I do not want to alarm you, but something dreadful has happened.  Our hair restorative company in which we invested lock stock and barrel – well, it went belly-up yesterday. 


            I didn’t want to have to say this, but I told you so, dear Uncle Mark.  I bloody well did.


            Too many eggs in one dilapidated wicker-basket, if you ask me, which nobody did, and we would not be in this classic case of up shit creek, if you’d listened to me a teeny weeny bit more.  But I’m not one for crocodile tears over an oil-tanker load of ground nut oil  spilling into the sea, as you very well know.  The reason I’m alerting you of all people to the situation is not so much in a hope of salvaging something from the wreck, but rather to spike Uncle Burl’s guns.  He’ll be round your flat quick as a flash in a chip pan (he may already have landed by the time you receive this missive) asking you, as senior member of the family, to sign over all manner of dotted lines. 


            The simple dictum in life, as we’ve all learnt good and proper, is “do not”.  Where would we be, if our family had simply “done” things through the centuries?  They’d’ve lost all the goddam loot which they’d previously earned, earned by means of the beauty of their essential do-notness.  After all, ne fais pas is writ on our coat of arms, plain as a pikestaff. 


            And look what “doing” has done for us, Uncle Mark, now we’ve tried it this once.  Round pooh-pooh corner without a nose-clip. 


            Get in touch soon.  But do not use the phone, for obvious reasons.     


                    Your loving niece, Donna.


PS: (later) The situation is worse than ever.  Apparently, Uncle Burl is not on his way to you.  He’s here.  He caught me at the door just as I was going out to post this letter.  He’d been trying to get in for ages, he said. He took one look at the letter in my hand and guessed it would be addressed to you, apprising you of the situation vis a vis the hair-oil company.  So do not believe anything you read in it.  It will no doubt be tampered with in some surreptitious fashion.  Perhaps, the phone would have been better, after all, bug or no bug.  My only hope is that you can read between the lines.  Or, on second thoughts, probably better not to do so.  I leave it to your discretion.




Dear Donna,


Let me touch your brow.  Mmmm, a few degrees over, if I’m not too mistaken.  Get in touch, you say.  Seriously, though, sweetheart, I wish I was near enough for touching.  I miss you.  (Anyone reading this letter would probably believe the worst of our relationship for, after all, middle-aged uncles and teenage nieces don’t usually have such hankerings for each other). 


            Still, whatever you might think, letters are safer than phones – and more lasting, of course.  Such written material may indeed lend itself to future scrutiny and can I even trust you, my darling?  How do I know that, one day, you won’t use these tear-stained oblongs of oblation as ammunition in some scheme of blackmailery?  The only way I can know does stem from my faith in your untarnishable sweetness and light – the sheer certainty of your intrinsic love for me, a love that any sea-changes to which souls are prone could never quench. 


            Indeed, I know you so well, I may as well live inside you, I guess.         


            Well, despite its strangeness, your letter rang loud and clear.  Brother Burl is trying to step on my corns.  I have reason to believe that it was none other than him who pulled the plug on the investment, by calling our bluff on the Futures and Commodities.  Yet how he actually knew that the consignment of growth-hormone was a fiction of the market place is beyond me.  He must have guessed we don’t get involved in real goods.  Only unfulifillable promises.          A promise is usually good enough from one promisee to the next – until loose cannons like Burl shoots off through his trousers.  I could kill him, the damned bloodsucker that he is.  But I do not do such things, of course.  All it needs, Donna, is for you to let him have his way with you.  What he catches off you will do the rest of it.  But, my acushla, just imagine it’s me on top of you not him – a promise is as good as a lick, after all.  Love, Uncle Mark.






Dear Uncle Mark,


Thanks for your letter.  It did me a power of good.  I’ll soon launch myself from my bout of malade imaginaire.  I can then actually get to the post-box with my letters.  My brow is much cooler.  So cool, I wonder if it isn’t stone cold.  I don’t touch it except with the head itself.  Somebody was trying to break down the front door, just now.  I changed the locks weeks ago.  You can never be too safe, can you?  You know, I have a feeling that people like us do not die.  The ultimate “do not”.


            But, if I did die, it’d kill the shame, no doubt, and quench this dreadful dreadful thirst I have for sucking up my own wicker-veined breasts in two huge oily gulps – those once young breasts of mine I still feel the marks of your fingers on.  


            I do love you, Uncle Mark – but only if I do not love you.  The future has the promise of my soul.  And the present moment can haunt me if only it does not haunt me at all. 


                   Fondly,  Donna. 


PS: These letters seem to write themselves, these days, do they not? 




Dear Donna,


Burl eventually came round.  He has skin trouble and lots more going on underneath that even a surgeon couldn’t find.  But, at least, you cured his baldness.  A miracle after all these centuries of different skulls and crossbones.  It’s starting on my own bony pate, now, even as I write.  Do not reply to this letter.  I beg you to promise not to write.  Then, I can sign off – at last.  Simply awaiting God’s final promise even for souls as stuck between youth and old age as mine, but I dare not hope, dare not even pray, dare not…






Death is a Commodity.” Rachel Mildeyes (from THE MARKETING OF HELL Vol 2. The Middle Ages)






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