Walking the dog to the store for the paper this morning, I saw I. and R. standing in the shade of a hedge, catching each other up on who knows what—I was too far away to hear. They talked for a while and parted ways, I. heading down a side road to her house and R walking in my direction.
When we passed, he said, “No papers today.”
I asked if they’d be getting them in later, but he didn’t know. He’d heard it from I. and turned back. We complained for a while about the distributor the store uses, because this happens a lot, and often, he said, the stores in the next village gets its deliveries.
Okay, we weren’t complaining about the distributor. We were complaining about the store, for using them.
I had a magazine to drop in someone’s mailbox, so I didn’t turn back, and on the way decided to go to the store anyway, to ask when they expected the delivery. I debated whether to ask for today’s coupon and drive to the next village and buy the paper there. (Newspaper subscriptions, at least out here in the country, involve coupons, which you can either present day by day, anywhere you like, and which give you a discount but no guarantee that the store won’t have run out, or leave with the store, which will then set your paper aside.)
I still hadn’t decided when I got to the store and asked when the papers were expected. They looked at me blankly.
“We have yours,” they said, and asked who told me they didn’t.
I reconstructed the whisper chain.
“It’s only the Express. R. gets the Mail. We have that.”
And that’s the way word gets around the village. We have no secrets, but have a whole lot of misinformation.