A Letter from Denali


Even a burglar like Johnny Lightfingers was willing to diversify when opportunity presented itself. He specialized in the “domestic export” of jewelry, paintings, and Beanie Babies, but there it was: opportunity. Just languishing in the dark attic, unseen and forgotten, on a letter that never got sent.

He’d picked this house randomly from a drawing at his State Fair booth for a free home inspection.


He focused the beam of the flashlight on the corner of the envelope. The stamp looked a little faded, but otherwise it was unused and in excellent condition. If his mental math was correct, then this stamp, was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of sixteen million and the corner of some change.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Johnny. He needed money and fast. Johnny was on the list at the Mayo Clinic for Dual-Limb Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation, but the procedure cost an arm and a leg. The Beanie Baby market had tanked under the weight of knock-offs like Beeney Babeez and the Chinese version, Pellet-Filled Otter Child.

It wasn’t that Johnny was some kind of stamp expert: it was just that the rarity of this particular stamp was well publicized, like the upside-down bi-plane stamp of 1918 or clean energy. Any child could have recognized this stamp.

Fortunately for Johnny and his limbs, none of these informed children had wandered up to the attic since at least 1984 when the stamp was first released and then quickly withdrawn from circulation. There were only two other known copies of the stamp left in existence, and both of them were incinerated.

The story was that the stamp designer was about to be laid off by the Post Office and knew it, having learned about his imminent departure during Casual Conversation Tuesday. Just as the artwork for a holiday commemorative stamp was going to press, the designer pulled a switch with the layout.

Headlines around the globe reverberated with the question: What was John Denver doing to that Muppet?

According to famous sea explorer and friend, Jacques Costeau, the rendering was actually a true-to-life representation of the acoustic folk-pop star’s predilection for drugging and violating young Sesame Street hopefuls. Costeau said they often would take upwards of thirty Muppets on drug-filled ocean excursions where both he and John Denver had their way with the letter A and the number 6.

If a “furry monster” proved uncooperative or too fat, they simply tossed the reticulated polyfoam carcasses overboard as they sang Aye Calypso. To this day, the act of indecent acts performed on Muppets by folk singers is known as getting Denvered.

To make matters worse, the Postmaster General at the time suggested to the U.N. General Assembly that intimate relations with puppets might be a healthy alternative to homosexual AIDs sex.

Puppeteers were outraged, and the Postmaster General was fired by President Reagan who was afraid that puppeteers were pulling the strings. Reagan had his own problems, like trying to figure out why his television kept glitching when Max Headroom came on.

“Muppetgate” still haunts the legacy of John Denver and the U.S. Post Office, who both died in a small plane accident as they tried to avoid crashing into Sonny Bono.

Johnny was about to carefully tuck the envelope into his male burglar fashion satchel (known as a pinch) when he grew  curious about the contents of the envelope.

It was dated from 1984, the same year the stamp had been released and then rescinded. Johnny wasn’t alive in 1984, thank god. He wasn’t even conceived until Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve three years later. How awful it would have been to have lived back then: Palestinians attacking Israelis; Israelis attacking Palestinians; Americans on mass-murder shooting sprees; problems in Syria; the first minivan released in the wild; and, worst of all, Sweden won the Eurovision contest with Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Lay.

Thank god the world was so much better now (except for the whole Beanie Baby knock-off thing).
Inside the envelope was a letter written from Mount McKinley in Alaska.

I haven’t heard from you since you in a while, so I thought I would just write and touch base camp (ha ha).

I know the way we left things was a little weird, but for the record, just remember it was you who wasn’t ready to take the leap. I remember how much you liked to climb all over me, and mount me until you reached the summit, but then you always seemed let down — but that may have just been the altitude sickness.

After you left, I just wasn’t feeling as big as I used to. Then I ran into some money troubles, and to make ends meet, I’ve been doing some pole dancing. When I’m on the pole I really feel appreciated, but I wear a mustache so no one recognizes me.

If you’re ever up this way again, I’ll give you a private show. I work weekends at the Yukon Do It under the stage name Denali Mist. You’d probably recognize me, even in disguise, as the tallest mountain peak in North America. Just don’t tell my parents!

Love, McKinley

Johnny figured the letter might trigger an avalanche of interest from collectors specializing in geological identity reassignment. He folded the letter and carefully returned it to the envelope, which he then carefully tucked in his pinch before rummaging through the attic for other lucrative finds.

Just then the door burst open and a woman who looked a lot like Bruce Jenner appeared. She swung a gold medal at him, and Johnny did his best to keep out of range. He couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing a vintage Battle of the Network Stars t-shirt from 1977.

“Excuse me, ma’am, isn’t that shirt from the episode where the guy from Welcome Back Kotter and his ABC all-star team defeated J.J. Walker and Grizzly Adams?”

The gold medal slowed to a stop.

“It sure is. O.J. and I hosted that one with Howard Cosell. Are you a fan of American history, son?”

Johnny Lightfingers lied and said he was, but what he really was a fan of was vintage crap he could sell on eBay store. He told the lady that she was the most attractive men’s decathlon gold medal winner that he had ever seen. She invited him to her media room where they watched a decisive dunk tank victory for ABC where Jamie Farr’s speedo is mercifully covered by his thick chest hair as he plunges repeatedly into the water by well aimed tosses by Penny Marshall and Suzanne Somers.

“I love a good ball toss, don’t you?” the woman said, eating popcorn right out of her pink Lifestrides.


Travel Mugs

travel mugs

I frequent coffee shops, well, frequently.

In one of my regular spots I had seen the same older gentleman teeter in early in the morning carrying two travel mugs, presumably one for him and one for his wife who, perhaps, is too ill to rise from bed.

It’s always a touching scene, the man paying for his two cups of coffee and maybe buying the newspaper on Sundays. Then I didn’t see him for months, and I feared that he had died.

Then I saw him again yesterday in line for coffee, but this time he was carrying only one travel mug, and I was just as sad to think that his wife had finally died. I was so overcome that I approached him, touching his shoulder to get his attention.

“Hi, I’m sorry to bother you. I noticed you’re only getting one cup of coffee when you used to get two. I hate to ask, but did your wife pass?”

He looked at me like I was a madman. It may have been my rainbow afro wig.

“That old bitch? No she’s still around. My asshole doctor told me I had to quit drinking coffee.”