Part One: The First Message
I Am the Messenger begins with a botched bank robbery. The gunman is so incompetent he drops his gun and steals a car that barely runs. Ed Kennedy, a directionless nineteen-year-old cab driver, picks up the gun and prevents the robber from leaving. Ed is hailed as a hero even though he is not usually the hero type. His “bewildered face is plastered all over the front pages.”
After the hype dies down, Ed goes back to his ordinary life. He drives his cab, and in his spare time he plays cards with his friends or hangs out with his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. Ed is in love with his best friend, Audrey, who loves him back but refuses to start a relationship with him. Audrey is afraid of love.
One day Ed receives a playing card, an Ace of Diamonds, in his mailbox. On the card, someone has written three addresses and times. He wonders who could have sent it. His ma, who does not hide the fact that she hates him, would never bother. His friend Marv is too dumb, and Ritchie is too lazy. Audrey could have done it, but she insists she did not. She says the card probably appeared because Ed was in the newspaper. Ed thinks about this for several days, and then he decides to visit the addresses listed on the card.
At the first address, shortly after midnight, Ed sees a man stagger home drunk and rape his wife. Ed knows what he should do but he is too afraid to do it. He is small and weak, and the rapist is “built like a brick s***house.” He goes back night after night, watching the man commit the same crime again and again, and he does nothing about it.
Ed moves on to the second address, where he is relieved to see nothing more frightening than an old woman eating dinner by herself. She is obviously lonely, so one day Ed knocks on her door. Her name is Milla Johnson. She invites him in, calls him Jimmy, and asks where he has been all these years. He soon he makes a regular habit of visiting her and reading to her from Wuthering Heights. Eventually he discovers that Jimmy died in the war and that Milla has been waiting for him for sixty years.
Ed is still afraid of dealing with the rapist at the first address, so he moves on to the third. Every morning, he sees a teenage girl emerge from a house and run barefoot through a park. She runs joyfully, and she is beautiful. He soon realizes, however, that she does not run so well...
(The entire section is 1670 words.)
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