I locked the truck, put the ignition keys in my pocket and stepped into the water—nearly up to my waist— and began wading toward West Garage. It was still raining. Suddenly the water rose another 3 or 4 inches. I had been walking across a lawn and had stepped off the curbing. The truck was parked on somebody’s front lawn.

For a moment I thought that swimming might be faster, then I thought, no, that would look ridiculous. I made it to the garage and walked up to the dispatcher. There I was, wet as wet could get and he looked at me.

I threw him the truck keys and the ignition keys.

Then I wrote on a piece of paper: 3435 Mountview Place.

“Your truck’s at this address. Go get it.”

“You mean you left it out there?”

“I mean I left it out there.”

I walked over, punched out, then stripped to my shorts and stood in front of a heater. I hung my clothes over the heater. Then I looked across the room and there by another heater stood Tom Moto in his shorts.

We both laughed.

“It’s hell, isn’t it?” he asked.


“Do you think The Stone planned it?”

“Hell yes! He even made it rain!”

“Did you get stalled out there?”

“Sure,” I said.

“I did too.”

“Listen, baby,” I said, “my car is 12 years old. You’ve got a new one. I’m sure I’m stalled out there. How about a push to get me started?”


We got dressed and went out. Moto had bought a new model car about 3 weeks before. I waited for his engine to start. Not a sound. Oh Christ, I thought.

The rain was up to the floorboards.

Moto got out.

“No good. It’s dead.”

I tried mine without any hope. There was some action from the battery, some spark, though feeble. I pumped the gas, hit it again. It started up. I really let it roar. VICTORY! I warmed it good. Then I backed up and began to push Moto’s new car. I pushed him for a mile. The thing wouldn’t even fart. I pushed him into a garage, left him there, and picking the highland and the drier streets, made it back to Betty’s ass.


The Stone’s favorite carrier was Matthew Battles. Battles never came in with a wrinkled shirt on. In fact, everything he wore was new, looked new. The shoes, the shirts, the pants, the cap. His shoes really shined and none of his clothing appeared to have ever been laundered even once. Once a shirt or a pair of pants became the least bit soiled he threw them away.

The Stone often said to us as Matthew walked by:

“Now, there goes a carrier!”

And The Stone meant it. His eyes damn near shimmered with love.

And Matthew would stand at his case, erect and clean, scrubbed and well-slept, shoes gleaming victoriously, and he would fan those letters into the case with joy.

“You’re a real carrier, Matthew!”

“Thank you, Mr. Jonstone!”

One 5 a.m. I walked in and sat down to wait behind The Stone. He looked a bit slumped under that red shirt. Moto was next to me. He told me: “They picked up Matthew yesterday.”

“Picked him up?”

“Yeah, for stealing from the mails. He’d been opening letters for the Nekalayla Temple and taking money out. After 15 years on the job.”

“How’d they get him, how’d they find out?”

“The old ladies. The old ladies had been sending in letters to Nekalayla filled with money and they weren’t getting any thank-you notes or response. Nekalayla told the P.O. and the P.O. put the Eye on Matthew. They found him opening letters down at the soak-box, taking money out.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. They caught him in cold daylight.”

I leaned back.

Nekalayla had built this large temple and painted it a sickening green, I guess it reminded him of money, and he had an office staff of 30 or 40 people who did nothing but open envelopes, take out checks and money, record the amount, the sender, date received and so on. Others were busy mailing out books and pamphlets written by Nekalayla, and his photo was on the wall, a large one of N. in priestly robes and beard, and a painting of N., very large too, looked over the office, watching.

Nekalayla claimed he had once been walking through the desert when he met Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ told him everything. They sat on a rock together and J.C. laid it on him. Now he was passing the secrets on to those who could afford it. He also held a service every Sunday. His help, who were also his followers, rang in and out on timeclocks.

Imagine Matthew Battles trying to outwit Nekalayla who had met Christ in the desert!

“Has anybody said anything to The Stone?” I asked.

“Are you kidding?

We sat an hour or so. A sub was assigned to Matthew’s case. The other subs were given other jobs. I sat alone behind The Stone. Then I got up and walked to his desk.

“Mr. Jonstone?”

“Yes, Chinaski?”

“Where’s Matthew today? Sick?”

The Stone’s head dropped. He looked at the paper in his hand and pretended to continue reading it. I walked back and sat down.

At 7 a.m. The Stone turned:

“There’s nothing for you today, Chinaski.”

I stood up and walked to the doorway. I stood in the doorway. “Good morning, Mr. Jonstone. Have a good day.” He didn’t answer. I walked down to the liquor store and bought a half pint of Grandad for my breakfast.


The voices of the people were the same, no matter where you carried the mail you heard the same things over and over again.

“You’re late, aren’t you?”

“Where’s the regular carrier?”

“Hello, Uncle Sam!”

“Mailman! Mailman! This doesn’t go here!”

The streets were full of insane and dull people. Most of them lived in nice houses and didn’t seem to work, and you wondered how they did it. There was one guy who wouldn’t let you put the mail in his box. He’d stand in the driveway and watch you coming for 2 or 3 blocks and he’d stand there and hold his hand out.

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