No. 8 – Marlboro Red

16 Feb

Dear Sir,

I would have addressed this letter to “Marlboro Red,” as that is what I call you, but you would be confused by that and I don’t want to confuse you right from the get go. I’m writing because I want to help you.

I know you smoke Marlboro Red cigarettes because one night last week I sorted through your trash after you put it outdoors for the garbage man to come collect in the morning. I think you can really tell what a person’s life is like by looking at what they throw away. I can tell that your life is very dull and very sad and I want you to know that I’m sorry for you. I found almost nothing in your trash but empty soft packs of those cigarettes and losing lottery scratch tickets. It was a little disappointing, to be honest.  I don’t know what you want the money for, but I’m guessing it’s for more cigarettes, just based on how many empty packs of them you threw away. If it’s not for cigarettes, maybe it’s for more comic books. You look like the kind of person who goes through an awful lot of comic books, if you know what I mean.

You don’t know what I look like, but you know who I am. I’m the girl who lives across the street from you in the big apartment complex. I’m the one who calls your phone every time you leave the house to walk down to Linn’s Corner Market to buy a 2 liter of Coke, a newspaper, and a carton of Marlboro Reds. Two out of three of those things are ruining your teeth, by the way.

I’ve left you several voice mail messages, but obviously you don’t have the technology to figure out where I’m calling from. Like I said, I’m just across the street. I see you’ve cut your hair.

I guess I’m writing to confront you. Lately I’ve noticed that when you get halfway to the corner market, something seems to frighten you and you suddenly turn back and run into your house. You do run funny, but that’s not my point. My guess is, you’re running back to the house to see if I’m calling you or maybe you hear your phone ringing from halfway down the street and you think it might be someone important. In either case, you’re becoming increasingly more and more paranoid and I just wanted to write to express my concern.

I will enclose the business card of my psychiatrist, with whom I have had some success over the past 4 years. If you’d like to ride to appointments together, you let me know. I have a car and I noticed that you don’t have one. Not having a car can be a very big barrier to your getting help for your obvious mental health issues. That said, I do not allow smoking in my car, so don’t bring your nasty cigarettes. If you have some sort of sick attachment to your cigarettes, which I believe you do based on the amount of empty packets I found in your trash, I’ll ask you to take a Benadryl or a Valium, or whatever it takes for you to avoid any unnecessary outbursts while riding as a passenger in my car.

Additionally, when we arrive at the psychiatrist’s office, pretend you don’t know me. Wait outside for me if you get done first. I don’t want you to embarrass me and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think we were dating. If we ever happen to be at Linn’s Corner Market or the library or the post office at the same time, don’t say hi to me. You won’t see me anyplace else because those are the only places I go. Either way, just keep walking. I don’t want to be friends or anything, I’m just trying to do something nice for a neighbor.

If you’d like to know the whole story, I’m paying it forward, so to speak after the old woman downstairs did me a kindness. What happened was, she caught my friend and I smoking pot in our living room, even though we barricaded the cracks in the door with paper towels. She promised not to tell the landlord, and not because I threatened her with a small hammer or anything, but just to be neighborly. So, one good turn deserves another and I have decided that YOU will be the lucky neighbor I will help out in the spirit of passing on the neighborliness.

Since we’re on the subject, I also just want to apologize for whistling the Star Wars theme music out the window whenever I see you outside. I guess I’m just trying to relate to you and let you know that somewhere across the street, somebody understands. I’m not a fan of Star Wars, or any other movie or comic book that nerds like, but I’m familiar with that tune and I guess in a way I thought you’d appreciate my whistling it out to you. In retrospect, it was mean and I’m sorry. You probably don’t want to be confronted with your social awkwardness every time you leave your home.  Oops!

In closing, I would appreciate an answer as soon as possible as to whether or not you are going to do the right thing and make an appointment with the psychiatrist I recommended. If you don’t feel comfortable calling me, just walk outside over by where you usually put your trash and hold up one hand for yes, two hands for no. I promise I won’t call and leave you a voice mail message when you go out to do this. I can see that my doing so has exacerbated your paranoia problems. If you don’t know what that means, you should look it up in a dictionary as soon as possible. I don’t want you getting any wrong ideas about what I mean, just because I use a lot of big words.

Anyway, let me know if you need a ride to get your head checked out. Sooner or later you will probably have to talk to me to tell me when your appointment will be. We have to coordinate. You know, we’re in this together.

Oh, and if you don’t like people prank calling, you may also consider painting over the enormous sign on top of your house that has your phone number on it. I get that you’re trying to run some sort of home comic book business, but honestly it’s just asking for people to call and leave you messages when they see you go outside. If you’re angry at me in any way, you really only have yourself to blame.

Best Regards,

Your Neighbor


© Ashley Noelle, 2012. All rights reserved.


4 Responses to “No. 8 – Marlboro Red”

  1. Matthew Laight February 17, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    I really enjoyed this piece Ashley. It left me wanting to read more.
    Thank you.

    • Ashley Noelle February 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Oh, yay! I’m so glad. Thank you for your comment! Made my day brighter 😀

  2. Brian Westbye February 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    Sounds like me in my 20s, and now I’m even more depressed about me in my 20s because you weren’t there like you are for this guy. But I’m so glad for him.

    • Ashley Noelle February 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

      Ha! Yeah, sadly enough this letter/story has a bit of truth in it. 🙂 the truth is far scarier/funnier. He did smoke a lot of Marlboro Reds.

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