The Letter

Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.

Dear Reuben…

It is with great sadness that I compose this letter. Your unexpected passing troubles me, and I fear that my feelings will remain mysterious, due either to my limited abilities as a writer or your being stone dead.

We never met in person, but you replaced me as bass player in Snappy. Perhaps I should have called to offer my congratulations, but that would have been a ruse. The real reason for my contact would be to warn you that the members of the band, in general, and Barry, in particular, were intolerable. There is no doubt that a man of your education (Purdue, I believe?) recognized the instability of the craft within days, but I just wanted to make sure.

I genuinely hope your death was not a painful one. My father’s passing was fraught with confusion. My family ricocheted phone calls to hospitals and priests while my dad lie in a bed, breathing heavily until he breathed his last. He calmly understood what was happening. He always had tremendous foresight.

Despite the members of Snappy leaving me on the side of the road after a particularly bad gig in Montpelier, Vermont, and driving off with my equipment, I bear them only mild ill will. The sense of injustice – of vengeance – that rumbled in my chest diminished each year. Usually in direct proportion to the hilarious misfortunes that subsequently befell my erstwhile bandmates. Ruined marriages to foreign women and brief prison terms. It was enough to make me believe that similarly affronted gypsies had cursed those idiots when I wasn’t looking.

People miss you, Reuben. Your having been my replacement makes for awkward conversation. People feel they should offer condolences. It’s like I’m some ambulatory Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

You were a talented guy and a smart and funny one, as well, near as I can tell.

I look forward to the day we meet in person.

Enjoy.

Clifford.

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