Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1670
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 in competition. She always wears shoes to her meets, so one morning Ed knocks on her door and gives her father an empty shoebox. At the next meet, the girl runs barefoot. She still loses, but her running looks beautiful and joyful the way it does in the mornings. Afterward she thanks Ed and asks him if he is a saint.
A bit more confident now, Ed returns to the first house. He approaches the front door, where the couple’s small daughter is sitting outside crying. He promises her he will try to help, but he is still too scared to go in. That night, he finds a gun in his letterbox. He drives to the rapist’s street and picks him up. He drugs the man with doped vodka and beats him with the gun, threatening to kill him. Afterward the man flees town, leaving his wife and daughter behind.
Part Two: The Stones of Home
One day Ed arrives home and finds two men in balaclavas eating meat pies in his kitchen. They admit they are connected to the card Ed received, but they refuse to say who hired them. They beat Ed up and give him an envelope containing an Ace of Clubs. On it someone has written, “Say a prayer at the stones of home.”
One day a man who knows Ed’s name gets into his cab and makes him drive to a river. When they arrive, the man refuses to pay for the trip. He gets out of the cab, and Ed chases him. He is out of shape, so he ends up collapsing on some rocks. Three names are scrawled on these stones: Thomas O’Reilly,...
(The entire section contains 1670 words.)
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