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Sting Operation at the Post Office

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

Two men stop you on your way into your local post office. One flashes a badge at you. They tell you about a top secret sting operation they are about to execute and they need your help. They can’t give you any of the details, only that you are to walk into the post office, go up to the counter with the gentleman named Bert working it, and you have to say to him, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” Write what happens next.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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235 Responses to Sting Operation at the Post Office

  1. Icabu says:

    “There’s our patsy,” Arnold said.

    “Is that Wild Man Willie?” Winfield stated, trying to match the thin, balding man shuffling along the sidewalk toward the post office to the photo he held.

    “Couldn’t be anyone else.” Arnold left the car, shoving a badge in Willie’s face. “Come with me.” He half-dragged the startled man back to the car where he and Winfield briefed and coached a very nervous Willie.

    With a nervous hitch, Willie stepped into the post office. The hugely muscled man behind the counter made him quake in his worn sneakers, but if it meant no more harassment it might be worth it.

    He’d rehearsed the line he was supposed to say to Big Bert – over and over again. He stopped just inside the door to review it again. He whispered, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days. If you know what I mean.” He wondered if he should wink after saying it, but one look at Big Bert and he dropped that idea.

    “Whadda you want?”

    Willie jolted at the booming voice. Swallowing hard, he stepped up to the counter and into Big Bert’s shadow.

    “Well? You need stamps or somethin’?”

    Willie nodded and then cleared his throat. “If you know what I mean,” he blurted.

    “No, I don’t,” Bert bellowed.

    “I mean,” Willie stuttered. “What I mean is that I need those square stamps, ya know?”

    “That’s the only kind we got.”

    “The ones that are looking pretty square, ya know?” Willie said, voice squeaking.

    Bert’s eyes narrowed. “Square stamps, huh?”

    Willie’s head bobbed. “Yeah, yeah. Square ones.”

    The glare from Bert’s stare made cold sweat trickle down Willie’s back. He shuffled from foot to foot.

    Finally, Bert disappeared into the back room and Willie inhaled deeply.

    Returning, Bert dropped a package on the counter. “Take this to those men out there in the car.” He slapped his hand on the counter, the tip of a key sticking out.

    Willie stared at the sliver of shiny metal under Bert’s meaty hand.

    “Take the key to the airport. Locker sixteen-twenty-two on Concourse B.”

    Willie’s head nodded imperceptibly. “And then?”

    “Take out the tickets to Hawaii and the envelope of dough.”

    Willie swallowed hard. “Then?”

    “Then find someone to fly to Hawaii with you.”

    Willie blinked rapidly, his frozen mind not comprehending. “Huh?”

    Bert grinned, reached over the counter and grabbed Willie’s shoulders. “You’re on ‘Fright Night Practical Jokes’.”

    The two men from the car came into the post office laughing. Bert laughed. Willie’s knees wobbled so he grabbed the counter. “Not funny,” Willie croaked.

    Pulling a pistol from his jacket, Willie shook his head. “No, not funny at all. Not yet, at least.” He shot the men from the car in the chest, whirled around and put two into Bert’s. Taking the key and the pouch, he ran from the building, finally laughing.

  2. Kris Jordan says:

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” I say to Bert, the clerk behind the counter at the post office. I can’t stop myself from lifting an eyebrow like how I picture a good spy would do. Sadly, I’m not a good spy. In fact, this is the first spy job I have ever done.

    “I do know what you mean. My cigarette break is in 5 minutes behind the building.” He hands me a sealed envelope and waves up the next customer.

    I walk back out the front door. The two badged men who originally pulled me aside, are no where to be seen. I stand for a moment, look around. Notice the sun and heat penatrating my t-shirt. Feel the perspiration forming on my head, on the soles of my feet in my flip-flops. It must be ninety degrees today.

    Should I walk around the back of the building? Should I abandon the charade? I was only given one directive. I completed that. Now I don’t know what to do. Should I open the envelope? I look at it. It is flat, plain, unmarked.

    I check one more time for my spy friends, wondering now if I am being watched. Hmmm, I will sit in my car. I attempt to discretely open the envelope but fail. Using my car key as a letter opener I shove it under the envelope flap a bit more forcefully than I intend.

    Inside, there is a folded letter and a picture. Oh no. No. No. No.

    The picture is a woman. She is bound and gagged.

    The letter is a ransom note.

    Is Bert a kidnapper? a killer? Does he expect me to deliver this to its intended recipient?

    I look and still the badged men are no where to be seen.

    In the close distance, I hear a gun shot, and instinctively jump out of my car and run towards the noise. Behind the building, I see a pair of legs on the ground. I peek and see Bert, dead, a gunshot wound to the head.

    My foot nearly slips from my flip-flop as I run back to my car for my cellphone. My heart has never pumped so hard. The image of Bert, the questions in my head, the confusion of what to do next, makes me feel like I’m running in slow motion.

    I don’t remember leaving my car door open, but then again, I don’t remember shutting it either, however, now, it is wide open. I jog towards it cautiously and immediately notice the letter, the picture, the envelope, are all gone.

    • Pretty good! Opens up unlimited possibilities for continually engaging the reader. Although personally for me, bad guys don’t have has much intelligence as good guys by virtue of their nature of bring bad guys.

  3. randi100 says:

    “I can’t help you,I’m heading to the airport after this,I have no time to stay .” Janie said
    “You have to help. It’s your destiny. Tell Bert that your stamps are square and you will help us save the world.” said the rugged FBI agent

    “This is the kind of crap that’s on tv today.”I said to my husband as I switched the channel. “That’s 30 minutes of my life that I will never get back.”
    “When a show is called These Are The Days of the Bold And the Restless, what do you expect!”he asked.
    “Good point. Maybe I should write my own show.” “I could call it……hmmm.”I thought out loud
    “Call it Go to Bed with my husband.” he winked
    “perfect!” I said as I started to undress.

  4. kimmie48 says:

    STAMP STAKEOUT
    Based on a True Story

    I’m a daring person. Always ready to be the first to bungee off the bridge. I’m always looking for an adrenaline rush so when I was approached by the two men outside the post office I was game.

    They gave me my instructions and I strolled inside. People were chattering and the smell of cardboard was hanging in the air. After standing in line for a minute, I began to wonder what in the world have I gotten myself into, what, was I crazy?

    I took a moment to locate Bert. “Ah”, there he is, well, he looks harmless” He looks like an ordinary man, not some slick 007 agent. Just your average guy.

    So I approached Bert and ordered my stamps. As he hands them to me I looked them over and thought this is it, there’s no turning back now, so I blurted out my line.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    “I know exactly what you mean ma’am.” “Have you noticed though, just how rectangular the envelopes are?” Bert said with a slithery grin showing his one crooked front tooth.

    “The envelopes?” I’m getting really anxious now.

    “Well, I never really, I mean, I just never really paid attention. But now that you mention it, they are rather rectangular aren’t they?”

    “Absolutely ma’am, in a most pertinent way” he added.

    I’m thinking to myself “what in the world am I doing? What am I saying?” “Was that a code for something?” “Am I crazy!”

    He bends down to get something out from under the counter. As I tried to keep my cool, all kinds of things ran through my head. “What was he reaching for, was it a gun? Was it a package full of drugs? Was it a note for me to deliver to some shady character on a dock somewhere in the fog!

    Oh no, It was an envelope! I do have to meet some shady character. What am I going to do? All these thoughts ran through my head and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach start to do somersaults and a queasy feeling came over me.

    “Are you alright?” Bert said with a suspicious sound to his voice. He could tell that I was unsure of myself.

    “Aren’t you going to look inside the envelope?” he asked.

    “Should I?” “I mean, am I supposed to?” I could feel the dampness from sweat was starting to form on my forehead; as a lightning bolt of fear ran through my body.

    “You should know ma’am.” He replied with an inevitable sound to his voice.

    As I opened the envelope and slowly pulled out the slip of paper inside I just about passed out with amazement.

    It reads, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” and Alan Funk steps out from the back room! Since then I think twice about what I’m game for!

  5. kevinbalboa says:

    “okay what do I need to do then”
    “oh you’ll see once you do this task but right now you must do this task”
    Don gets in a van with the men and drive to the post office, where one o f the men gives him the final instructions.
    “alright we here, all you need to go is talk to the worker inside and use the quote we came up with. Be sure to act cool and collected.
    Don walks into the post office and sees the worker behind a long desk. The worker then looks up and inquires
    “ Oh yes I just want to say my stamps are looking a bit square today.
    “excuse me”
    “ I said my stamps are looking a bit square today”
    “what are you talking about?”
    Don pulls out a collection of stamps from his pocket
    “for years I have bought these stamps and they are the most beautiful stamps. But this time they were ugly and torn. Now I just came for a refund because I wasted so much”
    “there is no refund sir”
    “there is no refund? Are you kidding me?”
    “ no refund get that through your thick skin wise ass”
    “oh really you know what I got a bazooka and believe you would not want to get it. Now here is what I want. I need to give me that refund as well as some new beautiful stamps.
    A few second s later he comes back with money unaware he just been fooled
    “ my friend did I just fooled you?” I did not need a refund or new stamps”
    Don runs out of the post office back into the van with the friends.

  6. Wjiaei says:

    Swinging my arms merrily, I breathed in the clear air and looked up at the bright blue sky. I was on my way to the post office, where I was going to send a letter to my best friend in Massachusetts. I was only a few blocks away when two men in crisp black suits walked in front of me and stopped.
    “Excuse me,” I said, trying to get around them. They refused to budge.
    “Mrs. Jackson?” the taller of the two asked. He had dark brown hair and eyes to match. His skin was oddly fair, but I could see the muscles rippling beneath his jacket.
    “Yes, that’s me,” I replied warily.
    He pulled out some sort of badge and flashed it at me. I didn’t have time to see much more than a flash of silver before he put it away again. “We need you to do something for us.”
    “What are you talking about?”
    “It is very important,” he explained. “This is a top-secret mission that may save the world.”
    “What? Save the world—”
    “You must go into the post office and walk up to the counter with the gentleman named Bert, and say…”
    “How is that going to save the world?”
    “You will see. Now go.”
    And with that, they walked briskly away. I stared after them in confusion. What the heck was that? Well, he did have a badge. At least I hoped that’s what it was. Should I do it? Why not? The worst that could happen is that the man stares at me like I’m insane.
    I strolled into to post office and searched for a name tag that said Bert. When I found it, I trotted up to him. “Hello Bert. My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    When I finished, his dark green eyes got very wide. “Shh!” he scolded. “Not here! Come with me.”
    He pulled out CLOSED sign and put it on his desk. He led me over to the display case of cards. Bert opened the display case and reached to one with a puppy on the front. The puppy was saying “Hullo there! Welcome to Georgia!” Bert opened the card and I saw a number pad behind it. He entered a code and the display case swung out. I gasped, but Bert didn’t hear. He ushered me inside and closed the door behind him.
    We were in a completely dark room. Nerves hit my stomach. What was this room? I heard a switch flip and the room lit up. It was rather small, and made of concrete. Its dimensions were only slightly longer than I was tall. A tiny wood box sat in the center. Bert walked up to it and lifted it like it was worth a million dollars. He handed it to me with the upmost care.
    “Use it well,” he said. Then, he opened the door again and shoved me out. He went back over to his desk, took away the CLOSED sign and pretended that nothing had happened.
    Bewildered, I turned and walked out of the post office. The two men met me at the door.
    They took the package from me. “Thank you, Mrs. Jackson. You have helped us very much. You may have even saved the world. You will be honored. Secretly of course.” And with that, they walked away.

  7. mfdavis says:

    Holy smokes look at that line. I just want mail this box with my mom’s wig in it to her, and see the mail clerk name Bert. Why in the world did those two police officers stop me? Why ask for my help when I’m just one step away from criminal life myself, if I don’t find a job soon. Well, I’m next. There are three clerks and only one is a man, he must be Bert. Oh my God, one of the women clerks is free. I have to go to Bert’s counter. What’ll I do?
    “Miss, you can go ahead of me, I need to check the address on this box?” I heard myself say.
    “Thank you.” Said the woman who was behind me as she squeezed passed me. The four people behind her tried to stare me down, but I quickly looked at Bert’s counter
    It looked like he and the customer were wrapping things up. What did the officer tell me to say? I rehearsed it over in my head. He’s looking my way. I’d better wait for him to say ‘next’. I don’t want to appear too anxious and give the sting away. There’s nothing I hate more than a dirty good guy. I hope that catch him red handed and put him in jail and throw away the key. If you’ll leading a criminal life, then play the part, don’t hide behind the United States postal service uniform. Listen whose talking the soon to robber, theft…
    “Next, please.”
    Are my legs moving? I can’t move my legs.
    “Miss, you’re next. He’s calling you.” Someone from behind me said. Before I was ready, I stood in front of Bert.
    “How may I help you, young lady?” Bert asked.
    “Uh, I. I mean, my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” I muttered out. His dark brown eyes looked surprised, with concerned on his face he looked about. Oh no he’s on to me I thought. Is he going to run? Then I felt hands on both my elbows as two men lead me towards a door off to the right. One opened the door and motioned for me to go in.
    “I’m not going in there. I haven’t done anything.” I yelled.
    Bert rushed over and showed me a badge, FBI. “Miss Fudge, all the people in here are FBI. Please, listen to me. We are going to give you a package to take back out to the two police officers that sent you in here. They are really drug dealers who have been sending drugs through the mail and then getting people like you to pick it up from postal employees on the take. No, I am not Bert, I am FBI. All we need you to do is take this package and put it in their hands. Can you do that? There’s a $10,000 reward.”

  8. swatchcat says:

    Boys Will Be Boys

    Old Bert the store keeper and post master for the town was getting along in age and little slow. So, one day the town urchins notched out a plan to get into the stores jar of licorice. It was in their opinion the greatest heist ever plotted. One would keep guard, one would be the licorice snatcher and the other would distract Old Bert.

    “Toby goes in and pulls Bert’s leg, and you Josh head for the jar as soon as I give the cost is clear,” said Timmy as they hung out in the tree house behind Toby’s house.

    “We’ll meet back at the tree house with our treasure,” said Josh.

    “But what if we get caught guys,” Toby asked?

    “Then you’re on your own, you best run fast cause I’d just leave you to save my own neck.” Timmy was serious, they might be friends but when it was mission time he answered to no one. They headed toward Bert’s store.

    Timmy was knelt on the boardwalk peering through the window panes. Cowboys in spurs and women shopping passed by without question. Just a bunch of boys playing games. Timmy peaked in again and waved the signal at Toby and Josh by the trough.

    They walked passed him and into the store. Josh meandered toward the feed barrels pretending interest. Toby went up to Bert who was at the postal window this time of day.

    “Hey boys, watcha up to,” Bert asked as he flipped through the letters.

    “Nothin’,” they said together.

    Bert turned his back to the boys to sort the letters.

    Toby looked around, shook his head toward the licorice and went over to Bert. So far so good.

    “Hey Bert? I gots a question.”

    “Yah?” His back still turned.

    “What’s up with those new stamp things for the letters?” Toby tried to keep Bert busy.

    “Why, you boys got a letter?” He asked still sorting.

    “Well.” He turned toward the licorice. Timmy gave a thumb’s up. ““My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean?”

    At that moment Josh clanked the jar lid closed and ran for the door. Old Bert turned and looked at Toby caught like a startled deer, stunned. Suddenly, from the boardwalk someone yelled. “Come on!” The boys ran as fast as they could laughing all the way.

    Old Bert, turned and smiled as he continued to sort the mail, repeating to himself, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days.” He chuckled for a moment, “boys will be boys.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      A cozy, fun story to read. Brings back a flood of memories and large licorice jars stuffed with many colors. My brother and I never tried to swipe any for our grandfather would have taken a belt to us. Thanks for the read.

    • Amy says:

      A charming, nostalgic feel to it. I like that you put an original spin on it. Nice job.

  9. KRHolbrook says:

    I slammed the car door on a piece of my jacket, meaning one thing: Monday. While unlocking the door to retrieve the piece of clothing, reflections of two men crept up on either side of me in the car’s window. My heart sped. Not many people were here this morning; I came to the post office early to get some stamps, so I wouldn’t stand in line for so long. Now I had a feeling this Monday could get worse.

    I turned and looked at both of them. Each had clean, crisp suits that matched the grey mood of a funeral. Hair—black and light brown—were cut close to their scalp. Their sunglasses mirrored me in my tattered jeans and jacket that couldn’t zip up or conceal the oil splotches that stained my white work shirt. Not to mention my bed-head.

    Damn this Monday sucked.

    Before I could ask anything, one of them whipped out a badge, but it looked more like a sunflare with the way the light caught it and how fast he moved to tuck it away. “Greetings, we wish to ask for your help in regarding a secret sting operation. Unfortunately, we can’t elaborate on any of the details at the moment.” And that was that. Nothing more.

    Naturally I agreed to help. If they had a badge, it’s possible they also had a gun. They gave a simple instruction before I entered the building.

    Now here I was, facing Bert at the counter. He had a smile on his face that didn’t look unhappy, but held a tired edge. “Help you?” he asked.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” I said, repeating the men’s words.

    Something in Bert changed as I spoke. At first it was the smile. It remained, but it became more of a thin slash–grim humor that my late wife used to give me when I was treading on a dangerous topic. Then his eyes, a light brown, seemed to darken, deepen like a pit of mud that stirred itself in slow-motion. I sensed something about him then. Something that made the hair on the nape of my neck stand on end.

    Never taking his eyes off mine, Bert leaned down and took something from a drawer and laid it on the counter.

    A stamp. It was oval with rough edges and had what looked like a maze as a picture. I leaned over and squinted at the intense amount of detail on such a small paper. Objects I couldn’t identify led to other objects, and it all ended at the center.

    “What is this?” I found myself asking.

    Bert bent forward and said, “It’s where she’s buried, and it’s where she will rise.”

    Two shadows rose over the counteron either side of me. I felt a sharp sting in the back of my neck, and before darkness descended, Bert’s last words were, “I hope your sacrifice was worth it.”

  10. KRHolbrook says:

    I slammed the car door on a piece of my jacket, meaning one thing: Monday. While unlocking the door to retrieve the piece of clothing, reflections of two men crept up on either side of me in the car’s window. My heart sped. Not many people were here this morning; I came to the post office early to get some stamps, so I wouldn’t stand in line for so long. Now I had a feeling this Monday could get worse.

    I turned and looked at both of them. Each had clean, crisp suits that matched the grey mood of a funeral. Hair—black and light brown—were cut close to their scalp. Their sunglasses mirrored me in my tattered jeans and jacket that couldn’t zip up or conceal the oil splotches that stained my white work shirt. Not to mention my bed-head.

    Damn this Monday sucked.

    Before I could ask anything, one of them whipped out a badge, but it looked more like a sunflare with the way the light caught it and how fast he moved to tuck it away. “Greetings, we wish to ask for your help in regarding a secret sting operation. Unfortunately, we can’t elaborate on any of the details at the moment.” And that was that. Nothing more.

    Naturally I agreed to help. If they had a badge, it’s possible they also had a gun. They gave a simple instruction before I entered the building.

    Now here I was, facing Bert at the counter. He had a smile on his face that didn’t look unhappy, but held a tired edge. “Help you?” he asked.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square, if you know what I mean,” I said, repeating the men’s words.

    Something in Bert changed as I spoke. At first it was the smile. It remained, but it became more of a thin slash–grim humor that my late wife used to give me when I was treading on a dangerous topic. Then his eyes, a light brown, seemed to darken, deepen like a pit of mud that stirred itself in slow-motion. I sensed something about him then. Something that made the hair on the nape of my neck stand on end.

    Never taking his eyes off mine, Bert leaned down and took something from a drawer and laid it on the counter.

    A stamp. It was oval with rough edges and had what looked like a maze as a picture. I leaned over and squinted at the intense amount of detail on such a small paper. Objects I couldn’t identify led to other objects, and it all ended at the center.

    “What is this?” I found myself asking.

    Bert bent forward and said, “It’s where she’s buried, and it’s where she will rise.”

    Two shadows rose over the counter on either side of me. I felt a sharp sting in the back of my neck, and before darkness descended, Bert’s last words were, “I hope your sacrifice was worth it.”

