Your Message Has Been Sent
Dear Robby, June 21, 2013
Things are a mess here. I’m not really even sure these e-mails are getting through to you. Everything thing is pretty screwed up here (or “Kitty-wampuss” as your Grandma Pat used to say) and all the things like the phones and the mail system are not working. Like the snail-mail ever used to work before…ha, ha. Anyhow, I can’t begin to describe how cut off everybody in Brady is. We had maybe a week after the “Red” started to spread before most systems started going down the pisser. Even though you are in Atlanta and we’re just poor little Brady, I bet you’re going through some of the same things we are.
The only news we’re getting here is that pop-up crap that you get when you log on to Google and you know me…I never could get the hang of this stupid idiot-box anyway! I mean it when I say nothing’s working…the TV is worthless, just the same emergency message in a loop saying that the curfew is in force…like I didn’t know that! All I got to do is look out the window and see the Guard smoking and drinking coffee on Peterman’s lawn to know I ain’t going to be playing golf today.
God! My love to you and Lynn and Gina. Gina must be as big as her mom by now. I miss you all. I have faith, Robby…I know you and the boys in the CDC are working on a cure for this thing and we’ll all bounce back as good as before. I know that you got tired of listening to your old man about thirty years ago (remember that dent you put in my car when you were sixteen?) but these old eyes have seen a thing or two and the good ‘ole U.S.A. is going to track those S.O.B’s down and put them on a rotisserie set on slow burn for all the world to see. If they can get the satellite thing back, that is.
You got to hand it to those Sri-bastards…they were clever. Clever as the Devil and that’s what they are…Devils! “Sri Lanka?”…who’d of thought that those ignorant piss-ants had any kind of beef with us anyway? I couldn’t find Sri Lanka on the map if I had to…assuming it’s really them! Anyhow, it was clever to just dope up one of their own with the virus and fly into Vegas for a last night of cocktails and strippers before hemorrhaging out his stinkin’ guts and infecting everybody. And Vegas…filled with people from all over the map to spread it everywhere. That little scheme was way more effective than a bunch of dynamite stuck up his keister…may he rot in hell.
Like I said…I’m not sure this is getting through to you but the computer keeps on saying “Your message has been sent” and I don’t see any returned mail stuff so I have to hope that you’re reading this. Son, I know you must be incredibly busy but know that you and Lynn and Gina are in my prayers and don’t you worry about me. There isn’t any TV programming (it really is “57 channels and nothing’s on”) but I’ve got a lot of DVD’s and so far the power’s still on. Although…how many times can you watch “Shrek” before you want to hunt down Eddie Murphy in “Hollyweird” and strangle him? Ha, ha…..
God bless and keep you…your daddy,
PS: I lied about the phones…I did get one last text (hate those things!) and it was from AT&T…saying my bill was due and I might get my service disconnected if I don’t pay up! I say “good luck” on that one, buddy……
* * *
Dear Robby, July 22, 2013
I hope this e-mail finds you…I haven’t got anything back from you but I’m not surprised since you must be God-awful busy at work. I know you are probably pulling a lot of all-nighters but try to get back at me as soon as you can. You’re the big “Doctor”…pull some strings with the top dogs at the Center and get a message to your old man…I’m worried about you…all of you.
The National Guard is getting some kind of rationing thing going…”Butt-face” (that’s the guy who always comes to my door and yells at me if I open my window for a little fresh air…), drops off a white Salvation Army box every couple of days with a bunch of packages of “food” that I wouldn’t even feed to your mutt Rusty if he were still alive today. I’ve been digging in the pantry and God, who knew all those canned tomatoes were going to come in handy? Your mama…that’s who. Before she passed she must have gone psychic or something and I could kick myself for bitching at her about the smell of those tomatoes. And the okra…don’t even get me started…!
I’ve been trying to get some idea of what’s going on with you down in Atlanta but all we get is the pop-up President with the same twenty minutes of “happy-speak” telling us to remain in our houses and don’t come into contact with anybody till they figure this “Red” virus all out. I know he’s got to put on the “happy face” and “Semper Fi” and all that but if you ask me, he looks scared as shit and that definitely isn’t the Oval Office in the background. Come the next election, none of those boot-lickers in Congress are getting my vote.
