Dead Letter Office
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 1079
Artie and Wes kicked the corrugated iron door of the old, abandoned warehouse in. Inside, sitting on rusty office chairs were three other members of the White Brisbane Skinhead gang. The two lean and muscular men sitting down, Rusty and Dazza, both leapt to their feet at the sound. Each one produced a butterfly knife, ready to cut whoever was invading their regular haunt.
“You tosser,” Dazza yelled.
“Screw you. Look what we’ve got.”
Artie and Wes tipped out the large mailbag of letters onto the concrete floor, covering a decent sized area with large envelopes, small envelopes, parcels, and cartons.
“How’d you score that?” Rusty asked as he bent down and picked up a handful of mail.
“Knocked over the mail box outside Post Office Square, didn’t we?”
“Sure did, Artie.”
“Piece of cake. Ran into it with the Holden Ute we nicked and picked up the bag. Idiots must make the bags so tough that they stay together if the mailbox is damaged.”
The fifth member of the group was a sixteen-year-old girl, Sharon Caulfield, or Shazza, as everyone called her. She ran away from home when she was fourteen and became a heavy cocaine user by the time she was fifteen. Shazza was too stoned out of her head to hear anything that was going on. She sat rocking on her broken office chair with her mouth partially opened.
“What do you reckon Shazza?” Artie said, running his fingers through her hair roughly. “Do you think there might be some coke in one of these parcels?”
Shazza kept on rocking on her chair, not acknowledging the remark at all.
The four skinheads began tearing open the letters roughly.
“Carefully,” Shazza mumbled.
“What?” Rusty said.
“Open them carefully. You will rip anything good inside if you tear at them like a pack of wolves.”
“Hey, hey, hey guys. Stoner’s right. Don’t want to tear any cheques in half.”
All four dropped to the ground and began slowly opening the letters, one at a time. They read each letter for any juicy piece of gossip that could be read aloud for the enjoyment, or amusement of the other gang members. Only a couple of parcels had anything of any great value that they could hock off for cash at the Cash Converters. A dozen or so credit cards were found as was one hundred and sixty dollars inside a couple of birthday cards.
“Hey, listen to this you guys.” Dazza said. “I was kept prisoner as a slave by a sick, perverted old school teacher for three days. I died at his hand, chained to a piss stinking bed in a dark cellar. If you don’t pass this letter on to my parents, you will die in twenty-four hours.”
“That’s one sick bit of hate mail. Who was it addressed to?” Rusty said.
Dazza rummaged through the pile of open envelopes and picked up the crumpled one he thought the letter came from.
“There’s no address on it?”
“Who sends a letter like that without putting an address on it? I mean, who would open it?”
“Someone like us.” Shazza said.
“Yeh, like what Shazza?”
“Someone who shouldn’t be opening up other people’s letters.”
“Whatever.” Wes said.
“Yeh, and how are you supposed to pass the letter on to someone’s parents if the letter aid addressed to anyone or from anyone?” Dazza said.
“It’s just a load of crap, Dazza.” Wes said.
“Yeh, probably just some kids messing around.” Artie agreed.
“Give it here,” Wes said.
Dazza handed the yellow, foolscap legal pad letter to Wes. Wes pulled his lighter out of his denim vest pocket and flicked it alight beneath the letter. The flame flickered, spat, and went out. He lit it again. Bright yellow flames enveloped the bottom corner of the letter, spreading around the sides and up the front.
“It’s not burning.” Dazza said.
“It won’t burn,” Shazza said, “but we will.”
“Shut up.” Wes said.
“Yeh, bring us all down, why dontcha Shazza.” Artie said.
Dazza kicked the pile of envelopes; they scattered and flew through the air. Rusty kicked the pile and headed towards the door. “I’m out of here.”
“Me too.” Dazza said. “This ain’t fun any more. Bullshit freaky letters. I’m going to the pub to spend some of this cash.”
“You want to get a brew to Wes?” Artie asked.
Artie, Wes and Dazza left the abandoned factory and headed to their local, “The Caxton”. Rusty stayed with Shazza, partly because he thought she looked upset, and partly because he was the only member of the gang that had not already shagged her. It was not that he did not want to, but more that he still had some form of decency in his personality and would not take advantage of her like the rest of the guys.
“You okay, Shazza?”
Shazza still looked stoned off her face, but slowly turned towards Rusty and managed a slight smile.
“You’re not that bad Rusty. But it’s too late now; you shouldn’t have hooked up with the others.”
Rusty lit a Winnie blue and scratched his head in confusion. He had no idea what Shazza was on about. Maybe she was too off her face to know what she was even saying.
“You want me to walk you back to your place?”
“No, I’m not going anywhere?”
Rusty shook his head, fumbled around in his jeans pocket and was pissed of to find only ten bucks worth of change. It was Tuesday and his Dole money would not be in his bank account until Friday. He thought he might try to scab a couple of ales off the rest of the gang, they did just score over a hundred bucks from the letters.
“See you later, Shazza.”
Rusty started to walk towards the bent and warped steel door of the factory, dragging his feet as he walked. He did not hear the creaking and groaning metal of the roof until it was almost on top of him. It crashed heavily into his bald skull, tearing away flesh and bone from half his face. Rusty saw the cold, hard steel pass through Shazza as she sat rocking on the dirty old office chair smashing the chair to pieces. With his last breath, Rusty heard Shazza say something:
“I thought you would have noticed when that bastard took me last week, Rusty.”
Dead Letter Office
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