  11. Aryens says:

    I waited in line at the post office fidgeting with my hands. My eyes darted around the room, not staying still for longer than a second. Bert’s deep voice almost made me jump out of my skin when he whispered, “Stand still. You look too conspicuous.” I inhaled deeply trying to calm myself.
    The red-headed lady in front of me was still talking to the man at the counter, smiling pleasantly completely ignorant of what was about to concur. She apparently had a lot of work to accomplish here because she had been speaking to the man for almost ten minutes now. I was beginning to think that she would never leave. I even got the notion that I might not have to do this job after all. After another five minutes though, the red-head thanked the man at the counter and walked out the door. I felt a chill run down my spine as I took a step forward. It was my turn.
    The man looked to be in about his mid-fifties and he wore a pleasant smile as he said to me, “Hi, how are you doing today?”
    I gave a nervous laugh and scratched the back of my head as I replied, “Well, my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    “Yeah, I hear ya,” the man nodded and casually turned to his computer to input a few things. As a paper was printing he reached under the counter and rummaged around for something. When the printer was finished he handed me what had just come out of it along with a thick envelope.
    “Tell Johnny he owes me,” he said. I nodded and turned my back to him, unsure if a word of thanks was necessary or not. I looked down at the papers he had handed me. They were plane tickets to some place I had never heard. Suddenly, I collided with someone and the papers and contents of the envelope went sprawling all over the floor.
    “I’m so sorry I’m such a klutz.” I said looking up at the person I had bumped into. It was Bert towering over me like a mountain. I reached down to pick up the items but Bert stopped me, “No, that’s okay, I’ve got it.”
    As Bert bent down I got a glimpse of a passport, driver’s licenses, and what I think might have been a birth certificate. In one swift motion, Bert grabbed the scattered paperwork and pulled out his badge, flashing it in the man’s horrified face.
    “Tom Galton,” boomed Bert, “You are under arrest for the attempt to sell fraud identification.”
    I could see the wheels turning in Tom’s face as he looked from Bert to me, and then out the window. As Bert loomed over him, it was easy to see that his chance of escape was nigh impossible. I just hoped Tom realized this before he did something he’d regret.

  12. So I casually stroll into the post office and get in line. The line moves so frustratingly slow. I check out every person in line and then I casually glance over my shoulder and see that they are no longer standing outside but have moved inside the post office. I think to myself, “What on earth is going on?”
    Finally I’m at the desk and I casually say, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” The man behind the counter nods his head yes and then hands me a package. I turn to walk outside when I hear gunshots. I immediately drop to the floor and drop the package. I am trying frantically to pick it up when someone kicks it away from me.
    Looking around I see the man from behind the counter trying to get the package. I stand up and start running towards it as the gunshots continue. From behind me I hear the man from behind the counter, fall and I pick up the package frantically searching for a hiding place but finding none I realize I am now the one being hunted.
    Finding a door I struggle to open it and what seems like an eternity to me is only a few seconds. Running into the back of the post office I look for a door outside. Seeing one I run to it and run outside only to run straight into chaos. Gunshots are being fired. People are dropping like flies. Seeing a car I run to it and try the door. It opens. Why am I running? I was asked to help but what if the good guys aren’t good guys? I have an imagination that won’t stop.
    Thanks to my older brother I know how to hotwire a car so I’m off. Wait a minute I just added grand theft larceny to my normal quiet run to the post office. As I’m driving off I hear sirens and I know I’ve got to ditch this car and get my fingerprints wiped off. Thank God for watching CSI, I do know what to do. Looking at the mysterious package I wonder should I open it.
    Parking the car I stole a few blocks from where my car is I wipe the car down and get out making sure to have the package with me. I try to casually stroll to my car where I get in it and take a deep breath. Knowing my lunch hour is almost over I head back to work but not before going to a different post office to get my mail sent. Strolling casually into the office I wonder if my face is plastered on the news.

  13. Kerry Charlton says:

    STING SWAGGER [Rewrite]

    Roy Hamilton felt pissed that morning. Two men in cheap suits had approached him in the post office parking lot, asking him to join in a sting operation with a postal clerk named Bert. People who knew Roy, didn’t mess with him. At 54, he had risen to a Federal Appellate Judge in Texas. At six foot five, dressed from the pages of Esquire and with silver gray hair, he wore an imposing look. He wasn’t about to get involved with any half-baked sting.

    On the other hand, his basic personality suited him to be a stand up. At a Halloween party last year he had appeared in drag as a pregnant cheerleader and brought the house down. On his walk inside, his mindset swung an abrupt 180 degrees and he decided to go for it.

    Roy walked up to the clerk whose name plate named Bert, steered him. Leaning across the counter, Roy repeated the message the two men had asked him to. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days if you know what I mean.”

    “I’m sorry,” Bert said. “What did you say?”

    In a voice of thunder, Roy repeated his message. Customers standing in lines, turned to see what the fuss was about, Dressed in hats or scarves with dark sunglasses, they appeared inappropiately dressed due to the spring weather that morning.

    Bert gathered his composure and asked Roy, “What are you referring to?”

    “Your stamps are boring,” Roy said. “Why not print photos of slinky, half-naked broads on them. Include their phone numbers and sell stamps in blocks of hundreds with different girls in each set. Give prizes away with lottery numbers.”

    “What kind of prizes did you have in mind?” Bert said.

    “Well, let’s see. How about a week’s vacation for eight in Bermuda, paid by the post office.”

    “Why eight people?” Bert asked.

    “The winner and seven stamp girls, one for each day. If he can handle more, all seven each day. You’d sell billions of stamps, not a one of them, would make it to an envelope. You’d knock the post office losses in half.”

    “That’s a kinky plan allright,” Bert said. “Anything else?”

    “Send a camera crew and video the orgy. Sell the tapes in the post office,” Roy said.

    “Speaking of videos,” Bert said. “See that girl standing in the corner by the window? Every word of yours has been taped.”

    A woman wearing a wide brim hat and holding a camera, raised her face to the judge.

    “Loretta,” Roy said, “What in hell are you doing? You’re supposed to be in my court, running things.”

    “Hi judge,” Loretta answered.

    “I have to arrest you judge,” Bert said. “Post office article 2.102, states indecency on federal property is a fereral crime.”

    “And who in blazes do you think you are?” Roy said.

    “I’m Bert Fabric, Postmater General Of Texas. Don’t give me any crap or I’ll handcuff you.”

    “Loretta, get me out of this or your ass is history,” Roy said.

    “Cool it judge, listen up,” Loretta said.

    “Customers in the post office, surrounded Roy. A million dollar smile lit his face.

    “Happy Birthday To You, Happy Birthday To You……”

    • writergirlie89 says:

      Good post! I wasn’t sure what direction your story was headed at first but I enjoyed the clever ending. Best wishes!

    • Amy says:

      The overall premise is good but your sentence structure and wording are a little awkward. It gets confusing too when the judge randomly starts elaborating on the phrase he was given (the square stamps thing).

  14. millsbm says:

    Bert’s face drains of color and his arms move slowly beneath the counter, keeping his eyes on me at all times. I try to smile politely but this seems to make things worse.
    His hand resurfaces, exposing a small, brown box splattered with labels and stamps of many different colors. I reach to take it from him and he retracts his whole body, as if my touch could kill. I give him an odd look and then smile again before turning away.
    “You must sign this sheet before taking the package,” Bert says in a hushed tone.
    “I am just receiving it for some friends outside. I have no idea what is in it,” I explain calmly.
    “I still need a signature,” he said with more force than I had seen in the last minute. I shrug and take the pen from the counter, signing a name that I had always wanted to be: Mallory Walker.
    Bert studies my writing, his nose scrunched and causing lines around his eyes. He says nothing, only nods, signaling that I’m okay to leave.
    As I walk away, I realize I’ve been holding my breath for far too long. I walk outside and stare into the sunlight, looking around to see where the two men might have gone. As I turned my head back to the left, I jump at the sight of the taller one only inches from my face. I quickly turn to the other side to see his partner coming out of the shadows caused by the large building.
    “Is this what he gave you?” The taller one asked.
    “Yes, I repeated the phrase you told me and this is what he pulled from under the counter.”
    The partner snatches the box from my hand, only briefly looking at the writing on the outside. He tears the paper and then forcefully opens the box, looking inside. I can’t see what is inside but from the hardened eyes and clenched teeth, I can tell it isn’t what he was hoping for.
    “Is it in there?” the tall one asks.
    “No, nothing but some paper and this children’s whistle,” his partner responds. He then turns to me and asks, “What did Bert do after he gave you the package?”
    “He acted as if I had a deadly disease and was scared of touching my hand. Then he asked me to sign a paper for it.”
    “You didn’t sign it, did you?”
    “Yes, I did. But I used a false name.”
    “Did you read what the paper said?” the taller one queried.
    “No, I just assumed it was standard procedure.” The smaller man clenched his teeth even tighter, large muscles bulging out near his ears. His eyes were suddenly furious and he grabbed my arm, pulling me towards a small, black car.
    “Where are you taking her?” the other asked.
    “The only way we’re going to find that file is if we have her. She has to come along if we’re going to find it before the next kidnapping takes place.”

  15. MissSmokes says:

    “Do you understand?” The Hispanic over weight cop said to me, “Say exactly that, nothing more or less.” he attached a flower pin to my sweater, “this is a wire, we can hear everything so we will be able to sense if you are in danger.” “You ready?” the other cop ask, chewing on his toothpick like it was his last meal on earth.
    I nodded my head yes, and walk toward the post office. Once inside, the Christmas music that played in the speakers put a smile on my face and for a moment I forgot why I was really there. There was an elderly woman ahead of me, and I thought to myself why didn’t they ask her?
    After she left I heard “Next in Line” Slowly I approached the counter; Bert was a tall, skinny man with an outdated mullet and blue eyes that that had a softness about them that caused me to smile.
    “What can I do for you pretty lady?”
    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    Bert chuckled, “Which way are they facing?” He said
    Guessing I replied “North”
    That’s when his smile vanished and was a replaced with a threating look, and before I knew it, Bert pulled out a shotgun and pointed it directly at me.

  16. shaw831 says:

    “You’re right.” said the postmaster. “This will fix them right up.” He handed me a key. I looked up at him looking for answers. He pointed to the key and walked into the back. I studied the key after he left and saw that there was a number on it, 511. Once my brain started to wrap around what was going on, I realized that it was a key for a mailbox. Well I was in it this far I thought I should go ahead and see what it was. I went over to the box which was in the farthest, darkest corner of the whole room. I slowly unlocked the little door not sure what would pop out at me. To my surprise was a little note inside. Unfolding the dusty notes very slowly, carefully enough so I didn’t rip it, I began to read the message.
    It read, “If you ever want to see your love again you will come to 312 S Myrtle Street and don’t forget the goods.” Whatever I got myself into tonight was not good. I quickly raced outside to give the note to the guys that stopped me and they were nowhere to be found. My palms began to sweat but not as much as my forehead. This was bad, very bad. I thought to myself who was the love and what were the goods. I was freaking out but at the same time very curious to what was going on. What if something bad happened to the love and it would be all my fault. It could be someone’s lover or even a daughter or son. Whoever or whatever it was, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself without knowing, so I did probably the stupidest thing I could probably do and headed toward 312 S Myrtle Street. As I slowly drove down the street all the melancholy houses looked the same. 302, 304, 305. As I got closer and closer, I almost talked myself into going back until there it was staring right back at me 312. The lights were all off and looked like it was abandoned. I parked the car down the road a little ways and grabbed my flashlight and pepper spray. Made fun of my mother when she gave it me, but boy now am I happy. Quickly and silently, I locked the doors of my car and walked towards 312. My body was shaking with fear, but my brain was telling me to go. There was something behind that door and I was going to find it.
    As I got closer to the house, I noticed that the front door was cracked open. Quiet like a mouse, I tiptoed my way inside. It was dark and I couldn’t see a thing until a flicker of light came on. I noticed a man sitting in a chair. He stared at me deeply and said, “We’ve been waiting for you, Johnny. You passed the first test.”

  17. Kim says:

    The man’s facial expression was the epitome of defeat- all pale planed, hard lined, and shoulder’s hunched. Resigned, he stood on the curb, balancing precariously on the balls of his feet the way a performer might on a beam save any expressive mannerisms for besides this challenge was simply an expressionless man. It was the sort of grim defeat that demanded total acceptance, something he could not deny as the scene played out before him for the umpteenth time;
    Another man stood parallel to him, walking briskly down the sidewalk. This man was named Neil, a fittingly mundane name for the mundane man. Neil lived contently within an iconic American life: new widower, living temporarily in the Red’s motel a few blocks down, and had a pet cat named Gertrude who kept him from being entirely alone. Neil glanced skyward occasionally while he walked towards the post-office. The heavy smell of pavement and earth engulfed his senses and along with the brewing clouds, a storm was almost certainly on its way.
    The man across the sidewalk watched as Neil was confronted by two other men. It was just before Neil reached the door to the post office. These men were agents, or so they told Neil. One was a Donnie, the other Elton. The agents chatted with Neil for a bit, and watching Neil’s facial expressions, the man across the street could ascertain vaguely what was happening; directions of some sort, Neil’s face distorting wildly at first but eventually, as the agents hurried to reassure him, settled into a line of grim determination.
    And then Neil was off, his strides no longer care-free but driving into the walk with purpose.His fists clenched white at his sides, knuckles alarmingly protruding – though that was the only indication of worry. The man across the street watched, deadpan, as Neil approached the man at the counter; a burly man with wide set shoulders and balding scalp named Bert. Neil shuffled, his anxiety practically palpable even across the street. As Neil muttered the words to Bert, the words the agents told him to say, Donnie and Elton managed to press themselves invisibly around the corner yet still maintaining a view of Neil.
    It happened more quickly than the man across the street could ever comprehend. Bert flashed something metallic over in his right hand, it came up swiftly, a fire ringing out. The shot was abrupt, the silence following all-consuming. Bert fled the scene just as Neil hit the floor, a vibrant red blooming from his now soiled jacket.
    The scene froze and went static, like a bad VCR tape. The man stood there on the curb, red dripping from his jacket, waiting for the scene to restart, as it had done for the past dozen or so times. This time it didn’t, though, this time the man felt a heavy weight land on his shoulder; someone’s hand. Someone was behind him, waiting for him.
    He turned slowly to see who the looming figure was.
    “Maria,” the name rolled off his tongue like sweet honey, his eyes alight with wonder. It was finally time to leave.

    • Amy says:

      Way too much description and adverbs for a 500 word story. I think I grasp the concept, but it’s kind of hazy. The best writing advice I ever got was if you can cut it without causing the story to hemorrhage severely, then cut it. It might be a beautifully written line, but if it doesn’t move the story forward or add to it in a very important way, it has to go.

  18. TD_Memm says:

    PROMPT 5:

    I mean, they basically pushed me into the post office. I was going there anyway but I walked through the door on their terms. These two men; who were they anyway? The one flashed a badge and said some letters. Was it CIA? NSA? KGB? I can’t remember. The one who didn’t flash his badge made his gun all too visible. It hung from a holster under his armpit. It was tiny, but bullets are bullets. They wanted my help. They told me it was a matter of national security. I just saw the gun and directed me to speak to a particular clerk. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” That was the scripted line they gave me. Nothing too subtle about that. Stamps are always square, at least all the stamps I’ve ever seen. What else would they be? Not only was I to deliver that sentence, but like I said, I needed to speak it to some gentleman called Bert. Had it not been for the gun on the person of my newly acquainted handlers, I would have laughed at the name. What a phony name. No one called their children “Bert” anymore. If they did, they should be ashamed of themselves. Clearly this Bert wouldn’t want to be called Bert.
    I walked into the post office desperately trying not to glance back at the bushes where these dark-suit-and-sunglasses types were hiding, in turn, pissing them off. I had no clue what was supposed to happen after I said my line. My hopes rested in the less-sinister realm but probability argued against that sentiment.
    So which one was Bert? Four spaces were open on the counter, three occupied by women. What luck that was. Yet, had there been four men at the counter, I still would’ve picked this one out as Bert. The man wore a wig. Whether this was to disguise his normal appearance from enemies or to disguise the signs of aging, I couldn’t say. The grayish rug looked terrible. With only two people at the front, I moved to Bert’s area and nodded hello. His clothes fit in ill-fashion and one of the buttons abandoned its place some time ago.
    “Hello,” he greeted dully. “What can I do for you?”
    “Yes. I need some stamps,” I replied. A hard swallow preceded the next sentence, which I struggled to recall. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” I thought I didn’t say it correctly. I thought I messed something up. Bert just stood and stared for a moment. I looked around the room but no one else took note of my words.
    “Who told you to say that?” Bert whispered. “Are you with them?”
    “I was just-,” I began.
    “Here,” Bert sighed, handing me an odd-looking coin. “You can all just go to hell.”
    I wanted to explain myself, but that was when the first bullet flew.

    • smallster21 says:

      The ending was kind of confusing. I am not sure what happened, what the coin meant or what was really going on.

    • writergirlie89 says:

      Yes I’m going to agree with smallster21, I was confused by your ending. Next time, you may want to keep in depth details to a minimum and allow the suspense to build in your story without all the juicy background info. Best wishes!

  19. TD_Memm says:

    I mean, they basically pushed me into the post office. I was going there anyway but I walked through the door on their terms. These two men; who were they anyway? The one flashed a badge and said some letters. Was it CIA? NSA? KGB? I can’t remember. The one who didn’t flash his badge made his gun all too visible. It hung from a holster under his armpit. It was tiny, but bullets are bullets. They wanted my help. They told me it was a matter of national security. I just saw the gun and directed me to speak to a particular clerk. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” That was the scripted line they gave me. Nothing too subtle about that. Stamps are always square, at least all the stamps I’ve ever seen. What else would they be? Not only was I to deliver that sentence, but like I said, I needed to speak it to some gentleman called Bert. Had it not been for the gun on the person of my newly acquainted handlers, I would have laughed at the name. What a phony name. No one called their children “Bert” anymore. If they did, they should be ashamed of themselves. Clearly this Bert wouldn’t want to be called Bert.
    I walked into the post office desperately trying not to glance back at the bushes where these dark-suit-and-sunglasses types were hiding, in turn, pissing them off. I had no clue what was supposed to happen after I said my line. My hopes rested in the less-sinister realm but probability argued against that sentiment.
    So which one was Bert? Four spaces were open on the counter, three occupied by women. What luck that was. Yet, had there been four men at the counter, I still would’ve picked this one out as Bert. The man wore a wig. Whether this was to disguise his normal appearance from enemies or to disguise the signs of aging, I couldn’t say. The grayish rug looked terrible. With only two people at the front, I moved to Bert’s area and nodded hello. His clothes fit in ill-fashion and one of the buttons abandoned its place some time ago.
    “Hello,” he greeted dully. “What can I do for you?”
    “Yes. I need some stamps,” I replied. A hard swallow preceded the next sentence, which I struggled to recall. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” I thought I didn’t say it correctly. I thought I messed something up. Bert just stood and stared for a moment. I looked around the room but no one else took note of my words.
    “Who told you to say that?” Bert whispered. “Are you with them?”
    “I was just-,” I began.
    “Here,” Bert sighed, handing me an odd-looking coin. “You can all just go to hell.”
    I wanted to explain myself, but that was when the first bullet flew.

  20. Whimsical says:

    The clouds were moving in and since I didn’t have a car, I needed to finish my errands as quickly as possible. I hurried across the street to the post office and was only feet from the door when someone grabbed my shoulder. Instinctively, I spun around with my fist clenched. The man who grabbed me stopped my fist with his free hand and another man hurried up behind him, frantically waving his hand in front of him, clutching something I could not see because of the way the sun reflected off of it.

    “It’s okay!” he shouted. “We’re cops, it’s okay. We just need to talk to you.”

    Once he reached us, I yanked my fist out of her partner’s hand and shrugged his other one off my shoulder. I took a long, hard look at the badge before I spoke.

    “You didn’t have to grab me, you know. You scared the crap out of me. Now what do you want?”

    The big burly cop shrugged and shuffled his feet uncomfortably while his partner answered my question.

    “I’m Detective Kris and this is Detective Sims. We need your help.”

    It took them almost twenty minutes to talk me into helping them. As a law abiding citizen, I would usually be willing to do whatever the police asked of me, but what these detectives wanted me to do was ridiculous. I didn’t think it would be dangerous. It just seemed absolutely mad.

    It sounded crazy to me but I went along with the plan anyway. There was no line so I walked right up to the counter, squinting at the employees’ name tags as I went. I found the man named Bert at the end of the counter. He looked down at me with a friendly, unsuspecting smile. I frowned at the detectives out the window before I turned to Bert.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    Bert’s body language changed almost immediately. He stiffened, drew a deep breath, and swept the post office several times over with his large blue eyes before responding.

    “Wait here.”

    He returned a minute later with a large envelope, scrawled something on a scrap of paper that he handed to me and leaned over the counter.

    “I had a guy check the diamonds. They’re authentic. The address for the money drop is on that paper. Drop off the diamonds and bring the money there.”

    I nodded at Bert, then turned toward the window to give the detectives the signal.

    An hour later, I sat at Detective Sims’ desk, a cup of coffee in my hand, feeling very pleased with myself. Apparently Bert was a low level mobster looking to earn his superiors’ trust and respect. He used the post office to run a jewel smuggling operation that made many people very rich. I ended it. I also managed to score a date with Detective Jonathan Sims. All in all, it had been a good day.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Awww that was good. I really like your story and I wonder what happens in chapter 2.

      I was confused in the beginning. 1) Why did the reader need to know the MC didn’t have a car.? 2) How many cops are there? “The man who grabbed me stopped my fist with his free hand and another man hurried up behind him, frantically waving his hand in front of him” (2 males right?) Okay then what is “Once he reached us, I yanked my fist out of her partner’s hand and shrugged his other one off my shoulder.” It sounds like a third cop (a woman) came on the scene. If that was your intention fine. I was just a little confused.
      Also,
      A little birdie told me that in your chapter 2, it is revealed that Bert used to date Detective Kris but it was only a front because he was actually in love with one of the other male detectives. Lol. Just kidding, but run with it if want. See you at the next prompt.

