Sting Operation at the Post Office

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.

Want more creative writing prompts? Consider:
The Writer’s Book of Matches

You might also like:

237 thoughts on “Sting Operation at the Post Office

  1. kathleenmagner

    The two men parted, allowing me access to the post office’s front steps.

    “We’ll be right behind you.”

    Agent Klom’s promise didn’t make me feel any better. I managed a grin, though, a wobbly one reflected in his sunglasses.

    “Miss?” Agent Rymes offered over my box.

    “Thanks.”

    Taking the package, I dusted off the dirt earned from its tumble in the sun-dried shrubbery after the agents had flanked me and flashed their alphabet-soup badges, granting governmental authority to their civilian attire. Rymes, however, ruined the covert façade by twisting the stem of his glasses between his fingers.

    “Sorry again about startling you.”

    Klom cleared his throat, and Rymes set his sunglasses into place, the sincerity in his gaze vanishing behind opaque lenses.

    “It’s fine.” I held the box close, hoping his blue eyes and my desire to do the right thing wouldn’t sink me deeper into their clandestine affairs. “If I’m doing this, I should get going.”

    Klom nodded, as curt as his crew cut and the seams in his jeans. The pair stepped to the curb, their backs to me, their mumbling too soft to overhear.

    Keeping myself from seeking black vans and armored patrol officers, or wondering if the pedestrians enjoying a summer afternoon stroll and driving by on the way to beaches, picnics, or barbeques shared the agents’ high-level clearance, I resumed what had once been a bouncy jaunt.

    The cookies I’d baked the night before rattled now as if nervous to be mailed off for Aunt Susan’s birthday, or perhaps like me, worried about what waited in the post office I neared. Their sugary quiver joined forces with the brick steps warming my flip-flops, encouraging brisker strides to thwart what Klom had explained would be a danger to me, to my sweet-toothed aunt he somehow knew lived across the country, and everyone in between. The sun added its blare, toasting my t-shirt and watching on as earnestly as the two agents I left behind.

    Entering the post office, I crossed the threshold with echoing whacks of plastic soles on tile and stopped, letting the glass door whoosh closed and the conditioned air cool my bare legs. Three stations lined the far wall, but at this time of day, only one had an attendant.

    The nameplate identified Bert, and the white lettering frosted my painted toenails. Like his name, his square-jawed features, and salt and pepper mane matched Rymes’ brief description. Despite the bulk wrapped in a postal worker’s uniform, he seemed far less menacing than the agents had suggested. He looked bored, honestly, skimming over paperwork while a snowy haired woman tittered with her stooped companion before a folder of stamps.

    The agents, however, had been insistent, and like the cookies, I couldn’t let Aunt Susan down.

    … Click here to read the rest. Any comments are welcome.

  2. marileelake

    Post Office Heist

    It was a typical Tuesday….get kids up and off to school, laundry, grocery shopping….
    “Honey, I forgot to mail this letter yesterday and we’re out of stamps. Would you mind taking it to the post office for me and pick up some stamps while you’re there? That’s my girl!” The love of my life paused only enough for a quick peck on my lips before rushing out the front door. That was my Joe, always last minute, distracted, but so absolutely adorable that I didn’t really mind cleaning up after him. This extra trip to the post office was two miles across town though, and this would definitely put a challenge to my already busy day. I decided to put off laundry until the afternoon while the kids were working on homework and headed off to the post office.
    It was not a good day for driving. A road crew was repaving the road outside our plat, and I had to wait at least five minutes for the flag girl to wave me through. Every light was red and I got caught in a back-up at each one. At one light, I had to wait through three light cycles. My morning allotment for errands was quickly diminishing when the railroad crossing gates came down just as I approached the tracks. Three engines! I pounded the steering wheel in frustration as one hundred and one cars rumbled past. Finally, I pulled into the parking lot of the post office.
    I was reaching into my car for my purse when a throat cleared next to my ear. My head jerked up and smacked the edge of the doorframe. Two men in suits and sunglasses stood next to a white BMW with government plates.
    “So, sowy to stawtle you ma’am. I’m Detective Wittah with the CIA. My pawtner and I could use yoaw assistance.”
    The man flashed an ID in my face. I tried to focus on it through the stars and floaters produced by my sore head, but the man stashed it away before I could see it. I hesitated; this certainly seemed a little off.
    “I wealize you may be weluctant to help us, but we need someone who is a local weckanizable citizen to help up with a vewy important govewment mattah.”
    My suspicions started to clear…a government agent who talked like Elmer Fudd had to be the genuine article.
    Detective Riitter then leaned in and softly told me what he wanted me to do. My eyes widened in surprise. “You want me to say what?”
    “Just do exactly what I told you. Don’t woahwy. You will be pahfectly safe I’m sowwy I can’t give you any moah details, classified you know.”
    Shaking my head in disbelief, I stepped up to the door, debating what I should do. It all seemed too crazy to be true, but on the other hand if it was the CIA….
    I waited in line for the postal clerk, balancing on first one foot, and then the other, still undecided on what to do. The clerk called out, “Next,” and I took my place in front of her.
    “How may I help you today?”
    I shook my head to clear it and then decided, what the heck. It might be a little crazy sounding, but it probably couldn’t hurt anything. I didn’t really know the clerk, and she probably wouldn’t remember me if it was too crazy sounding.
    “I’d like a book of stamps, please.”
    The clerk reached below the counter for a packet of stamps and told me the cost.
    “You know, these stamps really are square, “I said. “Maybe a little too square for my tastes. Do you have anything a little more rectangular?”
    The clerk looked at me like I had two heads, but rummaged through the packets of stamps and put a second one on the counter. “Will these do, Ma’am?”
    I took my time, pretending to closely examine the stamps. “Yes, these are certainly more rectangular, but they are awfully red aren’t they? Do you have anything in a blue?” The clerk.s eyes rolled back in her head, and she angrily swept the packets off the counter and rummaged through the stamp supply some more. I could hear the customers waiting in line start whispering among themselves and saw one of them glance at his watch.
    “Here, try these.” Ice dripped from the clerk’s words.
    “Come on lady, just get the stamps. We’ve got places to be!” This was from the man with the watch.
    “Yeah, lady. This isn’t freaking Christmas! Get the stamps and get a move-on!”
    The cacophony of voices rose behind me, with one voice rising above the rest.Call 911! Call 911! All the postal boxes are forced open, and someone has broken into the stamp machine!”
    A screech of tires pulled my head to the window, and I got a glance of a white BMW racing out of the parking lot on two wheels.
    My last thought before I fainted was, I don’t think this is going to be my day.

  3. Icabu

    “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.

  4. Kris Jordan

    “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.

    1. destinyalready

      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.

  5. randi100

    “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.

  6. kimmie48

    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!

  7. kevinbalboa

    “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.

  8. Wjiaei

    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.

  9. mfdavis

    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.”

  10. swatchcat

    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.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      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.

  11. KRHolbrook

    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.”

  12. KRHolbrook

    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.”

  13. Aryens

    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.

  14. Susanht9@gmail.com

    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.

  15. Kerry Charlton

    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……”

    1. Amy

      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).

  16. millsbm

    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.”

    1. destinyalready

      I must be unfamiliar with mystery novels or short stories, as I don’t read this genre at all. I was a bit confused when I read this, and that took away from this being an interesting read for me. Good play on words.

  17. MissSmokes

    “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.

  18. shaw831

    “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.”

  19. Kim

    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.

    1. Amy

      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.

  20. TD_Memm

    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.

    1. writergirlie89

      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!

  21. TD_Memm

    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.

COMMENT