The good news is the water is holding up. I guess the virus that towel-head had in him didn’t make it into the water supply directly and it’s killed off by the system anyway…by the fluoride! All those years of listening to Uncle Ralphie talking about “those bastards the Russians” sneakin’ fluoride into the water system…bet he’s sorry he opened up his big yap now! I can’t get him on the computer either…
The nights are the hardest here in Brady. I hear noises. The air conditioner is fighting our New-Mex heat pretty good but that air gets mighty stale after a while and the Guard won’t let us open up the windows…hell, they get on our case when we just stick our head out the door! They say they want to limit the possibility of “cross-contamination” or some such thing…like “Butt-face” could even spell “cross-contamination”. I call him “Butt-face” but I can’t really see his face…all those Guard-ies are rolled up in what I think are those white Has-Mat suits so they look like a convention of Pillsbury Doughboys patrolling the streets. I gotta tell you son, I thought “Butt-face” was going to put one through my old noggin’ last night.
Poor Mrs. Winslow (you remember…”Winnie”?), well, Winnie can’t hardly walk all that well and her hearing is even worse and the condo’s walls are so thin (remember?) that I can hear her crying late at night. She’s scared and she’s got nobody so it breaks my old heart to hear her crying so I get up and try yelling through the wall…trying to reassure her, right? Well, the old bat is so hard of hearing that I go outside to yell through her front door and what do you think is the next thing I see? Yep, a friggin’ M-16 shoved so far up my snout that I think I’m going to leave a few brain cells on the barrel when ‘ole “Butt-face” pulls it out…if he doesn’t pull the trigger.
The Sri-bastards have won…this isn’t the America I grew up in.
I’m still trying your Aunt Mary and that guy that wanted me to go to the high school reunion (like I’d want to see those old fossils after eighteen million years!) but so far no luck. I just pray to God that my e-mails are getting through to you two and Gina. Please get back to me…
Love you so much,
PS: speaking of praying to God, the Guard says they’re going to allow the Rev to make the circuit of homes on this block tomorrow…but we only get fifteen minutes of “Jesus-juice” apiece…Robby, this ought to be good…!
* * *
Dear Robby, June 23, 2013
Hate this friggin’ computer! Just when I think I got it all figured out it tells me that I’m spelling “it’s” wrong. The idiot box says it should be “its” but I taught English Lit for more years than I care to remember and I’m sorry Mr. Wizard…the contraction for “it is” is “it’s”…not “its” thank-you-very-much and go to hell in a Dutch oven, cousin!
The Good Reverend Snow (your favorite) made an appearance yesterday and it was everything I imagined it would be. I have to confess Robb-o that I really welcomed the company…any company would be welcome once you’re locked up in your own little prison and can’t even go down to the local “Stop-n-Puke” and get a hotdog or a Coke. He had to wear the mask, though. Each one-to-one contact has to be protected so Rev. Snow had on the mask and with all that black clothing on he reminded me of Michael Jackson before he lost his mind and started trying to set up his own Boy Scout troop, if you know what I mean.
The Rev was just as I remember him from all those Sundays your mama made me go to church…boring. Now, son…you know I’m a firm believer in “do onto others” but this man makes drying paint…interesting. I did enjoy getting some conversation in (I’m to the point where I can recite Eddie Murphy’s “Shrek” lines with him) but the poor soul is so scared that he can’t be much good to the others on the block. The Rev talks a good game but he’s more worried than I am. When he’s talking about God “working in mysterious ways” his body English is saying he’d rather God forgot all about this turn-the-other-cheek business and just Sodom-and-Gomorrah’d that whole hemisphere over there into the next whatever. I went out of my way to ask him to be extra calm with Mrs. Winslow…her crying at night is just getting worse…and I fear for her sanity.