    • smallster21 says:

      Nice solid short with a beginning, middle and end. All the pronouns at the beginning were confusing; I know you mention in your comment you did a gender swap, but there was also confusion, because I wasn’t sure which cop was doing what.

  21. writergirlie89 says:

    Asking no questions, I hesitantly walked into the bank. There stood the only male inside at register number two, so I walked directly up to him. His nametag read Bert Thacksman and he looked to be in his mid-thirties. I repeated the words verbatim to the gentleman as I was instructed to do and waited nervously for a reply.

    “Two doors down to the right ma’am.” The blonde, curly haired gentleman said firmly.

    “Thank you.” As I made my way down the corridor, I could feel inquisitive eyes watching my every move.

    “Excuse me, excuse me ma’am!” exclaimed a woman at the register just as I began to bend the corner.

    “Yes?” I turned politely to the woman standing behind me, surprised at my calm demeanor. She was an unfamiliar face as well but I did my best not to show my uncertainty.

    “Can I help you find something?”

    “No, ma’am; Mr. Thacksman has already seen to my needs.”

    “Officer Robinson and Cutler have sent you here, am I correct?”

    “I’m not sure what you mean; I’m taking care of some business for my grandfather.” At this moment, I’m about to piss my pants; feeling so thankful that the officers gave me an alibi to follow through with.

    “Operation RICOH” said the woman, now staring into my eyes intensely. “I’m Agent Gonzalez”. Caught completely off guard, I leaned in closer to the woman not sure what words were about to spill out of my mouth.

    “Yes, Operation RICOH is in full effect…Agent.”

    “Follow me, this way.” Agent Gonzalez said abruptly.

    Following the woman, I stopped in the middle of the hall from the sound of footsteps only to find another woman following me.

    “Marina Tolbert, make no sudden moves. You are now under arrest. Get down on the floor now!”

    Agent Gonzalez suddenly reached inside her tailored blazer and pulled out a 38. Berretta aimed directly for the female officer behind me.

    “Get down!” the agent exclaimed hastily to me. Within seconds, shots were fired between the two of them and Ms. Gonzalez’s body fell unresponsively to the floor next to me.

    Immediately after the shootout I was being pulled from off the floor, “Marina Tolbert, you are being arrested for the attempted robbery of Nevada Central Bank. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

    As I made my way out of the bank I saw the two officers that stopped me earlier. The same officers were being handcuffed. “Wait! What’s going on? I’m innocent!” I shouted angrily while jerking my body away from the officer who held custody of me. “Looks like we got our men!” added a gentleman who contained one of the men.

    I was tricked into becoming an accomplice to a huge robbery and luckily I was able to prove my innocence after making bail. Moving away from the city I’m currently back to living a somewhat normal life. That day will never be forgotten. Ever.

  22. margi33 says:

    I parallel parked my Suburban, hopped out keys in hand, and began to walk quickly, cold air biting through my workout pants. I headed down the sidewalk, toward the post office, ticking off my mental list of errands left to run before three o’clock.

    Out of nowhere, two uniformed officers stepped in front of me.

    “Excuse me ma’am,” the mustached one said as he flashed his badge at me, “I would like a moment of your time.” Feeling like a teenager, just caught with a beer in my hand, my heart began to lurch.

    Confusion was etched on my face as he continued on. “You look like a nice lady, and a nice lady is just what we need. See we have a bit of a problem. I need someone to help us with a sting operation.” My mouth must have dropped open because he quickly followed up his comment. “You wouldn’t be in any danger at all. We just need an ordinary face.”

    Oh great so now he’s telling me I’m just ordinary looking. At least he didn’t say ugly face.

    As he began to explain what I needed to do, I wondered how in the world I got to be the lucky one. I wished I could sneak back into my car and drive away. Despite me irritation, I replied “No problem Sir, I am happy to help out.”

    I stood in line, yellow package slip in hand, butterflies forming in my stomach. I repeated what I needed to say in my head.

    “Next,” the man behind the counter called. His nametag read “Bert”. Yep, that’s the right guy. I handed him the yellow slip and said, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    “Not what I expected you to look like,” Bert whispered.

    He reached into a cubby and drew out a regular looking padded manila envelope. As the package crossed the threshold of the countertop, there was a concussion of sound behind me. All of the doors burst open and the already small room was filled with swat team members. Bodies darted in every direction sporting body armor and burly weapons.

    No one had to shout “get down” for me to immediately hit the deck. I had seen enough movies to know they wanted Bert and he was directly behind me.

    I curled up, hands over my head, waiting for the chaos to end.

    An immense firework sound cracked right over my head, causing my ears to ring. Red showered down from somewhere. I lost track of what happened next.

    “I’m sorry ma’am, I didn’t expect that. You did great,” said a uniform as he was wrapping me in a scratchy blanket.

    Swat team members were talking behind me. “Yeah, I just wish we could have taken him alive. Now we have nothing to go on.” The other responded, “Yeah, me too. I didn’t expect him to have a gun, much less take the easy way out.”

    • swatchcat says:

      Ha! “The easy way out?” Good story, kinda leaves you wondering about Bert and who he is. A few typo’s but still liked it.

    • smallster21 says:

      “Feeling like a teenager just caught with a beer in my hand.” Yep, know how that feels! So, great way to relate to me the feelings of the character. I liked your descriptions of the action at the end, the firework sound, red showering down. Wonder what Bert was into? Nice story.

  23. jgosmond says:

    I’m next in line, and the guy calls me up. For a moment I hesitate, and then I say it. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    The man behind the counter looked me in the eyes and said, “Would you prefer the round ones, if you know what I mean?”
    I froze. Then I turned back towards the under cover cop that stood in line behind me, who was in hear shot of our conversation. I tried to motion to him, as if to say, “what now?” but he wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. I turned back to the worker behind the counter. “Yeah, um, I’d like the round ones, I guess… if you know what I mean.”
    “Would you like them with the George Washingtons or the Liberty Bells… if you know what I mean?”
    My bottom jaw hung limp as I tried to make sense of this. I quickly glanced back at the cop but he was still ignoring me. “I’ll take the Liberty Bells? If you know what I mean?”
    “Would you like to be pre-licked? If you know what I mean?”
    My face scrunched up. “What the…?” I cleared my throat. “pre-licked? No. I don’t want anyone licking my stamps but me, thank you… if you know what I mean.”
    “How many would you like? If you know what I mean?”
    I through my hands in the air. “I don’t know, just give me roll of them.”
    He looked at me as if waiting for me to finishes my sentence.
    “Oh, right: if you know what I mean,” I said.
    “Oh, I know what you mean?” said the man behind the counter.
    “You do? Because I have no idea what I mean. If you know what I mean?” I turned back to the cop, but he wasn’t there. I looked down the line, the other cop was gone too. Turning back to the man behind the counter I said, “What is going on?”
    “Your stamps are looking a bit square these days,” said the man. “If you know what I mean.”
    “My stamps are looking…” I was starting to get a headache. I rubbed my forehead and let out a long breath then made another sweep for the cops. “Okay, you know what? Never mind. Keep the stamps.” I turned around and walked out of the building. On my way back to my car I was stopped by two guys in white t-shirts.
    “So, did you get the stamps, if you know what I mean?” said the bigger of the two, tapping the end of a baseball bat in the palm of his hand.
    My eyes followed the bat, up and down, up and down, as my hand felt behind my back for the handle of my car. “II um…they were out… of them. If you know what I mean?”
    The two men looked at each other, then simultaneously smiled back at me. “Oh, I know what you mean. If you know what I mean.”
    I looked back and forth at them. “Okay then. Have a nice day.” Quickly, I got into my car and drove away.
    The next morning, at four A.M. my doorbell rang. It was my ex-girl friend, Jane. It had been a whole year since I had seen her. What was she doing outside my door at four in the morning? I opened up.
    “So,” she said, “Are you still single? If you know what I mean?”
    “I um… do you want to come in?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “What do you mean? What. Do. I. Mean. I mean: do you want to come in?”
    “No. I don’t think you are following… I’ll ask you again. I said, are you single? If you know what I mean?”
    “Yes. Okay. I’m single, I’ve been single ever since we broke up a year ago and if you’ve come here to rub that into my face and make me feel like a looser then you’ve done a very good job and–” She stuck a finger up against my lips and and told me to shush.
    “Just take your Liberty Bells, if you know what I mean.” She pulled out a small package from her purse about the size of a fist and handed it to me. “Here.” Then she pulled a gun out and shot herself in the head. The sound alone was enough to cause me to jump backwards, too shocked to scream. My glass table crashed underneath me as I fell back first on top of it. The package flew out of my hand and bounced off a clock on my wall. Covered in glass and Jane’s blood, I crawled towards the package, picked it up. The thoughts in my head were running to fast for me to formulate any kind of logical questions, and then I heard the sound. A sound of screams and moans, of car horns and explosions. I got to my hands and knees and crawled over to a window as fast as I could. I lived on the top floor of a three story apartment building, and down below, there were hundreds of people running towards the entrance to my building. They were all covered in blood. Then I heard them in the halls, the screaming and the moaning, heading up the stairs, getting closer and closer. I slowly turned my head towards my front door where Jane’s body lay. I got to my feet and ran over, slamming my door shut before any of them came into view. Just after locking it shut, a loud thump on the door nearly knocked in off the hinges. I fell backwards again, this time crawling into the corner of my living room. It was then that I realized I still had the small package in my hand. There was something written on it but the letters where so choppy I could hardly make it out. “Do not open… if you know what I mean.” To late. It seemed like the only thing left to do. Another thump on my door made me jump out of my skin.I tore off the wrapping. Inside was small box, like a ring box made out of cardboard. My hands were shaking. At the exact same time that my broke down I opened the box. My eyes went wide, and I was too shocked to breath. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe what was inside…if you know what I mean.

    • smallster21 says:

      Okay, I was laughing until Jane shot herself. The tone was set up to be humorous and then BAM! SUICIDE! It was too much of a shock. There are two entirely different stories here.

      I enjoyed the first half; there was a great exchange of dialogue at the beginning, and I like how you split the prompt dialogue up. The repetitive ‘you know what I mean’ actually had me laughing, but I would suggest wrapping it up and tying it together somehow.

      Also, I didn’t understand what the two men in the white t-shirts had to do with the story? Were those the cops? Wasn’t sure of their purpose.

  24. handyman43127 says:

    The badges flashed just inches from my face looked real enough. Two men, one named John and the other Morgan introduced themselves as Detectives of our local Police Department.

    We need your help, this is a chance for you to show your civic pride while doing your duty. Wanting to do what was right I listened to the instructions they gave and agreed.

    Entering the post office I envisioned myself as an undercover agent of the C.I.A. This was the way I found to remain calm. Only one worker at the counter and a line of three including myself. Pulling my hair back and wiping the sweat that was pouring from my face, I wondered if my cover would be blown.

    Trying to remain calm as it was my turn at the front of the counter I scanned the name-tag on the clerks shirt, located above his left front pocket.

    “Hello Bert,” I called to him.

    “Hi, can I help you sir?” he responded

    “Yes I need a book of stamps.” I replied.

    Receiving the stamps I already had money in my hand and responded with what the officers instructed me to do. “My stamps are looking a bit square today!”

    “Excuse me sir?” he said. “They are supposed to be square, what is your concern?”

    “Square, my stamps are looking a little square,” I snapped back as I felt my confidence quickly failing.

    Taking the stamps and realizing my failure as I walked from the post office I searched the parking-lot for the detectives with my eyes, I found no trace of them.

    Confused and agitated I reached for the door-handle on my car. I could not decide what angered me more. Was it the absence of the detectives or what might be happening in the post-office I had spent the last forty years in as Post-Master, until my recent retirement.

    Laughter filled the air and people began coming from every hiding place conceivable,

    “Happy retirement Carl they all cheered,” as I was handed a gold watch by Bert, the Post-Master-General of the United States of America.

  25. FriarFreeman says:

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days?” I thought as I walked up to the post office counter, “What does that even mean? When have stamps been anything other than square?”

    “Sir, can I help you?” said the guy that the two men had described as ‘Bert’.

    Bert was described as a round, stocky man. Black hair, green eyes, bad complexion. Bert was not an attractive man by any stretch of the imagination.

    “Uh, yeah. Um, my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you catch my drift.” I said to the man.

    “Close enough.” said Bert, “Everyone get down on the ground. This is a stick up.”

    “Jeez Bert,” said the taller of the men who had told me to go inside, “who says ‘stick up’ anymore? Seriously, get on the ground! That means you also dummy!”

    I put my hands above my head and laid down flat on the floor. What had I gotten myself into? Of course those men weren’t FBI or Secret Service. They were con-men. They had flashed a badge. I was too naïve to actually take a close look. I’m probably going to die, and others will get hurt because I don’t have a morsel of common sense.

    “Jane”, Bert said with a smile, “I need you to open up that cash register and hand me the money. The I need you to go to the vault and grab whatever is in there. If you do that, you and the pretty faced girl you were servicing will make it out alive. Sounds like a good deal to me. What about you Mike?”

    The taller man who I had met only moments ago smiled back, “Fantastic idea. No one gets hurt. No one is any the wiser. We earn some money. Fantastic idea!”

    Jane packed the money into the pouches that the men had supplied and grabbed what was in the vault. I didn’t see what it totaled, but I knew it was my fault. My final thought before the two men raced out was “I’m an idiot!”

  26. ellekynzer says:

    The huge door to the Post Office is hard to push open, and I see Bert staring at me puzzled, so I lean heavily upon the glass… causing the door to swing wide. I take my time walking up to Bert, as I am nervous and speak softly “my stamps seem a bit square these days?”.

    Bert looks at me closely, and asks somewhat suspiciously “Where is Jimmy?”. Taken back, that Bert actually knows this statement is a code expected from someone else, I hesitate…then speak out “Jimmy is hung over, and has spent the last few hours in the bathroom.” Burt mulls over my excuse, then accepts it.

    As our eyes meet, my gaze is secure and definite, so Bert reaches under the counter and brings out a small brown package with Jimmy’s address on it. I try to continue my composure, and Bert says ‘sign this’, while shoving a registered receipt over the counter. Nervous at first, I reach for the pen on a chain and sign for the package. Bert tells me to “remind Jimmy that the payment will be double next time.” I leave wondering what I am carrying?

    The box is about 8″X10″, and the box appears to be heavier than drugs would be. I leave the Post Office under Bert’s cautious look. In the next block, as I turn the corner an FBI man reaches out and takes the package greedily. I find myself surrounded by a whole team of agents. The box is taped securely, and I move away from the man and the package, since it’s contents seem to the main focus of some curious lawmen. The whole process is overwhelming, and the unknown is scary.

    The box is carefully opened and it’s contents causes a huge intake of air by it’s holder, and I see fear on the faces of those looking inside. The contents are bomb components, and the men realize that they have foiled a very dangerous bombing, but who are these men? How can one have a government job at the Post Office and participate in this treasonous act.

    There is silence as the four men ride back to the office quietly, and after the components are examined, the Judge is called for a warrant to search several places. Both the Post Office and Jimmy’s apartment are quickly given search warrants. A warrant for Bert’s home is also issued, and two men leave to get back there to bring Bert in for interrogation.

    A local policemen heads toward Jimmy’s apartment with his search warrant, not knowing what he will find. The sting has netted them the makings of a small bomb, and now the agents must find out all of the members involved in this devious plan. The box, and a snitch who gave accurate information begin to make sense, and this team is determined to end this little domestic terrorists cell before loss of life.

    • Enemby says:

      It seems strange that the narrative completely changes from the protaganist, and leaving no mention of what happened to him/her

      • swatchcat says:

        There does seem to be a little confusion where the character shifts from a stranger in the operation(first person) to an exterior role as narrator. The lack of a break between the two leaves it seeming like a car veering to one side suddenly. I also kind of lost count regarding warrants, they all of a sudden went warrant happy. This has potential for a good story but you might choose one perception to go by.

        • smallster21 says:

          I agree. If you choose to keep the first person POV, I would suggest keeping the MC in the action of the story until the end. He/She seems to disappear.

  27. frankd1100 says:

    Bert was right. They were from Plasmygdom. Blocked from earth’s view by Mars and superior technological tools making the planet undetectable to exploration satellites, we Plasmygdomytes had been infiltrating earth for centuries. Taking on human form, blending seamlessly with the population, only another Plas could tell. The civil war had pitted Plas against Plas, the Squirery versus the Gibronians. With victory hanging in the balance, the Squirery had created an elite force to scout Gibronian loyalists who had established incubator colonies on ‘living’ planets in the galaxy. I was a Scout, and Bert, new to the force, was my trainee.

    The Gibronian assassins had identified Bert by his voice code, a concept similar to human DNA. My supposed ‘chance’ interaction with the Gibronians was of dual purpose. First, to save Bert from a 63% probability of dying in a confrontation. A promising young recruit at 97 earth years, the Squirery did not want to lose him, though he would willingly sacrifice himself to kill the enemy. Mentally reviewing the breadth of his accomplishments at half my age, I was determined to come out of this with our young recruit alive and healthy.

    The second purpose was satisfied by my interaction with the Gibronians outside the Post Office. They did not recognize my origin, and thus decided to use this ‘human’ me to eliminate a Squirery Scout. During the fourth stage of the arduous combat and weapons training, my voice code had been altered to be transparent, we hoped, to Gibronian detection. It worked! Though top of his class, Bert had only recently completed stage one. His voice code thus remained detectable by intensive Gibronian radio wave analysis.

    Pretending to cooperate with the sting ruse, I left the Gibronians mumbling to each other, went through the door and walked briskly to Bert’s section of the counter. I repeated the phrase, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” Knowing his first word would trigger the death attack, I simultaneously slid my hand beneath the teller window, grasped his wrist and using undetectable contact telepathy, instructed him to be silent.

    I was surprised when the message was blocked. I was a master of the contact telepathy technique. Pushing the moment’s frustration from my mind I transmitted the message again, a final attempt. But he spoke, and did not die as expected, and as I turned to face the violent onslaught Bert’s words registered. I needed my brain clear to have a chance against the Gibronian killers. Instead, “I’m sorry, sir,” rang through my head, diminishing the energy concentration directed at the two, coming fast through the door. Bert had been turned. I was the target.

    Before releasing the energy burst while engaged in horrific mayhem in the Post Office foyer, I isolated a brain cubit and transmitted situation data to the scouts on earth. They would be warned. Learn from my mistake, brothers and sisters.

    I turned inward as the explosion vaporized the block.

    • swatchcat says:

      WOW, too much information. Too much techno – babel crammed in here. Sort of an interesting approach but the first paragraph sort or stunned me, as I lost perspective of who was talking and what tense. The premise is good though.

    • smallster21 says:

      I actually didn’t mind all the info. Sci-Fi stories are written like this, so I’d say good job for keep with the elements of the genre. I also like a good challenge. That said, since this is such a short story, I think getting to the action right away is more necessary than trying to explain the backstory.

  28. Enemby says:

    //I improvised this. I think I did alright.
    “My Stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean…”
    “What?”
    “Honestly I’m not sure. In fact, why am I even in a post office do you think Bert?”
    “I’d assume it’s because you want to mail something.”
    “Maybe. Have you seen any suited men around here lately? Perhaps outside the window, watching me talk to you?”
    “Not unless they’re stamps.”
    “Yeah, but just in case, could you maybe just, look behind me please?”
    The post office worker looked past, bending his spine at quite an awkward angle.
    “Suited, did you say?”
    “That is correct-a-mundo.”
    “I don’t see any suited men, but I do see clowns.”
    I take a moment to raise an eyebrow at Bert before I looked backward. Behind me where there previously was two stern looking agents, there now stood a birthday party’s worth of clowns. By that I mean two. I noted some very similar facial details to the men I spoke to earlier. The clown on the left blew up a balloon and twisted it into a blown-up zebra as I stared. I turned back.
    “So how was your day today Bert?”
    “I put stamps on envelopes.”
    “Don’t they have equipment for that?”
    “Not here.”
    “Okay then.”
    I walked outside the post office, where I raised my arm to give a clown a high five, which then progressed into our super secret handshake.
    “So that was interesting. Nice touch with the clown suit.”
    “The hardest part was the makeup.”
    “I think you did nicely. Is this how you go undercover where you come from?”
    “It fit in more in Alaska.”
    I decided not to press the issue of clowns fitting in in a lowly populated area.
    “So were you just messing with me or did I actually do something useful?”
    “You distracted a lowly postal worker long enough for us to get in our clown suits?”
    I made a mental note to file a report on this instance later.
    Agent 1, let’s call him Steve, tossed me a change of clothes and a flamboyant wig.
    It was a clown suit, not unlike the versions my current partners were wearing.
    Agent 2, who shall now be named Robert, held open the door to a Cadillac I hadn’t been factoring into the equation. “Come on, we’ll put your makeup on in the car.” Robert said, casually. Steve sat next to me in the back, a dollar store clown makeup kit on his lap. Robert slipped a manilla folder next to me, before starting the car and carefully sliding out of the parking lot. Steve applied the makeup, while Robert took the time to brief me. “Are you ready to crash a circus?” He didn’t leave time for me to reply. “Our objective is to retrieve evidence of cocaine distribution,” Rob droned. “A recent crime syndicate has been moving crystal underneath our noses, under the guise of a traveling circus.” Steve stopped to hand me a frilly flower, a stereotypical clown accessory, or so I’d heard. “The flower has a small camera inside, which is recorded to it’s own 4 gig SD card.” Robert took a moment to stare at me sternly despite still having a smile painted on his face, and being still driving. “We will be going undercover at the previously mentioned circus, under the names Robert,” He took a moment to point at himself. “Steve, and Mark.” Steve nodded, and gestured toward me at Mark. I hid a smile at the thought that their names were as mentally prescribed.
    -To be continued-

    • swatchcat says:

      Can’t wait to read the connection between the postal worker and the clowns at the circus. Right now it just seems like two separate stories.

