“Arthur,’ Eames breathed over the phone with tight affection, “I have something you need to see.”
“I’m in Thailand, Mr. Eames, can’t it wait?” Arthur stared out his window over the Chicago skyline
“Well, they are quite old, I don’t suppose they’ll disintegrate before you deign to see me.”
“I told you, I’m not interested in helping you value the contents of your warehouse. If you want it done, hire an expert.”
“Not paintings, Arthur. Letters. Very strange ones. I checked that P.O. Box you gave me this morning and there they were, bundled up in ribbon.”
“Are you calling me to brag about a secret admirer?”
“They’re addressed to you and Cobb. Well half to you and half to Cobb. It’s a correspondence, actually, apparently between the two of you.”
“I’ve never written Dom something longer than an e-mail.”
“These go on for pages. That’s not what’s so strange though. They’re dated over two hundred years ago. I sent a piece of the paper to Yusaf, he’s testing it now.”
“It sounds like someone put some effort into playing a trick on you.” Arthur clutched the phone so hard the plastic creaked in protest. “I have to go.”
A month went by with no further contact. Arthur finished the Chicago job and returned home for the first time in weeks. A missed package slip was stuck cheerily to his door. Frowning, he got right back in the car. A bored postal worker handed him a neatly wrapped little box with no return address label.
Checking it over carefully, he opened it slowly. Inside was a second box with a note stuck to the top in Eames’ terrible handwriting:
After several tests, Yusaf determined that both the ink and paper used verified the age of the letters. I read through them carefully and they do carry the genuine tone of yourself and Cobb. I’m not sure who would perform such an elaborate trick and to what end. I leave them in your capable hands to do with what you will.
Arthur’s dining room table doubled as an office space, the rich mahogany table far more often holding up documents than food. With near ritualistic movements, he filed and sorted the detritus on the table away until it was cleared. He set the second package in the middle where it glared accusingly at him.
“Hello.” He said softly and reached for it with tender hands, unraveling the paper.
The letters freed from their paper prison spilled out, their old envelopes threatening to rupture. He picked the first up, the sweet smell of ceder meeting his nose. Someone had stored them for a long time with great care. His own handwriting slanted across the front, addressing the letter to Professor Cobb ℅ Philosophy Department, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
Captured, he sank into a chair and delicately drew out the first letter.