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Mystery inspired by a mysterious photo

"A Matter of Communication" by Gary Ericson

Flash #242 - November 2014

Orig. appeared June 1996

Previous Flash

Dia de los Muertos

by Leann Sweeney

Something horrible happened in there--she can feel it.


Flash 242: mystery inspired by a mysterious photo


DEAR MR. SMITH,

We have recently come upon some information regarding a certain "creativity" you have displayed in the manner in which business credit payments have been handled through your savings institution. We understand the sensitivity of this information, and are anxious to help you keep this matter confidential. We will be contacting you in the near future regarding a "finder's fee" that will ensure total confidentiality on our part.

Sincerely,
Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

Tell me what you want.

Mr. Smith

 

Dear Mr. Smith,

Regarding the matter presented to you last week, we feel that a reasonable finder's fee for the information would be 20% of the total amount involved in your various transactions, or $140,000. If this is agreeable to you, reply to the P.O. Box given in the return address on this envelope and we will supply further instructions. If not, we will reluctantly turn this information over to authorities who will likely deal with this situation in a different manner. Note that monitoring the P.O. Box will be to no avail.

Sincerely,
Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

There is nothing I can say. Send instructions.

Mr. Smith

 

Dear Mr. Smith,

We are pleased that you have taken a rational approach to this issue. Please deposit the aforementioned fee into a P.O. Box of your choosing, and mail us the key by Tuesday the 13th. We will replace the contents of the P.O. Box with our original set of documents, and we will consider this matter to be closed.

Sincerely,
Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

Enclosed is the key for P.O. Box 123, West Bend branch post office. You'll find what you're looking for there. This had better be the end of this.

Mr. Smith

 

Dear Mr. Smith,

We regret that the deadline of the 13th has come and gone, and we have failed to hear from you. Out of our concern to keep this matter strictly private between us, we will give you until the 20th to reply.

Sincerely,
Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

What are you talking about? I placed the contents as instructed and mailed the key. What more do you want from me?

Mr. Smith

 

Dear Mr. Smith,

With the 20th now past, and since we have not received any correspondence from you, we assume that you do not desire that the information be kept any longer in our possession. It will be delivered to banking authorities, who no doubt will be calling on you in the near future.

Sincerely,
Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

You can't do this! We had an agreement! You got what I put in the P.O. Box, isn't that enough? You can't deliver that information! I'll do anything!

Mr. Smith

 

JOSEPH MARTIN, former letter-carrier with the Lucas County post office, sat on the deck of the Mexican cruise ship and reflected on how mail is rather like a lottery: a million letters a day pass through the system, yet only one, if handled correctly, leads to the jackpot.

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