The Wrong Delivery Guy

Seven (1995)

A.N.- Inspired by a series of commercial ads for XCel Energy.

...

John Doe sat in his dank apartment, a grimy rotary phone receiver in one hand. A phone book lay in the dirty table. He perused the pages, flipping to the letter 'D' for Delivery.

He knew exactly what he was going to do to Detective Mills' wife now that he knew where she lived. 'Envy' was driving him to plan it out, to get all his proverbial 'ducks in a row,' so to speak. He sniffed in disgusted laughter. 'Ducks in a row.' What a idiotic saying for stupid humanity to come up with. He berated himself for thinking in such banal language.

Reading the list, Doe saw that were several delivery companies to choose from. FedEx. Speedy Delivery. And the big one, UPS. Doe's fingers flitted over the Yellow Pages. He decided to call the number for FedEx first. The sound of the old fashioned rotary dial pierced the silence of the serial killer's apartment. One, two, three, four rings. Can't any of these fools answer? John Doe thought in impatience. The hours in the box advertisement on the left column indicated that FedEx was supposed to be open. A 'click' sounded in Doe's ear, followed by the drone of the dial tone.

Doe quietly set the phone back on its receiver and smoothed out the pages of the newest thick edition of the phone book. He lost his page for a moment, then he ruffled through the flimsy papers to find it again. His eyes were bleary from lack of sleep. 'Pride' took a lot of energy out of him, not to mention the chase with Mills and Somerset.

He was very low on energy, to the point where he might not be able to get the next job done. Doe's blurred vision had somehow landed on the 'E' part of the Yellow Pages, and he lost concentration. He could make out the words 'Delivery Guy.' A number was near the phrase, and he began to dial the digits. Unbeknownst to John Doe, the phone number was in the 'Energy Company' section of the Yellow Pages, not 'delivery truck services.' He did not notice the mistake.

A secretary answered the phone in a kind voice. "Good morning. Xcel Energy services. May I transfer your call?"

"I would like to request the services of a Delivery Guy," said Doe in a clipped tone.

"Sir, we have only one Delivery Guy in our entire company. He's very busy, but do you need me to direct you to him? I can give you the other number to call."

"No, direct me to him. Please," said Doe, becoming disgusted with the secretary. She must have Sloth. Too lazy to take the extra step to hit a few buttons to transfer a phone call! If only he could stick his sharpened Bowie knife through the phone line and carve out the woman's ear...

The phone on the other end picked up. A chipper male voice pierced Doe's own tired ear. "Good morning! Xcel Energy Delivery Guy here! How may I help you today?"

What do you THINK I need your help with? Doe thought, recoiling in contempt. "I. Need. To have something. Delivered." he said, carefully enunciating each word, weary with these tiresome employees. This one couldn't have Sloth. Perhaps Pride? Greed for tip money?

"Why, of course, sir! At Xcel Energy, we ensure the commitment to deliver clean, safe, environmentally renewable energy."

"Wait. Excuse me for just one moment," said John Doe. "You deliver...energy? How on earth can you deliver something like energy, or electricity, in a cardboard box?"

There was a slight pause on the other end. "Sir...I assure you that we do! We work very hard to deliver to you our best energy. And I happen to handle personal deliveries, using my trustworthy, bright red box."

"Trustworthy? Is that so? I've never met a trustworthy soul in my life," Doe said with cutting sarcasm, trying to keep his burning hot urge to kill repressed until he was actually in the presence of another wretched sinner. "I apologize," he said, remaining calm and clipped. "I have been quite tired lately, from working so hard. My work is extraordinary, I'll have you know. What I do today will be puzzled over and studied, ages and ages from now. So yes, I would very much like to have some of this energy you speak of."

"Hey! That's great!" replied the friendly and affable voice. "So would you like me to deliver for you soon, sir?"

"Yes. As soon as possible," sneered Doe. "Please deliver it to me. Energy. Please be so kind as to deliver your red box of energy, to Apartment 604. Building 95. 103rd Avenue East, New York City." A pause went over the line as Doe allowed the Delivery Guy to take his address.

