On a morning of mist and vapour Dave opened his door to see that the morning post had arrived. He wondered how best to approach it. It seemed to him that if he just tore in without thinking there was sure to be a parking ticket or a final demand. No. Post had to be approached with deference and caution.
There were brown envelopes and white envelopes. Some of them were obviously bills. Dave could tell this from the way that they leaked invisible but toxic shapes into the confines of his porch. But there was also a jiffy bag that might contain something to disperse the gloom.
He tried to remember if he had ordered anything lately. Or maybe someone had decided to send him a surprise present.
Dave decided to delay the moment for awhile. Let the mystery, excitement build as he drank his first coffee of the day.
Predictably, there were bills. But no-one wanted paying in a hurry.
Then he got down to the real business of the day and ripped open the jiffy bag. He pulled out something wrapped in bubble wrap. It didn't take long for Dave to see what it was. Someone had sent him a severed hand. Sure, the skin had turned a little blue. The part that should have been attached to a wrist looked like burnt chicken bones. But it was undeniably a severed hand.
Dave put it down on the table. He ran through a mental itinerary of items recently ordered or purchased on-line. Yerba Mate tea, dried plum e-liquid, corn flour, a Christopher Priest novel, diablo string, a 12inch steel rule... No. A severed hand just didn't come into it.
It was too soon for his birthday and the only long-distant long-distance friend who remembered usually sent him books or aftershave even though he'd had a beard these last fourteen years.
He unwrapped the hand. It didn't seem quite right, somehow, just dumping it on the dinner table so he got a plate and put it in the fridge. The bubble wrap lay on the table. Dave picked it up and began to squeeze the plastic blisters between his fingers. Man it was therapeutic!
He popped and popped and put the hand from his mind.
Well, he thought, sitting around like this all day was getting nothing done. He went out into the garden and began sawing rough timber that needed stock-piling for winter.
In the middle of his sawing Dave remembered that it was Thursday. The rubbish needed putting out.
He tossed in the unpaid bills and, as an after-thought, the piece of bubble wrap before tying up the sack. All the while, he had this gnawing feeling that he'd forgotten something but he was sure that it would come back to him later.
And it did, a couple of hours later when he fancied a nice cool beer. There were two cans in the fridge which was a very handy thing I can tell you.