      • Enemby says:

        To be honest I didn’t know how to segway into a story about the two agent keeping the narrative without adding a stranger into their ranks(Hence realism = gone!), so I just considered it a prank. But you’ve given me a good idea!

    • smallster21 says:

      I didn’t see what the post office’s purpose was for except for maybe the two agents to master their skills of disguise. I liked how you are using a circus as a front for drug dealing, sounds like an interesting story.

  29. AllyB says:

    My vengeful grip punctured the postal box with an index-fingered sized hole. This was supposed to be my time off and now I had to work. The agents avoided eye contact and shuffled their feet. The FBI must have been really desperate to proposition a vacationing CIA agent.

    I held out my hand, palm up and barked. “Badges.”

    The color immediately drained from their faces. The shorter agent even dropped his badge as he handed it to me. I laughed out loud.

    What did they think? The notorious CIA killer, Ally Bramble, was going to murder them in broad daylight surrounded by tourists? It was humorous but if I was in their position, I would have been jumpy too.

    The badges were authentic. The script included the code word “square.” This was a legitimate mission. Continuing my vacation wasn’t an option. I had to comply, even if at the request of two right-off-the-farm agents.

    “I’m calling Langley the second this is done.” I whisked my ski bag off my shoulders and threw it at the stocky agent. “Hold this.”

    Quickly turning my back to the agents, I marched two blocks toward the post office. As I approached the building, I took a sharp left and glanced over my right shoulder. Imitating the tourists, I snapped a few pictures of the quaint town as I scanned the sparse crowd. My mental assessment of the space was complete and no one appeared suspect or out of place.

    “This better be quick,” I muttered softly while strolling back toward the post office.

    The female employee was busy with another customer making Bert, my apparent liaison, immediately available.

    With a southern accent and a jovial tone, I played my role. “”My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    Bert produced a forced laugh. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

    Who responds like that? Is this guy a rookie too?

    He took my box from me and weighed it. “Ten dollars is your total.”

    After handing him a twenty, Bert slid ten, one-dollar bills back to me.

    I walked out the building and sat down on the nearest park bench. A small, thin envelope was wedged between the bills. Inside was a piece of paper with a two-word cryptogram.

    Dozens of ciphers were stored in grey matter. I quickly rotated through them searching for the answer. None of them worked, which made me question the validity of this mission.

    However, there was one remaining cipher to try, one from my first assignment with the agency. I gasped aloud. The first word was a last name–a detestable name belonging to a deplorable man. The second word was “here.”

    A bomb went off inside of my mind as the weight of the world crashed down on me. The terrorist, that I spent two decades searching for, was here in a sleepy, American ski town. The mission of my life had just begun.

  30. Writer1697 says:

    This is my first time putting my writing out there, I am a novice writer so this is probably really bad and it is over the word limit, but I think it is good work.
    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” That phrase was all it took to change my life forever. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain. I was walking to the post office and was about to go inside when two men stopped me. One flashed a badge and said. “Ok kid no time for a lengthy explanation but, we are in the middle of a secret sting operation and one of our guys came down with the flu. We need you to go in their and walk up to the counter the man named Bert is working at and say my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” “Are you in?” After little consideration I answered “Yes.” “Good kid here is your ear piece, it will allow for us to stay in communication and here put on this baseball cap it has a camera in it that will record everything going on it will let us know when to pull you out if things get too heated.” I put on the cap and put in the earpiece, I felt like a real secret agent man.
    I walked into the post office; walked up to the man named Bert’s counter and said the phrase that changed my life. “I see.” Replied Bert, he walked out from behind his counter and motioned for me to follow him. He led me to an unmarked door in the back of the post office. He opened the door for me but didn’t accompany me inside. As soon as I walked into the room I was plunged into complete darkness. A voice in my ear said “Stay calm kid your doing great.” A light flicked on and I saw a staircase descending into more darkness. I walked down the stairs and the closer I got to the bottom the more noise I heard. I came to a door and hesitantly opened it. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, but when I could see I was taken back. All around me, men worked with a rhythmic motion, taken crates of small squares made of paper and putting them onto trucks or taken them off the printing press. I heard a gasp and then the voice in my head said “So this is what they are up to, counterfeiting stamps.” I walked up to the printing press and saw a stamp that was reproduced many times over, it was a yellow stamp with a train on it. “And, rare ones too that is the world’s rarest misprint.” Another voice yelled at me, this time in person. “New guy, we aren’t allowed to wear hats in here.” As he said it he ripped the hat off my head and the camera went sliding on the ground. “You’re a-“before he could finish I threw a small crate at him, hitting him square in the chest. I took off in direction of the door but a big guy stepped in front of me and turned right before he could grab me, now I was running in direction of the mail trucks and the loading bay. Another guy stepped in front of me but this time I didn’t stop. I slammed into him and by the time I got up I was surrounded. I turned just in time to see a 2×4 coming straight at me. I was on the ground again and before I passed out I heard a voice in my ear, “Hurry up, the kid needs us. Come on move your-“And I blacked out. When I came too I was in a hospital bed and it felt like I was in the face with a 2×4. I realized I had guests and tried to prop myself up on the pillow behind me but a familiar voice said, “Its ok kid don’t move too much.” “Sorry we put you through that.” Said the other agent. “It’s ok.” I replied. “I’m glad you said that, because we have an offer for you. You did good work in there and we could use more people who can keep as calm as you did and react as well in the face of danger. So what do ya say, are you in?’

    • swatchcat says:

      You’re right it was a good story. Welcome. Only a few pointers that others may insist. Structure, structure. Use spaces between paragraphs to make reading easier for proofing/critiquing. Maybe separate quotes better, and the word count does matter. That is possibly the most of the challenge to get to the point and get used to limits. Sometimes a writer can get to wordy or adjective and adverb happy. Cliffhangers are alright because that is where more stories come from that can be formed elsewhere. This was good though.

  31. dhennenhoefer says:

    ‘Sitting in line at the post office was torture’. Normally people say that when they involve hyperbole on the slight inconvenience of having to wait in line. That falls into the category of first world problems.
    This is torture for me because I’m a civilian being dragged into a DEA sting operation. The men who stopped me couldn’t put me under immediate danger that’s illegal. At least I think it is. The instructions they gave are simple enough, just go to the counter and say “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    That’s easy. God this torture of waiting has to end. I just want to say it and get this over with. The line of three people I’m behind seems miles long. I get to stress out while these people go about their business.
    O wow a person left. Just two people to go. Two people till I get to begin the end of this. All I wanted to do was mail this birthday card to my mother. Just a birthday card with a note and gift card. Is that so much to ask? Next time I’m staying home and mailing this from my house. Or maybe I’ll get her an e-gift and call her. I really should call her more.

    Another person down. Just one more till I met Bert. Who is Bert anyhow? What’s he got to do with this? Is he the bad guy? Or maybe he is another agent and I’m just doing some easy communication. He can’t blow his cover. Hopefully this is the case. I really need to stay out of these things. This is probably why the hermit next door never leaves his house. If you never leave you are never called into DEA operations. This isn’t like jury duty.

    I have no obligation to involve myself. Just these two agents that spooked me into doing this. Who are they to ask to ask me? They have no idea who I am. What if I was a bad guy and they just tipped me off that they knew Bert was somehow involved in the operation.

    O wow, the guy in front of me just left. Now it’s me and Bert. Well…..here it goes I guess.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    “Could you say that again sir. I want to make sure I understood you correctly,” Bert responds.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” I said this time with a bit more vigor.

    “Well I have some more angular ones or round ones if you would prefer those,” Bert replies.

    I pause. “Well I’ll take some round ones?” I say while being puzzled.

    Bert winked and said, “If you happen to run into some friends. Tell them about the ROUND ones. Especially if you happen to see them soon. We are running a special.”

    Bert takes my card and processes it. The agents then approach me just as I’m about to get to my car. I say “Bert suggests the round stamps.”

    They nod and hurry away.

    Thank god this is over. I shouldn’t be dragged into this, and somebody needs to know about it. They can’t just drag civilians into these matters. I think I’ll write a letter to my congressmen.

  32. dmf1 says:

    I walked away from the two gentlemen wondering if this was for real, or am I possibly on that game show Candid Camera. I know they told me to look casual but I can’t help myself. I keep looking suspiciously around me wondering who else is on this sting operation, or practical joke, whichever it may be. There is a line waiting to get to the counter so I get in line and wait. There are 3 postal workers working the counter right now and I look at each of their name badges, trying to find Bert. He is the third person at the counter and I now realize that I am going to have to time this just right so that I can get into his line specifically.

    Finally Bert’s line is open and I quickly walk up to him, glancing from side to side to see who is watching. As soon as I walk up, he asks what he can help me with today. I very quietly whisper “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean”.

    He looks at me and says “ I am sorry, what did you say?” I repeat it again, just slightly louder. He heard me that time because the look on his face was just shy of terror. His cheeks get flushed and his eyes start darting around the room. He gets all flustered and says, “Um, yes, hold on just a moment,” and then he quickly heads to the back room. His reaction kind of startled me; just what am I getting myself into? Before I had time to think about that, he comes out with a medium sized box in his hand. He almost trips over his own two feet as he quickly pushes the box over the counter at me.

    I am not sure what I am supposed to do at this point. The agents did not tell me what was going to happen after I mentioned the square stamps and I have no idea what I am supposed to do with this box. I just looked at Bert and he just looked at me. After a few seconds he said so quietly that I almost didn’t hear him, “What are you waiting for, get out of here now”. I was so surprised, I just picked up the box and walked back to the lobby of the Post Office.

    Now what? I looked around for any sight of the two men, but they were gone, or at least well hidden. I waited there for what felt like forever, but was realistically only about 10 minutes. Then, when no one had approached me, I decided to wait outside. The whole time I am looking around for anyone that resembles the two gentlemen, but saw no one. By now I am at my car. They did not get my name or phone # so if I leave, how will they contact me? What is in this box? What should I do?

  33. ag58925 says:

    THE BRAINS

    A man stopped me on my way into the post office, I glanced up at him, “Um…Excuse me?” I attempted to slip around his arm and get inside; I had another part-time job to run to after this.

    Another man appeared on the other side of me and flashed me a badge. I didn’t get the chance to read what it said, but in their black suits and black shades, even though it was winter, I could tell that they were some important people.

    “Ma’am, my partner and I are executing a sting operation. We require your assistance. All you need to do is go up to the counter with Bert working at it, and say ‘My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” the first man explained to me.

    I gave him a sideways glance and furrowed my brow, “Okay?” The second man pushed me inside and I stumbled over to the counter.

    “Hey, Tasha,” Bert said to me, “What are you mailing?”

    “Just a Birthday card,” Looking over my shoulder, I noticed that the two men were staring daggers into my back. Sniffing, I turned back to Bert and whispered under my breath, “See those two men behind me?” Bert nodded, “They’re onto us. I need you to take me into the back room, okay?”

    He glanced back at the men, “Okay.” He grabbed my hand and led me into the back room. Papers littered the floor and the paint was peeling.

    “All that money, and you couldn’t have renovated the place, huh?” I asked, glaring at Bert. He shot me a look and I shut up.

    He sighed, “What do we do now? We can’t stay in here forever.”

    Scoffing, I replied, “We have a window for a reason, Bert.”

    Light dawned on his face, and he grinned, “This is why you’re the brains of our operations!”

    “Shut up,” I said, rolling my eyes, “And help me open this window, it’s jammed.”

    He came over and pressed his weight against the window, and then attempted to jiggle it open. Nothing worked, it seemed futile. Desperately, he threw one of our boxes against the window, hoping that it would break open. It didn’t.

    “Wait,” I remembered, and walking over to the window, I slid it open, “It isn’t push and pull, the window slides open.”

    We climbed through the window and dropped down, smiling in the process.

    “Put your hands up,” a voice called, and I looked up to see the two men grinning down at me, “You are hereby under arrest under charges of fraud and theft.”

    “How did you know?” I asked, genuinely curious.

    “You never said the phrase, ma’am,” one of the men said, “And besides, everyone knows that stamps are rectangular.”

    “Brains of our operations,” Bert sneered, “Yeah, right.”

  34. maggzee says:

    I’m used to guys stopping me on the street. I’m hot. Classic blonde, blue-eyed. You know. So I wait in line for this “Bert” guy and feel the eyes on me.

    Bert takes one look at me and I barely get the “My stamps…” line out of my mouth when little bald Bertie leans in, a little close to my chest I might add, and whispers, “Go round to the back.” Hey what’s a little adventure in the post office. Maybe I’m going to be a donkey, mule, whatever. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Some little Asian guy comes running out and waves me in. He’s got a tape measure around his neck so maybe they’re smuggling designer wear. I’m definitely up for that. But all he measures is my height and then, and I should have left right there, he weighs me. With my shoes on, the rat. Then they sit me down in a giant bean bag chair in a tiny gray cubicle with holes in the walls and now I’ll admit I am a little nervous so I start to get up but this, I will remind you, is a giant bean bag chair and I’m wearing an extremely fashionable pencil skirt.

    I’m starting to perspire just a little. Mr. Asian peers at my face. He wags his finger, “no” and gives me a hankie and a mirror. “Pretty,” he says. “You fix.” It’s instinct for me to correct my make-up so I dab a little and he snaps my picture. Then, oh my god, he pulls down the ceiling, seals up the walls and I’m sitting in a padded box on a huge packing peanut. I feel the box shifting and I scream but something puffs through a hole and I’m out.

    I wake up in San Francisco. I’m still on the beanbag chair but there are men, some pretty hot, in sunglasses and suits and they tell me they have rescued me from a kidnapping ring that sends attractive women to China to be wives for rich Commies. I was already in an online brochure (he shows me the picture and really, who wouldn’t want to marry me?). I start to laugh, maybe just a little hysterically, because as I told him over drinks (and you can guess what else) later, I have looked for love in all the wrong places, hell, under the wrong places, but never mailed myself to anyone.

    We really got along but I maybe drank something I shouldn’t have and when I wake up the room is moving, chugging really. Another guy walks in, beefy, slobby, not my type at all. “Zdra-stvu-eetee,” he belches.

    “What are you, speaking a foreign language to me or something?” I ask, reasonably.

    “Dah.” Come. Zhey are vaiting.”

    Some kind of audience. Well, ok. Maybe I get to talk about how I broke the kidnapping ring. Quick check in the window. I still look good.

    “Oh, and by zhe vay, velcome to Russia.”

  35. Fedoraman94 says:

    the program I used to write this doesn’t have a word count, so I’m not sure how long it is

    The two men approaching me seemed oddly familiar, but I couldn’t place them. Were they from college? Work? I wasn’t sure.

    The one on the right was wearing a black suit, sunglasses, and smoking a cigar. The other one had on a suit as well, but he had a vest on under it like a businessman. As they approached me, I began to be worried. The man threw his cigar on the ground and reached inside his jacket. He pulled out a walley, flipped it open and showed me a policeman badge. I looked at him bewildered. He put the wallet away and got closer. “Listen, guy,” he said, “we’re about to perform a top secret operation and we need YOUR help to accomplish it. Are you in?” “W-what are you talking about?” the look on the man’s face was worrying me. ‘What do they want from me?’ I thought.

    “When you go inside the post office-”

    “How do you know I’m going to the post office today?” I asked, now more worried than ever.
    “Shut up an listen. When you go into the post office, walk up to the counter and ask for Bert. Tell him ‘My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.’ Those words exactly! Do you understand?”

    “No, I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

    “Keep quiet!” He said in an angry whisper. “Go inside and do what we told you.” With that, he walked down the street like he was in a hurry.

    ‘He was probably a criminal, or terrorist, or something. He has to be a crook of some kind.’

    Walking into the post office, I now felt a wave of dread wash over me. The bell above the door startled me as the door closed behind me. The man behind the counter, an elderly gentleman who was reading a magazine, looked up at me then turned his attention back to the magazine he was reading.

    Hesitantly, I walked up to the counter. Out of the corner of my eye the camera seemes to follow me, as if it knew what I was about to do. As I approached the counter, the elderly gentleman put down his magazine and looked up at me with an annoyed look on his face. “Can I help you?” he asked.

    “Yes, um. Can I speak with, um, can I speak with Bert please?”

    As he got up, his chair squeaked. Walking into the back room, he yelled Bert’s name. Several minutes later, a younger man walked out and asked what I needed.

    “Hey Bert. Um, my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    For a minute we both just looked at each other. He seemed to be studying my face because he looked left and right, making sure there was nobody else around. “Wait here,” he said.

    He walked into the backroom and emerged several seconds later with a large package wrapped in brown paper. As he handed me the package, he said “Take this to the taco cart and give it to Steven. He’ll give you more instructions when you get there.”

    Before I could ask him anything, he ran in the backroom. I heard a door open. Turning around I saw four cop cars drive by the post office door. ‘What am I getting myself into??’

    Walking back out onto the street, I noticed it had started to rain. I ran down the street urgently looking for the taco truck Bert was talking about. However, as the day progressed I was pretty sure that Bert didn’t actually work there or at least he hadn’t worked there for very long since he was a part of whatever was going on.

    On the corner of Mack Street and Davidson Ave I found the taco truck. The guy working it looked like he had been running all day. His shirt was covered in water, his face was wet, and he was out of breath.

    “Steven?”

    “What?!” He said panicking. Looking back and forth like a paranoid man, he yelled “What?!” again, this time louder than before.

    I showed him the package and he grabbed it out of my hand and put it in the bottom of his taco truck. Getting into the cabin of his truck, he started the car.

    “Wait!” I yelled, grabbing his arm. “What’s in the package?”

    He hit me, which caused me to fall to the floor. He drove away before I had a chance to get up. It had been quite a day and I have no idea what happened during the entire day. I think I’m going to start going to a different post office from now on.

    • Fedoraman94 says:

      the story starts with “The two men approaching me…”

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This is good. It seems like a first draft because of the tenses and sometimes at places, it’s choppy. But you have some good ideas working here and I like the way it ends. If I were you, I’d rewrite and tighten it up and work the words from “796″ down to 500. But I really liked your story. Keep writing and don’t be shy. See you at the next prompt. Good job.

      • Fedoraman94 says:

        thanks for your input. yea, the program I was writing with doesn’t have a word count, so thank you for telling me it’s 796 words long haha. appreciate your input. see you at the next prompt =)

  36. JayBirdFinchBird says:

    I look from one man to the next; each watches me impassively.
    “Ok.”
    One nods almost imperceptibly and the other’s left nostril gives a jittering tic.
    “You understand what you’ve been asked to do?” Nose Twitch asks.
    “I go in, find Bert’s counter, and tell him I have square stamps?”
    “And you’re confident you can perform this task with the upmost discretion?” Mini Nod asks.
    “Yes, I believe I can discreetly wait for ten minutes in a post office line to tell a clerk named Bert a bad joke.”
    Two sets of strikingly similar eyes narrow at my sarcasm.
    “And you’re certain no one else running errands at this particular post office can do this ‘task’ for you guys?”
    “You happen to fit the description of an operative we currently have in custody. We were lucky to find you.” Mini Nod replies.
    I look over their shoulders at the gleaming black BMW they stepped out of as I made my way towards the post office side entrance that they were parked across from.
    “And is it possible that this luck can be, uh, re-distributed in the form of uh, twenty dollar bills?”
    “Once the task is performed there will be monetary compensation.”
    “Like, perhaps maybe fifties even?”
    Both sets of eyes narrow further.
    “Ok, cool. I guess I should go in then…”
    I fake a casual stroll and make my way to the door. I don’t bother looking back to gauge their assessment of my acting abilities. I’m pretty sure they’re impressed.
    The line is seven people long and there are two counter positions open.
    One is occupied by a heavy-set African American woman who is fumbling unapologetically with two-inch tiger print nails.
    The second position is occupied by a figure with a side part and a polo shirt that matches almost perfectly the beige paint color of the walls. His blandness is so complete that he has to shout three times for the elderly woman next in line before she notices him. She was actually headed for the imitation spruce potted at the end of the counter before his last yelp of “I can help who’s next!” alerted her of his presence.
    A Bert if ever I knew one.
    The 10 minute estimate proves to have been horrendously optimistic.
    Bernice, (counter position one) as her name plate identifies her, was ill equip to type the day before she opted to have spatulas glued to her fingertips. However many days have elapsed since only allowed her more time to hone the art of flourishing them about so all can witness their garish uselessness.
    Bert has all the determination and enthusiasm that Bernice lacks, but is hindered by the minds frank refusal to acknowledge the existence of a human being in the place of what, by all accounts, should be wall paint. Everything he says he has to repeat twice, and the gaze of each customer doesn’t seem to rest on him for longer than a second before drifting up over his head and fixing on the wall-clocked mounted above him.

