Last Laugh

By Diane Kane

When Mr. Munson moved into the decaying farmhouse, he was driving an aging white van with a handicapped plate. Each day, I delivered mail to his battered mailbox that hung precariously by a single rusty nail. As time went on, the paint on the old farmhouse peeled, and Mr. Munson’s van sat permanently with the hood up. Even the trees around the house grew weary and regularly dropped limbs across the driveway.

Years passed, and Mr. Munson had his mailbox moved to his front door. I maneuvered my mail truck around discarded waste and forged a path up his unmaintained walkway in all seasons. Then, he started to get packages of medication that needed his signature. Spouting obscenities, he opened the door only enough to extend his wrinkled hand. With thick yellow fingernails he grabbed the slip, scribbled his name, and shoved it back. He grasped the package and slammed the door shut.

Finally, he let me in. He sat in a wheelchair, sparsely dressed in only a white tee shirt. I could see his two amputated legs. As time went on, I knocked and entered. He lay on his couch with an old Western movie blaring on the television.

One day I knocked, and something didn’t feel right. Opening the door a little wider, I peered over to where Mr. Munson lay sprawled out on his couch with his usual lack of clothing. His head was tilted back, and lifeless, foggy blue eyes stared back at me.

I stumbled to my truck and called my supervisor, “My customer is dead!”


The police officer entered the house and came back out shortly.

“Mr. Munson states that he is very much alive.”

“But he looked dead.”

“To tell you the truth,” the officer said, “he looked dead to me too until he sat up and shouted, ‘What the hell are you doing in here?’”

“I guess I have to deliver his package.”

“Ahh,” the officer hesitated. “Mr. Munson is in a state of undress.”

I laughed. “Mr. Munson is always in a state of undress.”

Collecting my nerve, I headed for the door and knocked. Mr. Munson’s gruff voice shouted for me to enter.

“So, you’re the one who reported me dead, huh?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did I scare you?”

“I’m still shaking!”

He let out a bellowing laugh.

“Well, I ain’t dead yet,” he said and pointed to a picture on a shelf amidst the clutter. “I’m pretty tough, you know.”

I waded through the debris on the floor to take a closer look at a picture of a proud young man in uniform. I turned to the withering body of that same man and wondered what had gone wrong between then and now. I knew I couldn’t fix any of it, but it warmed my heart to see him laughing now, even if it was at my expense.

From then on, each time I brought him a package, Mr. Munson would chuckle and say, “I ain’t dead yet.”

\"\"Diane Kane is the publisher and co-author of FLASH IN THE CAN, NUMBER ONE, a book of fictional short stories. She chases her dreams of writing in the woods of Massachusetts and on the rocky shores of Maine. Follow her on Facebook at Page of Possibilities and online at

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