An Unexpected Letter  -  By Pete Day

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"Whos this letter from? Do you recognise this writing?"

Bill Lennox passed the letter, as yet unopened, to his wife Freda across the breakfast table.

Freda looked at it.

"No.  Never seen it afore as far as I knows"

She passed it back to him.

" Go on then, open it and see who it is. she went on.

Bill turned it over in his hand, then reached for his letter-opener and carefully slit the envelope.

With his wife looking on, he pulled out a single sheet of paper with some handwriting on it. He then put on his reading glasses and began to read out loud., but stopped short, before saying :

"Here Freda, listen to this. It says its from me. Look!   Bill Lennox!"   ..... He paused.

"Hang on a mo, the address is all wrong."

Freda had come around the table to look over his shoulder.

"Well, read what it says then."

Bill began to read again, out loud.

" 'Dear sir', it says,  'I hope you dont mind my writing to you, but I saw your name and address in a newspaper the other week and Im wondering if you are the same Bill Lennox that I was in the Army with, doing my National Service, back in 1951. We were in the same barracks for about three months and our having the same names caused a lot of confusion. If you aren't him, I'm sorry for troubling you but, if you are, then I'd like to meet you again. As you can see by my address, we dont live too far from each other and could meet half way.  What do you think? Look forward to hearing from you.' "

Bill put the paper down.

"Well? Do you know him?"

Bill screwed up his face and thought for several minutes.

"Blimey! That was a long time ago, Freda.  I must have been only eighteen or so then. But, but now I think of it, there was a bloke of the same name, and I got into several scrapes on account of him.  As I recall I didnt much care for him, nor him for me."

He thought for a minute.

"I think he got kicked out of the Army, but I aint too sure of that. I know he just sort of disappeared like.  All of a sudden. He was a bit of a bad un I remember  -  got into trouble with the Police several times and they mistook me for him on more than once.  Redcaps and all.  Once it took me a long time to get out of a situation. Of course, the Police apologised to me afterwards but it wasnt very nice at the time."

"Are you going to meet him then?"

"I'm not sure that I want to.  I'll need to think about it.  Let's get on with our breakfast girl."

Three weeks later Bill was on the road, on his way to rendezvous with his namesake, his mind a maze of thoughts.

Mainly he thought that the whole idea was a mistake and, if it hadnt been for Freda pushing him into it, he would not have replied to the letter.

"I should have been firmer with her; I should have said 'No'  right at the start of it, and now here I am about to meet someone I haven't seen for donkeys years.  Cant think why he'd want to meet me after all these years, anyway."

He ruminated for a little while.

"He looked quite decent in the photograph he sent me.  Hope he liked my picture.  I suppose he must've, or he wouldn't have made the arrangements."

Arriving at the pub they'd agreed upon, Bill went into the bar and, after ordering a pint of the best, looked around for his namesake.   He was a little early, so settled back into his chair and began his drink.

"Perhaps he's been delayed by the traffic  -  it was rather heavy today," he thought.

He finished his beer and bought another. Half an hour past the agreed time, the door opened and two men stood in the doorway looking the room over.

To his surprise, as soon as they saw him they made directly for him.   A tremour of fear shot through him as the taller of the two asked him if he was Bill Lennox.  He noticed that the second man was holding the photograph hed sent to the other Bill Lennox in his hand and was nodding to the first.

"Why, yes.  I am.  Is anything wrong, officer?"

"Now, why should you think Im a copper then?"

"Well , Ive been mistaken for another Bill Lennox in the past, you know," ......  Nervously.

"D'you hear that Sid?  He says weve made a mistake.  Show 'im that photograph Sid."

Turning to Bill, he said  "That's you, ain't it?"

"Well .... yes . But "

"No buts, Bill.   Come outside for a minute or two would you?   Dont make any fuss now."

Bill felt himself being pulled up and led out of the pub.  Nobody in the room was taking any notice of them.

"Which is your car then Bill?"

"Er ... that Ford over there.  But what do you want with me?"

"Give us the keys .. Now hop in like a good boy."

The tall man leaned over him.

"Nothin' personal, you understand Bill, but my boss says you've let him down once too often, and it's not going to
happen again, see?"

As Bill began to protest, he saw the flash of a weapon. Darkness descended upon him.

                                                                     The End