  37. JakeC says:

    “I see the name on your badge is Sam Wiseman and you work for the FBI.
    “Yes and what is your name?”
    “You can call me Jake. Who is your partner?”
    Sam looks at his partner then responds, “Look we need your help, and it’s a matter of Nation Security, that’s all I can tell you right now.”
    “Seems kind of strange the FBI would ask a complete stranger to assist in a sting operation.”
    “I can see where you find this an unusual request, however, Bert does not know you or seen you before. That is why we are asking you to help us. Look Jake, this here is John and he works for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Show him your badge John.”
    “OK so John, what is your role in this top secret sting operation?”
    “Jake we don’t have a lot of time here. Not many people know what we do. In a nut shell the U.S. Postal Inspection Service enforces the laws that defend our nation’s mail system from illegal and dangerous use.”
    “Now Jake can you please go say to Bert,” My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” Bert will be the only male working the counter today. He will hand you a white legal size envelope without saying anything. Be sure you use both hands to receive it, this is very important. We’ll be waiting for you on the south side of the building. Can we trust you to help us?”
    “Alright John, I trust this is important for national security as you say. I served in the United State Air Force and understand security. What you’re asking me to do seem simple enough. I’ll meet you around the corner with the envelope.”
    There was a line of people waiting to be served by three postal workers. Bert was the only male working the counter just as John said. Bert was tall for an oriental standing just over six feet tall, he had jet black hair and dark brown eyes. Jake recognized Bert as being oriental. Jake had been stationed at Anderson Air Force in Guam defending the buffer zone or the 38th parallel separating North from South Korea. While on leave in Seoul, Jake became very familiar with the Korean people and culture. A moment of though occurred to Jake as to Bert’s heritage – North or South Korean.

  38. JayBirdFinchBird says:

    I look from one man to the next; each watches me impassively as I wrestle with my decision.
    “Ok.”
    One nods almost imperceptibly and the other’s left nostril gives a jittering tic.
    “You understand what you’ve been asked to do?” Nose Twitch asks.
    “I go in, find Bert’s counter, and tell him I have square stamps?”
    “And you’re confident you can perform this task with the upmost discretion?” Mini Nod asks.
    “Yes, I believe I can discreetly wait for ten minutes in a post office line to tell a clerk named Bert a bad joke.”
    Two sets of strikingly similar eyes narrow at my sarcasm.
    “And you’re certain no one else running errands at this particular post office can do this ‘task’ for you guys?”
    “You happen to fit the description of an operative we currently have in custody. We were lucky to find you.” Mini Nod replies.
    I look over their shoulders at the gleaming black BMW they stepped out of as I made my way towards the post office side entrance that they were parked across from.
    “And is it possible that this luck can be, uh, re-distributed in the form of uh, twenty dollar bills?”
    “Once the task is performed there will be monetary compensation.”
    “Like, perhaps maybe fifties even?”
    Both sets of eyes narrow further.
    “Ok, cool. I guess I should go in then…”
    I fake a casual stroll and make my way to the door. I don’t bother looking back to gauge their assessment of my acting abilities. I’m pretty sure they’re impressed.
    The line is seven people long and there are two counter positions open.
    One is occupied by a heavy-set African American woman who is fumbling unapologetically with two-inch tiger print nails.
    The second position is occupied by a figure with a side part and a polo shirt that matches almost perfectly the beige paint color of the walls. His blandness is so complete that he has to shout three times for the elderly woman next in line before she notices him. She was actually headed for the imitation spruce potted at the end of the counter before his last yelp of “I can help who’s next!” alerted her of his presence. A Bert if ever I knew one.
    The 10 minute estimate proves to have been horrendously optimistic.
    Bernice, (counter position one) as her name plate identifies her, was ill equip to type the day before she opted to have spatulas glued to her fingertips. However many days have elapsed since only allowed her more time to hone the art of flourishing them about so all can witness their garish uselessness.
    Bert has all the determination and enthusiasm that Bernice lacks, but is hindered by the minds frank refusal to acknowledge the existence of a human being in the place of what, by all accounts, should be wall paint. Everything he says he has to repeat twice, and the gaze of each customer doesn’t seem to rest on him for longer than a second before drifting up over his head and fixing on the wall-clocked mounted above him.

  39. AllyB says:

    Is there a time lag for your story to post? I tried posting a response yesterday and it has not appeared yet. Also, I tried to re-post today but it claimed it was a duplicate post, however that makes no sense because the original post is still not visible. This is my first time/posting so I am not sure what I did wrong. Thanks for the help.

  40. Just B says:

    I could feel the guy’s breath on my neck as he leaned in and hissed, “We’re about to execute an operation and need you.” I disliked his emphasis on the words “execute” and “operation.” “Tell Bert these words, ‘My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean’.” What the heck was he talking about? They probably weren’t even real agents. I looked around for a camera. Am I getting Punk’d?

    I walked up to Bert’s window and ordered a book of stamps like I did every Tuesday. He acted the way he always did. I wasn’t about to say that weird thing to him. I didn’t even know what it meant. I put the dollars back in my billfold and reached to pick up the stamps. His hand landed on top of mine. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” he stared me dead in the eye.

    “Um, yeah,” I muttered extricating my hand from his grasp. Looked like if I wasn’t going to play, I was still in the game anyway.

    I sat down to lunch still mulling over the strange event. The waiter appeared with my plate and carefully wiped a drip off the corner before placing it in front of me. “My plates are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” he stared into my eyes meaningfully. My stomach clenched. I suddenly couldn’t eat. I asked for a to go box.

    I stepped into my favorite bookstore and inhaled the sweet musk of old books. This will help clear my head. I could feel my neck muscles unclench as I browsed the Archeology section in this safe haven. A fellow book lover appeared. I gave him a collaboratory nod of greeting. “My books are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” he muttered. My blood chilled. I nearly knocked a stack of Dr. Phil books off the discount table in my haste to get out of there.

    I was all but running as I entered the dry cleaner’s; a nice, normal activity in this day of strange. The clerk held up my dollar bills. “My dollars are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” A strangled scream erupted from my throat just as I was shoved from behind through the rack of neatly bagged clothes.

    “Bennie! So nice of you to drop by,” his rubbery, wet lips exhaled cigar smoke.

    Oh shit! So this is what this had all been about! “I thought I had more time,” I stuttered knowing the cliché phrase wouldn’t shield me.

    “Funny thing about wracking a tab,” his wide mouth grinned but his eyes were ruthless, “One day, you have to square up.”

  41. Roger says:

    “Are you sure it is “square” that they are looking?” Bert asked.
    “Well, if equal in length on all four sides means they are square, that’s what I mean they are looking like,” I replied.
    “And, you also are asking me if ‘… I know what you mean’. Is that correct?” he questioned.
    “What’s the matter? Do you not understand what I mean, or is your memory failing?”
    “Well, Sir, I just mean to be positive I heard you correctly. Those words can have a very definite meaning, if you get my meaning,” he informed me with a diabolical smile on his face.
    “If my words did not mean what I meant for them to mean, what other meaning could they have meant?” I quizzed him.
    “If by that, Sir, you mean to ask me what other meaning the words you meant to speak to me could possibly mean, then I mean to first ask you if you are speaking to me out of meanness?”
    “Did they sound mean to you?” I queried.
    “Did which of yours sound mean to me?”
    “I don’t understand what you mean.” I replied, exasperatedly.
    “That, Sir, I mean to tell you is the answer to your first question.”

    Picking up the stamps I returned outside where the two men were waiting in the meantime to hear the results. “Well? What did he say?” the one with the badge asked me.
    “Damn if I know. I didn’t understand what he meant.”
    “You mean . . . “
    “Now, don’t you start! Get my meaning?”
    The two looked at each other with a puzzled look, shrugged their shoulders, then turned and walked off asking themsleves, “What in tarnation does he mean?”
    “Damn if I know. I mean to tell you, he’s a mean one,” the other conjectured.

  42. Roselin777 says:

    When I saw the two men approaching me, I turned the ringer off,and pushed record on the phone in my pocket. Soon as they had finished giving me instructions, I nodded and walked into the post office.
    The man at the counter straight ahead looked up. His name tag said Bert I went over to him and started moving my hands.
    The two men cam running in and stood behind me.
    ”’HEY LEROY,” Shouted Bert.
    “You speak sign language, What’s she saying?’
    “Something about a square stamp.” Leroy said coming thru the back door.
    “I turned towards the two men, “You’re both under arrest I shouted!”
    The smaller of the two men pulled a gun from out of the back of his pants. I grabbed his wrist and twisted it so hard and fast that the gun fell on the floor and so did he.
    “You can talk, You’re not a cop!” Said the bigger of the two dudes that Leroy now had in a choke hold.
    “Really?” Asked Leroy
    “Officer why don’t you introduce yourself.”
    “My pleasure Lee.” I said pulling out my badge and ID while still holding the the smaller man’s wrist.
    “Gentlemen, I am officer Casey Bacon.”
    “We’ve known about your phony sting operation for months.”
    ” We don’t know what you’re talking about.’ said the smaller guy”
    ” Then open the box.” I said as Bert placed it on the counter.” Neither man moved or said anything.
    ‘YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!” I said cuffing the wrist I was holding.
    “Call me a bee”, I said to Leroy.
    “Cause these two just got stung!”

  43. HebertWest says:

    All too random, Huck Gibson thought.
    However, years of college pranks as he progressed through political courses to get to his state representative job prepared his demeanor. He had knowing confidence whether swarms of militia entering to take down this fellow Bert or it be a surprise birthday party full of cake and ribbons, ‘thanks for 30 years of service you old fart.’
    What ever it may be, Huck was game.
    He smirked, he was in love with Bert already. Whatever he could do for the community, even the small things gave him light warmheartedness that was missing from behind the podium. A few death threats were nothing compared to Iraq, he had a controversial pedigree.He had an anonymity though, like today, he could walk the streets in adidas sneakers, sweat pants and hooded sweat shirt, a fine Wednesday morning. Hell, he wasn’t even going into the post office!
    He ascended the steps and pulled open the door, and walked to the center island grabbing an envelope threw a dollar from his pocket in it, writing his own address for delivery.
    Huck eased over to the counter, tapping his fingers getting the attention of Bert.
    “How may I help?” Bert said.
    Stern, gruff just like his old man.
    “Well I have to mail this letter,” Huck replied.
    Bert examined the envelope.
    “Any perishables, flammable items, glass, paraphernalia, etc?”
    “Of course, Molotov cocktail.”
    “Not funny sir,” Bert’s lips drew a straight line.
    “I apologize for that.”
    “This is a letter, you put it over in that out going mail. Could’ve have put this in the outside bin.”
    “I needed a stamp,” Huck smiled.
    “Any kind?”
    “Yeah generic.”
    “Alright, thirty two cents,” Bert said.
    “Yeah no problem,” Huck craned his head to look outside, seeing a black van pull along the curb, and the two suits standing outside, one holding a cell phone to his ear.
    “Oh cool, Abraham Lincoln stamp.”
    “Uh huh.”
    “Say is it your birthday?”
    “No.”
    Huck handed him a dollar wishing he hadn’t used the one stuck in the envelope, he could use bottled water.
    “huh, well. You sure?”
    “Yes,” Bert gave Huck his change and licked his finger, grabbing the stamp book.
    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” Huck said wiping his mouth with his hand in an attempt to not laugh.
    “Huh?” it was a sharp guttural reflex, that made Huck back away from fear of projectile vomit.
    He repeated in slow monotone.
    A glaze enveloped Bert’s eyes, automatically he reached behind him, tugging at his belt line, lining up the glock semi automatic in his eye sight.
    “Megan,” Huck’s thoughts of fatherhood raced through his mind as a shell casing erupted from the side of the hand gun. The result leaving him to crumple to the floor.
    From outside the two suits came running in, Bert was still and unapologetic, his gun dropped to the floor. Radios were buzzing,cell phones ringing, ensuing noises fermented the atmosphere. Talk of target taken down, that Operation: Sleeper Agent was now complete.

  44. Dutchguy says:

    The postal office closed at 5 pm on Fridays. Justin looked at his watch again as he cornered the street and almost bummed into a woman smoking a sigarette. “Sorry!” he said as he hurried on. A quarter before 5. Through the pouring rain he walked quickly up to the entrance of the postal office. Relieve washed over him as he saw the sign that said the place was still open. Monday morning was the deadline to apply for a renewal of the financial aid the goverment provided to struggling artists. If he posted his application today it would reach them just in time.

    Justin was about to open the door as two men walked up to him.
    “Sir?” The men were dressed in black suits and they were wearing sunglasses. Strange. Water had been falling out of the sky all day. “Sir, I am special agent Johnson and this my colleague, special agent Miller. Could we have a moment of your time, please?”
    “Yeah, sure.” Justin answered suprised. “What is this about?”
    “Well, sir. We are in somewhat of a bind. You see we have been chasing down leads on a drug cartel, operating in this neighborhood. And we have come to conclude they have been operating from the backroom of this postal office.”
    Justin could not believe what he was hearing. A drug cartel? In his sleepy, boring neighborhood? “Eh, ok…”
    “Sir, we need you to go in there and take some pictures with your phone of the backroom.” the man said.
    “Why me?” Justin felt like he was playing in a movie so unreal did it seem.
    “We would do it ourselves but the evidence is too thin to get a warrant. All you have to do is walk up to the counter and speak the code words.”

    Before Justin could wrap his head around what was happening he was already standing in fron of the counter looking in the eyes of the postal worker, named Bert. The sweat stood on his forehead and his hands were clammy as he recited the code words from memory, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    Bert just looked at him for a few seconds, then he spoke, “I have some triangle shaped stamps if you like?”
    It was not the answer the agents had told him to expect. “Eh…” Justin did not know what to say. “Yeah, sure.”
    Bert took Justin’s letter and pasted a triangle shaped stamp on it. “Anything else, sir?”
    “Eh… No… No thanks…” Justin turned and walked out.
    Outside he welcomed the rain on his hot face. Of the two agents there was no trace. With no idea what had just happened he walked back home.

    Bert walked into the backroom. He smiled as he saw Alice flip her cigarette as she tied the two unconcious agents down to the table.
    Alice looke up, “They thought we were running a drug cartel.”
    Together they laughed as they started harvesting the organs.

  45. Janice says:

    The postal clerk, Charley if you believed the name embroidered over his left breast on the gray twill uniform shirt, just stared at me with a quizzical look to the slight tilt of his head and expression in his dark blue eyes. Just as I was beginning to feel even more foolish that when I uttered the remark, the expression began to change. This would have been frightening had I not know someone had my back, an expression I doubted I would actually ever use.
    Charley’s left hand moved slowly from in front of him on the top of the counter toward the shelving under the counter, his eyes never leaving mine. How I had the presence of mind to keep my mind from infecting my eyes I’ll never know.
    Within 2 seconds the hand had placed a softly square package about the size of an iPad box directly in front of me. My eyes drifted down for a split second to the box, but were shocked back to Charley’s by, for the first time, his voice.
    “Do you need stamps today, Mam?” sounded a bit too soft and a bit too courteous to match any recent experiences from the United States Postal Service. I mentally shook my head hoping this would break the dream state and return me to reality.
    “Yes,” I said in a tone I hoped match my previous verbalization for the benefit of anyone listening, “please; a roll of first class forever stamps.” I raised my favorite green leather Coach bag to the top of the counter and pulled out two 20’s and a 5 and pushed them across to Charley. Without looking at me again, he slide the bills into the cash drawer directly in front of him, returned a one dollar bill to me along with a cash register receipt and the roll of stamps, and “Have a good day.”
    Turning away from Charley while placing the stamps and the box into the Coach, I was met with a further mystery. The two men who had approached me outside the post office had been joined by two more men, all in suits and ties, all looking very official, but not appearing to be on the same side of whatever was being discussed. One of the men who had instructed me on my assignment was watching me over his shoulder, while his companion was speaking heatedly with what I assumed were new arrivals. As he started the movement to turn and enter the building, he and his companion were suddenly whipped around and in handcuffs before I could blink. The breath I was unaware of holding in, let go and the trembling started – with my hands first and then my knees.

  46. cbd1223 says:

    Before I realize what I’m doing I shake my head and say OK. I swallow hard and take a huge breath. What the hell did I just get myself into?! I push open the heavy wood doors of the bank and scan the desks looking for the one named Bert. Trying not to look too nervous, I walk up the corner desk and wait for the gentleman in front of me to finish up. Time seems to stop for a brief moment. The gentleman leaves and Bert grumbles “Next.”
    I creep up to the desk and as casually as possible say, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” Without missing a beat Bert grabs my shirt and pulls me close.
    “Who told you to say that?!” he asks through gritted teeth.
    “I-I don’t know. Two officers. They sent me in here, told me to tell you that, and then left.” I stammered back to him. He looked at me with questioning eyes and I knew he had no idea whether he should trust me or not. Finally, after what seemed to be hours, he turned and went into the back. Without saying a word he handed me a manila envelope and shooed me away. I stuffed the envelope in my over-sized purse and shuffled out the door.
    Just as I walked outside the two officers from before found me and pulled me into the alley beside the bank.
    “Envelope, please.” One of them asked me.
    “Can I ask what’s inside?” I was curious and if I had suddenly become a part of this operation I figured I had a right to know what exactly I had brought out.
    “No.” As the officers turned to leave, I realized I wasn’t going to stand for that answer. I pounced on the back of the officer and knocked him over. The envelope flew out of his hands and landed on the ground just in front of us. The other officer took off for it, however, I had already gotten to my feet and made it to the envelope before he even realized what had happened. Picking it up, I turned to him and said, “If you’re not going to tell me, then I’ll just have to find out for myself!”
    As my hand started to open the envelope I heard a gunshot. Not wanting to look down I knew exactly where he hit. Beginning to feel my clothes moisten with blood I dropped to my knees. The pavement felt cold and my body went numb. As I dropped to the ground the officer picked up the envelope and walked off.
    The other office had finally come too and saw what had happened. Knowing that I was on my last breaths he told me what was in the envelope.
    Someone had paid them to kill me.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      So your person went to the bank and not the post office? He/she wouldn’t have gotten shot if they went to the post office. I guess Bert worked 2 jobs huh? I liked your story even if it did happen at the bank instead of the post office. If you rewrote this and started with “Next!” you put your reader right in the middle of the action and pulled them into your story. Just sayin’ (Don’t believe me? Try it!) Good job and I really like the ending. See you at the next prompt.

  47. Kerry Charlton says:

    “STING SWAGGER”

    ‘They must take me as a fool,’ Roy thought as he approached the the post office where a guy named Bert, worked. Men stood four deep at Bert’s window so he had time to think about the two feds that approaced him outside the postoffice.He was an federal appellate judge, for God’s sake. Two guys in ninety dollar suits weren’t about to get him involved in a post office sting. Roy knew better but he had always been the one to push the envelope at parties, even dressing in drag as a pregnant cheerleader at a Halloween party last year.

    Six foot five with a classic look out of Esquire, he had transformed himself into a promisuous yell instructor for the ages. Roy decided, ‘I might as well have a little fun with this.’ Bert’s station cleared and Roy leaned his long body over the counter and whispered,

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you get what I mean.”

    “I’m sorry,” Bert answered, “what did you say?”

    ‘He wants to play games,’ Roy thought? ‘I know how.’ He singed Bert’s eyebrows repeating himself. The post office froze and all stared at Roy. Some looked vaguely familiar to him.

    “What are you referring to,” Bert said?

    “Your stamps are boring. Why not put some slinky, halfnaked broads on them. You might include their phone numbers and sell the stamps in blocks of a hundred. Give prizes with lottery numbers.”

    “What kind of prizes did you have in mind?” Bert could barely contain himself from breaking up.

    “Well let’s talk about it,” Roy said. “How about a week in Bermuda, all expenses paid by the federal government.”

    “Why in hell, Bermuda?”

    “You haven’t heard the rest, Bert.”

    “Let’s have it”

    “Seven days, seven stamp girls, a revolving sex orgy. Think of the money made. The post office loses twelve billion a year. You’d sell stamps by the billions. Not a one of them would make it to an envelope.”

    “Everybody ready,” Bert asked?

    Thirty people in the post office replied at once,

    “We’re ready.”

    “Judge Hamilton, every word of yours has been video taped by Loretta.”

    “You’e got to be kidding; my own clerk?”

    “Look at the corner table, wearing the wide brim hat.”

    “And who in God’s name are you Bert?”

    “I’m the postmaster general for Texas. You’re under arrest judge. What do you customers say? Should I lock him up”

    In unison again.

    “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, Judge Hamilton, happy birthday to you.”

