Conway, George F., Post Office

a ghost story for Darnell

The streets have changed, and the buildings, and the people, but the route has not. Rain, sleet, snow, wind, and all that.

Conway walks to work through fire and ash. The building, the great heap of stone and mail, is sunk several feet below its true level, and he has to pick his way carefully across the twisted remains of the tracks that connected the Main Office to the ferry. The clerks are still dutifully at work inside, a night shift that never ends, that ran through the morning and on. They exchange empty pleasantries, voices all smoke.

They are still fighting the fires when he emerges, hours earlier. The water has broken to the southern end of the city, and fires are everywhere, but nine or ten postmen and clerks are beating the flames back from the big building. Conway walks through them, smoke passing through fog.

The route is the same, but everything else is different: streets have moved, buildings have gone down or gone up, hills have been leveled or regraded or eaten entire. Conway keeps to the route, through fire and history, emptying his sack and looping back again, and again, and again, to the Main Office, still sunken, still burning, still staffed. The mail persists.