The Largest Quantity of Hemlock I Could Procure


I’m hurt, Roger. There’s no other way to say it. I’m hurt. I wrote you a letter, Roger, and I expected a return, but none has been posted. How do you think that makes me feel, Roger. Do you like making me terribly vexed, you cruel thing? You awful, cruel thing? You want me to swallow hemlock, don’t you Roger? That would make you happy, wouldn’t it, you cruel sadistic thing? I know you care, Roger, I know you do. You just don’t show it and I don’t really know.

Send your regards, Roger. Or send the hemlock.

Breathlessly yours,


Dear Rose,

Please cease your endless barrage of sentimental babble. I realize my attempts at polite conversation upon my weekly visits to the grocery were translated as romancing. I found the first letter rather unsettling, as well as the proceeding dozen. Please do not be offended, but I find you repulsive. I’m sure one day in the future you will stumble upon a very sad, lonely, and undoubtedly homely boy who, in a desperate attempt at the basest form of affection will muster the strength (with eyes closed and breath held, surely) to pull you close enough to his breast to sate your incessant pleas for validation. In the meantime, I would recommend you subscribe to Readers Digest, or perhaps a Sears catalog, and concentrate more on the knitting course you are so fond of mentioning. Stop taking to heart everything “Mother” tells you, and for God’s sake Mittens’ paw will heal in time, maybe if you stopped trying to get her to exercise on it and rubbing it with every magical potion you dig up from the old wives’ tales passed about by your Mother’s friends at the Sunday Luncheon. With only a layman’s knowledge, I am still fairly confident in saying garlic and peppermint oil will do nothing, nor will caging her with a live cricket and thistle leaves at midnight under a full moon.

If you insist on sending future letters, at least stop dowsing them in whatever general store, paisley-boxed reeking essence you attempt to pass off as perfume. It has made my dog quite sick, and I have to walk him around in fresh air every time I come home and find a letter obtrusively thrust under my front door, the thickness of which usually impedes in the actual opening of said door, a very unhappy nuisance to occur after a day’s work.

No, the post was not losing your correspondence, I had specifically requested that no letters from you be delivered.

Enclosed is the largest quantity of hemlock I could procure.

Sincerely Agitated,



Colonel Samuel Wilson
Subversive Activities Investigation Group
ANCIL-3, NORAD, Colorado


Please find attached a series of correspondences forwarded to us by a Ms. Rose Wilson of Oak Park, Illinois. It concerns a colleague of hers that she claims may be a Communist subversive. As per protocol, please investigate. However, you should have some background about Ms. Wilson’s history with our department.

We receive on average two or three such accusations from Ms. Wilson per month. Around certain holidays, this number will often triple. As of yet, none have resulted in conclusive evidence of subversive activities. Traditionally, she’ll annotate the letter she forwards with guidance markers: underlines, arrows, assorted marginalia drawing attention to particularly damning passages. Previous investigators have found these annotations unhelpful, although often entertaining. (See below, “This RED CAD marches to the RUSKIE beat!” and “Evidence of Orgy participation--- sexual COMMUNISM and a SCARLET letter?!”)

Audible sigh. Sam, I have to be honest. This woman frightens me. When the Senator first established this program, you know I was in full support of it. I turned my d—ed mother in, for Pete’s sake. Yours, too! (Sorry, again, about that. Really, though, who goes to eleven pot luck dinners in a single month?) But the fervor with which the women, these lonely women, point the accusing finger… it sickens me, Sam. Hell, Sam, you know I’m a Patriot, I live and I’d die for this country. D— all the Communist subversives, is what I say. But if I have to corner one more lonely bank manager in his office and make him explain just what the nature of these letters are, watch him lick his sweaty, trembling pencil mustache and crush the brim of his hat in his white hands and stammer his way through my questions, all because some old maid with a senile mother didn’t return his affections… it’s enough to make a man want to turn in his badge and go back to farming, Sam. I’d take the midday sun over the glaring incandescent bulb of the investigator’s office any day. I just don’t know what to do, Sam. I believe in this, I really do, d—it Sam you know I believe it from my Irish toes to my American eyeballs, only I’m not so sure I believe in it any more. What hell hath we wrought with our zeal? Look at me. Trying at poetry, Sam. I shouldn’t drink before midday, I really shouldn’t. Particularly not while giving a letter.

Anyway. Follow protocol, look into this fellow… but answer me Sam, answer me: Why? Can you do that, Sam? Can you?

Red [hunting], white [skinned], and [feeling] blue,

Cap. Joseph Maddox
Processing and Response Dept.