Still need to hear from you, son…you’re right at ground zero with that “Red” virus and I bet you just about have it beat! We can’t get anything from the news other than to look out for the red splotches on our skin and the fevers…so far as I know, Brady is clean…
My love to you, Lynn, and Gina…tell her Granddaddy says Hi…
* * *
Robby, June 25,
I think we lost O’Brien last night. You remember O’Brien? The retired fireman? I don’t think he’s been a fireman for a long time but I heard some shots last night and I’m pretty sure I could hear his voice yelling something. Jesus, son…I don’t want to worry you but it’s getting bad here. I can’t see them because the Guard won’t let me out but I can hear them. It’s mostly when it gets dark…people are moaning and calling out for their children or their dead relatives and God help me, I can’t tell if it’s because they have the “Red” or if they’re just so isolated that they’re losing their minds. “Butt-face” won’t tell me but I think they got O’Brien last night. Either he lost it and started demanding his “civil” rights or he somehow caught the virus and it finally hit his brain. I can’t be sure but I think I heard him yell “Marines!” before I heard the shots. Jesus! I just now realized that he may have committed “Suicide by Cop” or something. Jesus, if O’Brien got the virus and he bled out, or was shot…I hope to Christ they decontaminate all that blood.
Poor Mrs. Winslow is shaking in her bed hard enough for me to hear it all the way through the wall.
I’m still getting “Your message was sent”…Robby; please get back to me…
* * *
Dear Robby, June 22 ?
They think they’re fooling me. They think I can’t see. But I can see alright…there are fewer of them. Either they’ve given up hope or there are fewer of us and they’re moving their manpower to where there are still people left to save. People worth saving. They think I can’t see but I watch them at night…turn the lights off so they can’t see me watching them. There’s fewer of them…and they can’t hide it. I got in that son-of-a-bitch Butt-face’s mask and I could see his eyes…right through the black visor. He’s scared. I thought he might shoot me when I got close to him but he didn’t…he just flinched and that’s when I saw his eyes. I might be one of them. One of the sick ones. He can’t shoot me because I might spray poison blood all over me and him and the street and infect god-knows-how-many-more. I might be one of them.
Butt-face’s kind aren’t recruited for their thinking ability but sometime soon someone a little farther up the chain of command is going to realize that the only solution is fire. Cleansing fire. Mark my words…some politician who never had to think beyond which Rolex he was going to wear that day is going to decide that the “greater good” would be better served by pushing a few buttons and cauterizing the infection before it’s too late.
Robby, I think Mrs. Winslow is dead.
* * *
Dear Robby, June 26, 2013
First off…let me apologize for being so gloomy in my last e-mail. I guess I got a bit of “cabin fever” and let it get to me. I’m still really concerned about you not getting back to me. At least have Lynn sit down at the computer and hack one out to the old man, would you? Don’t forget…little Gina’s birthday is right around the corner and I need a hint of what to get her for the big day…I cannot bear the look in her eyes when I give her a present that’s so “yesterday”…even though she would never say so! Will you do that for me? Just drop me a quick note.
Since I’m on an apology kick, I’ve got to apologize to you, Robby…for all those lunches during grade school when your mother and I made you those horrid little brown bags stuffed with “Pop Tarts”. Jesus! How did you ever stand them? I may not have many hairs left on my head but my chompers are working just fine and it’s all I can do to get through the damn things…whether they’re the artificial blueberry ones or the artificial strawberry ones. When Butt-face brings me my “CARE-package” (just filled with the lethal things), I shake a pack at him and say “Et tu…Brute? Et tu?”
Behind the visor…I like to think he laughs.
Good news! The President says that they have negotiated with the Sri- Lankans and we don’t have anything to worry about any more. Oh for crying out loud…I’m telling you? Christ, you’re probably on the phone with him every day as you work on the vaccine or whatever it is that we need to get over the hump. That’s another thing…haven’t told you enough how proud your mother and I have always been about your Doctorate and all that fine work you are currently doing at the Center for Disease Control. If I was allowed outside I’d be bragging on you night and day!
Don’t forget…drop me a line!………………………………love, Daddy Paul
PS: I really shouldn’t complain about the “Pop Tarts”…since I can’t get my Social Security…let alone go to Spellman’s to get some snacks…I should count my blessings!
