My Mailman, My Enemy

"Just because you're paranoid. . .

doesn't mean they're not after you."

My Mailman, My Enemy by Patrick Cooper

He put a spider in my mailbox again. Third time now.

I don’t know why the mailman chose Frances and me as the targets of his morbid game. It would be nice to get my mail without putting gloves on. That’s a small luxury I miss.

The last time he did it, I was watching through the blinds. I saw him do it: the mailman. He opened my mailbox, put the mail inside, then reached back into his satchel and got a spider. He placed the spider carefully inside and closed it up again. It was difficult to tell from this distance, but I’m fairly certain he was smiling when he drove off. Grinning broad and devilish.

This third spider was cowering in the back shadow of the mailbox when I opened it. He didn’t attack like the others, so I snapped a Polaroid and looked him up online. It was a “hobo spider.” According to my cursory research, there’s no evidence that a hobo spider’s bite leads to dermal necrosis. I filed this information in my brain and took the hose and sprayed him out of the mailbox. Crushed him under my slipper and left his corpse there as a warning to other spiders.

My neighbor Karen doesn’t believe me. I asked her if the mailman had ever put a spider in her mailbox too. She said, “This is Florida. Spiders get in everywhere.” She looked at me sideways, wary of my presence.

See, I don’t leave the house much anymore. Not since Frances died. Now Frances, she would’ve believed me. If she hadn’t hung herself from the pine tree on the front lawn last November, she would’ve had my back on this.

Frances didn’t leave a note, so everyone assumes I drove her to suicide. That’s not true, though. It was the mailman. He’s been playing games with us for years and Frances, she just couldn’t take it anymore. Me, I’m too much of a coward to kill myself. So I just keep finding spiders in the mailbox. I’ve covered the front room in tin foil, though. So the mailman can’t hear my thoughts anymore. It’s a good first step towards a solution, I think.

The second step is the explosive. Before the spiders, before the mailman started listening to my thoughts, I was a chemistry professor. I know certain things about making reactions to cause others pain. The mailman doesn’t know about this because I’ve never thought about it when he’s near. I keep my mind clear, almost like a meditation. Or, I repeat a nursery rhyme in my head. “Solomon Grundy,” that’s a favorite of mine.

I changed out of my slippers and robe and walked to the hardware store. I don’t drive anymore. Cars aren’t safe. The mailman, he drives a Grumman Long Life Vehicle, or Grumman LLV. That’s what the postal carrier cars are actually called. Did you know that?

Having buried my debit and credit cards months ago next to the septic tank, I paid for the sulfuric acid in cash. The other materials needed for the device I already had lying around the house. The trigger mechanism was easy to build—just a few simple wires attached to the mailbox’s latch. I won’t go into detail about how I made the rest, because now that I’m awaiting trial, the investigators will surely read this. I have to leave some details out so they have something to investigate. It’s in their job title, after all.

Under the light of the moon, I rigged the mailbox, wearing gloves and goggles, biting my tongue in concentration. It was a thing of beauty, what I made. Such a damn shame nobody would understand it but the mailman and me.

I paced in front of the window all afternoon, wearing a path in the carpet. He typically comes some time between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Must’ve been running late that day. It was close to Mother’s Day, the busiest mail holiday of them all. That could be why. Or maybe he was off in the woods, collecting more spiders. The evil bastard.

Sunlight reflected through the blinds, off of the tin foil stapled to the walls. “Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday…”

There it is, the familiar squeal of the Grumman LLV’s brakes. Sounds like two houses down now. “Married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday…”

The brakes, louder now. My heartbeat drummed in my ear. “Worse on Friday, died on Saturday…”

What’s taking him so long? My neighbor must have a package. He had to bring it to the door. Wait, here he comes now. “Buried on Sunday, this is the end…”

Hello, my enemy. My mailman. That’s it, reach for it. Open the latch. “Of Solomon Grundy.” 

The sulfuric acid shot out of its plastic container inside the mailbox like a righteous punch from God himself. The scream the mailman gave was like that of an animal being torn in half. It was glorious.

The tail of my robe whipped behind me as I ran outside. The first thing that struck me was the smell. My God, the smell. He had fallen out of the Grumman LLV and was thrashing on the ground. Blood poured out of his flesh as it bubbled and cracked. Honestly, it worked out better than I thought.

I’m not sure which neighbor called 911, but I bet it was Karen, the sanctimonious bitch who never believed a word I said about the mailman and the spiders. I tried to explain it to the officers, but they wouldn’t listen. Before one of them put me in a choke hold, he said: “It’s Florida! Spiders get in everywhere!”

Now Frances, she would’ve believed me.

Patrick Cooper’s short fiction has appeared in various crime publications and his film criticism can be found at Bloody Disgusting and Collider. Dig his website for more: