Every day, riding our bikes home from school, we would spot the cardboard shipping boxes a ways off, as if they were a signal to our brains, and we would pick up speed and race past that house with our eyes trained straight ahead. It was of the utmost importance that we did not make contact with any part of the house.
We all thought that the man who lived there was watching us, and that if he thought you were taking notice of him or his property he would hunt you down and add you to his list of victims. This is because there was a legend about this guy, who of course lived alone. His blinds were always drawn, and every window and every door was always closed, even to the garage. The odd thing about this particular situation was that this man’s home was not in disarray- there was no peeling paint, there were no overgrown weeds and hedges. He did not drag a metal garbage can scraping down the driveway. In fact, everyone got the opposite vibe from him.
There was not a leaf out of place on his lawn. The landscaping was done to perfection, all the flowerbed lines perfectly cut and maintained. Every single flower and blade of grass was healthy. We often saw him kneeling on his gardening mat, with a plastic bucket next to him, and he would pick out blades of grass and browning petals. At his front door there were always those cardboard shipping boxes. The UPS guy made a delivery just about every stinking day. We could always expect to see one sitting there when we road by, and then we would checkjust before supper and it was always gone.
We speculated as to why he dealt with so many cardboard shipping boxes, and all’s we could come up with was illegal activity. We figured body parts, cleverly disguised in machinery. We figured torture tools, because no one would look at such innocent mail and think: murder material. I think we all knew that the whole thing was just a story that the neighborhood kids fixated on, but then we were also afraid that it was really true, while we were trying to think that it wasn’t. Whatever the case, we moved away when I was in seventh grade, and to this day whenever I see cardboard shipping boxes waiting on someone’s doorstep I get a little chill down my spine.