Flash Fiction Story 023: "Pen Pals, Unidentified"

In this space, I have brought you previously undiscovered letters, ranging in sources from deposed Eastern European dictators, to the famed (yet still anonymous) airplane hijacker, D.B. Cooper. Now I present a series of letters buried in a landfill which I found while searching for copies of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial on the Atari 2600. They were sealed in an envelope, which in turn was sealed in a steamer trunk. Other contents included a few reels of 8mm film (labelled with an indistinct word beginning with the letter “Z”), long since degraded beyond use. It’s unclear just who the correspondents were, but from the available context clues, they both began some kind of government work (or possibly for a political organization) shortly after the second World War. Other details about the writers are lost to history.

 

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Wednesday, March 12th, 1947

Dick,

I hope you will forgive this indulgence. I need someone to express some thoughts to. Members of my own party are far too obsessed with their own ambition to be trusted with anything other than the slightest of pleasantries. Members of my own family are stricken with a similar affliction. Don’t even get me started on women. So that leaves me with you. 

We’re different, sure, but I have this sneaking suspicion that we are more alike than we let on. Our ages, our service during the war, even how we came about our current employment. We are cut from the same cloth. We have only the most superficial reasons to be adversaries, why shouldn’t we be friends?

~Jack

P.S.: Heard Joe’s speech on Monday. Is he… okay? I mean, I hate communists as much as the next guy, but that guy needs a hobby, or something. Maybe suggest he take up sailing. It always helps to clear my mind.

 

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Friday, March 14th, 1947

Jack,

Couldn’t agree more with everything you said in your letter. Friends should always be cultivated. If a man can’t trust people, he is truly lost.

As you suggested, I brought up sailing to Joe. He didn’t say much, but I’m reasonably certain he thought I was a communist. Call it a hunch. It must be sad being so paranoid.

As far as my own hobbies, I like to play piano. You’re all too right, it’s important to have something to take one’s mind off the work at hand. I’ve also been known to bowl a frame or two.

~Dick

P.S.: Is it true you’re not allowed to eat meat on Fridays? Joe won’t either, but, again, I think that has something to do with the Russians.

 

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Tuesday, April 8th, 1947

Dick,

I’m not supposed to eat meat on Fridays, and yet, strangely, until you posed your question, I never really considered why. Probably best not to scrutinize it too much.

To do this kind of work is something, but do you ever wonder if any of us will ever make it to the big time? It feels like destiny wants to push me in that direction.

It may just be the tuna fish sandwich from the mess disagreeing with me. Joe can’t get enough of the stuff.

~Jack

 

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Monday, June 2nd, 1947

Jack,

Had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt you got shot in the head and I was really, really thrilled with the development. Strange how dreams are.

Anyway, tuna day in the mess! Yum yum!

~Dick

P.S.: Have you ever been skeet shooting in Dallas? Never mind. Forget I asked.

P.P.S.: I can’t honestly remember what your last question was. When you have a moment, write it again, and I will give it my most immediate attention.

 

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The letters drop off from here. Whether there was no correspondence between the two parties over the next six years, or that those letters did not survive to be documented here, historians can only speculate. Here now are the final letters in the sequence, from the summer of 1952.

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Monday, September 15th, 1952

Dick (or should I say “sir”?),

Many congratulations on the “promotion,” as it were. In our many conversations, I always knew you would rise to a high rank, but I never thought it would happen so soon.

It boggles the mind, truly. I can only hope that I can reach to the same heights you have.

~Jack

P.S.: Do you know where I can get a good, loyal dog? Asking for a friend.

 

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Tuesday, September 16th, 1952

Jack,

Not sure how to take that. Why wouldn’t I have risen this quickly? With my current status, it’s probably unwise to make those sorts of insinuations. I would watch very carefully where you tread, as you yourself said, I’m much further along the path than you are now.

~Dick

P.S.: If I hear another word from you about my dog, I’ll make sure all of your, I mean my, wildest dreams come true.

 Art by Eris O'Reilly

Art by Eris O'Reilly