"Sir, I am based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. But I will do the best I can to make my delivery prompt and speedy."

"I don't have much time, I have a deadline. Just make it as prompt as you possibly can," Doe said irritably.

"No problem, sir! Thank you for calling Xcel Energy! Always Responsible by Nature!"

Doe hung up the rotary dial phone. Once this Delivery Guy delivered John Doe his 'energy' in the company's red box, Doe would complete his task. Killing Tracy Mills for his own sin of Envy. And there would be a convenient red box in his hands, empty for Doe to place the 'souvenir.'

Then, he planned to make a second call to this Delivery Guy. Doe might have to force the man at knifepoint to load the red box containing Tracy Mills' head, and to drive the company's delivery truck to the remote location by the power lines, where Doe would have his pre-planned meeting with David Mills and Somerset.

Once Mills learned of what John Doe accomplished, he would be able to complete his work for him. Wrath.

...

Trevor drove the Xcel Energy company truck down the busy, crowded 103rd Avenue. This was way out of his normal service area, that was for sure. He was accustomed to delivering in maple tree-lined suburbs in St. Paul, Edina, Eden Prairie, or the forested, scenic roads of counties in Wisconsin or Michigan, or the cornfields of Iowa. This gritty urban street was dark and creepy, the buildings foreboding. It unnerved him, yet something in Trevor's intuition was urging him to be brave and take the job.

Trevor was an impeccably responsible employee. The best representative of Xcel Energy that could have ever graced the video and radio ads. He went strolling along with his big red box, delivering Clean Energy to his beloved communities. Letting everyone know the importance of safety and protecting the environment. One time, he even paddled a canoe to deliver his red box of Clean Energy to a customer in Minneapolis.

He stopped the truck in front of Building 95. Stepping out, he was met with the damp smell of recent rains and the discomfort of a concrete urban jungle, with no green lawns, no nice rural or suburban trees. A few unfriendly-looking types glared at him. He pulled his big red box out of the back of the truck and happily meandered to the lobby of the tenement building, a sunny smile on his face for all he passed.

"Yo, what's in the box, brother?" a teenage boy asked Trevor.

The Delivery Guy beamed at the boy. "The best Clean Energy," he replied with a nod, pushing the elevator button on a wall covered with graffiti and chipped paint.

"Shit, man! Is that snow in there? Rock? Crackers?" the boy wondered out loud, impressed. "Who's your supplier?"

"If you have any questions about our service, I'll let you know later. Just give us a call at Xcel Energy," Trevor replied, getting into the elevator.

Goodness gracious. Silly kid, he thought. As if he were delivering a bunch of Ritz Crackers, or some rocks! Who'd be wanting snow this time of year? Gee whiz. No, his red box was never heavy or full of stones, or snack food for that matter. Only the best, renewable, eco-friendly Energy his company could boast. The box was so light and buoyant it could practically float.

The dim, graffiti-covered elevator stopped on the 6th floor, and Trevor stepped out into an equally dim and frightening corridor of the tenement building. He walked briskly to the end of the hall, feeling brave. Responsible.

He found door number 604 after walking up and down the hall two times. With the precious red box still in his arms, he knocked on the door. It opened, revealing some white dude, a little older than himself with a shaved head.

"Xcel Energy Delivery here...for you, sir," said Trevor, his heart rate rising a bit. There was something extremely creepy about this apartment, and the look in the guy's eyes. Everything in his being was screaming at him to Abort Mission, For Goodness' Sake! But duty, and his Responsible Nature, gave him the courage to forge on ahead.

"Come in," said John Doe.

...

Doe looked over his Delivery Guy bearing the package. The box was a good size. It would be the exact packaging he would need for after committing his work for Envy. The red cardboard looked as if might leak, though. Doe might have to wrap the...souvenir in plastic a few times, to make certain that no blood would seep from it.

"Sir?" Trevor said, breaking Doe's chain of thought.

