short while later, I wrote a sequel titled ‘You have nothing to fear, but …‘, which I produced in response to a challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com that asked for a story about fear.
Using those as a start-point, we now follow Victor’s adventures after his exposure to Martinus mendax.
Let’s run with this for a few weeks, to see where it takes us.
I will welcome storyline suggestions or even complete scenes, as long as they fit the overall scheme (which I hope will emerge before too long).
Catch up on earlier episodes of Martinus mendax at this link
The mail arrived late this morning.
For years, I have had no need for an alarm clock. The arrival of the postman; we’ve had the same chap for as long as I can remember; set next door’s pair of Jack Russells off into a barking frenzy that lasted until Gina (their owner) came down to stop them. As far as I could gather, Jill, the female, started barking at the sound of postie’s footsteps, and Jack, the male, joined in. His barking caused her to bark louder, which had the same effect on him, and they fed off each other in a self-sustaining barkfest of increasing volume until Gina appeared and shouted, louder than the pair of them, a single command – S T F U D. That was my cue to get up. I always had an idea what STFUD stood for, but had you heard her voice when she yelled that command, a few minutes after 7am every day except Sundays, and felt the paper-thin walls between our houses vibrate with the sheer volume and vehemence of it, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to ask, either.
Last week, though, I decided [I? That’s a laugh] to brave the assault and ask. I called over the fence and asked her what STFUD meant. She told me, in a sweet, genteel and modest voice as befits the elderly widow of a career diplomat. I blushed. Something inside me sniggered.
This morning, a new delivery person brought the mail. That she was a woman made no difference to me; that she didn’t arrive until just before ten o’clock did. I opened the door as she approached, intending to greet her, and perhaps make her feel a bit appreciated. I said intended. What happened was somewhat different.
“You’re new,” I said.
“Not really,” she replied, cheerfully, “I’ve been doing this job for more than five years, but I’m new to this route.”
“Where’s Jim?” [Subtle, eh?]
“Haven’t you heard?” she asked.
“Of course, I know the full story” I [Martin] replied, sarcastically, then snapped, “You stupid woman! If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking you where he is, would I?”
“There’s no need to bark at me, Mr Sullivan,” she said, unapologetically. “Jim never got home after his shift yesterday.”
“No-one knows. He just didn’t make it home. There’s no sign of him anywhere; it’s as if he just disappeared, poof!”
“Has anyone tried his mobile? Perhaps he’s off visiting somewhere.”
“That’s the first thing the bosses though of. No reply.”
“So is this going to be your regular time now?”
“Assuming Jim doesn’t come back and I’m put on this round, yes.”
“Jim was always here at seven.”
“I’m not Jim. Here’s your mail, Mr Sullivan,” she said, handing me a small pile of envelopes and turning to walk away.
“What do I call you?” I shouted after her.
“You don’t,” she replied, “I call you.” I noticed her shoulders undulating with barely suppressed laughter as she walked off.
I closed the door, tossed the mail onto the telephone table and went through the side door leading to my garage, which was on the opposite side of the house to the wall I shared with Gina. In the garage was an old two-seater sports car that I had inherited along with the house. I opened the boot and checked under the blanket. Good. It was still there. I would decide later how to deal with it. Opening the garage door, I walked though to my driveway and saw Gina across the fence, and the new post woman walking away.
“Vic,” Gina called, “what do you think about this Jim business?”
“We don’t know what’s happened to him yet, do we?” I asked.
“Funniest thing though,” she said, “Jack and Jill didn’t bark at Marie.”
“Oh, is that her name? She wouldn’t tell me.”
“She said you were rude to her, and that’s why she wouldn’t tell you her name.”
“How long have you known me, Gina?”
“Twenty years, give or take.”
“Have you ever known me to be rude?”
“There’s something rum about that Marie,” I suggested, “turning up three hours late, then accusing me of being rude. Something’s not right.”
“Let’s see how she settles in, shall we?”
“If she settles in,” I replied, “Don’t you think Jim’s coming back, then?”
“I honestly don’t know, Vic. Well; must get on. You have a good day.”
“You too, Gina,” I replied, walking back into my garage, “You too.”
Back inside the house, I again ignored the mail that Marie had given me. I had other things to think about; things that needed careful consideration and planning.