[anchor=I9]The Stolen Letter
(Based on the story “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe.)
It was a rainy day of October in Guadalajara, I was watching the football match of our favorite team, Chivas of Guadalajara in the house of a friend of mine, Diego. We were enjoying it while we ate peanuts and drank some beer. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, I couldn’t focus on the game, since I was still thinking in the big amount of work that was waiting for me the next day. My thoughts were interrupted when the door suddenly opened and our friend Bruno entered; we hadn’t seen him for several days.
“Hey, Bruno, my friend, how are you? It’s been a while.” I said, in an enthusiastic way.
“Well… I can’t say I’m fine. That’s the reason I came here. I need your help, at least an advice.”
Diego quickly turned off the TV, so we could pay more attention to Bruno; apparently he had something interesting to tell us.
“Then, what is this all about?” asked Diego, while he invited the newly arrived to take a seat with a movement of his hand.
“As you may know” he started “My wedding is in a week, while my bachelor’s party was a couple of days ago.”
“And we weren’t invited to…” I muttered. Diego stepped on my foot so I would shut up and Bruno continued.
“As I was telling you, my bachelor’s party was some days ago, it was organized by some friends, among them Gabriel Valencia, I think that you’ve met him before.”
“Yes, I remember him” said Diego smiling a little bit.
“Fine then. The thing is that the party kept going until very late. We had already drank a lot of beer and tequila, but I’m not used to drinking that much, I only did it because it was my bachelor’s party. I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing; I was semiconscious, so I wrote a letter to Fernanda by initiative of Gabriel. All that I wrote there wasn’t exactly nice or decent for Fernanda, what I want to say is that the contents of that letter are compromising and would put the wedding in jeopardy, a thing I don’t want to happen.”
“But… What’s the problem?” I asked a little surprised. “I mean, the contents of the letter may be compromising, but I’m sure Fernanda won’t read it.”
“The problem is Gabriel kept the letter. And he pretends I cede him all the shares I own in the C*** company in exchange for the letter. However, that’s not an option, because it’s one of my greatest income sources. He is giving me until one day before the wedding. If I don’t comply, we will show the letter to Fernanda and the wedding will be over.”
“I can’t believe you got that drunk” I started “I always thought you were saint…” Diego made me close my mouth once again and turned back to Bruno.
“Now I understand. How exactly do you expect us to help you?”
“Well, I’ve tried everything in my power to convince him to return it, I’ve offered him all kind of things, but he just refuses to give it back. I have even been to his apartment, I searched up and down using all I’ve learned while I’ve been with the police force, hoping I would find it there, but it didn’t work.”
“Then you want us to get it back for you.”
“Or at least help me do it.”
“I need you to describe the letter to me” said Diego. “Type of paper, ink, size, among other things, please.”
Bruno gave us a quick description of the letter, nothing out of the common.
“All right, gives us until Friday and you’ll have your letter back, trusts us” concluded Diego.
“Thank you very much” Bruno said goodbye and exited.
When he was gone I asked Diego: “Do you really think you are capable of recovering the letter?”
“Trust me, I know Gabriel better than Bruno does, I know how he thinks and acts. You just relax and turn on the TV so we can see how the football match went.”
“Ah, Chivas lost…”
Next Friday we were once again sitting in Diego’s living room, eager to know what had happened during the week. I hadn’t seen Diego those days since I had been very busy with work and therefore I didn’t had the slightest idea of what had happened and I was just as expectant as Bruno, but not as nervous. Our friend was pale and kept rubbing his hands together, looking anxiously towards Diego, like trying to guess where he had hidden the letter. However, Diego stayed calm.
“You’re giving me a heart attack, say something now.” I said, half joking, half seriously.
Diego pretended he hadn’t heard me, but a moment later he started talking.
“Well, Bruno, I got your letter back. However, I must ask you something first. I usually don’t do this, asking something in return for a favor, but this time I would like you to ask for a little thing.”
“Whatever you want.”
“You see, tomorrow it’s the derby between Chivas and América and I know you own a box in the Jalisco Stadium, and since your wedding it’s not until Sunday, I would like to see if we could go with you.”
“Conceded. I hadn’t thought of going. But maybe I’ll get to relax before Sunday.”
“Then, here it’s your letter” said Diego, taking out a paper envelope from his jacket and handing it to Bruno.
“I’m so grateful; I’ll never be able to pay you, I…”
“Tomorrow’s match will be enough. Don’t forget to destroy that as soon as possible.”
“Ok, see you tomorrow.”
Once Bruno had exited, I went to the kitchen, grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge and returned to the living room.
“So, how did you get it back” I asked while I handed him a beer.
“It was easier than I expected. I must say Bruno is good doing his job, but that’s not enough for defeating Gabriel Valencia, a person with an exceptional intelligence. Bruno’s methods would have been enough in any other case, but not this one. They weren’t enough.”
“The system he used, as I said before, could have been used in any other case, I mean, it was almost perfect. The problem was Bruno used the method he learned at the police exactly as he had been taught, not giving chance to eventualities or unexpected turns. That’s why he failed against Valencia, who doesn’t fall in the “common” category. That’s the reason he didn’t found what he was looking for, the whole thing was so obvious it went undetected.”
“Then, how did you manage to recover it?”
“After a day of thinking what could I do, I finally decided to go and visit Gabriel personally. We have a cordial relationship, so it wasn’t too difficult to arrange a meeting with him at his apartment. Next day I was standing at his doorstep, ready to start my search. He welcomed me without suspecting what my real intentions were. While we talked about football, you know he is a hardcore fan of América, I carefully examined everything around me. I saw a little table next to him with some books, papers and letters, but they didn’t catch my attention. Finally, I noticed a card rack hanging from the wall, which had some cards and a single letter. The envelope was dirty and wrinkled, torn in the corners; Gabriel’s name was clearly visible. The letter had been thrown carelessly on the top of the rack, as if it was of no importance. Despite the fact its appearance was almost completely different of the one Bruno had described, it was of the same size. I knew that was what I was looking for. The worn envelope, the dirt, among other things, the location of the letter within sight of everyone confirmed my suspicions. I left him for that day, leaving my jacket on purpose, while I brewed the next step of my plan. I returned the next day for my jacket and we continued with our football conversation. While we were talking, someone knocked the door and Gabriel went to open. I used that moment to take the letter and replace it with a fake one. By the way, the one who called to the door was a boy I hired.”
“But, why did you left a fake letter?” I asked “Wouldn’t it had been easier just to take it and run?”
“It’s possible, but I wanted to give him a lesson and leave him a little message.”
“You left him something written?”
“Of course, I couldn’t have left it blank. It would have been an insult. Once, during a trip to Chapala he gave me a bad time and I told him I wouldn’t forget it. So once he realizes he doesn’t have the letter, he’ll wonder who outsmarted him, so I wrote down. “Go Chivas!” I think that will be more than enough for him to understand. Come on, if we hurry, we might catch the movie at seven thirty.”
Capibara is the author of Italy: Tales of Friendship, Treason, Love and Death