* * *
It was all a lie. I know that now. Although they try to block it out I hear the helicopters at night. I don’t know if this e-mail will find you but I suspect that if it does, they won’t let you respond. They can’t afford to let you.
About two days ago men started sealing our windows with plastic. They said it was for our protection, to cut down on air-borne pathogens but I know what it’s really for…the smell. They can try to hide it but I can smell it anyway. It’s the smell of my neighbors…the smell of the Blakelys, the Crohners, and the postman…probably Mrs. Winslow too. It’s the smell of my neighbors…burning.
The TV, the radio, the phone…they’re never coming back. We have only ourselves to blame. We allowed ourselves to be cut off…we gladly created a communication system that could be controlled. Back in my teaching days I asked my students to read a book called “The Isolationists”. It was a treatise on several Presidents who strove to make the United States isolated from other nations of the world because only we had the resources, only we had the money; only we had God’s blessing so we didn’t need to interact with the other nations of the world. We could stand alone.
We have done the same thing with communications. We created the internet. The phones and the radios are never coming back because they can’t be universally controlled like the internet. The internet has allowed each and every one of us to be an isolated nation…a nation that never has to step outside its own door. The internet will bring whatever we need to us. Or, in the case of a national emergency, it will bring us only what “they” think is in our best interest.
As soon as they read this, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a knock on my door. As soon as they read this, “I” may not be in “our” best interest.
Robby, I have become the ultimate conspiracy “nut”. Did they create the virus to shut us in? Or, did they simply take advantage of it? I don’t know…but I do know that I can’t sleep at night for fear of the helicopters and the computer monitor seems to stare at me with a clearer eye than I do at it. I cannot look at the food packets being delivered to me without wondering what mind (or will) controlling chemicals are contained within. Stupid! All this time we were kept awake at night for fear of the sugar in those “Pop Tarts”, or the amount of mercury in our fish.
Robby, I have not seen a newspaper for two weeks. I haven’t seen a “live” TV program or heard a radio program with human beings for just as long. I am isolated. I literally only know what the internet tells me. What it wants me to know.
I wish to God that this wasn’t so…but I have no way of knowing if you and Lynn…and Gina, are even alive right now. How do I know you’re not part of the first wave…the first generation of the virus and you’ve been gone since the first morning I turned on the computer and it told me what it wanted me to know?
Maybe there is no virus.
I am going to send this right away and I hope it finds you well and that we will one day be reunited. I will be looking for that “Your message has been sent” and I will be praying that…I have not been lied to.
Love always, Daddy Paul
* * *
Robby, July 4, 2013
I have no way of knowing if this will reach you. The irony of this being Independence Day is not lost on me. I will be seeking my freedom today. I’m going to wait for nightfall and then I am leaving town…to where I don’t know. All I know is I’m going to make my own decisions, make my own choices…based on what I know to be a fact. If that means I wander into a camp of disease-carrying hobos…so be it.
Freeing my mind will be worth it.
I believe God will lead me to you…somehow…one day.
Love, Daddy Paul
Robby…TRUST NO ONE
* * *
From: Mail Delivery System [mail to: MAILER DAEMON@ Paul J.onetel.net]
Sent 4 July 2013 15:47
Subject: Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender
I’m sorry to inform you that your message could not be delivered to one or more recipients. It’s attached below.
<Robert JJ.onetel.net> Recipient Address rejected: USER UNKNOWN
Robby, July 4, 2013
I have no way of knowing if this will reach you. The irony of this being Independence Day is not lost on me. I will be seeking my freedom today. I am going to wait for nightfall and then I am leaving town…to where I don’t know. All I know is I’m going to make my own decisions, make my own choices…based on what I know to be a fact. If it means I wander into a camp of disease carrying hobos…so be lt.
Freeing my mind will be worth it.
I believe God will lead me to you…somehow…one day.
Love, Daddy Paul
Robby…TRUST NO ONE.
Your Message Has Been Sent
A Short Story by Daryl Buckner
Copyright Daryl Buckner 2013 © all rights reserved