The MissionPosted: April 24, 2016
Dogsbody blinked slowly in the elevator as the doors closed again in front of him. His collar lay limply against his shoulder, his hand not even reaching for its comfort and safety. Perhaps Mr. Walker could change things for him, after all.
The receptionist smiled at him as he strode from the elevator bank to the revolving glass door, but Dogsbody didn’t even notice her. This was quite unusual; Dogsbody had a sixth sense for knowing when anyone was looking at him, and he would automatically cover his face in shame and embarrassment. This only caused the receptionist to broaden her smile with pride that she worked for an employer who could enact such drastic personality changes so quickly.
Dogsbody froze before he reached the exit and spun to study the painting just to the left of the receptionist’s desk. The man depicted stared so boldly back at him that Dogsbody’s hand began fumbling at his lapel before his brain could register that it was simply a painting, and not a judgmental fellow human being. He kept his hand up just in case, and backed through the door behind him. Fortunately no one was in his path.
He took a sharp right and tried not to think about the sixty-one block walk ahead of him. The weather had abruptly changed for the chillier, and he could see his breath puff into wisps ahead of his face as he walked. Dogsbody tugged his collar securely in front of his scars and carried on.
The minutes dragged by, piling on top of each other, but soon enough, Dogsbody was in front of the post office. He climbed the seven steps to the front door and pulled the door that said pull. He let his collar slip down a bit as he clumsily dug through his front pocket for the small key Mr. Walker had given him. The key slipped easily into its hole on post office box 716. Dogsbody turned it, and opened the door to a medium-sized bundle of letters. He pulled the stack of letters out and closed the door, re-locking it before returning the key to his pocket.
Dogsbody flipped quickly through the mail and threw the two obvious pieces of junk mail-from phone companies-into the nearby trashcan before stuffing the remainder into an inside pocket of his trench coat. Hands free once again, he pulled his collar to its preferred place in front of his mouth and turned to leave the post office.
AS he headed for the door, a large woman who seemed to be in a hurry shoved the door open and ran straight into him. The two of them went sprawling on the floor, and Dogsbody frantically tried to gather up the mail that had fallen from his pocket before she could touch any of it. She kept apologizing, and managed to grab one small letter that Dogsbody snatched out of her hands before running from the post office in a panic.
The woman never knew the reason for the nightmares that plagued her for the rest of her life, but it was that single glimpse of Dogsbody’s ravaged face.
It was nearly two hours before Dogsbody was able to calm himself enough to return home to the alley off Fourteenth Street where he had been sleeping for the past month. The sewage lines had burst here too many times, and none of the other homeless people of the city enjoyed waking up to the smell of dirty water in their hair and clothing, but Dogsbody didn’t care; he’d lost his sense of smell, and had yet to become sick from the waste that often overflowed the alleyway. He valued the privacy that was his only luxury.
After wrapping Mr. Walker’s letters carefully in plastic, Dogsbody lay down to sleep, heedless of the sharp drill bit poking into his upper thigh. Nothing could hurt him more than he already hurt, and that was a fact, Jack.