Who will be next? It was one of the questions we asked once we saw that the 3’s formerly tacked to mailbox posts or houses, and serving to indicate part of a formal address, could not be falling off and vanishing just by chance. Some person had done this. We found ourselves looking around, studying one another. It was generally agreed that there could be no practical rationale; whoever was taking our 3’s did not share in our values: peace and gain; clarity, order. As we nodded in greeting while picking up mail or walking our dogs on the nicely edged paths, we wondered what possible storms there might be, raging in placid concealment. We considered protection. Todd May, who lived down the street, and with whom I’d never spoken, gave us an ardent account of a new security installation. He sat in a chair at the window, he told us, ready to see the face of the culprit fixed in sudden glare. As it turned out, however, no one ever came to test the integrity of 2203. Leaves fell, and we committed ourselves to sweeping them from our yards. Temperatures dropped, and the crimes receded. Again we were able to see ourselves reflected within the courtesies that governed interchange. And if I could feel in myself a deflation, as if some minor hope had been dashed—a prospect of something unknowable, perhaps, or unforeseen—I maintained perspective. After all, I’d never been marked. I was a person, it might be averred, whose houses had never borne 3’s.
Scott Garson’s debut collection of stories—Is That You, John Wayne?—was taken up for promotion on B&N.com in conjunction with the Discover New Writers program. He has work in or coming from Threepenny Review, Whiskey Island, The Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction and others.
Artwork by: Daniel von Appen