little bit bloody


Even at a tender age I read the classified ads in the newspaper, because I'd heard of monsters under the closet, and since I didn't seem to have any of my own, I thought maybe I could rent one.

YOUNG HANDSOME ME & LOOKING FOR YOUNG HANDSOME INTIMACY SEEKING LONG WALKS/LITE LIT TALKS DO YOU LIKE TO EAT IN THE DARK
NO EYES
ABSOLUTE VILLAGE

Appealing offers were few and far between, and anyway no one ever left their contact information. But I diligently wrote responses to each and buried them in the yard -- Mom said you wouldn't get a job unless you applied everywhere, and I figured the same was true with monsters.

8539¢
dear no eyes absolute village

i'm not good at walking or talking but i like to write
so one day i will write a thousand books and please come to my book signing
thank you
●□●□●

This went on for some time with no interference, netting me quite the record of unrequited correspondence -- I knew I would never receive a response, of course. But one day there was an ad with an address.

SEND IN SIX BOX TOPS AND RECEIVE

## EAST ### ST ######## NY 11###

I was utterly blindsided. I didn't have six box tops lying around, but I did have one, and I wasn't about to miss my chance.

9886¢
dear ## EAST ### ST

i don't have six box tops but i do have one so please have it and wait for more
●□●□●

For the first time, my message went into the mailbox. I dared not hope to hear back, but to my surprise there was a new ad the next day.

SEND IN FIVE BOX TOPS FOR A GIFT

## NORTH #### AVE ##### PA 15###

Right away I was full to the brim with excitement -- and fear. I was all out of box tops, and it wouldn't be easy to get more. Panic over the adverse effects of cereals had set in just that year, and no conscientious parent would let their kid near the stuff. Mom certainly wasn't going to risk it; understandably so, my vitality being precarious enough already. I was reduced to schoolyard begging.

As is often the case on the playground, all requests of this kind went through one place. His name was Sally, or maybe Jimmy, and she had cultivated a veritable box top empire. It was the latest in a long line of economic exploits; box tops were just the season's hottest contraband.

dear sally or jimmy i would like to make a trade for four box tops please thank you
●□●□●

The trouble with dons is that they value their pride most of all, which means everyone has to play by their rules. Thus the cost for box top number one:

"The boss is willing to do you a favor. First one's on him. But she's got a policy, and you gotta adhere to that. All deals go down in person."

As I've established, I knew my way around pencil and paper, but I walked and talked like a fish out of water. So this was no small task. But I needed those box tops more than anything, so I practiced all night, and then the next night, and the night after, and when I couldn't stand the thought of that prize slipping through my fingers any longer, I went to him.

SEND IN FOUR BOX TOPS TO WIN BIG

## SOUTH #### RD ###### CT 06###

It didn't get any easier. With every box top traded the price grew steeper, and no matter how I pleaded, Mom held firmly to her cereal embargo. It's for your health, she said, with which I could not argue. And so again and again I knelt before the boss.

SEND IN THREE BOX TOPS FOR GLORY

########### RD ######### OX2 6##


SEND IN TWO BOX TOPS FOR VICTORY

### ###### ## ####### ## ### ###



SEND IN ONE BOX TOP

################################




SEND IN ZERO BOX TOPS




And that was it. That was all I ever heard. To this day the ad persists in the classifieds -- you can see it for yourself, if you like. Maybe you know how to satisfy its demands, and maybe you can win that prize.


SEND IN ZERO BOX TOPS


As for me, I'm older now, and I can buy my own cereal whenever I like, which isn't all that often. Last year I finally met No Eyes Absolute Village in person. We like to go for long walks and light-lit talks, and some nights we eat in the dark. But other nights we still dream of receiving, of gifts and winning big, of glory and victory.