“I’m curious too now,” she says and offers me a scissor. Opening the plastic envelope, I halfway pull out a belt and two articles of clothing. I hastily sift through the contents for a card. There is none. So I ask her to trace the package. But searching the number on the tracking slip yields nothing more than the name of a small postal unit in West Virginia. “Maybe you have a secret admirer,” she says, as I wonder how to thank the sender.
When I get home I empty the envelope onto the kitchen counter. The two articles of clothing turn out to be a two-piece bathing suit. I’m squirming because it looks like my size. I rifle through maps of shrines to hike to in Japan, a blank journal, an opened bag of cough drops, a Thai recipe book, … When I unwrap an expensive I-5 cellphone and two hundred-dollar bills, I throw everything back into the envelope, put the whole thing outside in case it’s a bomb, and call the State Police.
Four hours later, standing over my counter between the immaculately polished state trooper and my tattooed son in his undershirt, we’re discussing remote detonation devices, secret surveillance cameras, stolen cellphones rigged with porn videos or obscene messages, and anthrax scares. Is the half-used sheet of decongestant pills and container of candy-laxatives really illegal drugs? I’ve landed in the middle of a strange movie involving high tech identity theft and gangland mystery.
“This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” the trooper says. He inventories each of the twenty items as I suffer hot flashes and chills. From the back of the phone he un-tapes a postcard with a message that begins, “Lover.” I recall the recent shout-out on Twitter from my son’s friend, Jon Bones Jones, advising his followers to check out my website; within seconds a tweet had come back calling me “a hottie.” Then and now, I cling to my cover:
“Did you mention you were sick recently?” the trooper asks. “There’s aspirin and cold remedies, Kleenex, vitamin supplements and a prayer from a temple. There seems to be some cultural thing we don’t understand here. Someone cares about your health.”
Or my sender also knows loss. I take another look at this anonymous care package. At the phone that turns out is not stolen but is locked, unusable, into a TMobile account. At the warm red design on the handmade coaster. I’m still wondering what to make of this gift. But I pass the maps and half the money on to my friend’s son, an exchange student in Japan who needs cash. I start a care package for a friend who just lost her husband.
And I tape the paper with the prayer for happiness to my wall.