The '34 Starbird's horn blared as it hovered over Malcolm's stumbling steps. The car's exhaust coughed bits of debris leaving a miasma of coffee grounds and burnt banana coating the mailman. A chorus of teenaged hacks laughed while Malcolm grumbled. No one appreciated postal workers.
He waved at Mrs. Tulare but she looked away as she descended her craftmans house's stairs two steps at a time and forced Malcolm to dodge. Several allidogs leapt to snap toothy snouts at Malcolm's terry bag holding the mail. He glanced at the half-dozen fliers addressed to Mrs. Claudia Tulare. The maildrop in her door had one of those "No Advertisements" stickers on it with the letters in large blocky type. He sighed. He was paid to deliver the mail. Neither hurricanes, nor blizzards, nor firerot, nor biopet beast would block his rounds. Let alone an illegal refusal.
His head down, he walked towards the next craftsman house and collided with Mr. Sheron. Malcolm stepped backwards and the watch grass shivered as the notched edges pierced his boot's LeatherSteel™. His stomach roiled like two-week-old yogurt. Malcolm jumped back onto the safety of the sidewalk. Shaking he realized that the shoe salesman had cheated him. True LeatherSteel™ would defend against watch grass.
"Sorry, didn't see you." Mr. Sheron's eyes were puffy and a blackness colored his cheeks.
"No problem." The eyes didn't look right, but the rulebook was explicit about not involving yourself in their lives. He looked at the rust-tones of the sky and then back at Mr. Sheron. He was the last mail carrier and the rulebook was more about guidance than a federal law. "You okay?"
"Nothing." Mr. Sheron pushed past Malcolm.
The footsteps stopped and when Malcolm turned he saw a tear running down the man's cheek. A sign of the times that joy rarely visited.
"I... I won't be living here any longer."
Malcolm flipped through the mailbag to find one of the address change forms.
Mr. Sheron pushed Malcolm's hand away. "No. I don't need that. Do me a favor and continue to deliver my mail here."
A cold wind blew through the neighborhood and carried a scent of rain. Malcolm paged through the Sheron's mail. He opened the mailbox and prepared to drop the mail and stopped. There had been something in the man's voice. Not the sound of a wounded allidog. No, there'd been a note that reminded him of grade school and bullies.
Malcolm held the mail and put it back in his bag. All junk. He couldn't help the Sherons, but he decided as the rain picked up that it wasn't worth delivering ads. What could the city council do anyway? He was the last non-robotic postal worker. He poured his bag into a recycling bin and whistled as he walked home.