Letters
Anthony Adrian Pino

I have a problem. It's my hands. They write letters from strangers to people I don't know. How do you get help for something like this? The letters are very sad, and lately they've gotten worse. It scares me. I wonder what my hands will do next? They could hurt someone or me, or do something embarrassing. But right now they only write letters, each in a different handwriting, never dated. I keep them in a box in my closet. This is the first one:

Dear Mum.

I wish the war would end. Do you remember Jeremy Flat? He used to walk by our house in that torn argyle sweater balancing an apple on his head or a book, with that big, silly smile. He had a big cleft between his two front teeth. Never much of a student. He died yesterday. His mother may not know yet. They dropped mustard on us. Jeremy was outside on watch. First there was a pop and then screaming. We put on our masks and ran out of our tent. He didn't have his on! He was rolling on the ground, choking. It was too late. He gurgled and turned white. Then he was still, looking into the sky, as though seeing something large in the air. I just want all this to end. It's terrible. I want to be home.

Love, Howard

The problem with my hands started on a Saturday, when I told my wife, Concha, I was going to the gym. "Don't strain yourself, Rodello," she said. I started my car, put the top down and began to drive. Then my hands suddenly began to steer! We drove up a canyon road --- a steep, shady place above Fremont. They pulled me into a eucalyptus grove, took a pen out of my pocket and a notebook from under the seat and started to write. All I could hear was the scraping of the pen on the paper and the clicking of leaves. It was a letter to a king! A woman was inviting him to invade her country because slaves had taken over hers. How could hands know this?

I've been miserable. Last week our priest said, "If a hand scandalizes you, cut it off." Yesterday I looked at hardware --- knives, saws, and other sharp-edged machinery --- awful stuff. In the afternoon, my hand penned out this: "Suarez, Rodello, died on October 31, 2005 of unknown causes in his car." That's my name and today's date! I just decided not to drive.

****

That phone call was from Concha. Her car is broken down and she wants me to pick her up.



First published: November 2005
comments to the writer: Knob'sWriter@iceflow.com