Mail Call

Episode #108
Aired 2021-01-24
Length: 14:00
Size: 6.4 MB
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Quiet Please: Mail Call
David Feldmann
2020
~14 minutes

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NARRATOR - An administrator in a cemetery.

MR HELLMAN - A pleasant devil, from "Kill Me Again"

SAM - Leader of the groundskeepers at the cemetery.

ANNOUNCER - For opening and credits.

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CHAPPELL: Quiet, please. ... Quiet, please.

[SFX: MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR]

ANNOUNCER: QuietPlease.org presents "Quiet, Please!" which is written by David Feldmann and features Paul Knierim. "Quiet, Please!" for tonight is called "Mail Call."

[SFX: MUSIC ... THEME ... END]

NARRATOR: Lots of people stay here but none of them ever got any mail - until recently that is. A Mr. Jenkins received a picture postcard this morning along with the rest of the mail. Now, Mr Jenkins does not work here. Like I said, he stays here. He’s got lots of neighbors too. I almost handed it back to our mailman until I saw that the address was correct - whoever it was sent it to the right place, all right. Addressed to Robert Jenkins - care of Fulton Cemetery.

[SFX: short dramatic organ sting]

NARRATOR: Now, believe it or not, I don’t know the name of every person interred here. Sure, I’ve worked here for ages but you can’t expect a guy to memorize thousands of names, even in all that time. I mean, be reasonable. So, first chance I got, I took the postcard with me to our records room and looked up Robert Jenkins. There he was - buried here over twenty years ago in 1929. November of 1929, to be more exact. Mr Jenkins had been an upstanding, respectable guy until the Crash. Then, according to the obit we keep on file, he did himself in. Terrible thing.

That’s when I noticed it. The postmark looked faded - more faded than it should - and the date...the date was...well, the month was right but the year - the year was right there in faint black ink: 1929

[SFX: short dramatic organ sting]

NARRATOR: I haven’t even gotten to the really strange part, friend. As if a stiff getting mail twenty years after the fact isn’t bad enough...there was the matter of what it said. Just three words: Be seeing you.

[SFX: short organ interval]

NARRATOR: No, it wasn’t a hoax. I wouldn’t be telling you about all this if it had turned out to be a disgruntled undertaker or a bored gravedigger playing a prank on the office. I asked around in the most general kind of way I could think of. I asked Sam about it directly. Sam’s the shop steward for the gravediggers here. There’s only four guys on staff, counting Sam, but he’s the guy to talk to when the grass is getting a little too high around the edge of the property...or when you start getting postcards for dead fellas...

SAM: I don’t think any of these guys would think to waste a stamp on a fool thing like that. Hell, I’m sure of it. Probably some crank. 

NARRATOR: I suppose I tried to forget about it. At least, I pretended to. Make what you will of a guy lying to himself about a postcard showing up on his desk addressed to a dead man. What else could I do? There’s no return address on a postcard and I couldn’t very well go ask Bob about it. So, I wrote the whole thing off. Then I got another postcard the following day. Or, I should say Robert Jenkins did. 

[SFX: short dramatic organ sting]

NARRATOR: This time I brought it up to Jerry, our postman. (To Jerry…) Since when did the Postal Department start bringing mail from the afterlife? He thought I was putting him on, I guess. Just laughed and said the poor guy stuck with that route must not have much seniority. Then he hurried off, muttering something about how many addresses he had left. Some help.

[SFX: Staccato, descending organ notes]

NARRATOR: Didn’t I mention what this one said? Well, it was as terse as the last one. Three words, just like before, but different: One more day. 

[SFX: short pause]

NARRATOR: Would it surprise you if I said I found this one less unsettling than the first? No, I guess you wouldn't believe me. Maybe I was lying to myself again. But I didn’t do anything other than put it in my desk drawer, on top of the other one. I didn’t say anything to anyone either. Who would care? Sam had the right idea. Just a creep somewhere with a bad sense of humor. Besides, if it was more than that, it was between Bob and whoever was coming to see him.

You can guess what happened next. Sure you can. You’re a smart guy, aren’t you? I pretended, once again, to put the whole matter out of my mind. And, like clockwork, Jerry the postman brought me another postcard the very next morning. There it was, buried between invoices and checks from normal people - living people. 

[SFX: Staccato, descending organ notes]

NARRATOR: I wish I could say I ignored it. Threw it out. But I didn’t. I did my best to but after an hour or so I pulled it out and read it. Just like the others - three words. This time it just said: On my way.

[SFX: Sustained minor chord played softly]

NARRATOR: For half an hour, I paced around the office. I drove around the grounds. I stared at the gates marking the front entrance. They were open, of course, as it was normal visiting hours, but no one had pulled in since Jerry had come and gone.

Everything was as it should be. When I walked back to my office, he was there - sitting in one of the chairs in front of my desk. 

