Gusty Blusts

and other stories The Weird and Wonderful World of "J"
Approx 1043 words | Read time approx 3 - 7 mins

Letterbox tales

man talking through letterbox

It’s not everyday a complete stranger turns up on your doorstep and starts to tell you his life story through the letterbox . . . oh, and then invites you to join him on a rather unusual date . . .

THE DOORBELL RANG just as I happened to be walking past the door, so taking the usual precautions I peered through the spy-hole and saw an elderly man loitering on the doorstep. And, for a fleeting moment I almost let my ‘weirdy guard wall’ down – classifying him as being mostly harmless.

But then I did say almost . . .

Alarm bells sounded when he continued to knock on the door and ring the bell long after I’d already called out to him and received a response. So, it wasn’t as if he was deaf or anything. He was still knocking on the door and ringing the bell while I tried to find out what it was he wanted. Instead he just kept complaining how he couldn’t hear me above the noise and suggesting it’d be easier if I opened the door. Yeah, right like I was going to fall for that one!

Mostly harmless – just what was I thinking?

The knocking and bell ringing stopped as suddenly as it had started and the words ‘oh, I’m terribly sorry I don’t know what came over me!’ came through the letterbox.
‘Very good – so what do you want?’ I tried again.

Wellington Boots‘Oh, oh, right, er, well I just wanted to speak to you.’
‘Yes, but what about?’
‘I’m sorry – your dad told me I would find you here.’
‘My dad?’ I exclaimed in horror, ‘how do you know my dad?’
‘He said I could talk to you!’
‘Your dad said I should come talk to you!’
‘My dad?!’ I replied still in shock – surely even he couldn’t be that cruel?
‘Yes, yes – your dad – Ted!’
‘But my dad’s not called Ted!’ I replied while experiencing a fleeting moment of relief.
‘Oh, oh – well he says he is and he should know!’
There wasn’t a whole lot I could say to that other than perhaps ‘just who the hell is Ted?!’ although settled on ‘but Ted isn’t my dad – you’ve obviously got the wrong person!’ instead.
‘He says he is!’
‘Look, I’m not Ted’s daughter – please just go away!’
‘But I don’t want to – I want to talk to you – your dad said I could!’
He persisted only this time sounding more like he was about to burst into tears.

“I was wondering why I seemed to attract persons of a peculiar persuasion and was there any treatment on the NHS for it?”

‘All right, all right – what is it you want to talk about anyway?’ I suddenly found myself succumbing to weirdy weariness and agreeing to let him talk to me, although still wasn’t prepared to open the door.
‘Can I tell you a story?’ By now he was almost pleading.
‘What? What about?’
‘Er, er, I’ m not sure, but when I was younger I used to like walking in the snow . . .’

The phone started ringing so I made my excuses and went to answer it leaving him rambling on through the letterbox about how he still enjoyed walking through snow . . .

Twenty minutes later I finally returned to the room, and passing the door I could still hear random words like ‘old lady’, ‘rubber boots’ and ‘soup’ coming through the letterbox. I wasn’t entirely sure what the connection was, but then I wasn’t going to ask either. Instead, I did the only decent thing under the circumstances and just left him to it.

I’m not entirely sure how long the old guy stood there recounting his strange and rambling story, but whenever I had cause to walk past the door I was met with a disparate assortment of words like ‘rhubarb’, ‘bus’ and ‘dustbin.’ As for their relevance well, I still wasn’t prepared to ask and once again left him to it – thinking he’d eventually get bored and just go away.

About four or five hours later the doorbell rang again, and deploying the usual precautions – this time opening the upstairs window and peering out, I discovered to both my horror and amazement it was the same old guy who must have spent the majority of the day rambling on through the letterbox.

Eyes peering through letterbox‘Yes?’ I said, wondering why it was I managed to attract what can perhaps only be politely described as ‘persons of a peculiar persuasion’ and whether there was any treatment on the NHS for it.
‘It’s me!’ he said,‘you know – the one that your father said it was okay to come and talk to you!’
‘Ah!’ I said, ‘so I see!’ As my heart sunk to what had to be an all time low.
‘Did you like my little story?’ Little? It must have gone on for at least five hours.
‘Er . . .!’ I was surprisingly lost for words.

Well, what could I say? If I said no he’d probably have burst into tears. If I said yes then he’d probably quizzed me on the correlation between rubber boots and rhubarb and if I’d said I hadn’t actually been listening, he’d probably have stood there for another five hours recounting it.

‘Ever wondered what to do with a large cabbage?’ He continued regardless.
‘Not especially, no!’ Although no doubt I could have offered a few personal suggestions. ‘Oh!’ he said visibly crestfallen – although sadly not enough to stop him from continuing with, ‘shall I tell you what’s the best thing to do with rhubarb?’
‘What? – Look, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to go!’ I strangely found myself apologizing to him and wondering where I could get one of those handy Flee a Fruitloop Free cards.
‘Oh, oh, okay then – can I just ask you one last question then?’
‘Go on’ I said, stupidly thinking things couldn’t get any worse.
‘I was just wondering whether you’d accompany me to a funeral?’
‘Goodbye!’ I said, shutting the window.

And with that he was gone.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

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