Little boxes, English

The package arrived on a Monday. At some point during the afternoon, someone had left it outside our door. It had been raining all week, but around noon the sun had come out, so when I found it when I got home from work it was dry. It was a normal cardboard box roughly around the size of a shoe box, with brown strings wrapped around it securing the lid firmly in place.

My wife who was home sick hadn’t noticed when the deliveryman came around, and that was a bit strange since she had been in the couch all day feeling feverish, and from there she had a pretty decent view of our entire front yard. On the side of the box there was smudged brown paint, and the lid sported a tag just saying the single word “Samuel”.  As far as I knew, there wasn’t anyone named Samuel on our block and I knew for sure that I wasn’t Samuel. Both me and my wife agreed it was a bit odd, but not strange enough to warrant skipping dinner.

Putting the box aside for the time being, I went about my daily routine. Putting away the dishes from the previous day, and cooking dinner. Cooking always calmed me down after a long day at work, the stresses of cleaning up other peoples messes just melting away together with the butter in the skillet. Carving the meat in 2-inch thick steaks and preparing the sauce soothed me even further, sending me into my own little bubble of existance and it wasn’t until my wife was right beside me that I noticed her talking to me.

-“D’you think that it might be for the Sam that used to live here before us?”, she said. I hadn’t really thought of that; the previous owner of our quaint little house out in the suburbs had belonged to a man named Sam Caperton, a man that had been locked up in prison for the last four years. He had been convicted of several brutal killings on behalf of the local mobsters, and when they had finally gotten to him he had been storing body parts in a freezer in the basement.

Neither me or my wife were very superstitious, and this house had been a true windfall for us. After finding dead people in a serial killers freezer, it had been quite hard to sell – nobody wanted to live here; there was even talk about a curse. But we didn’t mind, and the realtor sold it to us quite cheaply. -“You might be right”, I replied while chopping up spring onions for the salad. -“Well… should we open it? Or should we give it to the police?” she mused. Not really having a very good answer to that, I dumped the spring onions in a bowl and proceeded to drop the steaks in the now hot pan. -“Maybe we should just call the police”, I said. “If it really is meant for him, I’m not sure I want to know what’s in it… and if it’s something gruesome, the police will want to know why we opened someone elses mail too.” That seemed to make sense to her, because she just nodded, smiled and stole a piece of red bell pepper from the salad bowl and left the kitchen, happily humming some song. She was beautiful even when her hair was all tussled and she was all covered in sweat from not having showered since her fever broke out. I was a lucky man. Lightly feeling the meat with my spatula to see if they were ready to flip over, I too started humming the same song my wife had just planted in my head. The steaks were coming along nicely, so I turned them over and just waited for them to start to sweat a bit; that’d mean they were just right for us – a nice color to them, but still pink inside.

Half-way through making the garlic butter for the bread that I had spent all evening yesterday making, I heard the doorbell chime. -“Could you get that, honey… I just got comfortable in the couch” my wife semi-yelled from the living room. -“Sure! Just stay, I’ll get it. You’re sick and all”, I replied while taking the meat of the plate so it wouldn’t overcook while I tended to the door. Wiping my hands on cloth, I opened the door. Outside was a man. Being quite tall, he wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows in a basketball team, but here in the ‘burbs he really stood out like a sore thumb. It didn’t really help that he was dressed in a very 40:s looking pinstripe suit either. -“I’m looking for Samuel.” the man said, his voice sounding like it came from deep within a barrel. -“Samuel doesn’t live here anymore”, I said. “I live here now, and run the place.” The man seemed to ponder this, and nodded sharply. -“Then, a box has been delivered here by mistake. I would like it back, please”, he rumbled. -“Yes, there was a little box left on our doorstep, but I’m not sure I can give it to you. We’re turning it over to the police, but If you just swing by there tomorrow, I’m sure you can work it all out with them.” My response didn’t seem to register with him, because he just repeated his plea of wanting the box. When I still didn’t want to hand it over, his eyes flashed with anger, and before I knew it, he pulled a gun from within the folds of his suit jacket. From what I could see from my vantage point, It looked like a new Beretta 92 with a big silencer on it. Of course, having the piece aimed between my eyes sort of blocked my view a bit, so I could be wrong.

In my fear, I could feel sweat starting to pour out of my body. I wasn’t used to this at all, and I hoped my wife would stay in the couch. The tall man barked something at me that I couldn’t make out, and when I didn’t react the way he wanted, he repeated it again. -“The Box. Now.” Not really seeing any point in arguing, I nodded and turned slowly around and reached towards the box.

I don’t think he ever really understood what happened next. I had put the box down on the small table just inside the front door. When my right hand grasped the box, my left one grabbed the silenced glock that I had taped under the table. Hiding the gun with the parcel, I turned to face him again. When he lowered his gun to accept the box, I brought the gun up to his face and squeezed the trigger twice. The sound from the gun could barely be heard above the normal sounds of suburbia, and I quickly stepped up and grabbed him under the arms so he wouldn’t fall over. He was pretty heavy, but I could sort of semi-lift/drag him over the patio deck and into the garage.

The garage was where I stored my work-van, and with more than a little struggling I got the tall man into the back of it. Sweating a little bit, I closed the van doors and checked my clothing for blood stains. Nothing. Good. Walking back into the house, I looked around to see if anyone had seen the little incident in my front yard, but  it was around dinnertime, so everyone was probably busy stuffing their faces by now. The patio was also almost clean; most of the blood had landed in the gravel behind him, and that was quickly hidden with a few swift swipes of my shoes across the walkway. Going back inside and closing the door, I heard my wife calling from the couch: -“Who was it honey, I couldn’t see?”. -“Nothing, just some guy who wanted directions”, I replied while getting back into the kitchen to continue cooking the meal. The meat in the pan was more important than the meat in the van. Him I could deal with tomorrow; after all, that’s what cleaners do… and my boss probably wouldn’t mind me using some of the tools for my own personal use.

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