It was a worringly hot summer's day when the doorbell rang. A doorbell that plays 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' seemed like a good idea six months ago, but things change, people change. Upon opening the door I was confronted by a child who couldn't have been older than ten.
'I’m sorry to bother you,' he said 'But I’m here to talk to you about a very exciting... thing.' There was a hint of Scottish in his accent and his confident manner unsettled me. 'Tell me, do you ever send mail?' I nodded in agreement, whilst putting my foot behind the door, ready to stop any sudden advance. 'That’s great.' he said. 'Now, if you don’t mind me asking, how do you do that?'
'Well I just write a letter then post it.' I told him.
'And you do that on paper?' Once again I nodded in agreement.
'Now there’s your problem right there. The reason I’m here is to offer you this opportunity to purchase these genuine mail tiles for a low, low price.' He made a step to his left, revealing the two foot high pile of rusty brown tiles behind him.
'Why the heck would I want to send my mail on a tile, boy?' I said, half relieved he wasn't trying to make me join a cult, half annoyed at my time being wasted.
'The reason is very simple. Say, for example, a colleague or associate had borrowed a DVD, maybe your favourite DVD, and he’d had it for over six months. Well, you wouldn’t want to put a brick through his window to get it back, would you? You need to save that heavy stuff for your enemies. And what’s a letter going to do when he can just recycle or set fire to it? You need to show you mean business, but how? Mail tiles. Plain and simple. It’s the perfect balance, like a miniature brick for slotting through letterboxes. When he arrives home and sees a tile on his doormat you can be sure that DVD’s gonna be on your desk come Monday morning. And if it’s not, you could easily stick a couple of tiles together to make something similar to a brick. So what do you say? Can I put you down for a hundred?'
'Son, where in God’s flowers did you get all these tiles?' I asked.
'I run a small factory. That much I can assure you.' he said, trying to offer me a business card written on the back of a train ticket.
After politely, but firmly, declining his offer I asked that he never knocked my door again. When he said he'd rung the doorbell I told him to watch his goddamn cheek. Give a kid a factory and he thinks he owns the world.
It would be nearly two days before I noticed the rain coming in through my ceiling.