The Trunk

By: J.T. Evergreen
The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates.
(© 2017 by the author)

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

Paula opened the garage door and hauled the trunk out onto the driveway.  “Let’s get rid of this.”

Her mother, Mildred, wasn’t sure.

“Why not for heaven’s sake?”

“I don’t know, it was your father’s …”

“…. piece of junk. Mother, he’s gone. I miss him too, but there’s no reason to keep this. There’s nothing but junk inside.”

Mildred sighed, “I suppose.”

“How much should we ask for it?”

“I have no idea.”

“Twenty bucks?”

“Twenty seems so little.”

“We’ll be lucky to get five.”

“Ok, twenty. I hope no one buys it.”

Paula wrote out the price tag, tied it to the lock of the trunk and dragged it out onto the front yard.

 It was yard sale day and the weather was perfect. She opened the driveway gate and placed the large yard sale sign she had made on the edge of the road.

By noon, visitors and sales were vigorous but the trunk sat alone and untouched. Paula thought about slashing the price to five dollars just to get rid of it but decided to wait until three, when she would mark down everything remaining.

It was almost two o’clock when she heard a voice behind her, “May I open this trunk?”

She turned and came face to face with the tallest most attractive middle-aged man she had ever seen, “Yes, of course.  But everything in the trunk has to go with it. Is that understood?”

“I take it you’re not fond of the contents.”

“My father was a collector – of everything.  It drove us crazy.”

“Elmer, right?”

“Yes, did you know him?”

“Quite well.”

“I don’t understand. I’ve never seen you before.”

“It was a long time ago. Twenty dollars? I’d like to buy it.”

“Sure, but why?”

“Here,” he handed Paula a crisp twenty dollar bill.

“Thank you. But I’m still curious why you want this thing.”

“Well, now that the trunk belongs to me, I guess I can tell you.”

“Yes, please do. Wait. Let me call mother. I think she’d …”

“No, don’t.  She may find it too painful.”

“Too painful? I don’t understand. What’s your name?”

“Clark. Clark Kent.”

“You’re kidding?”

“No, I’m not,” he broke into a beautiful grin.

“So, what is it with you and this trunk?”

“Love letters.”

“Love letters? I still don’t understand.”

“In the trunk.”

“There are no love letters in here.”

“Yes, there are. Elmer told me where he put them.”

“Love letters from whom, to whom?”

“Love letters from me to Elmer, your father.”

Paula’s jaw dropped slightly as she stared in disbelief at this beautiful stranger.

“There’s a false bottom. The letters are in there.”

“Wait a minute. Are you telling me that you and my father were …”

“Lovers? Perhaps. You must be Paula?”


“He loved you a great deal. He wrote about you quite often. I feel like I know you very well – almost like a sister.” Clark smiled. “I hope you don’t mind?”

“No, of course not, but how? When?”

“It was a very long time ago. I see the braces are gone. You have beautiful teeth.”

“Yes. Thank you. I hated them.”

“I know. You thought they made you look so ugly.”

“I did. That’s amazing.”

“What’s amazing?”

“That you know.”

“I know a great deal about you and your mother. Your life really.”

“Just through letters?”

“There are hundreds of them. Elmer played with words in a way that made me laugh and a few times made me cry. I’m thinking of writing a book based on his letters.”

“You’re not.”

“I am. Weren’t you aware of what a great writer he was?”

“No, I wasn’t. But you only saw him once.”

“We were together only a few days. He saved my life.”

“Saved your life? How? How did you meet him? Where did you meet him?”

“I was sixteen and living on the streets of San Francisco. My father kicked me out of the house the night I told him and my step mom I was gay. I was fifteen.”

“Oh, my God. That’s terrible.”

“You have no idea.”

“I am so sorry.”

“No need. It was a long time ago. Because of Elmer, I learned to understand and forgive them, and let them go. It was one of the treasures he gave to me. I stopped going to school and sold myself to stay alive. A friend … are you crying?”

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing. How could anyone …”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It does matter, but how was my father involved?”

“A friend told me about a guy who was in town for a few days on business. I called him. It was your father.”

“It must have been Thanksgiving? Must be twenty years ago.”

“Yes, it was. It turned out to be the most wonderful Thanksgiving I had ever had. Elmer was so generous and caring I could hardly believe he was real.”

“I remember. He was supposed to be home, then extended his stay for business reasons. It wasn’t like him to do something like that.”

“I hope you’re not disappointed. He was a very giving man, a very selfless man.”

“No, I’m not disappointed. How could I be? I’m just surprised. Overwhelmed is a better word.  And you never saw him after that?”

“No, it was the only time, but he wanted me off the streets and insisted I go back to school. He supported me financially and emotionally until I was able to take care of myself. If it hadn’t been for him, I have no idea where I’d be today.”

“That sounds like him. Did you know about his illness?”

“Yes. In one of his last letters he told me of his forgetfulness and the prognosis that dementia was inevitable. He told me not to write again and mentioned where he was placing the letters I had written to him.”

“The trunk.”

“Yes. Letting go of him was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do as I imagine it was for you and your mother. He wrote several more times, describing the decline. At the end of each letter, he always said not to reply. I wept such bitter tears over those letters. I replied to his letters anyway but never sent them. It helped in a small way.”

“It was awful watching him disappear from our lives. The day he passed, his memory returned for a few hours and then he was gone.”

“Thank you for telling me that.  I always wondered.”

“How did you know about the yard sale?”

“I come to town occasionally on business and was perusing the newspaper. I recognized the address in the classifieds. Kind of popped right off the page. I had intended to stop by so many times and ask for the trunk, but feared your reaction to such a request. The yard sale was like a gift from heaven. And, for what it’s worth, I’m not certain Elmer was in love with me. He just wanted to help.”

“Hi, Mom.”

“Well, it looks like you’ve sold the trunk after all. Young man, I hope you get better use out of it than we did.”

“Mom, do you know this man?”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t. Should I? Paula, what is it? Have you been crying?”

“This is Clark Kent.”

“Hello, Mildred.”

“Oh, my living stars. Oh, dear God in heaven.” She moved forward and took his hands, “Clark, I can’t believe it’s you. Oh, my dear boy, I am so happy you’re here.” She stood on tip toes and kissed his cheek.

“Mother? You know about him?”

“Yes, of course I know.”

“But you never said anything?”

“Sorry to disappoint you, my dear.”

“Why not?”

“Because it was none of your business. Clark, won’t you please come inside. I have so many questions.”

“Of course, Mildred. I’d love to.”

“Elmer told me everything about you. He loved you like the son we never had. I hope you’ll become part of our family.”

“I’m so surprised. I hardly know what to say.”

“Can I come to?”

“Yes, but mind your manners.”

“When did I ever do that?”

“She’s always been a handful.”

“I know,” Clark laughed. “Elmer used to write about her all the time.”

“Yeah, well I’d like to see those letters.”

“Play your cards right, Paula, and I might show them to you some day. And keep your hands off of that trunk. It belongs to me now.”

“Clark Kent. Are you sure that’s your real name?”

The End.

Posted: 05/19/17