Vol. 2, Issue 39, November 23, 2004
Get Away From It All

The Tell-Tale Letter

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

I am a Punctual man in many ways, as I have previously Noted. My routine is both Healthy and Vigorous, well-suited to a prominent Editor such as myself. My correspondence is a Vital part of my duties: attending to it each Morn, over a pot of Elisabeth's excellent Coffee and a Pipe or three, is a Pleasure and a Duty.

But I confess I am Remiss in this responsibility. For there is something on my Desk which I have Failed: something whose very Presence is a reproach. It is a Letter, received nigh unto Three Weeks Ago, to which I have Not yet made Reply.

But Watley! you doubtless exclaim. Surely you have Not forgone your Correspondence for such a long while; at least if the complaints of the Mail-man are any judge. And indeed, I answer my Readers and Business associates dutifully each Morning. But that letter! That letter sits to the Side of the blotter, unanswered, unfiled, passed over each and every Day in favor of new letters.

It is an Unremarkable missive, from a mister Herbert Calmont of Astoria, asking about some minor Subscription matter and a Christmas goose. It should have taken but a Minute to answer. But now! Now it is three weeks old, and it is Too Late for a proper response. What of poor Mister Calmont waiting upon my Reply?

The face-saving move would be to toss it into the Fire, and claim Postal Malfeasance: quite plausible! But I cannot bring myself to Prevaricate in such a manner. Send a late Response? Surely this is the Honorable course of action: but I cannot bring myself to Do it. The other letters call so Softly; I shall get to that Calmont letter immediately following this one Postal Card! What harm can it be to respond to Clabbersham's letter? I really ought to pay this Bill... And so on, until my Morning is spent, and the Letter unanswered still.

I essayed Filing it in the oaken Cabinet where I keep old files, Maps, and the Like. At last: a clear place next to my Blotter to put my Glenmorangie. But one cannot so Readily shunt aside one's responsibilities. Like Mister Poe's Tell-tale Heart, the letter calls to me from the confines of its wooden Prison. I cannot Concentrate on my writing; I dropped the Match when lighting my Second pipe, and very nearly incinerated a 30 year old Macallan in the bargain. I am so Distracted I almost even allowed Ephram to steal my Cheque-book, though luckily Elisabeth happened to spy him and Chastised him roundly.

It is appalling, it is Shameful, that I should be stymied thus. The only solution is the Hardest One. I open the drawer: I steel myself to read Through this trifling bit of Correspondence again: I get a Pen with determination and a Fresh Blotter. "My good Mister Calmont: Do excuse my Tardiness in replying..."

My seal upon the finished Letter, tucked firmly in the Out-box: Thank Goodness. Do you know, this Macallan has not tasted so good in Weeks. What a lovely thing it is to be Free.

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