Someone had slipped a ransom note under my door. Not really a ransom note, I mean it had the look of a ransom note. It was made up of letters cut from newspapers and magazines. It said: DoN’T forgEt TO put ThE SeAt dOWn. I assume it was referring to the toilet seat. But I’m a guy, and I live alone. Why should I put the seat down? Who would leave me such a note? And why the cut-out letters? It’s not as if a potential felony were being committed.
I contemplated the note. I thought I might try to figure out where the letters came from. That’s what the detectives do, right, to figure out who the perpetrator might be? Perhaps the source of the letters could offer a clue. I looked more closely. Some of the letters were on yellowed old newsprint, some on newish newsprint, and some from glossy magazines. I couldn’t get to first base with those clues. Maybe there are fingerprints. Should I take it to the police station? But what’s the crime? It was phrased as a reminder, not a threat. It didn’t say “Don’t forget to put the seat down or else.” Would I be laughed out of the police station? That’s what they do to white people, right, laugh us out of the police station? They wouldn’t shoot me for wasting their time, would they? I mean, I’m white, cops wouldn’t shoot a white guy for wasting their time, right? But even if I’d come out of it alive, who likes to be laughed out of a police station by a bunch of cops?
No, I decided, I wouldn’t take the note to the police. I’d just have to await further instructions.
Called “one of the innovators of the short short story” by Publishers Weekly, Peter Cherches has published six volumes of fiction and nonfiction since 2013. His writing has also appeared in scores of magazines, anthologies and websites, including Harper’s, Bomb, Semiotext(e), and Fiction International, as well as Billy Collins’ Poetry 180 website and anthology. His latest book is Things (Bamboo Dart Press, 2023). He is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and boycotts all journals that charge submission fees. Peter recommends the Jazz Foundation of America.