The flag on the side of your mailbox is meant to be used by you and your postal delivery person: It is meant to signal that something is inside that needs picking up by either you or your carrier.
- mail, communication, books, comics, catalogs, bills
- for remote regions: connection to the world
- sharing one mailbox: the Otts and the Walkers
- destruction of mailbox, vandalism, bullying, ostracism (youths regularly destroy Larry’s mailbox while driving past)
- assaults, revenge: rattlesnake in mailbox (Irina Mott, Wallace Stingfellow) – snakes being another important symbol
- one of Larry’s jobs, get the mail from the mailbox and deliver it to the Walkers and to his home
Larry emties his mailbox.
At the end of his long driveway he stopped at his mailbox, tilted on its post, a battered black shell with its door and red flag long wrenched off He cranked down his window and reached inside. A package. He pulled it out, one of his book clubs. Several catalogs. The phone bill. He tossed the mail on the seat beside him, shifted into drive and pulled onto the highway.
Silas is in charge of getting a snake out of a mailbox.
“You need to get over to Fourteenth and West. It’s a rattlesnake in somebody’s mailbox.”
“Rattler,” she repeated. “Mailbox.”
“Was the flag up?” (…)
“It’s her mailbox,” Olivia said.
“Her snake-of-the-month club arrived early,” said another young woman, pierced nose, black eyeliner.
“Yeah,” Irina said, “but I’d ordered a copperhead.”
Olivia pointed to the mailbox, askew on its post and the address flaking off. “I’m driving along, and I start to open it and the next thing I know it’s buzzing like a hornet’s nest. I open it a crack more and heard something whop the door from the inside and I closed it right back.” (…)
Silas regarded the mailbox, then thumped its flag and heard the buzz start inside, like a tiny motor. “Can somebody get me a shovel?”
Silas investigates at Larry’s house.
In this case, the sign was always gone because teenagers kept stealing them.
Silas braked, signaled, and turned, his lights sweeping Larry’s beat-up mailbox into sight (…).
He slipped inside the dark, recalling the snake in the mailbox and trying to remember if snakes hung around after dark.
He flew down the driveway through the trees, dodging puddles and watching for snakes. He passed the Walker place, Cecil on the porch with a cup of coffee and a cigarette that he raised. Larry waved back and kept going, skidding to a stop before the mailboxes, theirs and the Walkers’. Without dismounting he opened the little door and pulled out the letters and circulars; he got Cecil’s, too, glancing at it. Where Larry sometimes had mail, comic books or magazines, things he’d ordered, Cindy Walker never did. The Walkers usually only got junk.
Cecil was gone when he rode back by and he left their circulars on the porch. At home he laid his father’s mail on the kitchen table and took his seat. In a moment the back door closed and his mother came in the kitchen with several eggs in her apron.
“You scared me,” she said.
She began to lay the eggs on the counter and noticed the mail. “Did your funny books come?”