My keys jangle from my hand. I pick out the large PO Box key, with its stamp of 'DO NOT DUPLICATE' ground into it, and slow as I approach the bank where my box lives. Box number one five eight oh, the last open PO Box in Anderson, California when I first got it. It's a small box, the smallest the post office let be rent.
I stop and lean down. My box is near the floor, and I have to get onto my knees to peer into it. One letter for the lady who owns the PO Box next to me, whose name is Brenda. That's probably the most interesting piece of mail I've gotten since I opened the box. There's a couple ads for the competing grocery stores in town, one letter for "residents of anderson" and one solicitation from my bank, inviting me to open an account. Of course, my bank doesn't realize I own a PO Box, their records have my street address.
The postal equivalent of spam, these all are. I pile them neatly, intending to throw them away. But again, as has happened every time I've gone to the PO Box, the letter I opened the box for fails to exist. I'm pretty convinced now he was lying to me about what he was going to do, just as he lied about most everything else we've talked about, but it's disappointing to see the perception rubbed in so strongly.
I shut the door to my box and pull my key out. Another trip to the PO Box, another dashed hope. By now, I don't think I'll believe the letter is real, if it ever shows up. So much for that. I throw away the junk mail, toss the letter addressed to my fellow PO Box owner in 1590 back into the mail slot to be delivered tomorrow, and walk back out to my car, thinking of nothing in particular.