Justified Textworks

The Envelope

Jake threw a fistful of candy wrappers onto the ground. Nino, our cat, pawed over to them and sniffed one, timidly. Jake continued to chuck things out of the brown grocery bag that served as our wastebasket.

From my seat on the couch — where I was watching the news — I could see random debris flying into the air. "Where is it?" Jake demanded, shooing Nino away.

"What are you looking for?" I asked. There was no answer, so I asked again. "What are you looking for?"

"That catalogue I got in the mail from that poster company," he said, exasperated, as if I should know psychically that of course he was looking for a poster catalogue.

"Why?" I said. "I thought you didn't want any of those."

"I don't," he said, hurling some wadded tissues behind him. One of them landed in Nino's water bowl. She fired an icy glare at Jake. "I think I put my paycheck in it and accidentally threw it out. Where is it?"

"I gave that catalogue to Susan," I said.

He froze. "What!?"

"You said you didn't want it, so I let her have it. You've seen all the posters in her room."

He dashed to the phone. "What's her number?" I told him. He dialed.

"Hello, Susan?" He paused. "Oh. Is Susan there? Thanks." Another pause. On TV, Dan Rather spoke in a tired voice about the Florida election mess. I went to the TV to turn it up; the remote had disappeared months ago.

"Hello, Susan? Yeah, this is Jake. No, Jake. I'm Mike's roommate. Yeah, you know that catalogue he gave you? Did you look through it yet?" He waited. "What? Really? When? When today? So you didn't even glance through it?" More waiting. "No, I know. I know. Yeah, I've seen all the posters in your room." He sighed. "Well, do you remember where you threw it out?" He put a hand to his face and grumbled. "Which Burger Shack? The one on Main Street?" He sighed. "No, yeah, okay. Thanks anyway. Huh? Because I think my paycheck was in it. Yeah, well, I'll find it. Thanks." He dropped the phone and scowled at me. I smiled back.

"I guess I get to root around in the Burger Shack dumpster now," he said. He grabbed his keys and traipsed toward the door.

"Have fun," I said with a grin. He slammed the door behind him, started up his truck, and drove off in a huff.

I got up to turn off the TV. As I glanced behind the set, I noticed a thin white envelope on the ground. I reached over and picked it up. I looked at the phone and thought about calling the Main Street Burger Shack. Then I saw Nino scowling at the tissue in her water bowl and let the envelope fall back to the ground.