Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)
TITLE: I Carry The Mail
By James Clem
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It’s 9:05 in the morning. The mail bins are loaded. I’m embarking on my normal route down 3rd Street.
My name is Jack Webber. It’s my job to make sure the mail is delivered through rain, snow, sleet or hail. Although truthfully, none of those are much of a problem in this city.
It’s 9:22 when I make my first stop at Calaveras Apartments. Statues of frogs are everywhere. I grab the top bin and hop down off the truck.
Calaveras is eternally hidden in the shade of towering high rise casinos just two blocks away. Most of the tenants are bar tenders, card dealers, and cocktail waitresses who work the odd hours serving drinks to people who come here with wide-eyed dreams of winning a big jackpot.
I’ve lived in Las Vegas all my life. People call it “Lost Wages,” “the City of Lights,” and “Sin City.” There’s no place like it. Millions of people come here every year. Some little old lady will go home to Pasadena with a check for ten million dollars. She’ll discover more friends and relatives than she ever knew she had. Others will just go home with their pockets a little lighter.
I don’t play the slot machines… or cards or dice. Very few of the locals do as a matter of fact. Sometimes I wish all the tourists that come here would stroll two blocks from the Las Vegas Strip. Beyond all the lights and glitz, people live in the real world, going to school, buying groceries, and picking through the junk mail on Wednesdays. I hate Wednesdays. The advertising circulars double the load I have to deliver, most of which just goes directly from the mailbox to the trash bin. I try not to think about it.
By 10:18, I’m crossing Silver Dollar Boulevard. I’m ahead of schedule and I smile at that. It means I can stop for lunch at Gold Dust Park instead of scarfing it down while I’m driving.
At 10:41, I’m outside the house of Mrs. Ethel Fitzgerald at 6501 West Diamond Street. I’m relieved that Chi Chi is not in the yard. Chihuahuas and wiener dogs are the worst. They run up at me barking their tiny little heads off, and I have to resist a driving urge to pretend they’re a football and kick a field goal through the front door.
At 11:52 I stop for lunch. I lounge under a Palm tree and set a brown paper bag on the ground in front of me. In Las Vegas, we do tend to make a show out of everything. I wave my hand over the bag, reach in and pull out an apple. Okay, I admit it’s not much of a trick, but hey, it helps me get through the day. I repeat the trick, pulling out a ham on rye.
A giggle nearby tells me I have an audience. I spot a little kid, maybe eight years old standing by the monkey bars. I’m chomping away on that apple when I notice the kid’s just staring at me, maybe he never knew that mailmen eat, I don’t know.
I picked up one sandwich half and suddenly realized the kid is staring at my lunch. I held it out in his direction. He was a bit nervous, but only for a second… he ran up, snatched it out of my hand and took off running like I was going to chase after him.
I saw him race straight over to another kid, his little brother is what I was guessing. I watched as he took that half of a sandwich, broke it in half and shared it with the little fellow.
All of a sudden it clicked that they had nothing to eat. Just two blocks away, rich people were gambling away their excess money, and right here were people who would benefit greatly from those wasted coins. Two little boys sharing half a sandwich knew more about treasure and prosperity than those rich people would ever know.
Jesus once said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”* I reckon he knew what he was talking about.
The older kid waved at me just before the two ran off.
Tomorrow I will bring two sandwiches.
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