The Envelope, Please
The manilla envelope was off to one side of Bell Springs Road, in a clump of blooming St. John’s Wart. It was stuffed full of something, that much was evident, and manilla envelopes filled with anything, were a rarity to be found. I had been walking this stretch of the old stage coach route, for twenty-seven years now, and found all manner of crap alongside the road, but never an envelope stuffed with something.
If it had been smack in the middle of the road, I probably would not have made such a big deal in my head, but it was the way it was off to the side, as though it may have been there for more than just a minute or two. Somehow, I figured that if it were of real value, someone would have come back looking for it, and if it were in the middle of the road, he would have seen it.
Why he? I don’t know. If it were an envelope full of Ben Franklins, then I would be guessing it was part of a reefer deal, where someone had been stoned enough to drive away from a deal, somewhere along the deserted stretch of graveled road, with this envelope on the roof of the car, and here is where it had ended up.
I had to be careful though, because you know how these things work. The dude who left this loot on top of his big old SUV, was undoubtedly loaded on the shit, you know the way these big growers always are. They get all amped and then they get to rocking to the jams, and then it’s like, “Hey, we got a jam, let’s go!” And they’re out out of here, and the only problem is, they left something behind.
And I found it.
From behind me, down the road, came the sound of a throaty growl, as of some powerful vehicle, downshifting, so as to be able to maintain speed, going around a bend. I looked up to see this big old SUV bearing down on me, its front windshield dust-covered, making it impossible to see its inhabitants.
Quickly gauging the distance from the rapidly moving vehicle to myself, I determined that I stood a good chance of making it to the line of trees, and then into the thick woods, where no one could hope to follow me. I decided on the fly, to go for it, and took off like a wounded jackrabbit, staggering over the rock-strewn shoulder, and into the heavily weeded field, about a football field away from those trees.
I clutched my precious package to my chest as I ran. For I was running, until I realized that the vehicle had abruptly stopped, ejecting a man who made my attempt to run, look as though I were running in place, while this fleet-of-foot figure, was clearly on a pace to cut me off, before I could make it to the trees.
I stopped and turned to face him.
“Hey old dude, whatcha got?” He had changed his course and was almost to me.
“Nothin’ that belongs to you, that’s for sure.” The truth is, I didn’t know who it belonged to, but I sure as hell wasn’t giving it up to this joker. Except that he was big, he was fast, and he was not alone. The other guy knew he didn’t have to hurry. He just ambled along, picking his way carefully, to avoid those damn burrs, making his way in our direction.
“I dint akse who it belonged to, I aksed whatcha got? Don’ you speak English?” He had a nasty streak to him, that was not enhanced by his toothless effort at a grin. Fellow that young, who’s got no teeth, is the kind of fellow who likes speed. That shit will eat your teeth away, most rickety-tick.
“I understand English when it’s spoken properly, but I have not yet had that pleasure.” I have no idea where that came from, but whatever.
“Gimme the envelope, ole dude, ‘fore I gotta hurt you some. I don’ wanna do that, but sometimes, I gotta do what I gotta do.”
Here’s where my plan fell apart. If I don’t make it to the trees, what do I have? Not a damn thing that is going to keep this turkey off of my back. I didn’t even have a plan. But I was not going to give up my fortune without a fight. I figured if I was going down, I would get a lick or two in, so I just went right at his face with a left hook, and then felt myself being lifted off the ground by a pair of gnarly mitts, which did not bother to try and punch me, so much as just overwhelm me, which they did.
I went down in a heap, my jenky right knee having given up the ghost, before it was even requested. I hit the ground with a sickening thud, as my face split open with the force of it hitting the rock-hard surface of the field.
It did serve the purpose though of taking the mystery out of what was in the manilla envelope, and my last image on this Earth, was of the sight of a thousand red and white slips of paper, not the greenbacks I was expecting. Yes, I wanted to scream out to the toothless one, a manilla envelope filled with Campbell’s Soup Labels. Um Um, bad.