Friday, March 29, 2024

An unsolved mystery arrives in Maine

By Andy Young

I want people like D and T living in my neighborhood. Each is generous, energetic, kind, creative, determined, attractive, courageous, honest, and fully committed to doing everything they can to make the world a better place for everybody. Together they are a powerhouse.

In order to shield these two wonderful but intensely private individuals from any unwanted attention, I’m going to refer to them by the third letters of their first names. I was going to identify them by using the last digit in their respective phone numbers, but that would make their true identities far too obvious.

After reading my glowing descriptions of I and P (the first letter of the state where each grew up), one would naturally assume that we would spend a great deal of time together. But unfortunately, according to Google Maps their front doorstep is located 825.5 miles from mine, which makes actual visiting difficult.

It would take 13 hours and 16 minutes to drive to their residence, so making a round trip in a single day would be impossible, even if I left on the Saturday night in early November when the clocks get set back to Standard Time.

Every year B and E (the first letter of their respective favorite football teams) call me on a particular day, and after observing a very specific protocol we get down to the business of catching up.

I regale them with only slightly embellished tales of my doings here in Maine, while they update me on what’s been going on in their world. These special phone conversations are never long enough.

Our most recent electronic get-together occurred when they called last month to sing “Happy Birthday,” congratulate me on turning 39 again, catch me up on their lives, and allow me to catch them up on mine.

Even by their lofty standards, last year was a memorable one for B and B (the first letter of their respective hair colors). Always enthusiastic travelers/adventurers, they had toured several African nations, going on a memorable safari while they were there.

But when they asked if I’d gotten the postcard that they sent me from Botswana last July, I quickly changed the subject.

That’s because I didn’t remember getting any postcard, which could only mean one of two things, neither of which was attractive.

Possibility number one: I am in fact a terrible person, since only the most callous, self-centered, egotistical “friend” would fail to acknowledge such a kindness.

Possibility number two: I truly didn’t remember receiving the postcard, meaning that premature senility has arrived even more prematurely than I had anticipated it would.

One afternoon several weeks after that phone call I found two items in my mailbox after returning from work. One was a gentle reminder from the power company to pay them if I wished to continue receiving electricity for my home. The other was a colorful picture postcard with “Chobe National Park” and “Botswana” printed on the front. On its back side was an uncancelled South African stamp in the upper right corner, and handwritten messages from both A and M (last names of a famous Texas university).

There were no postmarks or dates of any kind on either side of the card, which was in pristine condition. In fact, were it not for the writing on the back, the Botswanan postcard vendor could undoubtedly have sold it again, and at full price.

Forget how the pyramids of Giza were built, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, and the JFK assassination. The only mystery I want solved is where that postcard spent the past nine months! < 

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