Letters To and From the Front

My Darling Andrew,

We had some excitement here at the hospital the other day. It was nothing big really, but I did get a “time out” due to my involvement in the situation. That was somewhat unpleasant, as I’m sure you can imagine.

On the plus side, they took my picture. I managed to get my hands on a copy of the photo, which I am enclosing. I want you to have something to remember me by; even though our time together, so far, has been far too short.

The story even made The Gazette, so I guess I might be famous now. It’s almost light’s out so I have to go. One of the orderlies has promised to sneak this out and post it for me.

All my love,



© Lario Tus
Photo courtesy of Grammar Ghoul Press

Dearest Philomena,

I’m sorry it has been so long since my last letter. I have been thinking of you constantly ever since our night together at the asylum in Charleston and if the good lord allows me to return from this war I plan on coming to you first. I don’t have a lot of time to write today as we are on the move, heading back to base, but I’ll be on the island this afternoon and the island is where I can drop outgoing mail. I hope to have a few moments tomorrow to pen a proper letter and will post it to you straightaway.

I wish I could tell you what I have been doing here these months, but that is strictly against regulations. They remind us of this constantly. They say, “loose lips, sink ships,” and they say, “Mum’s the word.” They probably have a thousand other slogans that they drum into our heads every day. I often think I cannot  hear the messages any more as I have heard the slogans so many times. Today my Lieutenant hinted that my work has been noticed by the “Brass” and if I maintain the positive attitude that I have exhibited to date; a field commission could easily be coming my way soon. He said that men with my feral nature and propensity for violence are highly prized as soldiers and that he values the time he has been able to spend with me.

(This paragraph deleted by censors.)

I received the letter you sent last month and want to thank you for the photograph you included. In that white frock, you are a vision of loveliness, more beautiful even than the stars. I have taped your picture over my bunk so it is the last thing I see before sleep and the first thing I see when I wake. It looks like you have been doing some remodeling in the bathroom, and I wish desperately that I could be there to help you, work with you, see you, and hold you in my arms. Is that hatchet you are holding in the photo the one I sent you for your birthday? I truly hope that it is not too heavy for you to swing effectively. I was worried that it might be a bit large for your delicate frame, but I used it once here as a test before I sent it. I must say that it did an excellent job mangling the skull of that unfortunate sailor who had the misfortune to cross my path near the beach in (deleted by censors).

I do not want to be overly forward but I have given “us” a lot of thought and feel that now may be the right time to ask. I am not asking lightly as I had ample opportunity to think on my way to this island, I have decided that I would like to bring back a ring for your finger and ask for your hand in marriage when, and if, I get home. Please don’t answer immediately, but think about it right now. Let the idea settle in. Consider it. That is all I ask, and when you are ready you can let me know. You would make me the happiest man in the world if you agreed. Perhaps the doctors could see their way to releasing you into my custody if you were my wife. We could be together, at last.

Philomena, I must close this short note as it appears we are almost back to the island and, I will be expected topside to handle lines when we dock.

Wishing I were near you.

Love always,



It’s a Dead Man’s Party


There was a rattling knock at the door. It was my father, gone now for all these years.

“It’s Dia de Los Muertos, Papa. Glad you could come.”

“Thank you for inviting me TN. Who else is coming?”

“I’m not sure. You dead guys aren’t real good at RSVPing, but I’ve invited all of you.”

“Did you invite your mother?”

“Of course.”

He grimaced a little bit and nodded his head. “Do you think she’ll come?”

“Probably not,” I said, “I have to assume that Ann invited her too. She’ll probably go there.”

Ann is my sister who lives on the other side of the state. It’s closer to the town where my mother lived.

Another knock on the door signified the arrival of more guests and, soon the house was full of both the living and the dead. Mariachi specters set up on the back patio and the neighborhood swelled with fiesta music.

I had the barbecue going and tubs were filled with beer and soda. Everyone was laughing and visiting with one another. Some of my guests had been dead a long time and there was a lot of catching up to be done. When my dad came over for more brisket, I cautioned him.

“Careful with the beef, Papa; I heard on the radio yesterday that it has been declared a carcinogen.”

“Do you think I care?” he quipped. “I’m going to go find my paints.” He turned and began walking towards the studio.

I grabbed his arm, “whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said, “Do you think that’s a good idea? I mean, you’ve been dead for a long time now. We can’t have new work of yours showing up. Can we?”

“Not my problem,” Papa said. “You can say you found it in a closet or tell ‘em you did it. I won’t sign it.”

“No,” I thought about this, “you gotta sign it. Just don’t date it.”

A skeletal grin broke across his face and he went on to the studio. He gathered his supplies and went straight to work. He painted in there the rest of the evening with his friends wandering in and out. As the party wound down I went in to check on him. He was gone but on the table was a new plate, hand painted with a blackberry design. I just needed to fire it.

Blackberry Design – done by the dead
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