The mailboxes were Cliff’s brainwave. He called ‘em antioxidants because he read in some newsletter that clutter was a cancer that killed co-living spaces deader than doornails, so after downing his morning kombucha he zipped down to the free store and scooped up four used ones.
Used mailboxes purchased for zero dollars are liable to be a little worse for wear, and these definitely were, so Cliff painted ‘em up. Each box got a custom color scheme and the owner’s initials on the front. Cliff built a nice little stand and arranged the boxes in alphabetical order—Cliff, Jimmy, Pat, Pete—in the front hallway, the one that got all the sun. Then he started sorting everyone’s mail into the boxes, plus using them to put away the little possessions people left all over the place. Keys, lighters, phones, chargers.
Jimmy quipped that the hallway looked like a rural route, so Pete added a scarecrow and an old rake to the display. That led to a sculpture of a rooster fashioned from tractor parts and—for reasons unknown—two potted palms.
The mailboxes were a success. The clutter stayed manageable, the house was peaceful. Until the day Pat’s ball python got out and draped itself across the mailboxes to soak up some rays. Even that wouldn’t have been a problem if Cliff’s date hadn’t been scared of snakes.
Jackie screamed, flailed, and stepped on the rake. The handle jumped up and split her ear open. The result of that was a louder scream and more backpedaling. Chris took a stab at holding her up, but she swatted his arms away thinking the snake was attacking her, and crashed into the palm trees, bringing down the whole shooting match, scarecrow included, onto the floor.
The python ended up wrapped in a ball around the rooster. It was hours before the poor thing calmed down enough for Pat to unwind it—and nobody ever did manage to get the kink out of the rooster’s neck.
If you would like to send me a prompt, I’ll write a story with it. Prompt me with an inanimate object, an animal, and a location.