"Why yes, of course. Payment. You want payment, don't you?" Doe said, taking one menacing step toward him. He expected the man to back up with fear, but instead he seemed to stand his ground. "May I please ask what the rate is?"

"Well, sir, I traveled from Minneapolis, Minnesota to New York City," Trevor replied, his friendly, high-wattage smile never faltering. "When you calculate the mileage, it's roughly one thousand, two hundred miles. The rate is usually forty cents a mile, so you're looking at...um, four hundred and eighty. But- since you're a brand new customer-" He paused. "Hey! I'll tell you what! I'll reduce the fee to three hundred dollars even! After all, neighbor, the package itself doesn't weigh much! So I'm very happy to provide service at an introductory price!"

Trevor set the red box on the dirty floor, before Doe's feet. Doe looked down at it for a moment, then at Trevor. He gazed intensely into the fellow's kind, innocent dark eyes. He saw nothing except joy and light reflected back. It almost burned the serial killer. The blatant and utter goodness.

Doe was often able to detect the wretched sin in a person upon first meeting. He held a special intuition that he prided himself upon. But in this case- nothing. Greed? Of course not, with his generous offer of a reduced rate for a delivery service from Minnesota to New York. It wasn't as if Doe didn't have the means to pay, either. His wretched living situation was his own choice, a form of self-flagellation. Purifying himself, a vow of poverty. Obedience. And chastity, although he wondered if it might be fun to 'play husband' with Tracy Mills later this evening.

"So sir, is that rate satisfactory for you?" Trevor asked him.

"It...it's fine. Perfectly fine. Allow me to go get my wallet, please."

Doe stepped back into his apartment and took a tattered leather wallet from the grimy table, which held the phone book and rotary phone, a rusting chair nearby. He pulled several fifties from the wallet and handed it to the Delivery Guy.

"Three hundred even. Thank you," said Doe. "May I ask you a question, please?"

"Of course! What would you like to ask?" Trevor's always-chipper voice raised half an octave. Doe wondered if he was getting scared.

"Do you enjoy what you do?" Doe asked in a very soft, velvet voice, like a therapist inviting a troubled soul to confess.

"Immensely," Trevor replied, his smile brightening. "It is my greatest pleasure. Delivering our Energy is my commitment to you. We're Responsible by Nature!"

"So you...never have a lazy kind of day?" asked Doe. 'Sloth' was something even the nicest people were guilty of.

"Oh, sure- once in a while, of course!" Trevor said, nodding. "Driving here was a lazy day for me, come to think of it! I just sat behind the wheel, driving and thinking of how wonderful and amazing America is! Seeing our beautiful nation, coast to coast! But I still did some work, sir. I listened to my Company PR Goals podcast for a while, and then some music! A little bit o' Motown! Ever listen to the Supremes?" he asked cheerily.

"No," Doe said, exasperated. "Did you have a lunch break?"

"Sure, thank you. Not hungry."

"What did you have for this lunch break?" asked Doe. He didn't suspect Gluttony, the fellow was fit as a fiddle.

"Grilled chicken salad on Romaine lettuce, collard greens and tomatoes, small serving, in eco-friendly packaging."

Doe gave a curt nod. He walked again to the table, and picked up a knife. A serrated knife. He watched the look in Trevor's eyes with anticipation. He saw a hint of unease coming over the man, so Doe knew he had to be at least a little scared. Of course, the man was from faraway Minneapolis and had no idea of Doe's work. His great magnum opus.

Aiming his knife at the top of the red box, Doe put a small slice through the seam. Carefully, of course, since the box was to be reused to hold Tracy Mills' pretty head. He didn't want to wreck it. "What is your name?" he asked the delivery guy, deciding to make small talk- tedious as it may be.

"Trevor Johnson, sir."

"So Trevor, what, or who- would you say you are the most proud of? Looking back in your life? Do any thoughts come to mind?" A demonic smirk crossed Doe's features as he glanced from the box to meet his eye.

