Shabbily dressed in a tattered fringed jacket, threadbare workpants, worn boots, and a dilapidated wide brimmed hat, the old man appeared dazed as he staggered into the midst of the crowd.
“Where ‘bout these parts can I hook up with a pony express rider? I need to get a letter to my father out in Utah territory.”
“Excuse me sir?” Will answered eyeing the man top to bottom.
“I said,” he repeated. “I need to get this letter to a pony express rider so my family in Utah will know of my plight.”
“Old man,” replied Will, “are you alright?”
“Please. I-I- don’t understand why you are all staring at me. I need to get this letter to my father. Won’t someone help me?”
“Get yourself a computer!” yelled an onlooker.
“And some new clothes while you‘re at it!”
“You been under a rock, old man?” yelled another.
He scanned his surroundings and appeared confused. Lights flashed green. Cars honked and sped past. With his twisted fingers the old man gripped his letter tightly to his chest, tightened his calf muscles, gritted his teeth and stood firm.
“Sir, are you sure you are alright? Come and sit on this bench. We’ll sort this out together,” said Will.
The older gentleman; mouth open, eyes wide and gazed, stepped backwards onto the curb. Will led him to the bench.
“Now sir, why don’t you tell me a little about what’s going on. I understand you have a letter but what’s this about a pony express rider? They’ve been extinct for decades. Haven’t you heard about computers?”
“Com- what?” the gentleman asked.
“Computers! People don’t write letters anymore, at least not like you mean,” Will said. “Now days, everyone has a computer. When we need to talk to someone in another state, we send an e-mail. They receive it instantly…no waiting on the postal service, or a horse and rider.”
“Young man!” the older gentleman replied scratching his head. “I don’t know what you are talking about, but I feel sure you are poking fun at me.”
“No sir, not at all.” Will shook his head in disbelief. “I’m not sure what’s going on! Maybe I’m being punked or maybe this is one of those candid camera things!”
“Now listen here boy! I need to get this letter to a pony…” the man appeared agitated.
“I know! I know!” Will interrupted. “You keep saying that. Now, your family lives in Utah?” Will asked, reaching into his sack for his laptop.
The gentleman jumped up and slapped his hands on his hips as if feeling for something that wasn’t there.
“Whoa! What are you doin’ old man?” Will asked.
“I seem to have misplaced my gun,” he replied. “Weren’t you going for yours there in that sack?”
“Gun? What? No way! Forget this! I’m calling 911. You must have escaped from the mental hospital across town or something.”
Seeing Will pull the strange tiny box from his pocket and thinking it some sort or weapon, the old man drew back his fist and whomped Will between the eyes.
“Now listen, boy!” replied the old man, slapping his hands together. “I don’t know ‘bout your new fangled weapons, nor your com- whatever you said, and I shore don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout no a-b-c-d-OR e-mail! I only know ‘bout God and my gun…even though it seems to be missin’ right now, and I DO know a thing or two about letters and I aim to get this one mailed, with or without your help.”
Dazed from his wholloping, Will rose slowly to his feet. Realizing he was getting nowhere with the man, but still desiring to help him, he wiped his face with his sleeve, cleared his throat and began speaking slowly and distinctly.
“Sir, I see you mean business, so, I’ll tell you what. If you place your letter in that blue box there on the post, the pony express rider will pick it up and deliver it to your father.”
“Now that’s more like it! A box fer my letter! Forget this e-mail, com- pu- somethin‘ ‘er ‘nother!” the gentleman replied. “What I love is progress!”
The old man dropped his letter into the box on the post and disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. Could he possibly have been…?
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