Tuesday, September 12, 2006


[A letter recovered from the trunk of an overturned car found abandoned on a beach in Grenada. It is presumed that the letter was a part of a larger bundle, but rescuers claim the car exploded before additional pieces could be extracted. It is unclear why this letter in particular was first selected for recovery. Although the date is obsured by a smudgy, unidentifiable thumbprint, it appears to be dated 9/7/2003.]

Dear Mamoozle,

Thank you very kindly for your letter some weeks ago. It is always warming to receive word from home, even when that word is not positive. Mrs. Evans did ring me up about Netty. She said it was straightaway from the hospital, but I listened very carefully and I didn't hear any orderlies being paged, so it is my assumption that she waited a few days before placing the call. Please don't take this as my being sore at her. I don't know the exact date of the whole thing with Netty, and the exact date doesn't really matter. But since I didn't know the date for certain, I went ahead and sent a wax wreath just in case. As you probably suspect, the connection was terrible at best, but I specified yellow and the man on the phone assured me that the leaves woven through the wire frame would be very delicate indeed. I think it would look very nice, if it reaches the headstone intact, which would not be the case if the funeral home still has that retarded boy in their employ. Remember Mrs. Saunders' memorial with the teethmarks all in the orchids? I like to be supportive of work placement--you know that--but there really is a time and a place for experts to handle arrangements. The whole idea is absurd anyway, but so is giving money to that old Diver's Club, I've got to say. As you requested, I sent Mrs. Evans a nice note, too. It was written on the most transluscent rice paper I could find. While it is flimsy, it is actually somewhat costly, but I wanted to capture some sort of transparent feeling for her, sending a letter halfway around the world as if to suggest that my soul was floating around just like Netty's, that we would be together again. Of course, I don't know if that's true at all. I don't know what to believe, really. Here they worship many gods with have colorful personalities. Many are tricksters, others are just plain mean. Why would anyone think something like that up? In my note to Mrs. Evans, I ask her, unassumingly, I hope, to take solace in the fact that Netty would likely have become a mountaineer anyway and had to suffer the rest of his life with a blackened, frostbitten nose. A funny sort of expatriate professor here tells me that I am often too "corporeal" in my correspondence, particularly sensitive notes such as this one, but I am not convinced that he is accurate in his assessment. He says that nobody feels better when you describe the putrification of their dead loved ones' body parts, but if you ask me, he is reading much too much into the situation. He is a nice enough gentleman, though, always in fresh supply of linen pants somehow, and one of the few people around here that speaks any English at all. We often share tea in a small cafe with a wobbly ceiling fan swatting the flies overhead. I was very sorry to hear about Mr. Hennessy and do hope that he is on his feet soon. The mosquitos here, as I'm sure you can imagine, are also very dangerous. One little prick on your arm and your jaw is locked shut and that's the end of you. When people go lame here, they don't have fancy aluminum equipment, either. One man in the next village over no longer has use of his legs and his daughter-in-law must push him around in a wheelbarrow with a flat tire day and night. Of course, I think he is a chief or something, so perhaps he receives special treatment, but you understand what I am saying about people being in such poor health and the toll it takes on the few of us in good health. Things here are beautiful, though. At night when the soldiers aren't stomping through, you hear something chirping high up in the trees and the sunsets here positively vibrate. Sometimes, however, I am overtaken by a certain melancholy that no sunset could ever counter. This is a place where it rains so much that people's grandparents just wash away in the night. The fruit sags from the trees and falls and just rots, and I have counted at least three dog carcasses near the ocean road, if you could really call that a road. This is a place where children impale themselves on rusty jungle gyms and groups of women spend hours singing ghostly songs to conjure up Lord only knows what. What I am trying to say, though, is that I am not lonely, nor do I regret being absent for Netty's final days. Sometimes I close my eyes, though, and I can picture the diamond pattern on his hospital gown, the way he so gently described the movement of cilia in a nerve cell, and I can only imagine the feeling of heartbreak when Mrs. Evans folds his moss green sweater and places it in his drawer. My love to the Turners and Dad and Rosemary. Please write soon, to the post office listed on the envelope.



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