"Proud? Well, besides our company, I'd say I'm most proud of my mom!" Trevor replied with enthusiasm. "My mom's working hard. She's trying to put all five of us through college. She worked for the Pillsbury factory for years, then she started her own baking business. Homemade baked goods are much more environmentally-"

"Never mind!" said John Doe curtly. He twisted the serrated knife and cut a line to the corner of the box. "Have a girlfriend, by chance?"

"No," Trevor laughed. "I'm much too busy for that right now, with work and all. When I'm more settled, I'll find a wife someday. I promised my Mom, Dad, and Grandma. I'd hope she's someone who goes to my Baptist church, of course."

"Fine," Doe said, his ire rising. He raised the knife in his hand and waved it at Trevor in a lazy gesture. Trevor's eyes widened slightly; he took a step backward.

"Forget a girlfriend, Trevor. May I ask if you have any FOB's?"

"What is that?"

"Friends with Benefits," Doe said through his clenched teeth.

"Hey! That sounds just like our Xcel Energy promise! We give the best rates to our customer friends by offering benefits-"

"SHUT UP!" yelled Doe. "Just...shut...up!" He put both hands to his shaved head in frustration, the knife tip scratching his temple.

"Sir, is there anything wrong? Are you not feeling well?"

Doe stood abruptly, gripping the knife in his fist. This was insane. Nada. Zilch. No greed, sloth, gluttony, pride, or lust. He lowered his hand with the knife and stepped closer to the Delivery Guy, putting an arm on his shoulder. He felt a bit of a squirm, a twitch. The fellow surely wanted to leave. No. Not quite yet. John Doe was not ready for this apparently perfect angel to leave, until he could find the dent in his proverbial halo.

"Trevor, I feel envious sometimes," Doe said wearily. "I work so hard. Hours and hours of toil, and gallons and gallons of...blood, and...sweat, and..."

"Tears?" the Delivery Guy said in a tone of empathy.

"Yes. Quite often. Tears. Tears of frustration, and envy for all the injustice of this world. And guilt, Trevor. As St. Augustine once said, 'Repentant tears wash out the stain of guilt.' Can you ever relate? I'm just a man alone, wallowing in my envy for the greedy men and women in those gaudy glass towers I see out that window over in Manhattan. The top one percent. Don't you ever feel that way?"

"I don't know," said Trevor, pondering.

...

He didn't really care for the way this guy was touching him and getting on his case, waving his knife around so weirdly. He had other jobs to do, and it was a long drive back to the Twin Cities. But he was perfectly happy to answer this lonely, somewhat mentally imbalanced guy's question. Hey! After all, maybe he just needed a nice friend!

Wait...no.

Something came over Trevor that moment. He wasn't liking this one bit. He had to admit it, at least to himself. If he had been one to use profanity, he might want to admit that this guy was giving him some creepy-ass vibes. Of course, Grandma and the Xcel Energy PR team would not want him to say that out loud.

"You never feel any envy for those people out there at all? Even just a little?" John Doe inquired, his fingers tightening on Trevor's blue-jacketed shoulder, the knife cradled in the other. Trevor felt an urgent shock of fear, cold and icy fear. What did Grandma say you should do whenever you're really scared? Oh, that's right! Pray to the Good Lord, the Man Upstairs! And I'm gonna need it now!

'Lord, please give me a vision of what this dude is all about! Is he evil, Or is he just some harmless outcast?' Trevor prayed silently.

In reply, Trevor's brain was hit with a series of voices and visions of the near future. The faith of his heart and Grandma's wisdom must've have helped him get an extra dose of insight from the Big Man Upstairs. And what he was being shown was not good at all.

This guy. Holding a knife, but instead of with Trevor, he was with a blonde woman. What was he doing?

'Oh no, this can't happen. What's he DOING to her?'

'Oh my GOODNESS! Please! NO!'

The scene of events changed. As his horror intensified, Trevor's inner voice became uncensored.

'This is crazy-ass shit! My red box? Our great company's red box? He's making me drive it? Carrying it over to...No...NO!'

