Flash: You Have Mail

“You got mail.” Bryan’s mother yells as he tries to rush from the front door to his bedroom before getting dragged into his family’s daily drama.

Well, that was a new way to get my attention, he thinks as he goes over to the pile of unpaid bills, second notices, final notices, advertisements, announcements, and other pieces of postal paper tilting off the table inside the front door. He digs down one level to find it. While there, he pulls out all the circulars, political ads, and other non-money crap so that the pile wouldn’t fall over anymore, and took the lot to his room for final processing and junking. The junking took seconds, just a look-through in case he grabbed anything wrong or something fell between circular pages.

Leaving thick white envelope. Just his name and address. In the upper corner where a return address normally would go is an anime emoji of a cat smiling. Daffney? She always signed her texts with that. What did she need to send through the mail? How did she even know his address? They were just internet friends since graduating high school, and he had been evicted from at least six places since the last time they physically met up.

Sliding a finger to pry open the flap, Bryan dumps out a key and a sheet of paper with an address and a line saying “Locker Number 117.” The number matched the number stamped on the key.

“Girl, what are you playing?” he says pulling out his phone and immediately texts that exact question to Daffney. While waiting for an answer, Bryan snaps a picture of the address, has his phone read it and run it through the map app. The address is identified as a business and a second tab opens showing the hours of operation. Another two hours until close and the map app says it is less than ten minutes from where he lived.

Why not? I need to get food anyway.

He yanks off the vest from his retail job, throws it on the pile of mostly clean clothes in one corner of his miniscule bedroom, and picks up the flannel jacket hanging off the hook by his door. After the sacred check of Key, Phone, Wallet, Charm, Bryan heads back out to the bus station. His mother yells something to which he just responds “Out!”

He isn’t sure she was yelling at him, her most recent boyfriend, or one of his half-siblings. Still, his answer stood. And there was no second yell he heard through the closing door, so it wasn’t that important.

The bus ride takes more like thirty, making it full dark by the time he arrives, but a fast food is at the stop, a few doors from the storage facility. Bryan picks up some burgers and a drink from the dollar menu, then beats feet down the sidewalk, feeling the night crowding, until he safe inside the lit locker area, nodding at the attendant as he passes. Juggling the bag of food, he checks his phone. Daffney hasn’t responded yet. He shoves the bag under his arm, places the phone in his pocket, running a finger over the charm he keeps there and sighing in relief upon feeling the active hum, and then pulls out the key.

Inside the small wall locker is a box about the size of a shoe box. The dingy box has been crushed, uncrushed, taped, retaped, duct taped, and had a mismatched lid firmly mashed on.

“Really, girl?” Bryan shakes his head, lifting the lid. The box is stuffed, a pristine white letter on top with a pile of well-handled money underneath. The numbers and faces on the bills look different than normal, not the ones and fives he is used to. “What the fuck?” He pulls the letter out, shoves the lid back on the money, looks around to make sure no one noticed his reaction, then shoves the box back in and relocks the wall locker.

Dear Bryan,

If you are reading this, I’m gone. Sorry about that, but we’ve talked about it enough it shouldn’t be a surprise.

“Oh, girl.” Bryan feels a sob catch. They talked a lot in high school while in detention, less so since, but their lives hadn’t gotten better since graduation.

It was painless and don’t worry, the body will never be found.

The money is yours. It’s not much but it’s everything I got. You know Beth stole everything and Curry broke what she didn’t steal. No way was I leaving them anything to find. They took enough from me.

Good luck. Maybe this can help you get out of your situation.

I’m out of mine.


PS The locker is paid for until the end of the year. Empty it before then.

“What did you do?”

He willed the letter to make new sentences, reveal new information, but nothing.

The money would need to go somewhere his parents would not find. They weren’t as bad as hers were; they never actually hit him.

But still.

He’ll come back for it tomorrow first thing in the morning and run by a bank before work. A different one from normal. Because sure as the undead walk the night, his mother would ask for “her” chunk if she found out about this windfall. And each time she asks, her chunks keep getting bigger. even though the bills never seemed to get paid.

(Words 847; first published 2/6/2022)

Series – No Regrets, All Dead

  1. Prepping a Meal (Zombie Version) – Link to 1/25/2022
  2. You Have Mail – Link to 2/6/2022
  3. Naked Truth – Link to 2/20/2022