Walter Mosley

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What is the summary for Walter Mosley's short story "Reply to a Dead Man"?

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The story starts off with an informal introduction of the protagonist, Roger. Roger's having lost his job, then his brother and his inability to even attend the funeral, sets off the story with a sort of depressing tone. Roger’s brother, Seth, was buried by his fourth wife. Roger, who was going through a hard time financially, could not afford to pay for his brother’s funeral.

As he writes a letter to his sister six months after his brother’s death, a stranger shows up at his door. The man introduces himself as an employee of FRC—Final Requests Company—whom Seth had hired to deliver a message six months after his death. Despite Roger's efforts to stall the man, he finds himself holding the ivory envelope that the messenger gives him before he leaves.

Roger calls his sister, and despite her pleading with him to destroy the letter, he opens it and is greeted with a shock—he has a daughter. He has been a father all along and he had no idea. Seth wrote this and gave him the address in the letter after apologizing for hiding it from him all these years.

His neighbor, Rose, finding him in a miserable state, invites him over to her house and suggests he takes a good shower and goes to see his daughter. He goes over to the address and takes her out for a cup of coffee, instantly bonding, each one happy that they have found the other.

After a couple of days, Harding from FRC is back with another letter, and this time expecting a reply. Roger is confused by the demand for a reply to a dead man. He reads the letter and finds that Seth spent his last few days saving money for Sovie and asked Roger to either accept the money and help her or give all the money to her so she can figure out how to use it herself. Roger enquires with Harding if FRC is currently hiring trainees, and Harding replies in the affirmative. Roger gives his reply—he asks Harding to give the money to Sovie and to hand him an application so he can apply for the job. In the end, things definitely seem to work out for Roger.

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