He heard voices. 'I took a souvenir, Detective. Her pretty head.'

'John Doe has the upper hand!'

'What's in the box? Tell me, Somerset! What's in the box?'

'I envy you, Detective Mills...'

'I can't!' Trevor thought. 'This won't happen. I won't let it. I just CAN'T!

Trevor was shaking and dizzy. A sting hit the back of his eyeballs and his vision blurred. He took a deep breath, and prayed for the Big Man Upstairs to guide him.

"Tell me how you feel," crooned John Doe, scrutinizing the other's obvious discomfort.

"Sir...you know it's possible I might feel a bit of envy. If a rival energy company were to deliver a superior product to ours," he said clearly, his voice no longer chipper, but still calm. "But that won't happen, because our product IS the best."

"Oh, I see. Is that so? You seem very proud." John Doe smirked at Trevor, his face smug, his tone snarky as hell.

Trevor's heart pounded, but he went on. "Yes, we have pride. Pride in quality," said Trevor, feeling bolder. "If you want, go ahead and open the box, and look inside. Deep inside is our Energy. Clean, pure...renewable Energy. You won't be disappointed, sir."

"All right. Let me take a look at this...energy in a box."

John Doe stooped down and knelt on the floor again, much to Trevor's relief. He used the small sharp knife to cut the top of the red box wide open. He peered inside.

"It's empty," he said in disappointment. "According to Einstein, energy comes from matter. The Theory of Relativity. So that would mean, in order for there to be energy in there, you would have to deliver me some tangible matter inside this box, wouldn't you think?" Doe's voice rose and sharpened in his last words, and Trevor's breath hitched.

"Are you lying to me?" Doe bellowed, glancing up at the deliveryman in rage, pointing his knife upward. "Proverbs! Chapter Fourteen! An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies!"

Doe stood up quickly, pointing the knife towards the knot in Trevor's tie. The look on the serial killer's face was twisted, psychotic. Trevor closed his eyes and his family's faces came to mind. Mom, Dad, Grandma. His siblings- Dante, Marcus, Cherise, little Janaeā€¦He won't even be able to say goodbye...

"Sir, I'm telling you the truth," Trevor said calmly, in almost a whisper. "It's not empty. Just look a little further inside." He forced just a hint of his cheery smile. "We're Responsible by Nature. We wouldn't ever promise something we can't deliver."

Doe- perplexed by the Delivery Guy and his flawless purity- or just plain stupidity- drew back, and set the knife down on the filthy little table. He stooped and knelt on the floor by the box once again. Pulling the flaps of the box open wide, Doe stuck his nose inside, his head going deeper.

'I won't allow it to happen,' thought Trevor, shivering. 'No way, man. Not that poor detective...not his wife.'

The Delivery Guy now had the upper hand.

He wasn't about to do this deed himself, though. The Energy would. All he had done was simply deliver it.

A loud crack, like thunder, sounded in the apartment, and the lights went out. A bright flash of blinding light came from inside the box, which now contained something, for sure. Energy. Along with John Doe's unfortunate head.

A head which was now burning, being cooked and sizzled in thousands of kilowatts of clean, pure electricity. The rest of the body quivered and shook, a horrible scream like a wounded cat coming from Doe's throat, lasting a moment, as the life of the serial killer was cut short. Flames of the electrical fire burst upward from the box, and Trevor feared the entire building would turn to an inferno. The flames died down.

Trevor stepped back, his hands covering his nose against the smell of burning flesh, and the distinctive stench of the electrical fire. The heat of the blaze made him back away towards the doorway of the apartment, the temperature was searing. His brow beaded.

The sight was too gruesome to bear. When the flames vanished, the body of John Doe was still kneeling, but the head was gone. Inside the red box was a pile of light grey ash.

Trevor bravely stepped forward and pulled the hot box away, and as it slid across the floor, trailing ashes, the headless body fell with a thump. He knew what he had to do now.

