I had three hints that someone visited yesterday: first, the rapid knock on the storm door. It was the poor man's version of Ding Dong Dash. I walked from the kitchen to the foyer. When I opened the door to see who the visitor was, the deck was empty. My second clue was the single shoeprint that was left on the sidewalk in the thin sheet of ice that had resembled wrinkled Saran wrap.
My third clue: a nondescript cardboard box that lay beside the large planter to the right of the front door.
Who left it there? Why? And what was in the box?
I picked up the package; it wasn't too heavy. There was no mailing address or any identifying information on it, so I know it wasn't left by UPS or FedEx. Was it left here by mistake?
Fearing that it was a neighborhood prank, like maybe it was filled with dogshit or some other foul-smelling garbage meant as a cruel joke, I opened it outside on the deck.
Then I saw the cash. Carefully stacked bundles of $20 bills, held together with rubber bands.
With shaking hands, I closed the flaps on the box and glancing around, I opened the storm door and took the box into the house.
I was both excited and frightened - what the hell was going on here? As I walked to the kitchen table, I thought about bank dye packs and drug deals gone wrong. I gingerly placed the box on the table, as my mind raced through dozens of TV crime show tableaus. This type of scenarios never ended well. I pulled a chair out from under the table and I sat looking at the outside of the box, but I found no clues as to its origin.
Gingerly, I pulled the box toward me and re-opened the flaps. I took out a single stack of bills. I tore off the rubber band and started counting the bills. Fifty. Oh my God! A thousand bucks! Who do I know who has that much cash lying around?
Would the network TV host announce that I was on a hidden camera show? Me, with unwashed hair, not wearing a bra, and clad in a paint-spattered T shirt and baggy sweats?
Giddily, I reached in and unpacked the cash, stacking the bundles on the table, counting the piles as I went. With my heart racing and my breath coming in short gasps, I felt the rivulets of sweat trickle down my forehead.
Twenty-four stacks of cash lay on my table. And as I pulled out the twenty-fifth stack, I found a single piece of paper in the bottom of the box.
Hands shaking, I unfolded the paper and read the typed message:
Spend it wisely. You don't have much time.
Don't you love a good piece of fiction to start your day? I know I do.