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Graphic Literature

Letter to Survivors

By Gébé
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
MAILMAN: MAILMAN ! GOT A LETTER FOR YOU .
Man: CAN YOU READ IT TO US ?

MAILMAN: (Reading letter) DEAR FRIENDS YOU DON'T KNOW ME , BUT I KNOW YOU . YOU'RE THAT HAPPY FAMILY . FROM AD TO AD , I'VE FOLLOWED YOUR RISE TO HAPPINESS...
cont...:
I SAW YOU , KEYS IN HAND , BUY THE HOUSE OF YOUR DREAMS . I SAW YOU SUCCUMB TO THE LURE OF A SEASIDE APARTMENT . I SAW YOU MAKE THE FIRST DOWN PAYMENT FOR A DUPLEX AT THE FOOT OF THE SLOPES ...
cont...:

YOU'VE NEVER LET ME DOWN . WITH UNERRING INSTINCT , YOU SELECTED FROM AMONG TWENTY SEDUCTIVE MODELS THE ONLY CAR CAPABLE OF CONQUERING THE BARREN STRETCHES BETWEEN YOUR PRIMARY RESIDENCE AND YOUR WATERING SPOTS .

SAME GOES FOR YOUR STERLING CHOICE OF ALL - TERRAIN VEHICLE FOR INTREPID TREKS INTO THE UNTAMED WILDS AROUND YOUR COUNTRY HOUSE .
cont...:
IN THE HUMAN PROLIFERATION OF THE 80S , YOU WERE ALWAYS TO BE SEEN ON YOUR OWN , JUST THE FOUR OF YOU AND THE DOG . THE PERFECT FAMILY . ALONE ON ENDLESS LAWNS , ALONE ON PRIVATE ROADS , ALONE ON NEVER - ENDING BEACHES

ALONE ON SKI - LIFTS SOARING TOWARD THE SILENT PEAKS
cont...:
AND HERE YOU ARE , ALL ALONE AGAIN JUST THE FOUR OF YOU , MINUS THE DOG .
cont...:
I WON'T BE SO CRUEL AS TO DWELL ON THAT , UNDERSTANDING QUITE WELL WHAT YOU HAD TO DO WHERE THE DOG WAS CONCERNED .

Man: STAY ! WE'LL BE BACK SOON .
cont...:
I CAN ASSURE YOU HE DIDN'T SUFFER .
cont...:
NO MORE RADIO , NO MORE TV , AND BY NOW YOU'VE READ EACH OF THE TWELVE BOOKS IN THE SHELTER TWICE . THAT'S WHY I THOUGHT I'D RATTLE OFF THESE SNATCHES OF STORIES AS THEY CAME TO ME . PICK OUT A CHOICE SPOT TO PICTURE YOURSELF LISTENING TO THEM : A GARRET , A HAMMOCK , A THATCHED - ROOF HUT , OR A SEAT BY THE FIRESIDE .

Man: HEY , MAILMAN ! JUST A SEC WHILE WE GET SETTLED .
Man: I MADE A LOUDSPEAKER OUT OF CARDBOARD ! GO AHEAD !

MAILMAN Cont...
LET'S BEGIN : THIS IS THE STORY OF TWO SMELLS . THE SMELL OF A GAZEBO , FRESHLY REPAINTED IN GREEN , AND THE SMELL OF JUST - WATERED BOX HEDGE .
cont...:
THOSE WHO WALKED BY THE GAZEBO SNIFFED THE FRESH PAINT . AND THAT WAS IT .

THOSE WHO WALKED BY THE HEDGE BREATHED IN THE WET BOXWOOD . AND THAT WAS IT .

THOSE WHO WALKED ALONG THE BORDER OF THE TWO ODORS WHERE FOREVER SHATTERED BY THEM BOTH .
cont...:

FOR SUCH AS THEY , THE IDEA THAT WE MIGHT IMPERIL THE UNIVERSE OF ODORS THEY'D ENTERED VIA THE SECRET PASSAGE BETWEEN HEDGE AND GAZEBO BECAME INTOLERABLE

THEY STEELED THEMSELVES AGAINST THE THREAT OF A WORLD REDUCED TO A SINGLE SMELL : DUSTY RUBBLE , OR A RUBBERY GAS MASK...

(Letter: Dear Friends , You don't know but I know you . You're that hap.. family . From a... I've followed your... rise to happiness . I saw you , keys in hand , buy the house... dream . I saw....)
Man: YEAH , YEAH , YEAH ! AND THEY FORMED COMMITTEES FOR THE PRESERVATION OF ODORS , AND THE REST OF US PLUG - NOSED TYPES ELECTED THE STUFFED - UP BUTTON PUSHERS WHO PUSHED THE BUTTONS . THE MORAL ? NICE JOB ! REPENT ! ATONE FOR YOUR SINS ! AND SO IT GOES ... WE'VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE !

MAILMAN: I'M JUST READING WHAT'S WRITTEN .

Woman: I CAN TELL YOU THAT DOWN HERE THE UNIVERSE OF ODORS IS DOING JST FINE! FEET! FARTS! CHAMBERPOTS! STANDING WATER ! REHEATED GREEN PEAS ! AND THAT'S NOT ALL ---
Woman: ABOVE ALL ELSE , THE SMELL OF THE CELLAR ! INTACT ! MIRACULOUSLY SAVED FROM DESTRUCTION !

" WET HEDGE AND RETOUCHED GAZEBO" ? GIVE ME " DAMP CELLAR AND RED WINE" ANY DAY , MY MEMORIES ...

WAS I SUPPOSED TO FIGHT IN THE NAME OF FIRST CLINCHES AGAINST A LEAKY CASK ?
Man: MONIQUE ! THAT'S OUR LAST GALLON !

Kid: MOM ! THE WINE'S STINKY !

Woman: IT WAS MY COUSIN . HIS KNEES WERE TREMBLING .

MAILMAN: WELL ...TOMORROW , THEN !

MAILMAN: IN THE ADS THE LAWN LOOKED HUGE , BUT ALL THEY REALLY HAD WAS A TENTH , OF AN ACRE , LIKE EVERYONE ELSE .
MAILMAN: AH ! THE DOG !

From Lettre aux Survivants. Published 1982 by Albin Michel. By arrangement with L’Association. Translation copyright 2010 by Edward Gauvin. All rights reserved.

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