‘Silence is golden’, he would always think to himself and never say. But as it turns out, not everyone has ESP or telepathic powers. So communicating with others was becoming a bit of an issue. He always wondered why his past girlfriends would ask “What am I fucking mind reader?” Hmm…humbling, and just the right dose of reality he needed. So in Grade 11, after years of being the quiet kid in school, he decided he was going to speak up, and say what was on his mind. And what was on his mind, was his writing. The assignment was to create a short story for English, and hand it in to the teacher to be graded. You were also given the choice to read it aloud to the class. This was optional, the teacher said, and most chose to discretely hand in their assignment and stuff it at the bottom of the pile as if digging its own grave. He bravely put up his hand and volunteered to read his work called “The Scarecrow”. I’ll spare you the bloody details, that’s for later. Much, much later. It was a bit nerve racking for him to say the least. He wasn’t quite sure how the class would react. His eyes looked up slowly, to see 30 pairs of eyes staring right back at him, all in shock. He gulped and was immediately beginning to regret sharing a piece of his soul. But a slow clap from one of his peers, with the rest of the class following suit to a full applause, he could finally breathe again. To this day he’s sure the teacher’s jaw is still dropped. Not so much from the content, although it surely played a part, but the mere fact he spoke up was astonishing. He opened up the rest of the year and the remainder of high school. Just not too much, he is a writer after all.
Towards the end of University, he started typing out some of his writing on an old typewriter. The 1915 Underwood #5 had long been retired, and was more than happy being the eye candy and decor for the room. ‘Woody’, as the typewriter was referred to, quite upset by all of this new found typing, prayed every night for the author to have writer’s block.
He decided he would place his writing in envelopes, and drop them off at random places in town. A Secret Service if you will. Underneath produce at grocery stores, in between the seats at the theater, on park benches, and his favorite spot, sliding them right into books at the local book store. He always tried to imagine how people would react when opening a surprise envelope. Are they just as happy like when they receive a letter in the mail? He was sure there were the few who didn’t care and tossed it out. But he was just as sure there were an equal number of those whose lives needed meaning and took that envelope as a sign. Maybe from God or a Guardian Angel. Or a signal to take action for whatever it was. Hopefully not to rob a bank or kidnap anyone. For this reason, he decided not to include excerpts of his literary works “Breaking the Bank”, “Assassination Monkey”, they were perhaps for a younger audience anyway. Nor did he want to leave “The Scarecrow” because of its content. He didn’t need to be strung up as an ‘accessory’ to any criminal activities.
His favorite piece of writing he left for someone was a poem called “The R Letter”. Quick, personal, witty, and clever. He biked to the bookstore, and walked around focused and deliberate. He decided to go with the “Thriller” section and tried to find a title that would be worthy of his personal life on display; folded neatly and placed in the confines of an envelope of course. “That’s it!”, he said, as his eyes caught the perfect book. As an ode to his Father and his love for James Bond, the envelope was placed in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.
He made sure no one saw him place the envelope right into the book. He caught a glimpse of one paragraph from the Ian Flemming novel. “When the lower rim of the orange sun touched the sea, it was almost as if a signal had sounded for the girl. She slowly got to her feet, ran both hands backwards through her hair and began to walk…”
He was careful to leave the book a little protruded and pushed out to get some attention from book lookers. He grabbed a tea and sat from a far, carefully watching and waiting. He waited, and waited some more. Finally an older gentleman walked down the aisle, only to turn back. Dammit. But just then, someone else: a girl. Not the expected audience, but quite alright. More than alright. She strutted through the aisle, and it was clear she was open to all sorts of genres based on what was in her hands. Self-help, yoga, trashy romance, and was clearly in the mood for some mystery and thrills, and I was ready to give it to her. She knelt down looking at some books on the lower shelves, then back up again, fixing her hair in the process. She was literally in front of the literary he needed her to take.
Suddenly, someone bumped into him and the tea spilled on his shoes. Disheveled, he quickly cleaned it up with some napkins and looked back into the aisle. She was gone, and so was the book! He got up in a flash, and started frantically trying to find her and the book. Nowhere to be seen. He darted from aisle to aisle, with no sign of her. Finally, he got to the “Reference’ section and saw a book sticking out. He looked around, and slowly approached the book that was obviously pulled out with the intention of attention. He grabbed the book out from the shelf. It was….a dictionary. Confused, he opened it up to the page with his envelope in it. It was in the “A” section. Once again, he looked around to see no one. He opened the envelope slowly, and inside his writing, “The R Letter” still there, except that a word had been circled. He looked down, and there was a hand-written note on the bottom. It read “Mistakes are information and opportunities to grow and understand. Say thank you! I just fixed your spelling error”. It was signed “CEO of the ALPHABET”.
“Shit”, he said to himself. He misspelled the word alphabet. The tables had turned, as he squinted his eyes.
New mission…find the girl…