To live in America and not encounter Americans would be damn difficult, he allowed.
The postman Pete Penny grabbed handfuls of letters, slowly squeezing until they crumpled.
With each bunch he pictured good people gathered around Thanksgiving tables and Fourth of July backyards.
They are not good people.
He clenched his jaw and bit his tongue without pausing.
They only care about themselves.
He touched his zipper to make sure it was up.
He crushed a letter from somebody’s pen pal in Des Moines, then scrambled to smooth it out on the table.
Along one wall of the cavernous room stood one hundred cases of “It’s What A Man’s Got To Do” Selective Service brochures, which Pete had tried to hide one afternoon by draping his rain poncho over the boxes.
In a corner a radio played Roy Orbison.
Flush with the ceiling along the length of one wall a full-color poster showed male and female postal workers smiling and staring at sample packages, depicting which types of packages were considered safe and which should be held suspicious.
On the far wall hung an American flag that once flew over the Perkins restaurant at Disneyland, a gift from one of the carriers’ customers who had moved to Florida.
A hot tar smell drifted in from the city crew down the street.
In the middle of the large room, below half a dozen twirling ceiling fans on low, Pete entered the second hourof his work day as the Flying Walenda sun balanced on the telephone wires.
In front of him the torn cover page of the Feb. 21, 1964 — Life Magazine — 25 cents — was taped to the wall of his work station, Lee Harvey Oswald holding a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.6 millimeter carbine.
Next to the Life page was a hand drawing in colored pencil.
The yellowing paper, curled at the corners, showed a front yard that could have been in Saint Rose on Pete’s mail route.
There was a white front porch with a white cat sitting in the window. On the porch are two wicker chairs.
Two bikes are in the yard, one upright, with the kickstand down, one that sprawled on the sparse lawn.
An American flag hangs limp from the corner porch post. Two glasses of lemonade sit on the steps, one empty, and the other half-full. A hand pushes against the screen door from the inside.
Another hand reaches up with a cigarette lighter, setting the flag afire. ...