Tuesday, December 16, 2014

John Out-the-Window: Letter the Third

To read Part One, click here.
To read Part Two, click here.

Letter the Third

December 16, 1948
    He is angry, or injured, or killed, or something, for it is five-thirty and no gift. I have spent the time since I got home in watching Un-John out my window. I think he has got over his Writer’s Block, as the little of him I can see below the shade looks busy enough. I have got to know his moods, I think. He likes to eat at his desk and drums on the top with a pencil when he’s stuck, and once I saw him throw a dart at something on the wall. Or maybe it was a co-worker. I couldn’t see that half of the room. He is very patient and when he’s made a mistake on his typewriter, he blots it out with the dearest little bottle of liquid-chalk I’ve ever seen.
He got his paycheck today. I sat a chubby man deliver it when Un-John was in one of his productive spells. He didn’t even give it notice, but kept working which I consider a mark of good character. If he is not concerned with money, he must not be all-bad.
And then there’s John Out-the-Window who is M.I.A.
I can’t think, Mavis. I might be fascinated by one man out the window, but the other man out the window is apparently furious and I can’t abide that. My vanity won’t take it. Have I really driven him away with my petulant note? Was it that effective? Will he never send another gift? Oh, dear. What if he’s been run over by a taxi? It nearly happened to me twice on the way home.

MAVIS. He is not killed. It is now five thirty-five and I have in my lap a big round box. All is well, I think. You ask why I do not just go down and spy on him while he delivers it so I can see who John Out-the-Window is? Two reasons: his delivery times are sporadic and it wouldn’t be nice. When a person goes through the trouble to be secretive, you don’t like to snatch it away by doing something dull like a stake-out.

MAVIS.  You will not believe the gall of this John Out-the-Window:

“Dear Toni,
    It’s so much cozier, now that I know your name. I thought your vanity might speak up if I hit you with the wrong handle several times over. No more of this Diana-Helen business. I saw you through the window last night. My apologies for observing you. You were lit up from the back with your shades wide open so I couldn’t exactly help it.
Drat awful calendars that like to set a fellow straight. Perhaps we’ll have to do it all again starting Christmas Day. Expensive mistake, but I don’t mind. Three French hens had me stuck until I realized that you are likely a domestic little person who likes coffee or tea. Maybe cocoa? Anyway, here is my offering. Enough for you, me, and the girl in the ugly silk robe. I make another apology for inviting myself over.
    John Out-the-Window”

Inside this Trojan horse of a box are three French ceramic tea-cups with red-spotted chickens painted on. How can John Out-the-Window possibly know my mania for teacups? I would call it the perfect gift except that chickens terrify me. An early run-in with my aunt’s rooster. It left scars. So now I’ve got a tea-party on my hands; one arranged by a perfect stranger who apparently has stared at me through his window.
Is this not creepy? I think it would be if it were not so entirely absurd. I have always hated love-triangles and here I am now, in the middle of a ridiculous one. I love Un-John Out-the-Window while Real John Out-the-Window adores me, and darling Un-John is ignorant of us both. I should bring Diane in and ask her to write it out to a satisfying conclusion. Reminds me of “It Had to be Murder,” by Cornell Woolrich, which they should make a picture out of someday. I’ll star alongside Un-John of course, who can play the real John Out-the-Window.  Will you direct?
I am trying very hard not to fall completely in love with Un-John. I am admittedly an idiot for falling in love with a the silhouette of some probably-rotten newspaper man, but I can’t help it. Somehow I cannot keep the two window-men apart in my mind. I shamelessly heap credit for the gifts on Un-John’s head and imagine that he sits at that dear old desk conspiring for tomorrow’s part of the game. And yet...I am always watching him while the real John delivers his offering, so they can’t possibly be the same person. I think I’ll take a

MAVIS. Just as I looked up, mid-sentence, I saw that Un-John had flung up his window screen and was staring--hands in his pockets--my direction. I think we caught eyes. Again, it is hard to tell at seventy-five feet, but I felt a shudder go through me. HOW AM I TO BEHAVE?
I realize I have written three letters in as many days and you’ve barely had time to read them all, let alone respond, but PLEASE WRITE TO ADVISE ME. I feel I ought to end John Out-the-Window’s presents if I have no intention of loving him back. But then, how do I know I won’t love him back? I wish I had a man’s brain to borrow for a sec. I could use some clarity of thought. Perhaps I’ll call Mr. Pierce and as for an informative lecture on male and female communication skills.
Yes, that’s a good idea.

MAVIS. I forgot to pay my phone-bill and it’s been cut off.

Lots of Absent-Minded Hugs,


Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Do I smell a Rear Window reference there?

I'm really loving this. I love epistolary fiction in general and this is just delightful!

Lady Bibliophile said...

I wish I had a man’s brain to borrow for a sec. I could use some clarity of thought. Perhaps I’ll call Mr. Pierce and as for an informative lecture on male and female communication skills.
Yes, that’s a good idea.

>>ROFL. This is hilarious.

Colleen Elizabeth said...

Rachel, I'm so enjoying these installments - they bring such festive cheer to my work week! I'm falling in love with these characters and can't wait to see where their story takes them. It's such a fun premise for a story. Keep up the lovely work!

Anna Meng said...

I'm falling in love with this Christmas story. It's absolutely delightful.

Hannah Joy said...

Eeee I love it!

Rachel Heffington said...

Elisabeth, you do!

tpb said...

May I suggest fainting, feigning illness, or some similar helplessness, and compel the prince out of hiding. Mock abduction by a dragon?

Rachel Heffington said...

OH the possibilities. I

Rachel Heffington said...

I love writing this real-time. It is like one of those choose-your-ending things. XD Dragon in DC? I have heard things less plausible.

tpb said...

No intention to muddle up your story though. Feel free to ignore any ramblings. I just couldn't resist the call out for Mr. P's advice.

Emily Chapman said...

This are superb. I'm in love with them. Best blog Christmas gift ever, if I do say... :)

Abby said...

Ooh, this is a mystery. I think I know who John-Out-The-Window is, but I don't know if you're going for a predictable ending or something unexpected. :) Very cute story.

Suzannah said...

This story is irresistible! And faintly surreal on account of one of my friends having wandered into it...

Rachel Heffington said...

Thank you for your delight, everyone!
Abby, as *I* don't yet know how it will end, I am interested to hear if I fulfill expectations or not!
Suzannah: There are perils to commenting on blogs. ;)And I promise his casting was purely a shot in the dark. I never meant to be accurate.