The note tucked so callously under his windshield wiper blade was anonymous. Of course it was. Who would want to admit to writing it?
“We don’t wont no fucking MOSLIMS in this nayberhood. Get out or pay the price.”
When he saw it that morning before he went to work at the local post office (he was a Saturday rural substitute driver), he thought about calling the cops. But then he thought better of it. As far as he knew, the cops could have been the ones to write it. They hadn’t treated him all that well since he moved here…which was probably an understatement. In reality, he had been stopped no less than a dozen times for various infractions. Going 1 mile over the speed limit. A broken tail light that wasn’t broken before the cop smashed it. Weaving when he knew he hadn’t been. Rolling stops. Failure to yield. The list was ridiculous.
So who exactly was he supposed to report this note, this obvious threat, to exactly?
He had no one.
And heres the kicker (not that it really made that much of a difference), he wasn’t even Muslim. He was Sikh. Sort of. His parents were very strict observers of the Sikh religion. He still practiced Kesh (letting his hair grow to honor the perfection of Gods creation). He didn’t drink (much) or gossip or partake in most of the forbidden acts, but he was a bit more liberal than his parents liked. He liked his hair, though, and his pagri. It was part of his heritage, who he was and where he came from… it was a symbol not only of his belief but of family and tradition. He was proud to be Sikh even while the people around him gave him evil looks and yelled at him to get that rag off his head because THIS WAS AMERICA DAMNIT.
So, it wasn’t really a shock to find that note on the windshield with all its inaccuracies and bad spelling. The very part of his religion that he cherished most—wearing the pagri—was the one that far too many ignorant assholes associated with terrorism, with extreme beliefs. The very sight of a him caused people to essentially turn into terrorists themselves. Every time he walked into a store, people changed, the air stiffened. Every time he sought help even for the simplest things, he was shunned and ignored.
He crumpled the note and tossed it into the floorboard hoping it was yet another tactic to push him out of town and nothing to be concerned about. He had tried hard to ignore it knowing he didn’t have much choice. He had to save up the money to get out of here. He had left home for this tiny town thinking he would like to get away from the hustle and bustle and live somewhere quiet, but he didn’t bargain for this… he didn’t know that moving away from the cranky crowded sidewalks, the couldn’t care less movers and shakers, moving away from the reach of his slightly overprotective parents pushed him right into the hateful clutches of uncultured hillbillies. The sunsets here were amazing, peppered by tall pines and encored by a chorus of crickets and tiny fornicating frogs. The quiet at daybreak wrapped around him like a familiar blanket. Every sight, the slowness, the quiet--it was all perfect. It soothed every nerve…until he had to face the people. So long as he was in his own world, he felt at home in a way he could never get with the honking horns, the smell of exhaust, and the voices warring at all times of the night in the city.
He mulled it over sullenly as he continued on his route for the day. He was making good time. The route he memorized his first week. And he had a knack for remembering numbers so sorting was easy. The people he worked with were actually pretty decent to his face at least, so the job was just another part of what he loved about living here. Even the monotony of driving this same route every Saturday and the days he was called in, it felt good…it felt good to be out in the world, a world that felt far more real than the concrete box he grew up in. He wanted this to work more than anything. He just had to stick it out and show people that being Sikh was all about peacefulness, nothing like the bullshit hyped up on tv.
That determination, the fierceness of it, made his mind up for him about all this. He would be here for the long haul. He would make this work however long it took, no matter what he took. He belonged here.
He finished his route far ahead of his usual schedule. It was a kind of a competition with himself—beating his best time. He dropped off the outgoing mail to high praise from the postmaster, said his goodbyes to everyone, and headed back home.
He noticed smoke on the horizon when he pulled onto his street…dark billowy plumes. He had no idea what could be going on. The land across the street from home had been burned recently. He had never seen anything like it but when he searched online, he read it was normal care to keep out diseases and such. Surely they wouldn’t be burning again but maybe they didn’t get it all done.
He was thinking of all the food he was going to eat once he walked in the house, the nap he was going to take…the way it would feel when he finally got to lay down in bed propped up on the pillows flipping through channels under the cool breeze of the ceiling fan when he saw it. The smoke, nearly black, rose from his own roof. The fire blazed in the windows, climbing the walls, engulfing every bit of life he created here.
He jumped out of the car calling 911 and alerting them of the fire noticing the huge white spray painted words on his lawn.
He sat, the weight falling out from under him suddenly, in the middle of those letters and watched his dreams and determination burn with every semblance of home he had built in this place.
Our prompt today was Anonymous. Hope I was able to do it justice with a difficult subject like this. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out all the other submissions today on More Than Cheese and Beer