To Whom It May Concern

By Bob MacKenzie

Paranormal, Magical realism

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2 mins

One of Five

The room is empty. It is the kitchen cum dining area of a low rental upstairs apartment near the centre of the city. There is a small, sparsely furnished living room through the archway to the east, a bedroom north of that and a bathroom south of the kitchen. Like the rest of the apartment, this room is spartan in appearance, very clean, furnished only with the bare necessities: second-hand curtains on the westward facing windows above the kitchen sink and on the small window in the door, an old rounded faced refrigerator in the south-west corner next to the bathroom door, an equally old gas stove slotted in between the fridge and the counter which runs along the rest of that wall and contains the ceramic sink; in the centre of the room, under a cracked sun-shaped fixture, an old wooden dining table, small, possibly oak, and four mismatched wooden chairs around it. On closer examination it can be seen that the eastward edge of the table and parts of the westward facing chair show minimal but nevertheless obvious scorch marks, as though they had been through a fire at some time. On the floor beside the chair several pieces of letter paper are strewn, almost carelessly, almost as though a letter had been written, or read, and then dropped.

Two of Five

"Sir, ah, Sergeant Cooper, I think I've found something: a sort of a letter, looks like he might have written it."

"A letter? To who Jack?"

"Nobody. That is, it's addressed 'to whom it may concern;' it was just laying on the floor here, and, ah..."

"Yes? What is it?"

"Well, sir, some of the edges are burnt, almost like someone tried to destroy it and the fire didn't take, you know."

"So what's it say? Is there anything that will help us to figure out what's been going on here?"

"Maybe, let me look at..."

Three of Five

The girl: I saw him once. He was about twenty two, harried looking, obvious loner. I had a class act, used magic to enhance the dance: good sound, good lights, mellow music developing to a storm sequence; a class act! It was the Tanganyika Tavern. Men liked me; I looked about twelve or thirteen. My pet crow helped. He would do anything I said. Like I said, I saw him once, after I had stripped down, almost to my G-string, which was all that was allowed downtown. He asked to talk to me–after. Of course, I said no. It was the finale. The flashing blue lights came on. They intensified. I, as usual, vanished. He looked astounded; as though it was real.

Four of Five

"You suppose he just took off? You know, maybe too many debts or something?"

"Not likely, Jack. He seems to have paid for everything in cash, even the rent. That's why the landlord called us when he went missing for two weeks after failing to pay the rent. Besides, all his stuff is still here. Even his clothes!"

"Still, it seems weird. I mean, him vanishing like that into thin air, and not a sign of violence, not a sign of where he went–it's strange. Hey, if there were couple of half eaten meals in here this place could rank as a land-bound Marie Celeste."

"A what?"

"You know, that ship. A hundred and some years ago they found it at sea. All the sails were set but there was nobody on board, no signs of piracy or anything, meals half eaten, drinks half drunk, everybody vanished–very spooky!"

"You don't really believe in that stuff?"

"Maybe. I mean, there are lots of cases recorded where things happen that nobody can explain. And look here: the unfinished letter, and what about the TV, supposedly never here yet turned on, at least apparently turned on the last night he was here. Who knows, Sergeant Cooper, who knows...."

"Come on! Let's check around here once more to see if we can find anything else before we go."

Five of Five

Thomas Cooper, City Police Staff Sergeant: I really cannot comment on any case, even a closed missing persons, with any magazine, including yours, Mr. Harper. I'm sorry your editor has sent you on such a wild goose chase, but my answer must be, and is, no comment.



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