  48. HebertWest says:

    All too random, Huck Gibson thought.
    However, years of college pranks as he progressed through political courses to get to his state representative job prepared his demeanor. He had knowing confidence whether swarms of militia entering to take down this fellow Bert or it be a surprise birthday party full of cake and ribbons, ‘thanks for 30 years of service you old fart.’
    What ever it may be, Huck was game.
    He smirked, he was in love with Bert already. Whatever he could do for the community, even the small things gave him light heartedness that was missing from behind the podium.
    Huck walked with a relative anonymity, though state representative for the last year and half, he was volleying for a second term. He earned some attention causing a stir within eight months of his term, trying to change the states stance on gay marriage, abortion and throwing out the “caveman traits” of the states representation. He received a few death threats, but after serving in Iraq, his nerves were steady.
    He was thankful for the virtual unknown status he was accompanied with. Like today, he could walk the streets in adidas sneakers, sweat pants and hooded sweat shirt, a fine Wednesday morning. Hell, he wasn’t even going into the post office!
    He laughed at the idea of the two suit and jackets waiting on the steps for a passerby, what conversations they had or whatever. He ascended the steps and pulled open the door, and walked to the center island grabbing an envelope and throwing a dollar from his pocket in it and writing his own address down on the too and from.
    Huck eased over to the counter, tapping his fingers getting the attention of Bert, his name tag illuminating in Huck’s sight.
    “How may I help?” Bert said.
    Stern, gruff just like his old man.
    “Uh- well I have to mail this letter,” Huck replied.
    Bert examined the envelope.
    “Any perishables, flammable items, glass, paraphernalia, etc?”
    “Of course, Molotov cocktail.”
    “Not funny sir,” Bert’s lips drew a straight line.
    “No worries, I apologize for that.”
    “This is a letter, you put it over in that out going mail. Could’ve have put this in the outside bin.”
    “Oh, I know, I needed a stamp,” Huck smiled.
    “Any kind?”
    “Yeah generic.”
    “Alright, thirty two cents,” Bert said.
    “Yeah no problem,” Huck craned his head to look outside, seeing a black van pull along the curb, and the two suits standing outside, one holding a cell phone to his ear.
    “Oh cool, Abraham Lincoln stamp.”
    “Uh huh.”
    “Say is it your birthday?”
    “No.”
    Huck handed him a dollar wishing he hadn’t used the one stuck in the envelope, he could use bottled water.
    “huh, well. You sure?”
    “Yes,” Bert gave Huck his change and licked his finger, grabbing the stamp book.
    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean,” Huck said wiping his mouth with his hand in an attempt to not laugh.
    “Huh?” it was a sharp guttural reflex, that made Huck back away from fear of projectile vomit.
    He repeated in slow monotone.
    A glaze enveloped Bert’s eyes, automatically he reached behind him, tugging at his belt line, lining up the glock semi automatic in his eye sight.
    “Megan,” Huck’s thoughts of fatherhood raced through his mind as a shell casing erupted from the side of the hand gun. The result leaving him to crumple to the floor.
    From outside the two suits came running in, Bert was still and unapologetic, his gun dropped to the floor. Radios were buzzing,cell phones ringing, ensuing noises fermented the atmosphere. Talk of target taken down, that Operation: Sleeper Agent was now complete.

  49. Amy says:

    I reached the door and glanced over my shoulder one last time, trying to be subtle about it. The look on Agent Conlin’s face told me I was probably missing the mark. Subtlety was never my strong suit. He looked to his partner on the other side of the building and then back toward the empty parking lot. I grabbed hold of whatever courage I had and pulled the door open.

    I held my breath as the UV censor passed over me in the doorway. I hated the way it made my skin crawl under the heated beam. They didn’t really deter that many of them anyway; there were always back doors. The place was vacant except for an old woman rifling through a handful of mail by the P.O. Boxes and one lonely employee behind the counter. There were the usual flyers posted on the windows; a pale ghastly face underneath the headline “Have you seen this vampire?” or “Blood Trafficking is illegal!” The employee sized me up with an uncomfortably long stare as I approached and I nervously tucked my hair behind my ear. I tried to remember what Conlin had told me.

    “His name’s Bert,” he had said. “Stand tall and look him straight in the eyes; don’t look away or he’ll know you’re bluffing. Just flash him your pretty smile and you’ll be golden. We’ll take care of the rest.” He grinned, a sly smirk that had caught my attention long before the badge and I found myself agreeing before even giving it a thought. If it meant I didn’t have to worry about the rent this month, I was willing to help out a Hunter.

    “What can I do for you?” Bert asked. By the way he looked me up and down, I guessed there was a lot he was hoping he could do for me.

    “Um, my stamps are looking a bit square these days…” I said. “…if you know what I mean.”

    He raised an eyebrow at me and I stared him down, smiling, just as I was told. After a moment, he ducked down under the counter and came back up with a box wrapped in plastic.

    “I think I do know what you mean,” he replied. He pushed the box toward me, hesitantly. We both stared at each other, probably wondering the same thing. I had never been close to one before, so I wasn’t sure exactly how to tell them apart from humans. Conlin said it was next to impossible. The only visible difference was their lust for blood. Trafficking had become a way for them to stay in the shadows, as well as a way for us humans to make easy money.

    I lifted the package and stumbled under the weight of it. It was heavier than I expected. I shifted the weight to one arm to reach for the door handle, feeling all four eyes in the room on me and then some. As I grabbed the handle, the box teetered out of my hands and crashed to the floor. I distinctly heard the sound of glass shattering and one of the corners immediately turned crimson.

    I heard the hum of the UV beam behind me and saw Conlin bolt to my side, guns raised. A small pool of blood was now forming under the box and I heard a low, guttural growl from the other side of the counter.

    “Shit,” Conlin grunted. Bert’s eyes were blood-red and he was advancing toward us.

  50. LynCW23 says:

    I climb the brown stairs of the town’s small post office, and wait my turn in line. Using this time to my advantage, I spy on conversations and muttering in the small office. “Gotta git you some more, girly”, grins a broken tooth smile behind me. This is just as sinister as I feared, I think, reaching into my cramped purse to offer a mint to Broken Teeth and take a therapeutic one for myself. “Oh, seems you’ve just bought them until you’re completely out, doesn’t it?” What was that?! I’ve given myself away for sure.

    The line ahead of Broken Teeth and me is moving ahead at a good clip, but I’m not sure if this is a good sign. The constant opening and shutting of the door is giving me a chill, I zip up my coat which gives Broken Teeth the Terrors. “Where you going? You just come in here to ask me questions?” The scent of sweetened garbage invades my sinuses and makes my eyes water.

    “No, it’s cold! I always get sick in the winter. I guess that’s why you were smart and kept your coat and gloves on.” Broken Teeth was easily handled. “Yeah, Bernie always tells me I’m one of the smart ones. Except this one time he got mad when I licked them right in the Post Office. ‘Wait ‘til you get outside for that business!’ he tells me! Well, I’m in my rights, I tell him! Then he got real nice and said only problem was I was slowing up the line.”

    At this point, there are only three people queued up ahead of me on the muddied pink tile. Bert seems to be following the same script with his customers, using the same motions; only sometimes crouching behind the steel counter and rising up with twine wrapped manila packages and a nervous grin. The bald man furthest from me gets a nervous grin and a manila package, but the last two get the standard take-away assortments of boxes, stamps, and receipts.
    Finally, it’s my turn at the counter with Bert. “How may I help you today, miss?” intoned Bert. I studied him for a moment. He was short, grey-haired, dark eyed, with a kindly but shifty face. “Well, Bert…my stamps have been looking somewhat square lately.”
    “Oh, I hear you. These price increases have had our one cent stamps flying out the door. Earlier today a gentleman told me he found old stamps in his drawer and has been affixing seven one centers per letter. Imagine that! Are you out of your old stamps or would you like to purchase some more to tide you over?”
    “Actually, that’s not why I’m here. My friend back here told me that you can help me with my problem.” I gesture back to Broken Teeth, whom Bert looks at with annoyed recognition. “Really…you don’t look like the type. Well, here you go.” A duck down, a pass over and the package is mine.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Good job. Note: If you delete the whole first paragraph you put your reader in the middle of your action which is a good place to draw your reader into your story. – I’m just sayin’ and you would have 96 more words to play with. Lol. Good job.

  51. droohi says:

    “My stamps look a bit square these day. If you know what I mean.” I said to Bert. He looked up, blinked and looked down. “I actually don’t know what you mean; all the stamps are usually square.” He said.
    “Bert, I need some oval stamps, do you have any?!” I asked him bewildered.
    “I am saying that even if I had those I wouldn’t give you. I have had just enough with this.” He looked squarely in my eyes.
    I wasn’t ready for that, suddenly I put pretence aside; place was empty anyways. I grabbed his arm, jerked him towards myself, “We have worked too long for this, you will not pull back now.” My voice was threatening but my eyes were pleading, they have to be.
    “Yes, I can, yes I can. You know what I can’t do? Walk out of it unharmed and successful, Jamie! I love you, I thought knew what I was doing but ……. I can’t be not punished Jamie. I can’t be blameless.”
    I fell silent, my arms dropped down like dead weight. “You can’t be thinking of doing this to me. I told you not to go to him that night.” I said.
    “Yes, you did.” He said slowly.
    “I reminded you of how out of control your anger can be.” I was sobbing.
    “Yes, you did.” He touched tears slipping on my cheek as if in haze.
    “I told you it was no big deal!” I stepped back.
    “I know you did” He was looking at the water on the tip of his finger.
    “We have worked so hard to cover our tracks Bert! We have worked a year, to bread crumb our way around this investigation! We have a suspect and everything.”
    “Jamie, I cannot teach you to lie and get away with it.” His voice was growing softer; I was really starting to feel that I can’t talk him out of it.
    “You are my only legal guardian, without you I will be in the system!” I walked across the counter and shook his body with all my might.
    “For two years! You are a big girl and I have always been so proud of you” He was playing with my hair.
    “You trust me right?” He asked me. I looked away; he was not going to make me answer that.
    He took my face into his palms and said. “Then make me proud! Be good, work hard and have faith and hope, live! For me Jamie, be awesome when I come out!”
    I was choking on God knows what.
    He took my hand and started walking out. He reached the two secret operatives that we had tipped already as planned. “Sir, I am the caller with the tip. Except that I want to confess now” He said to one of the officers. “Confess what, son?” Officer asked carefully.
    “That I killed John doe for tearing the only picture my sister had of our parents.” Bert whispered.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Good story. Missed on a couple words I think but overall very good. Hint:Delete this line ““My stamps look a bit square these day. If you know what I mean.” I said to Bert.” and your story starts with your action and gives you 18 more words to play with. I’m just sayin. Lol. Good job.

      • droohi says:

        Mr. MCKEVIN, thank you so much for your encouragement. I am so glad you liked it. I felt it was a soap opera blabber. I re-read the story after posting and realized that ‘if you know what I mean’ should not be there. But too late for that!. And I have 18 more words?! I really need to learn reviewing things!
        This is SUCH a good exercise for story writing, really! I love this forum….

  52. Lenna Grace says:

    Bert was the shortest postal worker I had ever seen. He could barely see over the counter and his physical appearance was definitely not attractive. He was as wide as he was tall and even from the distance between us my nose was telling me that his idea of personal hygiene didn’t include soap and water.
    “I have your package in the back,” growled Bert as he glared at me with loathing. I had no idea what his issues were but I was in it up to my ears. I tried to maintain my calm outward appearance while my stomach and bowels clenched in nervous anticipation.
    I watched Bert waddle toward the back of the office down a short hallway and I continued to wait as I realized the pain in my chest was a panic attack. I had checked out the ID the dude at the front of the post office had shown me, but it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea if it was real. I was panicked and overcome with dread and I thought, “What if those guys are playing me and I’m about to deliver illegal goods to a couple of strangers?”
    As usual, the post office was packed and there were about twenty people waiting for the only clerk on duty. I turned and gave the folks waiting in line a nervous smile and noticed the ‘agents’ were peeking in the window. My intuition went into overdrive. “Why would a couple of professionals make themselves so conspicuous?” I wondered.
    I was still waiting for Bert to return so I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911, but I made it look like I was answering the phone and not making a call. In the lowest possible voice, I started to explain my situation when the operator cut me off with, “I’ll transfer you to a police operator. Hold please.” My panic level went into the stratosphere.
    I saw Bert struggling with a huge box on a handcart and I prayed for something – anything – to delay him while I waited for the police operator. I was literally shaking with fear when I noticed that a Supervisor had stopped Bert in his tracks. A police operator finally came on the line and I quickly explained my situation. “We have a unit two blocks away. Delay until the unit arrives and do not go outside,” instructed the operator.
    “Thank you,” I replied with a shaky voice and I ended the call.
    Bert arrived at the counter and I asked if I could use the handcart to get the package to my car. “No,” he spat, “these carts can’t leave the building,” he stated forcefully as he rolled the package around the end of the counter and set it on the ground. I was walking over to the package when a black and white arrived. The two ‘agents’ outside made a break for it and I vowed never to allow myself to be duped again.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Good for you… But what was in the package? Good descriptions for good story. You could continue this one if you wanted to. Good job. See ya at the next prompt.

  53. slayerdan says:

    Heather Stone looked at the two men. The older one with the badge, with his broad shoulders and narrow waist was quite delicious to look at. He had a George Clooney look, but with a much better body she thought. The younger one was also in shape, but he looked more like a musclehead than the other. Still he had blue eyes and a dimpled smile, and Heather Stone was a known sucker for both. Her interest fully tweaked she felt that this might be fun.

    “So what kind of sting are you boys working on? You got a dealer in the post office? Drugs? Guns? Spies?” she kept rolling out possibilities, biting her lip in between each as she tried to keep her eyes locked with the older man. Heather was all curves in the right places and she saw the older man staring before they ever got to actual words.

    “I am sorry ma’am, but I cannot divulge that. All I can say is that it is a quite serious matter and we need someone that will not arouse suspicion,” he replied. He looked at his younger partner and back to Heather.

    “You got anything else you need me to arouse for you?” she asked, a decisively lurid tone in her voice. She found herself more than excited by these two and she wasn’t afraid to show it.

    She learned a long time ago that showing worked best.

    “I told you she was wrong for it,” the younger man quipped shaking his head. “We need to go.”
    “Ease up now my young buck,” she started.

    “My name is John.”

    Laughing as she took half a step closer, “well what exactly am I wrong for, John?”

    The older man, obviously irritated at the exchange, shot a look to John and then to Heather. He rubbed his hand on his brow and looked at the pavement before looking back to Heather.

    “I am sorry we bothered you ma’am, obviously you may not be able to help us,” he stated matter of fact as his eyes hardened their gaze on her.

    “Whoa now,” she replied back,” if you boys need some help, I am sure Heather can help you. What’s in this for Heather?” she asked.

    “You will be helping a lot of people out,” John piped up quickly, visibly upset.

    “Honey, I’ve helped a lot of people out before,” she grinned big, biting her lip for a second,” but helping don’t pay the bills,” she finished up, looking at both men.

    “We will give you five hundred bucks,” the older man said as Johns mouth dropped open.

    “Done,” she giggled as she put her hand out.

    “Pay her,” the older one said, looking at John. Without a word, he gave her five 100 dollar bills.

    “Now,” John followed up,” go do it.”

    Heather turned and went into the post office and made her way to the window where Bert was.

    “Can I help you ma’am?” he asked quietly.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    “Are you serious? That’s what they asked you to say?” he asked, laughing.

    “Yeah, they get goofier each time. They are in the black Tahoe outside,” she replied, her voice taking a more somber tone.

    “Two in the black Tahoe out front,” Bert said into his lapel pin.

    “Be gentle,” Heather said grinning,” these two are better than the rest, they gave us 500 for lunch.”

  54. Dutchguy says:

    The postal office closed at 5 pm on Fridays. Justin looked at his watch again as he cornered the street. A quarter before 5. He had made it just in time. Through the pouring rain he walked quickly up to the entrance of the postal office. Relieve washed over him as he saw the sign that said the place was still open. Monday morning was the deadline to apply for a renewal of the financial aid which the government provided to struggling artists. If he posted his application today it would reach them just in time.

    Justin was about to open the door as two men walked up to him.
    “Sir?” The men were dressed in black suits and they were wearing sunglasses. Strange. Water had been falling out of the sky all day. “Sir, I am special agent Johnson and this is my colleague, special agent Miller. Could we have a moment of your time, please?”
    “Yeah, sure.” Justin answered surprised. “What is this about?”
    “Well, sir. We are in somewhat of a bind. You see we have been chasing down leads on a organisation suspected to be a drug cartel, operating in this neighborhood, for weeks now. And we have come to conclude they have been working from the backroom of this postal office.”
    Justin could not believe what he heard. A drug cartel? In his sleepy boring neighborhood. “Eh, ok…”
    “Sir, we need you to go in there and take some pictures with your phone of the backroom.” The man said.
    “Why me?” Justin felt like he was playing in a movie so unreal did it seem.
    “We would do it ourselves but the evidence is too thin to get a warrant. All you have to do is walk up to the counter and speak the code words.”

    Before Justin could wrap his head around what was happening he was already standing in front of the counter looking into the eyes of Bert, the postal worker. Sweat stood on his forehead and his hands were clammy as he recited the code words from memory, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    Bert just looked at him for a few seconds, then he spoke, “I have some triangle shaped stamps if you like?”
    It was not the answer the agents had told him to expect. “Eh…” Justin did not know what to say. “Yeah, sure.”
    Bert took Justin’s letter and pasted a triangle shaped stamp on it. “Anything else, sir?”
    “Eh… No… No thanks…” Justin turned and walked out.

    Outside he welcomed the rain on his hot face. Of the two agents there was no trace. With no idea what had just happened he walked back home.

    Bert walked into the backroom. He smiled as he saw Alex tie the two unconscious agents down to the table.
    Alex looked up, “They thought we were running a drug cartel.”
    Together they laughed as they started harvesting the organs.

  55. droohi says:

    “My stamps look a bit square these day. If you know what I mean.” I said to Bert. He looked up, blinked and looked down. “I actually don’t know what you mean; all the stamps are usually square.” He said.
    “Bert, I need some oval stamps, do you have any?!” I asked him bewildered.
    “I am saying that even if I had those I wouldn’t give you. I have had just enough with this.” He looked into my eyes squarely.
    I wasn’t ready for that, suddenly I drop all pretense; place was empty anyways. I grabbed his arm, jerked him towards myself, “We have worked too long for this, you will not pull back now.” My voice was threatening but my eyes were pleading, they have to be.
    “Yes, I can, yes I can. You know what I can’t do? Walk out of it unharmed and successful, Jamie! I love you, I knew what I was doing when we met but then……. I can’t be not punished Jamie. I can’t be unblemished.”
    I fell silent, my arms dropped down like dead weight. “You can’t be thinking of doing this to me. I told you not to go to him that night.” I said.
    “Yes, you did.” He said slowly.
    “I reminded you of how out of control your anger can be.” I was sobbing.
    “Yes, you did.” He touched tears slipping on my cheek as if in haze.
    “I told you it was no big deal!” I stepped back.
    “I know you did” He was looking at the water on the tip of his finger.
    “We have worked so hard to cover our tracks Bert! We have worked a year, just to move around a stupid investigation! We have a suspect and everything.”
    “Jamie, I cannot teach you to lie and get away with it.” His voice was growing softer, I was really starting to feel that I can’t talk him out of it.
    “You are my only legal guardian, without you I will be in the system!” I walked across the counter and shook his body with all my might.
    “For two years! You are a big girl and I have always been so proud of you” He was playing with my hair.
    “You trust me right?” He asked me. I looked away, he was not going to make me answer that.
    He took my face into his palms and said. “Then make me proud! Be good, work hard, play harder and have faith and hope, live! For me Jamie, live happily and fully!”
    I was choking on God knows what.
    He took my hand and started walking out. He reached the two secret operatives that we had tipped already as a plan. “Sir, I am the caller with the tip. Except that I want to confess now” He said to one of the officers. “Confess what?” Officer asked carefully.
    “That I killed gangster Thompson for tearing the only picture my sister had of our parents.” Bert whispered.
    .

  56. putterpop says:

    Trixy Timblepot was sweating like a whore in church. Her hands visibly shaking as she peered over her shoulder at the two men that had approached her. They stood at the far end of the post office lobby, a good distance in this particular office, going through some letters and such. Still she knew they were watching her. Looking back to the front of the line, she saw that she was next. Her pulse raced and her breaths were quicker and shallow.

    “I’m too old for this,” she muttered to herself as she began wringing her 71 year old hands to stop them from shaking even more.
    She had been approached going in and now felt quite stupid for stopping to talk to the men. The large one flashed some kind of badge and it looked official. Dressed nicely, they both had a small gold pin with three stripes and a circle on their lapel. They presented their plan, and in a moment of indecision, Trixy said yes. Now she was afraid to not do what the men had asked, knowing they were watching her.

    “Next please,” the teller said. Trixy shuffled forward to the window. There was a balding man in normal post office attire. He had a bulbous nose and leathery skin, obviously spending his days off drinking in the sun. He smiled a painful smile as she made sure his nametag had the right name.

    It was Bert. She had the right man.

    “Can I help you ma’am?” he asked. It was then, right then, when Trixy thought her chest would explode.