After all, he was the Xcel Energy Delivery Guy. Responsible by nature. Honest and true. And that meant that he had to make the moral choice. To turn himself in to the New York City Police Headquarters.

...

Mills and Somerset stood in the stair landing of the Headquarters building, discussing their strategy on capturing John Doe. They were distracted by a loud voice below them.

"Detective? DETECTIVE!"

Everyone in the building looked to the source of the yelling. There stood a man in a delivery uniform, holding a red box which was slightly charred. While the eyes of police and staff fixed upon him, Trevor slowly lay the box down on the floor and knelt beside it. He raised his hands in surrender, gazing upward. He saw the two men he was destined to meet, running frantically down the stairs to approach him. The good-looking white dude, a Brad Pitt type, bearing handcuffs. And the fatherly, distinguished black dude. He looked a lot like the guy who always played The Man Upstairs in movies.

"What the hell is-" David Mills started to say, but Somerset raised a hand to quiet him.

"Just follow the procedure, Mills, stay calm," said Somerset.

Within a few minutes, Somerset was sitting at a table in the interrogation room, with Mills standing at his side. Trevor sat on the other side of the table. The red box sat there between them, almost resembling a birthday present.

"What's in the box?" asked David Mills.

"Detectives, sirs- first may I tell you everything? From the time I first arrived in that apartment? I think it's better that I explain what happened. Moment by moment," said Trevor soberly. Somerset nodded.

After hearing the story, Somerset donned a pair of sterile gloves. He unfolded the flaps of the box and reached in, lifting up a small handful of the fine, powdery grey ash. He bent down and smelled it, his experience on the force and knowledge of forensics telling him what he suspected. He felt inside it again and found a fragment of human skull.

Trevor watched Somerset gingerly pull the ashy gloves off his hands. After he put the gloves in a zippered bag, he held his hands out with a look of revulsion. He must have desperately wanted to wash them.

Somerset looked at Mills. "Mills, go back to the apartment and confirm for me what Mr. Johnson has told us."

For over an hour, after Mills left to go to the scene of John Doe's demise, Somerset sat with Trevor in the interrogation room, keeping him company. They shared small talk, about their jobs, their families, their favorite kinds of music. Somerset was fond of jazz, just like Trevor's Mom and Grandma. He was drawn to the older detective's kind manner, and even though he knew what would lie ahead, probably a trial, a sentence- this man was at least was keeping him calm and prepared.

Wrath. That was what Trevor was feeling when the box of Energy erupted. Wrath in knowing that the crazy-ass psycho was about to destroy an entire family, including an unborn baby. The visions had to be there for a reason, and he was there to make that delivery at the right place, the right time.

Trevor wasn't truly the one who killed John Doe, of course. It was the Energy which did him in. All Trevor had done was deliver it. He decided that he would plead innocent.

...

David and Tracy Mills would go on to have their baby son, and a daughter a few years later. They would buy a Victorian house in upstate New York, away from any noisy trains. After twelve years on the detective force, Mills would go on to become a professor of criminology at Columbia University.

Somerset would happily retire a few years after the 'Deadly Sins' string of murders. A party would be held for him in David and Tracy's new home, coinciding with their son Alexander's third birthday.

The trial of Trevor Johnson, Delivery Guy, was a swift open and shut case. The jury unanimously agreed to the verdict of innocence. After all, Trevor didn't even touch John Doe. Forensics determined the electrical fire, and immolation of Doe's head into ash, to be nothing but a case of accidental death.

It wasn't long before he was free to drive back to Minneapolis and all the surrounding areas of service, to continue his job of dedicated service for the Xcel Energy Company. Always prompt, cheerful, and responsible. By nature.

...

A.N.- For my readers who follow me- Would you believe there's a "Disney Easter Egg" behind this Seven fic? There is! :)

The Disney connection is this: The actor who plays the 'Delivery Guy' in the XCel Energy ads is Arvie Lowe, Jr. He is about 40 today, but he was a former child actor who appeared in Disney's original 1992 'Newsies' film. He played Boots, one of the youngest Newsies.