I’m almost invisible to you all, and yet I know your every sin.
Each day I walk down your street, pausing only long enough to place the letters in your box and the packages on your front porch. I slip in and out of your life inconspicuously. Even on days when you come outside to personally take possession of what I bring our eyes never meet, as mine are hooded beneath the shadows of my hat. We are both keenly aware of the boundaries of our relationship, and this is as it should be, of course, for without my anonymity and discretion you’d be exposed, now wouldn’t you, and we certainly can’t have that.
You doubt me? Then consider your neighbors, perhaps, for a moment or two. How about that house there, on the corner to the left? The owner seems polite enough, you say, keeps his lawn trimmed nice and neat; says hello when you pass his house on your daily walk. He has a secret, however, same as all of you, a secret that arrives twice a month in discretely wrapped brown paper, or occasionally in small packages he clutches greedily the moment I reach his doorstep. His secret longs with silent burning when he watches the neighbor children playing. His secret writhes and sweats in the darkness.
Or how about that one, the young couple two doors down. They keep to themselves, yes? Quiet, no trouble. Their secret is hidden in their brush-filled, unkempt yard. It arrives in cheerful garden supply catalogs and hefty boxes from lighting and packaging companies. Their secret is in the smaller, worn parcels arriving from foreign destinations. Their secrets are up all night, watching for the watchers. Their secrets are bitter, and paranoid, and alive with indecision.
Which of you are loyal to the government? Which of you quietly longs for anarchy? Which of you dreams of lives never lived, of pleasures never felt, or sins never committed? I know. I know each and every shade of faint curiosity that leads from investigation straight through to obsession.
Oh, I’ll admit, I do indeed play, from time to time. I’ll misdirect a certain letter of invoice, or send a particular catalog one house further. The accidental recipient will pretend to be shocked, throw it into the trash with a show of righteous indignation, only to later slip downstairs and furtively shake the dregs of garbage from its pages. Sometimes I sit back and observe the sickness spread along the block; watch as neighbors eye one another suspiciously. Does he know that I know? Does he wonder where his mail was misdirected? It’s amusement for me, and you can’t blame me, really. There are only so many sins to go around.
I can see you’re getting nervous, now, obviously. You wonder why I’ve stopped at your door today of all days, stopped to have a chat when the most you’ve ever seen of me is a shadow. I know you’re a clever lad, though, and I’m sure you have an inkling of my errand. No hefty catalogues for you today, are there? No magazines with articles comparing the killing efficiency of rifles versus handguns, of hunting knives versus kitchen utensils. No lonely, cheap rags stuffed with sad little tales of wanton infidelity and ruthless revenge. She’s already gotten what’s coming to her, hasn’t she? The planning stages, the fumbling indecision ended last night. The choice was made, flesh from fantasy, when she stepped through the door to collect her belongings with an attitude that reeked of pity and loathing. Funny, don’t you find that the act itself seems to be over too quickly, when compared to those endless nights locked in your own lurid imagination? A pity, truly it is. As a culminating act murder leaves something to be desired, I’d say.
Comfort yourself, though. You’ll still have memory.
So, there, there, now, pull yourself together and come along. It’s time to go. I’ve got other stops, you know; quite a strict schedule to keep. No drop-offs today, however. Only pickups.