I had been staying at home watching all the old TV spy shows when my mail carrier knocked on my front door.
Before I answered, I called out, “Step back. I don’t want to catch anything."
When I opened the door, he handed me a small paper wrapped box.
“Where did this come from?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just deliver them,” he said. “I have four more to give to your neighbors.
As I received the square container, I set it on my kitchen table. The little package was taped shut on all sides. A length of baling string, tied around it, looped through a note on top. The small square card did have my name and addressed correct, but it wasn’t stamped. I hadn’t ordered anything, so I was naturally suspicious. The box was four by six inches. I set it on the table to search for some scissors. “Do I dare shake it?” I wondered. I turned it over onto its side and then again. Nothing happened.
I stood back and wondered what I should do, when the thought came to me to locate my branch clippers from my tool shed. Wrapping my jacket around my shoulders, I ran outside to the small building. I unlocked the wooden door, and turned on the overhead light. On the wall by the rake and hedge clippers, hung the tool I needed. I pulled off the long trimmer, turned off the light, and locked the shed before I hurried back to my home.
As I rushed back to my house, my next-door neighbor waved. I waved back before he could approach my fence. I dashed inside my kitchen and paused a moment to decide which cord on the package I should clip. With the pointed end of the clippers, I tipped the small box to right it back up with the tied portion on top. I edged one blade under the string until I could close the handles.
The baling cord fell away, leaving the brown paper wrapping exposed. I picked up the scissors and cut away the paper from the taped edges. After flattening the paper, I could see a plain cardboard container. Now, what was I to do? Then a thought hit me. In most movies, the hero puts the package into a tub of water to prevent it from exploding. I turned on the sink faucet and waited for the sink to fill.
Before I could place the package into the sink, someone rang my doorbell. I shut off the faucet and walked to my front door. First, I peeked out of the front window and spotted my neighbor. He had a package in his hand.
“I’m not dressed Larry. I’ll catch you later, okay?” I called through the door.
“Give me a call,” he replied and walked away with his box in hand.
Relieved he didn’t want to come in, I hurried back to the kitchen. After staring at the little box, I grabbed the egg tongs on the counter and gave it a lift. It wasn’t too heavy. Still in the grips of the tongs, I gave it a little shake. Nothing—Not a sound.
I swung the box over to the sink and set in into the water. It floated for a couple of minutes. I bumped it and moved it around. After a few moments, it began to sink, tipping one way and then the other. Bubbles poured out through the corners until the package rested on the stopper under the water line. When the bubbles quit, I poked it a few times. The cardboard soften, causing the box to swell.
As I watched the container bulge, my phone rang.
I pulled out my cell phone. It was from the Post Office.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Hi, this is Mark, your Post Master. I hope you liked the gift I gave you.”
“Yes, my wife made those cupcakes yesterday and I just wanted to give my appreciation to the neighborhood,” he said. “How’d you like the little flag on top?”
“Oh, yes, uh, very nice, thank you. Talk to you later,” I replied and disconnected the call.
As I approached my water filled sink, I could tell something was odd. The water had a red and blue hue. In the center of the water, a tiny American flag rose from the dilapidated opening in the top of the cardboard. The decoration bobbed and waved at me. I pulled out the soggy box. As I did, it fell apart in my hands revealing a wet doughy mass.
Disgusted with my suspicious self, I realized I had stayed in my home way too long. Left with my over active imagination, I drained my sink, turned on the disposal, and wiped the mess down the drain.
After I dried my hands, I glanced at my jacket I had thrown over the chair back. I decided I’d better go for a walk in the fresh air before I do something crazy.©ANationBooks2020