“Hello?” The antique shop, tables strewn with papers and shelves brimming with long-forgotten memorabilia, seemed empty. The strong scent of pipe tobacco mingled with the general scent of age. I held up a large pile of letters. “I have your mail here.”
A young man – a man too young to work in such a shop – popped up from behind what I assumed to be the checkout desk. He adjusted his rectangular glasses but left his messy hair the way it was. His eyes narrowed as he finally focused on me, the mailman holding up a stack of bills with a nervous grin on his face. He suddenly seemed incredibly worried, as if I was somehow all wrong and should be ashamed to be so.
“You’re not Quincy,” he said, making his way out of behind the desk. He pushed aside several piles of disorganized items with his feet, in an agitated state. “Where is Quincy?”
“I… don’t really know,” I replied as he finally reached me. He raised an eyebrow and I took a small step back. He blinked a couple of times and then simply took the mail. “I’ll just… see myself out, then.”
He waved a dismissal as he wove through the piles back to the desk, sorting through the letters one by one. I turned to go, glancing around again at the full shelves. Behind a small tin robot, tucked under a monogrammed lunch pail, a small golden badge stuck out. I gently tugged it, after a cautionary glance at the interesting store owner who was mumbling over a bill he had opened, and revealed a small key. The badge, upon squinting inspection, was engraved with the number 210.
It’s not easy being a lamppost. All I do is carry the current, wake up the light bulb, and make him hold the current. Technically, he does most of the work. I just make sure he wakes up for the night shift.
It gets lonely, though. I sleep during the day and then work at night but Bulb doesn’t talk all that much and neither do the Traffic Lights. I wouldn’t want to talk to them anyway. If you’ve ever tried talking to a Traffic Light, you know how the conversation goes.
“Red?” I’ll say.
“Yeah, what? STOP!” Red will shout.
“No, not you. What were you saying?”
“I just– ”
“GO!” Green will shout.
“No, not you,” Green will respond.
“What were you saying, again?” Red will say.
“SLOW!” Yellow will shout.
“Not you!” they’ll shout.
The cars passing by might say a few words, but altogether not that much happens. While they don’t say much to me, they say a lot to each other. For example, a Ferrari and a Thunderbird once had a discussion about their exhaust systems.
“I swear, mine’s been tootin’ somethin’ fierce! And my driver doesn’t seem all that worried,” said the Thunderbird, as Red screams, “STOP!”
“I know what you mean. My driver is always taking me to Al’s Mechanics. They must be completely understaffed there. I didn’t get any service for 3 hours and when I did get service, it was horrible. They don’t even wear gloves!” exclaimed the Ferrari.
“I know! I feel so violated.”
“I’ll see you later. I’m turning here.”
“Bye, Ferr, always a pleasure!”
That or they talk to their drivers. Once, a Honda CRV spent the whole 3 minutes of a red light complaining to their driver. “You don’t even pay attention, do you? You almost made me hit a squirrel back there! We could have driven off the road into that ditch! But I bet you didn’t even see that ditch, did you? Oh no, you just kept drivin’ with your shades and your rock n roll blasting out my stereo system. You know, I do have ears and it hurts just as much when you blast it! Hey, bimbo! It’s green, in case you care. Oh, now you move, when it’s yellow. How did you pass your driving exam?”
You would think that the cars would have realized by now that the humans don’t understand…
Thank you for reading this excerpt of my short story, ‘Gone On Impact’