Scary Notes for an Old Timer

By Norris Chambers

    Clifton was upset about something. He was waving a sheet of paper above his head and speaking harshly, “Who sent this crazy letter?”  He handed it to me and continued, “What are they talking about?” I followed him into the blacksmith shop and waited for him to calm down and give me an explanation. He waved the paper in front of my face and continued asking who did it. I asked him again what it was about and tried to tell him that I couldn’t tell him who it was from if I didn’t know what it was. Finally he handed it to me but continued to mutter unintelligently.
    It was apparently a letter written on a ruled sheet of note book paper and began: “Cliff, if you do that one more time you will be in serious trouble. I mean business!” There was no identification. I asked him where he got it. He said it was sealed in an envelope and had been placed in the mail box with the mail. The envelope did not have a stamp or cancellation. He said it had “Cliff” written across the middle and nothing else.
    “Do you know anybody that calls you Cliff?” I asked. I thought we might narrow the list of those who could have written it. He told me that it would be easier to name those who didn’t.
    “I suppose you know too many people to make a list and check every one of them.”  I knew this wouldn’t help because just about everybody knew everyone else and since he didn’t know what he had done to irritate someone he couldn’t quit doing it. Another thing that might work would be to compare hand writing. But even if we had a sample of everyone’s writing we couldn’t be sure it was the same. It looked like finding the note writer would be impossible. I reluctantly told him that perhaps the best thing we could do was wait for the note guy to make the next move. Maybe he would offer some explanation of what his problem was. Apparently Clifton didn’t have a better plan. He agreed and we started searching for some wild activity to keep us busy!
    After two or three days of our usual activity Clifton received another letter. It was addressed like the first one and apparently was from the same unidentified character. I could see that he was upset again as he handed me the folded sheet of note paper. I unfolded it and read a
short threatening message: “Cliff, you didn’t heed my warning and you are definitely headed for serious trouble. Your time grows short!”  I told Clifton that maybe he ought to quit doing what he was dong since it was bothering the guy so much. He didn’t think my remark was funny. “This may be a serious thing. You know I can’t quit it if I don’t know what it is.”  I tried to console him by telling him that when the serious trouble started we would know it and we could stop it in its tracks. He just mumbled something and grunted. I didn’t hear what he said but I think he was calling the note writer a bad name! When we looked in the next hollow tree we found a big grinning ‘possum and this kept us occupied for awhile. We didn’t discuss the scary notes any more and continued the ‘possum hunt.
    Another day dawned and Clifton received another note. This one was even shorter than the others and stated briefly: “Time is up. You are now entering serious trouble!”  I handed the note back to him and told him, “At least you won’t be bothered by any threatening notes now.” He said the serious threat might be worse than the notes.   
    For two or three days there were no notes and no signs of serious trouble. Clifton was still upset and remained on constant alert. He was surprised when another note appeared in the mail box. It was obvious that the same writer had prepared it and when he handed it to me to read I read it closely and handed it back to him. “I guess that’s good news!” I told him. I read the note aloud: “Cliff, you can relax now. The notes were just a trial of an April First trick or a Halloween prank. You’re not in serious trouble. Thanks for proving that the note trick works!”
    The tale should continue until the note writer is exposed and properly dealt with, but there is one thing I didn’t want Clifton to know at this time. I wrote all the notes and I thought it was funny!