After Justin had signed off last night, both Brian and Justin had retreated to the loft (albeit in their own time lines) to think through what had appeared to have happened. Neither man was particularly superstitious or inclined to believe in the supernatural. Both were striving to find some logical explanation for what they thought they had seen. Justin, feeling another migraine coming on in response to the excitement, proceeded directly to his bed. Brian, curiously turned off by the idea of his regular Thursday night routine of drinking, dancing and fucking, made the unusual decision to order Thai and stay in for the night watching old movies by himself. He figured Liberty Avenue could do without his magnificent presence for one night.
Justin hadn't really slept well last night. He woke up quite early for him - it was only 9:00 am. He was still feeling a residual throbbing from last night's migraine, but it was a manageable pain so he chose to take two aspirin and try to ignore it. He mulled over the bizarre mailbox events from yesterday as he scarffed down two bagels with cream cheese and a pint of yogurt for breakfast. Then, compelled to see if he had only imagined last night's wierdness, he descended the stairs to look into the mailbox once again.
Arriving at the lobby, he instantly noted the single sheet of paper occupying the loft's box. He was almost afraid to open the box and read the note, but he simply couldn't resist the temptation. Reluctantly, he slipped the key into the lock, turned it and pulled the door open. Justin pulled out the paper from within, but couldn't bring himself to look at it yet. He decided to retreat to the safety of the loft before perusing the latest installment in his own personal 'Twilight Zone' episode.
Once he was ensconced safely on the couch in the loft's main room, he gingerly opened the note that he had found in the mysterious mailbox.
August 7, 1999 - 8:00 am
Are you still there or did I hallucinate that whole mess last night? Did I really see mail disappearing & reappearing?
This was all the note said. Justin fully understood the confusion and incredulity apparent in the short note. He didn't believe any of it either. But here in his hands, this letter was the proof that something had happened and he wasn't the only person to experience this bizarre incident. He quickly penned a response.
5/7/01 - 10:30 am
Brian: I'm still here and I don't think you were hallucinating because I saw the same thing. Unless there is some type of mass hysteria event going on in Pittsburgh, I don't think we can both be having the same delusions.
Be at the mailbox tonight at 6:30 pm and we can talk/correspond again. Maybe we can try to figure this shit out.
After redepositing the paper in the box and once again flipping up the outgoing mail lever, Justin retreated to the loft once again. He really didn't feel up for another walk today. He thought he might try (please let this work) to draw or paint this afternoon. He also needed to call his mother and his best friend, Daphne, to reassure both 'mother hens' that he was still alive and doing (sort of) okay on his own for the time being. He knew that time would drag though until 6:30 came around - he was more than a little excited about the prospect of 'talking' with Brian again.
Brian dragged into his building at a quarter past six that evening. He had had a long day at work. The fucking art department was displaying its usual thick-headedness and had twice screwed up the boards for the new Liberty Air campaign. Brian was a complete perfectionist and simply couldn't stand anything less than exceptional work from his staff. Unfortunately, his assistant, Cynthia, had already warned him that if he fired any more of the art department staff before the end of the year, she would be quitting - she was more than tired of the constant rounds of interviews to replace the staff he had already dismissed. So, Brian had resigned himself to try and get along with the imcompetent assholes for as long as needed to placate Cynthia. He knew he couldn't run his business without her for even a short period of time. Oh well! Those were the joys of working for yourself, he thought with a humorless little laugh.
Immediately upon entering the lobby his gaze was drawn to the loft's mailbox. It was full, which meant that the regular mail delivery had already been deposited. He wasn't sure if that would preclude any irregular deposits from his non-tennant, Justin Taylor, or not. He resolutely opened the box and pulled out the stack of mail. Sorting through the normal pile of bills, advertisements, and catalogs (oh good - the new furniture catalog from Milan he had been waiting for was finally here!) he came to the last piece of paper in the bundle. Sure enough, it was from Justin - a response to the note he'd left this morning. So, it wasn't all just a dream inspired by bad Thai food. He quickly glanced at his Gucci wristwatch and noted the time. It was almost 6:30 already. He was so intrigued by the events that were transpiring that he couldn't wait to write his reply to Justin. He penned a rapid note, stashed it in the box, flicked the lever and waited to see what would happen.
Justin arrived in the lobby at precisely 6:30 pm. There appeared to be a response to his earlier note already waiting in the box. Eagerly retrieving the paper from the box, he found Brian had responded with equal alacrity.
8/7/99 - 6:30 pm
-I'm here! Brian.
-Hey! I'm here too! Now what? Justin.
-Fuck if I know! Are the notes still popping in and out of existence on your end? B.
-Yep . . . how about on your end? J.
-Unfortunately, yes. So, are you, like, Harry Potter's long lost wizard cousin? Or, maybe you pissed off a VooDoo witch doctor who cursed your mail, or something? B.
-Nope - no magical bloodlines or curses here. At least not to my knowledge! Got any other ideas? J.
-Well, today at lunch I fucked this guy in the bathroom at the Diner who said he was an engineer. In between the blowjob and the fuck, I asked if he knew anything about time travelling mail. He was spouting some shit about 'Quantum Mechanics' and 'String Theory', but I got too distracted by all his moaning between sentences to understand it all. Plus, the explanation got a little muddled near the end - he really wasn't very good at speaking while being rammed! So, your guess is as good as mine! B.
-You have interesting 'Research' methods, Mr. Kinney! LOL! Their effectiveness, however, is questionable! J.
-No one's complained before! Well, maybe let's start with how you end up living in my loft in 2 years? B.
-I told you - I'm an artist and took this loft because of the space and light. J.
-Well, if you're able to rent my loft, you must not be the 'starving artist' type, at least! B.
-I came into some money a couple months ago. It was enough to pay my tuition at PIFA and a two year lease here. I've also got a part-time job busing tables which pretty much covers my basic living expenses. So at least I won't have to worry about the 'starving' thing any time soon! J.
-Rich uncle die & leave you everything? Or did you win the lottery? B.
-Neither. The night of my senior prom I got hit in the head with a baseball bat swung by a homophobic jock I'd pissed off. I was in a coma for 2 weeks and in rehab for another 6 after that. I still have impaired motor control in my hand because of the fucker. So, after the prick got off almost scott free thanks to our wonderful criminal 'justice' system, I sued his ass for civil assault and won! The settlement covering the tuition money and loft are therefore courtesy of one Mr. Christopher Mark Hobbs. It's not as good as if he was rotting in a jail cell for the rest of his life, which is what he deserved, but it's better than nothing. J.
-Fuck! Fucking homophobic jocks - I can definitely empathize. Good for you though, getting the little shit to pay up for his crime after all. I always say the best revenge against the straight world is to become the biggest fucking success you can be. And you just forced the asshole to provide the funding you need to succeed! Way to go, Taylor!
But, you said you were an artist? How are you able to work with your hand being impaired? B.
-I . . . I'm . . . I gotta go now - Sorry. J.
Brian read the last line and blinked. It was almost like their 'conversation' had been cut off mid-sentence. He wondered what happened. Did he say something to piss the other guy off? He bent to retrieve his briefcase and then slowly headed for the elevator as he wondered why Taylor had cut short the discussion so abruptly.