Brown Paper Packages, Tied Up With Strings

It would have been an ordinary mail package with a little yellow slip you had to sign at the post office, a package that would sit in the passengers' seat on the drive home. You would have known who it was coming from by the familiar address. On some rare occasions and birthdays you'd puzzle over the area code, wondering if you shouldn't just open it here in the car to save youself the drive back to the post office tomorrow to return it. It wouldn't have been the first heavily gesticulated story you'd share over a pint later the same day. It would have been too ordinary.

Ordinary, if it had happened fifteen years ago. Back then the postal system was a topic of conversation, occasionally even making the news. "Postal Layoffs!" or "Postman attacked by escaped python!" There was a kids' television show about a kindly postman and his cat, and every child over the age of 0 could sing along with the soft jingle at the beginning. "Postman Pat, Postman Pat, and his black and white cat."

But this was 2007. Communication had progressed fast over those years, e-mail, chat and sms was the way to do it now. These days Emmett only checked his mailbox at the end of every month to collect the bills.

So the day he opened his mailbox and saw the thin yellow slip announcing the arrival of a package too large to be delivered to his doorstep, Emmett's excitement was understandable. Not the excitement of Christmas morning, it was more like the feeling he got from skimming the secondhand Nancy Drew paperbacks in the local library. Here was a mystery which could very quickly--too quickly usually--be revealed, so he had learned to drag out the discovery of it by misplacing the book for a few days...perhaps leaving it at a friend's place till they noticed.

And Emmett liked mysteries.

He left the slip in his mailbox for three days.

It just sat there.

(to be continued...)


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