    “I should have written it down,” she said lightly, realizing she had forgotten what the man had told her to say. She looked to where the two men were. They both had ended their charade of looking at letters and watched her intently.

    “Ma’am are you ok?” Bert asked. He placed his hands up on the counter and Trixy noticed the ring on his finger. Gold. With three stripes and a circle. Lightheaded, she steadied herself with the counter as she looked up again at Bert, an obvious look of irritation on his face.

    “My tramps are looking quite fair these days, but they are the best that I have seen,” Trixy managed to mutter, nearly swallowing her upper plate as she said it. She felt a calm come over her, realizing she had managed to do it.

    Bert looked at her for a few seconds and asked,” is that all I can help you with today ma’am?”

    “Yes, yes that will be all thank you,” she replied, assuming she had gotten the words right. She turned and made her way slowly to the door, noting the two men were no longer there. She peered outside and not seeing them,
    made her way to her car and left.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————

    “Are you sure this is what she said?” the man asked Bert.
    “Word for word sir,” Bert replied.
    “Very well, send it to Washington on encrypted code level 4. This will start riots in the street, but it is a viable code,” the man finished as Bert began typing.

  57. DMelde says:

    “Did you feed my pigeons?” Bert asked.
    “Yes I did Bert. What about what I just said?”
    “I heard you Ernie. You’re here for the Square stamps package. I didn’t know you were running errands for Donald Grump.”
    “Well, I am today, I guess. I can’t talk about it. It’s a secret.”
    The truth was, Ernie had no idea what he was doing there. Inspector Sherlock Hemlock had stopped him on his way into the post office and asked him for his help.
    Bert walked over to the high value rack of boxes and picked up a package. He brought it over to Ernie and opened it. Inside was a metal statue of a rubber duckie. Although it was the color black, Ernie recognized it instantly and he burst into song.
    “Rubber duckie, you’re the one, who makes bath time so much fun.”
    “Shhhhh.” Bert said, “This is a post office.”
    “Sorry Bert.”
    Ernie looked at the stamps. There were One-Two-Three stamps. They were large and they were Square. They were also from a foreign country and they said MALTA across the top of each stamp.
    “So let me get this straight Bert. Anybody, anywhere, can put a stamp on a package and mail it anywhere in the world?”
    That’s right Ernie, that’s what a post office is used for.”
    “Okay Bert. See you at home.”
    “See you later Ernie. Can you pick me up some paperclips from Donald Grump to add to my collection?”
    “Sure thing Bert, how many do you want?”
    “One-Two-Three paperclips Ernie, thanks.”
    Ernie carried the package outside and showed it to Inspector Hemlock.
    “Here’s the package Inspector.” Ernie said. “What are we going to do with it?”
    “We’re inspecting how a post office works Ernie. Now we must deliver it to the person it’s addressed to, Donald Grump.”
    So Ernie started walking down the street, followed by Inspector Hemlock and his partner, Colambo.
    “Baaaaa.”
    Ernie walked by the trash can of the grouch and he didn’t stop until he was on the far side of town. Everyone on the far side of town was rich, and they thought they could do whatever they wanted and tell other people what to do. They even renamed their side of the street to “Says-a-me Street”.
    Ernie looked wide-eyed at all of the glitter and the gold as he went in and up the elevator of Grump Tower. In the penthouse the secretary looked at the package and said, “The Maltese Rubber Duckie. He’s been expecting you.”
    “You’ve done a fantastic job, Ernie. This is just how a post office works.” Mr. Grump said. “From now on, you’re my apprentice.”
    “Thank you Mr. Grump, but I’m happy being who I am and living on my side of the street.”
    So Bert left for home, but not before asking and receiving One-Two-Three paperclips from the secretary outside of Mr. Grump’s office.
    This story has been brought to you by the number Three and the shape Square.

  58. douglangille says:

    THE PACKAGE
    ============

    A sharp breeze stirred up the gutter dirt as Daniel crossed the otherwise motionless street. It stung his face, both the sandy debris and the cold air. He pulled his collar up around his face in an attempt at comfort.

    He was nervous.

    His chest itched where they had shaved. “Best way to make the tape stick!” they said. It was a good thing he was wearing a jacket as he was far too self-conscious about the bulk of the wire he now sported.

    It was a small post office in a small seaside town. It was early Saturday morning and no one was about. Daniel thought it a great opportunity to take a walk, do some errands and clear his head of the previous evening’s indulgences.

    The bells atop the door jingled as he entered. Roberta was at the counter, pouring over the local rag, checking the obituaries – presumably for her own entry. Her family had run this small outlet for generations. Given the remoteness of this little town, village really, the post office was the hub, captained by its current matron, a fixture that everyone called Bert.

    He was musing that he had no idea the old gal had it in her to be running a side hustle. She interrupted his thoughts with a gravelly voice thick with morning phlegm.
    “G’morning Danny! What brings you out-and-about this fine day?”

    Daniel, not thinking the day fine at all anymore, forced a smile.

    “Hey Bert.”

    He hesitated, unsure of himself.

    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    Bert fixed her gaze on him, trying to measure him in some way. Her own smile evaporated as her demeanor cooled to match the weather.

    “Marble cheese”, she spat.

    “If you please”, Daniel returned. He’d been coached well.

    She retreated in to the backroom and retrieved a small parcel, wrapped neatly in brown paper and unaddressed. Her hands trembled slightly as she placed it on the counter with a heavy thud.

    She leaned forward and held a finger to her lips for him to be quiet. She scrawled on a scrap of paper with the pen chained to the counter.

    “Play along”, it read. She wrote furiously as she engaged him in a friendly chat about the weather and town politics.

    She turned the page around for him to read as the topic changed to town gossip and local politics. He read it quickly and his gorge rose.

    “I know about the agents out front. Not real. I know about the wire. Time is short. Package is priceless. Take it to Mary. She’ll know what to do. You’re in danger. Back door. Now.”

    Daniel looked at Bert, tears and panic now in her eyes. He wondered what her granddaughter had to do with all this. He’d always had a boyish crush on Mary in high school. She’d left shortly after graduation – the annual exodus from a small town in decline. He had no idea where to find her.

    “Now!” Bert yelled as she saw the men sprinting across the parking lot on the other side of the street. Something had tipped them off. Her bark shocked Daniel in to motion. He fled out the back door just as he heard the bells chime and tinkle.

    The post office was backed against the inlet. Out back, he stumbled and rolled down the uneven slope covered in the long dead grass of winter. He was at a dead run along the rocky beach when the shots rang out.

    • Mittens1326 says:

      I love the way you write… every word feels like the perfect fit. And I like that Bert was a woman!! So did Daniel make it!?!

      • douglangille says:

        Thank you for the kind words.

        I like to think Daniel made it and the ensuing adventure worthwhile. Maybe something like:

        Bert had been trafficking in contraband medical supplies so that she could make enough connections to score the rare cancer drug that her granddaughter so desperately needs. It’s Daniel’s mission to find Mary and deliver his precious cargo before thwarted by his pursuers, patent protection agents of Big Pharma. If Daniel succeeds, he gets the girl and Bert’s sacrifice would not have been in vain.

    • bjamison71 says:

      Nice!! Unique idea, having ‘Bert’ be a woman, and I like the imagery of the sharp breeze stirring up the gutter debris…

    • DMelde says:

      Good take on the prompt and well written. I could feel myself running along the rocky beach beside Daniel.

    • smallster21 says:

      Eeeeep! Oh, no did Bert get shot? This was good. Great build-up of tension. I want to know what this priceless object is in the package. Great!

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Very good. You write like a novel is dying to get out. You make me want to get a blog too. Good job.

  59. JakeC says:

    STING OPERATION AT THE POST OFFICE

    “I see the name on your badge is Sam Wiseman and you work for the FBI.”
    “Yes and what is your name?”
    “You can call me Jake. Who is your partner?”
    Sam looks at his partner then responds, “Look we need your help, and it’s a matter of Nation Security, that’s all I can tell you right now.”
    “Seems kind of strange the FBI would ask a complete stranger to assist in a sting operation.”
    “I can see where you find this an unusual request, however, Bert does not know you or seen you before. That is why we are asking you to help us. Look Jake, this here is John and he works for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Show him your badge John.”
    “OK so John, what is your role in this top secret sting operation?”
    “Jake we don’t have a lot of time here. Not many people know what we do. In a nut shell the U.S. Postal Inspection Service enforces the laws that defend our nation’s mail system from illegal and dangerous use.”
    “Now Jake can you please go say to Bert,” My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” Bert will be the only male working the counter today. He will hand you a white legal size envelope without saying anything. Be sure you use both hands to receive it, this is very important. We’ll be waiting for you on the south side of the building. Can we trust you to help us?”
    “Alright John, I trust this is important for national security as you say. I served in the United State Air Force and understand security. What you’re asking me to do seem simple enough. I’ll meet you around the corner with the envelope.”
    There was a line of people waiting to be served by three postal workers. Bert was the only male working the counter just as John said. Bert was tall for an oriental standing just over six feet tall, he had jet black hair and dark brown eyes. Jake recognized Bert as being oriental. Jake had been stationed at Anderson Air Force in Guam defending the buffer zone or the 38th parallel separating North from South Korea. While on leave in Seoul, Jake became very familiar with the Korean people and culture. A moment of though occurred to Jake as to Bert’s heritage – North or South Korean.

  60. swatchcat says:

    Dead Letter Society

    “You have to make it look legitimate; it’s the only way I’ll get the letters.” The man was adamant.

    “Yes Sir,” they said in unison.

    “Here are your badges. You’re with the Post Master General.” He handed the two bodyguards their covers.

    “Once she brings you the letters, get out, get out fast. Don’t take any chances. Be careful I need each letter in tact.” The directions seemed simple; they just had to be followed to the tie.

    “Sorry Sir, but what’s so special about those letters,” one asked.

    “No question’s just get the damned letters and fast. My plane leaves immediately.” The man was on edge, tired of questions. “Now go!”

    The two guards had found the woman. Her name was Jamie and she was a regular of the local post office. An avid stamp collector would have no problem getting what they needed.

    What no one knew was how far back this thing went and how many it involved. The man was a member of the Dead Letter Society; a little known branch of the Freemasons. Ironically, one of the founding fathers was not just a member of the Masons but also the first Post Master General. It stands to reason he helped form and pick the first inspector for the dead letter department of the Postal Service.

    Under the guise of “Return to Sender,” letters non-deliverable or lost and returned the Masons utilized as service to send hidden messages. Today, for the first time in a while this man, a Mason ancestor, had an obligation to fill. The first step was to get a letter from the post office. His identity at risk, he found a way by recruiting a civilian.

    The two guards hid out of site waiting for Jamie’s return. What they didn’t know was Jamie had actually found them. She was going after the special stamps placed on the return dead letters. Legend has it that messages were hidden within the ink stamps and the labels used. She had another boss trying to get to it before the man that these two guys worked for.

    Bert, the man at the counter, handed her a stack of very old letters. The guards had given her a code to get the letters. Now she just had to get away.

    “The B. Free Franklin Station predates the colonies and the Postal Service. If you follow me outside…”The guide headed outside.
    Jamie took this as the perfect opportunity to slip past the guards. She just had to mingle with the crowd. She wedged herself into the people and in the opposite direction.

    Once around the building she ran to the bus stop, just in time for the PA Metro pulling to the curb. Slouched down in the seat she peaked toward the building. The men were heading toward the front steps of the post office. She felt the letters in her pocket, she was on the run.

  61. nelleg says:

    Dear diary,
    My so called vacation is going good. It’s absolutely beautiful here in Hawaii. I went to see the Arizona today. The concierge was right about getting there super early, the line was crazy. I bought a couple of post cards for Aunt Val and my cousin Anastasia while I waited. The memorial was simple and yet walking around it I could feel the power of its symbolism. After the long day at Pearl Harbor I decided just to relax for the rest of the evening but first I had to go to the post office. The strangest thing happened when I went to mail the post cards.
    A man dressed in a black suit, black sunglasses and flip flops approached me and with a whisper he told me that he needed my help. His voice had a sense of urgency to it and his eyes swiftly darted in every direction. I was about to walk away and report him to the next cop I saw when he pulled a small wallet from his inner jacket pocket. He flashed me some credentials. ‘Kirk Reedland Senior Agent NCIS’. I couldn’t believe it, a real life Leroy Jethro Gibbs though his style said more of Anthony DiNozzo. I asked him what he needed from me. He told me that he had seen me at Pearl Harbor earlier in the day and so did a Russian operative. Apparently the Russian operative stuck a note in my pocket. I reached into my left jacket pocket and pulled out a small white slip of paper that read ‘My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.’ Agent Reedland/Dinozzo then told me that he needed me to go the counter inside and repeat what is on the note to the guy named Bert. I told him I would and walked inside.
    The interior was as beautiful as the rest of the island, not at all what you would expect of a government ran office. I quickly scanned the tellers and seen the one that was mentioned by Agent Reedland. I walked up to him and spoke in the calmest voice that I could manage. Remembering what the note said I told Bert “My stamps are a bit too sticky for my taste, if you know what I mean.” Bert smiled and said “I understand ma’am I will note your issue. Maybe you should buy some new ones.” After I paid him, I walked out to the agent, who was now joined by another man dressed similar but with actual shoes. I explained what Bert said and Agent Reedland turns to his colleague and stated that Bert must have been spooked. They let me go and asked me not to tell anyone.
    Now I’m wondering what to do next. Today was too close of call. Maybe I will have better luck tomorrow with my contact at Waikiki Beach. I will just have to look out for DiNozzo and the gang.

  62. Dutchguy says:

    The postal office closed at 5 pm on Fridays. Justin looked at his watch again as he cornered the street. A quarter before 5. He had made it just in time. Through the pouring rain he walked quickly up to the entrance of the postal office. Relieve washed over him as he saw the sign that said the place was still open. Monday morning was the deadline to apply for a renewal of the financial aid the government provided to struggling artists. If he posted his application today it would reach them just in time.
    Justin was about to open the door as two men walked up to him.
    “Sir?” The men were dressed in black suits and they were wearing sunglasses. Strange. Water had been falling out of the sky all day. “Sir, I am special agent Johnson and this is my colleague, special agent Miller. Could we have a moment of your time, please?”
    “Yeah, sure.” Justin answered surprised. “What is this about?”
    “Well, sir. We are in somewhat of a bind. You see we have been chasing down leads on a drug cartel, operating in this neighborhood, for weeks now. And we have come to conclude they have been operating from the backroom of this postal office.”
    Justin could not believe what he heard. A drug cartel? In his sleepy boring neighborhood. “Eh, ok…”
    “Sir, we need you to go in there and take some pictures with your phone of the backroom.” The man said.
    “Why me?” Justin felt like he was playing in a movie so unreal did it seem.
    “We would do it ourselves but the evidence is too thin to get a warrant. All you have to do is walk up to the counter and speak the code words.”
    Before Justin could wrap his head around what was happening he was already standing in front of the counter looking into the eyes of Bert, the postal worker. The sweat stood on his forehead and his hands were clammy as he recited the code words from memory, “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”
    Bert just looked at him for a few seconds, then he spoke, “I have some triangle shaped stamps if you like?”
    It was not the answer the agents had told him to expect. “Eh…” Justin did not know what to say. “Yeah, sure.”
    Bert took Justin’s letter and pasted a triangle shaped stamp on it. “Anything else, sir?”
    “Eh… No… No thanks…” Justin turned and walked out.
    Outside he welcomed the rain falling down on his hot face. Of the two agents there was no trace. With no idea what had just happened he walked back home.

    Bert walked into the backroom. He smiled as he saw Alex tie the two unconscious agents down to the table.
    Alex looked up, “They thought we were running a drug cartel.”
    Together they laughed as they started harvesting the organs.

  63. phfed says:

    Bert the post office guy looks at me like I’m nuts,
    ” What did you just say? ” he asks.
    ” Uh, it was nothing, I’m sorry. ” I turn away from the counter, feeling like a putz for listening to the two guys outside. They flash a badge and right away I’m obliged to come in and ask some stupid question about square stamps?
    I get outside, those two are nowhere to be seen. Whatever, I have other things on my mind. Like maintaining my cover as a freelance journalist while conducting surveillance on a doctor with terrorist links. All part of training before becoming fully operational with the Institute.
    A black car screeches to a stop beside me. Two guys jump out, one in an ill fitting blue suit and wearing glasses, the other in shirtsleeves, sporting a porno ‘stache.
    ” Police. Come with us, please, ” says the Moustache. I don’t have much choice as Glasses hustles me into the back seat and climbs in. Moustache takes the front and the driver accelerates into traffic.
    ” What’s this about? I’ve done nothing wrong, ” I say.
    “Shut up, ” Glasses punches me in the ribs. Moustache is facing me from the front seat, his arm draped across the backrest. He waits until I can breathe again.
    ” We are taking you in on suspicion of collusion with two known terrorists, with which you were seen outside the post office, ” Moustache stares straight into my eyes, ” you’re going to wish you were never born. ”
    ” This is insane. I’ve never seen those two before, ” my mind is racing. I know the Institute will deny any knowledge of my existence. All I have to rely on is my cover story.
    We pull up to a building and Glasses drags me inside. I’m handcuffed to a railing in a dimly lit room furnished with a single chair, which he sits on and says,
    ” We know you are planning to bomb government buildings. Confess now and it will be easier for you. ”
    ” I don’t know what you are talking about. Those two guys, they said they were police, like you. ”
    ” Liar, we watched you. we saw what you were up to. ”
    ” I’m a journalist, right now working on a story about life in the city compared to the Kibbutz. You took my papers and I.D. Check them out. ” I lie.
    “Forgeries. Do you think us stupid? ”
    ” It’s true, I swear, ” I try to sound convincing. Moustache barges into the room carrying what looks to be a bag of oranges. He rushes over and starts to beat me. I pass out.

    The next thing I know I’m lying on a bed in a bright sunlit room. White lace curtains billow in the breeze from open french doors. Moustache and Glasses are gone, replaced by the two from the post office and Bert, who is standing beside the bed. I sit up, feeling like four kilos of crap shoved into a one kilo sack, not a mark on me.
    ” Who the hell are you guys? ” I say.
    ” We had to make sure you wouldn’t break, ” Bert holds out his hand for me to shake, ” congratulations, welcome to the Institute. “

  64. MCKEVIN says:

    Bert looked suspicious and sounded leery after I’d said the code words.
    “Anaconda or Snapper?” he asked.
    “Both.” I lied not knowing contextually what either meant.
    “Who you with?”
    Clueless, I winged it.
    “Alone.”
    “You like your anacondas big and thick?”
    “Bigger and thicker is better.”
    “Then call me Big Bert?”
    “Okay, Big Bert!”
    We laughed like old friends.
    “You’ll get your package at closing time.”
    “No problem.”
    I reasoned he sold huge, colorful exotic snakes and turtles, and used the postal service as his front. Bert served his last customer, closed the counter window, locked the front door then beckoned me to follow him. I gave a Thumbs Up to the two men staring in the door’s window.
    “You coming or what?” Bert yelled.
    I didn’t know how, but I knew I was doing something for the greater good of all mankind.
    However, as I stepped through the door, a blonde bikini clad Asian woman with body piercings, approached me.
    “Sit here, so I can strap you in.”
    Blondie pointed to a mail binding machine. Nervously, I sat as she pushed the start button. The machine whirred and my arms and legs instantly fastened to the makeshift chair.
    “Where’s Bert?” I asked
    “He’ll join us shortly. You like your stamps dry or licked?”
    Surprised, my privates stirred.
    “Licked!”
    She reached in her mail bag, pulled out a roll of a hundred stamps and uncoiled them.
    “Taste!”
    I opened my mouth, stuck out my tongue and she stuffed the whole roll in. My tongue’s saliva mixed with the rancid flavored glue and I couldn’t speak. The fixture lights went out. Blondie whistled, a mirrored ball spun on the ceiling and a million specks of lights danced on the walls. Madonna’s “Vogue” sounded and Blondie lap danced me. She gyrated, grind and rubbed her big boobs at my face. She kissed my eyelids, knees and feet. She dropped her head seemingly to faint, just as six two, two fifty bald head Bert entered carrying a large whip.
    “I’ll take it from here!”
    Blondie kissed the whip, high fived Bert and left. He rubbed the whip against my face and started stripping off his clothes. He pulled a goldfish out his crotch and put it down the front of my clothing. I tried to scream as Bert dry humped wickedly. He was down to his postal uniform briefs when he said…
    “So you like Snapper and the Anaconda?”
    I violently shook my head no! Bert stood directly in front of me and stuck his big thick whip down my back. I squirmed as the rope wiggled and made my flesh crawl. He lowered his briefs and revealed a jock strap with a buzzer. Silently, I screamed. He pressed his buzzer, the front door opened and a group of my closet friends with boxes shouted…

    “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY FROM THE POSTAL EMPLOYEES BIRTHDAY CLUB!”

    The tag team strippers Bert and Blondie, unclamped me. I hugged and thanked everybody and then we had cake.

    • swatchcat says:

      I have to admit your back room romp sent my imagination down a darker hole. That was a cruel twisted ending to be an office prank. Because of that, it was a good read, thank you.

