Mrs. Nezzbit’s Mailman
Fiction by W.M. Pienton
Old Mrs. Nezzbit sat in her kitchen drinking tea. With nothing better to do, she was keeping an eye on her mailbox through the screen door. A childless widow, she lived alone in a retirement community.
Soon, the mailman arrived. He deposited bills, took the outgoing mail, and went to the next house. His name was Ted.
She felt a piece of her soul taken by him. Mrs. Nezzbit was shocked. Unsure of what to do, the old woman washed her dishes in a daze.
Shaking her head to clear it, Mrs. Nezzbit glanced at the clock. It was nearly three. Every other day at this time, her friends came over for cards and gossip. Oh, best get ready. I’ll deal with the mailman problem later, she thought.
Putting a deck of cards on the table, she made a fresh pot of tea and placed out some snacks. Just as she finished, an obese woman knocked on the door frame and let herself inside. “Hey, Connie,” said the large woman, finding a seat at the table.
“Whatcha been up to, Bernice?” asked Mrs. Nezzbit.
“Nothin’, just my knee acting up again.”
Another knock, and her friend Carroll entered. “Hi ya,” she said, finding her seat.
Ten minutes later, their friend Phyllis bustled through the door, saying, “Sorry, but I couldn’t find my glasses to save my life.”
“That’s alright,” reassured Mrs. Nezzbit. “We expect you to be late.”
“I think I’d die of a heart attack if you arrived on time,” said Bernice.
“Har har,” Phyllis replied, taking her seat. “Who’s dealing?”
“Me,” said Carroll, grabbing the deck and shuffling.
“What do you ladies think of the new landscaping company the board hired?” asked Bernice.
“When they were here yesterday, they forgot to weedwhack around my front steps,” said Bernice.
“I know. The new maintenance man’s awful too,” said Carroll.
“Know what’s really gone downhill? The mail,” said Mrs. Nezzbit.
“I know what you mean,” replied Phyllis. “Yesterday when I received my package, the box was beaten and torn.”
The women played cards until the sun went down. Then, one by one they left, saying goodnight. Still nursing her resentment of the mailman, Mrs. Nezzbit cleaned up.
Later she made a cup of tea, pouring in a generous amount of brandy. Then the old woman watched TV until she started nodding off. Getting up, she shuffled to bed.
The next morning, Mrs. Nezzbit quickly ate breakfast and got washed and dressed. Then, climbing into her ’94 Buick Park Avenue, the old woman raced to the post office. Storming into the building, she cut in line demanding to see someone in charge.
“Go to the back of the line and wait your turn, ma’am,” said the woman at the counter.
“It’s all right, Cathy,” said a man, approaching from behind. Turning to Mrs. Nezzbit, he said, “Please, follow me and we’ll try sorting this out.” A minute later they were sitting in his office.
“My name’s Chad Willmington. What can I do for you?” he asked amiably.
“It’s about your mailman, Ted,” she replied.
“What about him?”
“Yesterday he mishandled my mail.”
“What’s he done?”
Leaning in conspiratorially, she said, “When he took my outgoing mail, he stole my soul. Not the whole thing, just a little piece.”
Clearing his throat Chad asked, “And how long’s he been doing this?”
“I only noticed yesterday. But who knows how long he’s gotten away with it.”
“Well,” he replied, sounding too calm, “I’ll certainly talk to him.”
Mrs. Nezzbit stood, thanking Chad, and smiled. She left the building and climbed into her car. “That’s all it takes. Just one complaint and the problem’s solved. My mailman won’t do it again,” she said to herself, satisfied.
Arriving home, Mrs. Nezzbit made tea. She took a sip. Sorting out this mess only took an hour, and here I was upset over something so easily fixed. I only hope Chad speaks to him before he starts his route today.
Mrs. Nezzbit sat in her kitchen watching the mailbox through the screen door. The sunny day enabled her to have the lights off. She could see out, but no one could see in.
When the mailman arrived, it was not Ted. The moment he took her outgoing mail the old woman sensed the theft of her soul. Mrs. Nezzbit became livid.
Standing, she paced the kitchen. “Complaining didn’t do anything. What do I do now?” she said aloud. Shaking her head to clear it, she sat, thinking, I need to calm down and figure something out.
The next day, Ted was back on his route. Mrs. Nezzbit was surprised, having expected the other mailman. Smiling, she stood in the doorway waving him over.
“Yes Mrs. Nezzbit? What can I do for you?” he asked, returning the smile and approaching.
In a flash, the old woman stunned him with a taser. He fell unconscious into the kitchen. Shutting the door, she bound and gagged him with duct tape. Then, leaving him on the floor, she went into the backyard.
Retrieving a shovel and tarp from her shed, Mrs. Nezzbit proceeded to cut and set aside turf. Once enough was removed she began digging, shoveling the dirt onto the tarp. When she deemed the hole deep enough, she returned to the kitchen.
She poured a lemonade and held the cool glass to her face. Glancing at Ted, she saw that he was awake. Mrs. Nezzbit crouched next to him, looking him in the eye. “So, you thought you could get away with stealing from an old woman, eh?” she said, sipping her glass.
He tried talking, but the tape muffled his reply. Rolling her eyes, she quickly pulled the tape from his mouth. Wincing, he said, “Stealing? What’re you talking about? I never stole anything from you.”
“Don’t bother lying,” she said. “I worked hard for every cent I have. Every time I pay a bill, I feel a sense of loss not related to the money. For a long time I didn’t know what it was.
“But, as I grew older, I grew wiser. I realized the sense of loss is the result of my soul being stolen a piece at a time. Stolen by you mail carriers.”
“Chad warned me you were nuts. He gave me a different route yesterday hoping you’d cool off,” he said.
As if she had not heard him, Mrs. Nezzbit said, “Yesterday I realized that nobody’s gonna help me. I gotta help myself. But then, I’ve always done everything myself.”
Before he could reply, the old woman replaced the tape and tased him again. Then she slowly dragged him into the backyard and rested. Once her energy returned, she rolled him into the hole, filled it up, and replaced the turf.
After spreading the extra dirt in her flower garden, she put everything away. It looked like nothing had happened. Mrs. Nezzbit went inside and took a shower. She finished just as her friends arrived for cards.
W. M. Pienton loves reading and writing fiction. His influences are John Bellairs, H. P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and Neil Gaiman. He also draws and occasionally plays guitar (poorly). When relaxing, he drinks smooth whiskey or scotch. Sometimes, he smokes a pipe (tobacco only) while sitting on his porch. He resides in Southbridge, Mass.
This article originally appeared in the January 11, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.