[SFX: Sustained minor chord played softly]

MR HELLMAN: Ah, there you are! I was starting to worry I’d missed you. 

NARRATOR: Who are you, sir?

MR HELLMAN: You don’t remember me, I suppose. Well, it was quite some time ago. I shouldn’t take it personally but it is a little odd. I mean, I was right there when it happened.

NARRATOR: I beg your pardon, sir, but I have matters to attend to. That is, unless you’re here to arrange a -

MR HELLMAN: (cutting off our narrator) I can assure you, sir, I’m here on business. I don’t make social calls in a place like this (snickers to himself).

NARRATOR: Well, fine, why don’t you…(very short pause)

MR HELLMAN: You were going to invite me to take a seat? As you can see, my manners are slightly lacking. Though, given the circumstances, we can probably dispense with pleasantries. You still don’t know why I’m here, Mr -

NARRATOR: (Cutting of Mr Hellman) I can assure you, I haven’t the faintest idea. 

MR HELLMAN: Very well. Say, did you have a chance to pass my messages along to the late Mr Jenkins?

NARRATOR: (Stutters slightly) I...excuse me?

MR HELLMAN: The postcards, sir. Were they passed along to Robert Jenkins? You are the one in charge here, yes?

NARRATOR: (Trying and failing to regain his composure and speak authoritatively) I don’t have time for whatever this is, Mr Hellman. If you have something you’d like to leave on the deceased’s resting place, that is entirely permissible. Abusing the U.S. mails is not however -

MR HELLMAN: (Cutting off our narrator) Very well. I told you I was here on business, sir. That business includes both Mr Jenkins and yourself, of course. You’re either a very good liar or very good at self-deception. I should be able to tell the difference, I suppose, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered…

NARRATOR: (Picking up phone) Operator, give me the nearest -

MR HELLMAN: (Softly and indifferently) No, sir. That won’t work. We like to settle these things in house. You understand. 

NARRATOR: (Into phone): Hello? Hello?

MR HELLMAN: Look at this way - If we weren’t so backlogged, you would have gotten a visit from me a long time ago. In the old days, one of my underlings would have probably handled the actual collection but then there are so many more people these days. That is to say, so many more souls. No matter. I’m here now and that’s all that counts. 

[SFX: Telephone clicks back into place]

MR HELLMAN: Yes, sir, I think you’re beginning to understand. Now, formalities prevail in these matters, so I’m obligated to read this (muttering to himself as he thumbs through papers) Lets’ see...Autumn of 1929...Oh, dear...murder. Tsk, tsk, tsk (speaking to our narrator once again) Please, sir, be seated. This won’t take long. Now (clears throat). You, sir, are formally and finally condemned. You do reserve the right to a comprehensive listing of your...transgressions...but with your permission, I’d rather dispense with the ful list. After all, we both know why we’re really here, don’t we Mr -

NARRATOR: (Cutting off Mr Hellman and speaking softly) That’s not fair. 

MR HELLMAN: Choose your words carefully, sir. You have not lived a life of virtue. 

NARRATOR: No. But neither had he. 

MR HELLMAN: No, he had not. (short pause). But a rule is a rule, is it not? If it’s any consolation, he hasn’t had a great time the last two decades, waiting for me down in that box. I’d imagine he’s bored to tears by now. Poor devil. (Snickers once again). Now, I’m afraid it’s me who’s choosing words poorly. Alright, sir, we’ve tarried long enough. 

NARRATOR: He was with her, you know. He was with my wife before I...did it. 

MR HELLMAN: None of the finer points escape our attention, sir. It’s all here in your file. I will say, off the record of course, that your timing was brilliant. (Thumbing through papers once again) Yes, coercing him at gunpoint to go to the roof with you and...hmph...pushing him off it…

NARRATOR: (Lightly but audibly sobbing into his hands)

MR HELLMAN: There, there. These things do happen. I wouldn't let it bother you too much. Again, off the record…

[SFX: short pause]

MR HELLMAN: Well, what do you say? Shall we get going? Normally I’d accompany you by yourself but since he’s already here - so close by...As I was saying before, the backlog is murder these days. Between you and me, I have to cut corners wherever I can. Are you ready?

[SFX: MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR]

ANNOUNCER: The title of today's "Quiet, Please!" story was "Mail Call." It was written by David Feldmann and the man who spoke to you was Paul Knierim.

CHAPPELL: And the visitor was ___. Sam was ___. As usual, music for "Quiet, Please!" is by Albert Buhrman. Now, for a word about next week, the ghost of Wyllis Cooper.

COOPER: I don't actually have anything written for next week yet. When you've been dead as long as I have, it's hard to think. Help me out, will you, by submitting your own scripts?

CHAPPELL: And so, until next week at this same time, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.

[SFX: MUSIC ... THEME ... END]