    • smallster21 says:

      OMG! This was disturbing. I would kill my friends if they did this to me, literally, I’d take that cake and shove it down their throats. But, your descriptions were very vivid and solid, so props there. And the dialogue was clever.

      Did her friends tell her to go into the post office and say the code word to set her up? I assume that, but am not sure how she found herself in the situation.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting… this is for your

        The music was still in her head and car headlights reminded her of the lights on the post office’s wall. Mary couldn’t believe she peed herself and no one noticed, and how four friends, who couldn’t agree what to order for lunch, could pull that prank off. She laughed to herself and called her best friend.
        “You awake?”
        “No!”
        “Martha, whose idea was it to get the strippers?”
        “Wasn’t it yours?”
        “We didn’t and we thought it was a bit much you did it for yourself.”
        “What!”
        “Mary it doesn’t matter. We all had a good time. Goodnight!”
        CLICK!
        Shaken, Mary, cautiously opened her door. She’d found it odd Needles didn’t greet her and wished she had left a light on. She panicked the creepy moonlight peeked through her draperies and tree shadows swayed as she searched for the light’s switch. Click! Her living room was in disarray, which was the last thing she needed after the fiasco at the post office. She didn’t have time to tidy up and make it to the post office on time. So, she left it. She remembered the message said…
        “You have a birthday surprise at the main post office. Please be there before 9:00 tonight.“
        RINNNG….
        The sound startled and broke her thoughts. She grabbed the phone .
        “Hello! Hello!”
        She heard garbling clicking noises then…
        “Mary you have a birthday surprise at home. Please be here before 12:00 tonight.“
        It was almost the same message she’d gotten earlier, but in a man’s voice.
        If it wasn’t Martha earlier, then who and who was the man on the phone?
        She looked at the kitchen clock, 11:50.
        Knock, knock, knock!
        Mary heard the sound coming from the kitchen. Needles came through the pet door shivering although it wasn’t cold out.
        KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!
        Mary looked through the peephole and was horrified to find Bert staring back at her. His face was bleeding and he continued to knock. She tripped, stubbed her foot and fell racing to get her phone to call 911. She was belligerent speaking to the operator.
        “Please send someone right away!”
        “A stripper followed you home from the post office?”
        “Yes! He has fish, a whip and a buzzer. Help me please.”
        “A buzzer! Really ma’am?”
        “I’m serious!”
        “I’m don’tbeliev-.”
        “He’s at the door!”
        “Is this “stripper” your friend?”
        “NO! My friends don’t know anything about this. Please hurry!”
        “I don’t know, this sounds…”
        “Fuck it! Just Fuck It!”
        DING DONG!
        The doorbell rang, Mary grabbed her purse, coat, keys and flung the front door open.
        She screamed when she saw Blondie with all her gold piercings standing in her doorway.
        Martha and her other friends jumped out holding video cameras just as Mary was about to slam the door.
        ‘GOTCHA!” They screamed.
        Mary’s heart was bursting through her chest. She heard her friends saying “it was a joke.” But it was too much excitement for one day. She vowed revenge as she coughed uncontrollably, threw up then faint

    • Marco Kenen says:

      Best one so far, love it.

      Although awfully cruel for a birthday joke. I’d be seriously pissed off if anybody did something like that to me.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And for your further reading pleasure read part 2 above and part 3 below…enjoy.

        Part 3

        A nurse placed a cool towel to Mary’s head as she heard her name being called.
        “Mary Mary!”
        She realized she was in the hospital but wasn’t sure why. The last thing she remembered was opening her front door.
        “Can you hear me?”
        “Yes.”
        “How many fingers am I holding up?” (The nurse held up two fingers.)
        “Three.”
        “She’s fine.”
        The nurse left the room and Mary glanced around and saw Martha. She got hot with anger.
        “Why Martha?”
        “It was a joke Mare. My brother Bertran and his girlfriend helped.
        “Was it worth it?”
        “You should’ve seen your-“
        “Martha, you drove?”
        “Yes, why?”
        “I need some air. May I sit in your car for few minutes?”
        “Yeah we-“
        “I need a minute alone.”
        “Sure Mare, Here’s the keys.”
        “Thanks.”
        Mary leaves the room, sneaks to the nurse’s station and grabs a pair of scissors. She finds Martha’s car and heads home. She flipped through her CD collection and breaks the ones by MaDonna. She goes to the pantry and gets her 45 she kept in Needles litter box. She drove to the post office, sees the two men and flagged them .
        “Hi, remember me?”
        They leaned in close, recognize who she was and started laughing.
        “Bert and his friend inside?”
        They answered “yes” through their laughter. They didn’t notice when she raised the 45, pulled the trigger and shot them point blank in their faces. They fell backwards with their brains spilling out on the sidewalk. Inside, Mary startled Bert at his window.
        “Hi Bert.”
        “How did you get out? They released you?” .
        “Yeah, I told them I wanted to learn that move you did when you dropped the fish down my clothes. Will you show me that again?”
        “That was a onetime thing and I got work to do.”
        Mary raised the 45 and pointed it at him.
        “You’re damn right you got work to do. Now do it!”
        Bert gyrated but it looked nothing like it did before.
        “Show me the fish move!”
        He reached in his pants and raised a empty hand and gave a blank stare at Mary.
        BAM!
        She shot him between the eyes. Blondie ran out and screamed when she saw Bert laying in a pool of his own blood.
        “Heeeey Freak!”
        Blondie froze.
        “It was a joke. No one was supposed to get hurt.”
        “Have a seat!”
        Blondie slowly sat on the floor.
        “The machine, Freak!”
        Blondie sat on the mail machine and Mary pressed start. The machine whirred and strapped her in tight. Mary found Bert’s whip and held it to Blondie’s face.
        “Kiss it!”
        “No!” She hollered turning her head.
        SLAP!
        “KISS IT!”
        Blondie pursed her lips and kissed the whip.
        “Now Say goodbye!”
        “Good-“
        Before Blondie finished the word, Mary wrapped the whip around Blondie’s neck and yanked. She heard cracking and Blondie’s neck broke. Her head fell forward. Mary raced back to the hospital and placed the 45 in the trunk. She looked under the car and cut the brake line with the scissors. She threw them in the trash on her way to the elevators. Mary hurried to her room.
        Breaking News!
        “Deranged woman suspected in the murders of five people.”
        Martha stood in the middle of the room with her mouth opened.

        Ashley Williams heard her daughter dreaming again. She shook Mary slightly being careful not to frighten her.
        “Mary Mary. Wake up your friends are here. Mary.”
        “What…”
        “Happy Birthday dear.”

        • smallster21 says:

          She did spaz out Carrie style! Lol, but it was all a dream…or it was a precognition, in which case Mary should have a quiet birthday at home or even better, play them instead. Nice story.

          Just a small note on this one, you switch to present tense when she leaves her hospital room and then back and forth ending with present tense.

    • douglangille says:

      Now _that’s_ a prank!

      *takes-notes*

    • Mittens1326 says:

      Holy crap, I was seriously afraid to finish this one… So relieved it was a prank. Great job!

    • DMelde says:

      Good story. Now open your presents! No, the present didn’t move. What? Don’t you trust me?? Ha ha. sick and twisted.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Thanks Dmelde. You taught me well. If you’d like to see how it all comes out, parts 2 and 3 are above. See you next time.

        • DMelde says:

          Good stories McKevin. I really liked how it kept happening over and over again. I imagine she opened her b-day card from her mom and it read “I can’t wait to give you your surprise birthday gift…”

  65. Writer1697 says:

    This is my first time posting a response to a prompt and i am over the word limit but i think it is good work keep in mind there are some grammar mistakes that is just how much i get into my writing.
    “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” That phrase was all it took to change my life forever. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain. I was walking to the post office and was about to go inside when two men stopped me. One flashed a badge and said. “Ok kid no time for a lengthy explanation but, we are in the middle of a secret sting operation and one of our guys came down with the flu. We need you to go in their and walk up to the counter the man named Bert is working at and say my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” “Are you in?” After little consideration I answered “Yes.” “Good kid here is your ear piece, it will allow for us to stay in communication and here put on this baseball cap it has a camera in it that will record everything going on it will let us know when to pull you out if things get too heated.” I put on the cap and put in the earpiece, I felt like a real secret agent man.
    I walked into the post office; walked up to the man named Bert’s counter and said the phrase that changed my life. “I see.” Replied Bert, he walked out from behind his counter and motioned for me to follow him. He led me to an unmarked door in the back of the post office. He opened the door for me but didn’t accompany me inside. As soon as I walked into the room I was plunged into complete darkness. A voice in my ear said “Stay calm kid your doing great.” A light flicked on and I saw a staircase descending into more darkness. I walked down the stairs and the closer I got to the bottom the more noise I heard. I came to a door and hesitantly opened it. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, but when I could see I was taken back. All around me, men worked with a rhythmic motion, taken crates of small squares made of paper and putting them onto trucks or taken them off the printing press. I heard a gasp and then the voice in my head said “So this is what they are up to, counterfeiting stamps.” I walked up to the printing press and saw a stamp that was reproduced many times over, it was a yellow stamp with a train on it. “And, rare ones too that is the world’s rarest misprint.” Another voice yelled at me, this time in person. “New guy, we aren’t allowed to wear hats in here.” As he said it he ripped the hat off my head and the camera went sliding on the ground. “You’re a-“before he could finish I threw a small crate at him, hitting him square in the chest. I took off in direction of the door but a big guy stepped in front of me and turned right before he could grab me, now I was running in direction of the mail trucks and the loading bay. Another guy stepped in front of me but this time I didn’t stop. I slammed into him and by the time I got up I was surrounded. I turned just in time to see a 2×4 coming straight at me. I was on the ground again and before I passed out I heard a voice in my ear, “Hurry up, the kid needs us. Come on move your-“And I blacked out. When I came too I was in a hospital bed and it felt like I was in the face with a 2×4. I realized I had guests and tried to prop myself up on the pillow behind me but a familiar voice said, “Its ok kid don’t move too much.” “Sorry we put you through that.” Said the other agent. “It’s ok.” I replied. “I’m glad you said that, because we have an offer for you. You did good work in there and we could use more people who can keep as calm as you did and react as well in the face of danger. So what do ya say, are you in?”

  66. smallster21 says:

    Celeste was putting up the café’s daily special when two long shadows stretched across the sidewalk in front of her. She turned around to two men surveying her with eyes as vibrant as the blue hyacinthine decorating the café’s facade.

    “Can I help you?”

    The taller one bowed, his onyx strands falling across his face as he said, “I am Timaeus and this is Critias.”

    Celeste sniggered. “You’re kidding.”

    “Why would I kid?” Timaeus straightened up with his lips tilted slightly and said, “We need your help.”

    “Coffee? Croissants? Anything heavily caffeinated and full of fatty, doughy deliciousness.”

    “Can you try to be serious?” Critias clenched his jaw.

    “You be serious with me. Timaeus and Critias? Was Plato your great-great-great-great-grandfather or something? I took that philosophy bullshit last semester. Plato must have ignored the figuratively challenged when he wrote that dialogue on Atlantis.”

    Critias frowned. “Jesus, philosophy courses. Look, you’re going to do something for us.”

    “Ummmm, no.”

    Timaeus glanced nervously across the street. “We need you to simply go into the post office and retrieve our mail.”

    “And, you can’t do this because…?”

    Critias sighed in frustration, and then pulled a necklace from his pocket, the clear quartz engaging the sun’s rays. Celeste’s gaze latched onto it as he recited, “Go into the post office across the street and tell the postmaster, ‘My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.’ Then bring us the letter.”

    Celeste’s peripheral vision depleted as her world became a small tunnel with the post office at its center. When she entered the building, two men in black suits were standing in the corner flipping through circulars as they surveyed the room. When she recited Critias’s words to the postmaster, he pulled something out from underneath the desk and quickly handed it to her.

    As she turned around the sun reflected off the glass flooding her eyes returning the world to her. She looked down at the letter, which was addressed to Timaeus. The return address said ‘Plato / Azores, Atlantis 20-000’. The stamp was made of alternating rings of brown and blue.

    “Ma’am,” said a deep voice behind her. “We are going to have to confiscate that letter.”

    Celeste didn’t know why she felt the need to, but she elbowed the man and ran out the door. Suddenly, a pair of hands appeared and dragged her into an alley. It was Timaeus.

    “Thank goodness, I was worried about you.”

    “And, the letter,” Critias snatched it from Celeste’s hand.

    “What is this about?” Celeste said as two deep voices shouted from the post office.

    “No time, we have to go,” Critias said.

    “You can’t just go. What if those men come after me?”

    Timaeus took Celeste’s hand leading her down the alley. “Celeste, this letter is from Plato, our grandfather; he has been trying to get in touch with us. It contains how to access the entrance to Atlantis. And, that is where we are headed.”

  67. bjamison71 says:

    “Look, lady—we don’t want you,” the detective named Spade insisted. “We want the leader, the lynchpin of this racket you’re involved in. Just cooperate with us, and we’ll work out a deal. Bert did, and now that he’s given us you, his life will go on as normal—no charges, no jail time… nada.”
    “I already told you! I’m not involved in any sort of ‘racket’!” I fumed, exasperated. “I’m just a waitress, for Crissakes!”
    “Then how did you know the damn passphrase?!” Spade bellowed, slamming his fists on the table in the back room of the post office.
    “Because they told it to me!” I pleaded tearfully.
    “The two guys,” Spade said with a roll of his eyes. “Outside in the parking lot.”
    “Yes! One of them showed me a badge, and the other one said that they needed me to help with some kind of sting operation,” I repeated for the hundredth time. “He told me to approach the clerk named Bert, give him the duck stamp and say ‘my stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean’; they said Bert would hand me a package, and then they would step in and take over, but they’re not here!”
    “Precisely,” the detective sneered, pulling the door open and signaling to a uniformed officer in the hallway. “She’s not gonna cooperate.”
    As I was dragged through the lobby with my hands cuffed behind my back, a familiar face caught my eye among the small cluster of onlookers at the counter.
    “That’s him!” I shrieked. “In the black jacket! He’s the one who told me what to say! And over there! That’s the guy who showed me the badge!”
    Spade approached the man in the black jacket.
    “You ever speak to this woman before?” he asked.
    “No, sir!” the man replied in a thick Southern drawl. “As y’all can tell, I ain’t from around here!”
    Spade smirked and turned to face the second man.
    “And you? You ever see her before?”
    “No, never!”
    “Get her outta here!” Spade grunted in disgust.
    As I sat in the back of the cruiser, waiting to be taken in and booked on suspicion of felony mail fraud, I watched through the glass storefront as the man in the black jacket approached Bert, who was still behind the counter in his postal clerk uniform, going on with his life just as Spade had promised. Black Jacket’s lips moved as words passed between them, and Bert sort of chuckled as he slid a thick, brown-papered package across the counter. Black Jacket tucked it away and headed for the door, his partner falling in behind him. I hollered and flailed in the back of the squad car, trying to get Spade or any of the other cops to take notice, but nobody did. The real criminals stood on the curb smirking as I was hauled away, and I suddenly realized the significance of the duck stamp they had instructed me to pass to Bert. It was a signal, a way of letting their accomplice know that I was not the contact, or the mule, or the lynchpin. I was the decoy.

  68. Mittens1326 says:

    I’m standing in line at the post office silently rehearsing my line: “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.”

    If I wasn’t scared shitless I’d be laughing my ass off. Apparently this is how stoners address Bert (the lone postal worker at the far window who looks like he should be fronting a Queen cover band) when they want to score some weed. At least that’s my guess. The cops didn’t say what they’re trying to nail him for. I’ve convinced myself it’s something relatively benign or they wouldn’t send me in here, right?

    It figures. The day I volunteer to check the office PO box is the day two plain-clothes cops practically tackle me in the parking lot about some top secret sting operation. Do I look like the kind of gal who enjoys some recreational reefer? I hope they don’t have a file on me…

    The lines moves. I’m up. I saunter nonchalantly (I hope) to the counter half expecting a SWAT team to burst through the doors.

    Bert dutifully meets my eyes. “Can I help you?” He’s forty-ish. Glasses. Mustache. His navy vest is covered with pet hair. I picture him stroking a cat like a Bond villain and stifle a nervous laugh.

    “Um, yes actually.” I lean forward and shoot him a meaningful look. “My stamps are looking a bit… square these days. If you know what I mean.”

    Bert stares at me blankly. Clearly he has no idea what I mean. “So… you need stamps?”

    Crap. I wasn’t anticipating a conversation. Shouldn’t the cops be feeding me lines through an earpiece or something?

    I glance around helplessly. “Uh… yes… stamps,” I fumble. “Because mine are a bit, you know… square.” I realize I sound like a lunatic but how else can I say this?

    Now Bert’s edging away from the counter like he’s about to hit the panic button. Either he’s really dense or the cops got the secret password wrong.

    “So?” I raise my eyebrows expectantly.

    He frowns. “Liberty bell or flags?”

    Then it hits me: Bert’s on to us, the whole set-up. He’s playing dumb. I gulp, hastily pay for the flags, and escape to the parking lot ready to duck and cover. The cops flank me as I exit and we walk briskly to my car.

    “So,” one whispers, “did he take the bait?”

    I shake my head. “I think he knew.”

    “What’d he do?”

    “Nothing,” I hiss. “He just sold me stamps.” I wave them around to prove my point.

    “No mention of sex trafficking?”

    My mouth hangs open. “Seriously?”

    The cop pauses, then breaks into a huge grin. “Nope. You’re on ‘Gotcha!’”

    That’s when the parking lot floods with people – a camera crew, the customers from the post office, even Bert himself – all applauding me and my stupidity.

    I clutch my stamps, eyes wide as “Bert” peels off his mustache and vow never to volunteer for anything ever again.

  69. Marco Kenen says:

    Ok, now this was an insane situation. If this went tits up then he’d probably end up paying the price. Beads of sweat dripped down from his forehead, and he could feel his T-shirt sticking to his back. Out of all possible people, these two dimwitted cops had to pick him?

    “Morning! How’s your day going?” Damien figured it would probably be for the best if he started with a little bit of small talk first. “I work at a post office! How do you think my day is going?” The look on Bert’s face told Damien all he needed to know. An awkward silence fell before Damien had mustered the courage needed for the task ahead. “My stamps are looking a bit square these days, if you know what I mean.” The only reaction he got out of Bert was a slight nod.

    A few more seconds and then they’ll barge in there with their guns pointed at both Bert and Damien. Andrews double checked his gun while mentally preparing for the confrontation. His partner, Parker, had a slightly itchy trigger finger. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d caused unnecessary bloodshed.

    Both men looked shocked when Andrews and Parker pointed their guns at them. The package Bert had given Damien fell out of his hands and onto the floor. “Hands where we can see them!” Damien raised his hands in the air, clearly distressed by the gun pointed in his direction. Andrews pulled Damien’s arms behind his back and cuffed them. “No worries, I’ll let you go as soon as we are out of Bert’s sight.” Andrews whispered in his ear.

    A couple of weeks later…

    They made themselves comfortable while waiting for the waitress for their drinks. The good stuff had been ordered, as they had earned it. Bert’s eye had fallen on the young blond woman sitting by the bar. His companion followed Bert’s gaze, same old Bert. “If you don’t make a move on her soon then I’ll do it for you.” The young woman had noticed they where drooling over her and took a look in their direction. Bert gave her a coy smile while changing the subject to something more serious. “So, how did they find out about our drop-off point?” Damien shook his head. “I don’t know. However, it’s clear we have a mole in our organisation. If it hadn’t been for your ability to read lips we’d be in some serious trouble right now.” Bert smiled, his gaze once again on the woman by the bar. “If you hadn’t warned me I’d probably be doing time by now.” The package Bert had given Damien had only contained a bunch of unusual but worthless stamps. Bert had told them Damien was a regular who often asked for unusual stamps.

    Their drinks had arrived… “Cheers!”

    • smallster21 says:

      What was in the real package? Interesting, makes me curious what these two are really up to. Lucky for Bert and Damien the cops approached Damien.

      Few suggestions, new paragraph when switching between speakers. And, there was a POV switch there at the beginning that threw me off, it went from Damien to Andrew. I like switching up POVs, but with a story so short, I’d stick to one POV.

      • Marco Kenen says:

        Some encrypted documents had been the idea but I didn’t get much further then that too be honest.

        I was already worried that it might have been a little bit too abrupt. I’ll keep your pointers in mind for the next one, thanks.

    • douglangille says:

      Bert has swaggar. Or at least thinks he does.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Very good. May I make one suggestion? Drop the first sentence and start your story with the action and let me (the reader) decide the insane part. Good job. Don’t be shy you hear. Lol.

      • Marco Kenen says:

        Sure, suggestions are always welcome and greatly appreciated.

        I’m not sure if I agree with you in this case as the first paragraph is Damien’s view on the situation. Although, this might not have been all too clear apparently.

        In general I agree with you. A writer shouldn’t tell his readers how to read his work.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          Okay, don’t delete it, but reverse sentence 1 and 2. This way you pull me (the reader) in with the action then show me what’s Damien’s view of the situation. (action)

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