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"Billet-doux – A Parable" by Kenneth M. Kapp

Updated: May 7

An Envelope

G. turned away from the corner; the toppled streetlight was partially covered by snow and the sun reflecting off the dirty ice on the ground was blinding him. He shielded his eyes and turned back around. There were only shallow shells left where buildings might have once stood.

He walked slowly away in a large circle. Every place looked the same so he returned to the sign. At least it was a landmark.

He felt a wind on his face and then heard a click. He looked down and saw that an envelope had been caught at the base of the sign. G. picked it up. The flap was tucked inside; he picked it up turned it over. On the front was a single word:


He removed a single sheet of paper folded in thirds. A sudden wind blew it out of his hand.


A Letter

It was dark when G. woke. The moon, six days waning, was partially covered by clouds. He could barely make out the street sign that was toppled at his feet. It was twisted like a wet towel that had to be wrung then was thrown down in disgust.


He saw a single bump, randomly caught by the moonlight, on the side of the streetlight’s shaft and reached over, detaching an old magnet of the kind he had as a boy to help him learn the alphabet. It was the letter “G.”

He sighed, now knowing he was at the right place. He hoped he was not too late.


The Letter

G. stretched. The sun, grey and tired, winked once over the horizon and then went back to sleep. He started doing jumping jacks; he was cold and felt that if he demonstrated a little enthusiasm the sun would be embarrassed and return.

It was only after he had completed three sets of twenty each that the sun reluctantly reappeared. G. pulled back a smile, remembering how the sun had retreated the last time he had smiled. He was tired and sat down on the toppled sign.

He nervously moved his feet left and right in the loose dirt. The sun slowly rose in the sky and when he looked down, the corner of a paper, folded in thirds, looked up at him. He pinched it between two fingers and slowly shook it close to the ground to free it from dirt.

Then he stood, groaning as he straightened his back and knees. He turned so that the weak light was coming over his shoulders and unfolded the single sheet of paper.

  There were only three words in large block letters:


Kenneth M. Kapp was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, an IBMer, and yoga teacher. He lives with his wife in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, writing late at night in his man-cave. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He was a homebrewer for more than 50 years and runs whitewater rivers on the foam that's left. His essays appear online in and articles in Please visit

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