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The flip side of 'when trouble comes knocking'
Brandon hated these houses, he really did.
Every knock on the door or every bell he rang was a mystery what he’d find when someone opened it, that is, if they bothered to open it. When a package needed a signature, it was his job to make sure he got a signature before handing over the package. When a signature wasn’t required, he dropped the package and left.
Nowadays, though, people were afraid to answer the door or just didn’t want the hassle, what with the door-to-door salesmen selling everything from roof inspections to lawn care or cable.
He didn’t blame the home owners or the renters. If he weren’t expecting anything and he wasn’t presentable, he wouldn’t answer his door either. You just never knew what you were going to get when you opened the door.
Same with being on the other side of the door, the one requesting something like he was doing at this very moment.
5207 Northern Boulevard wasn’t much to brag about, a box ranch home with two 20-year-old paint-damaged cars on the street in front of the house. Chances were good someone was home. The pale yellow house had its paint chipping and thousands of thin paper strips helped insulate the windows. It was the poor man’s window insulation, something he knew about growing up.
The box Brandon was delivering said it weighed 16.8 pounds, much heavier than most boxes, signature required or not. It had a non-descript return address as with many packages nowadays to keep the purchase discreet. When he had a few extra brain cells handy and was in the mood, he’d try to guess the package contents based on the size, weight, and return address. Today, he had no brain cells to spare.
Immediately after pulling up, Brandon saw one of the Venetian blinds behind the strips of paper insulation move. He got that a lot too. He lugged the package to the door, entered some information onto his electronic signature pad, and rapped on the door.
After doing this for nine years, a knock on the door saved him time at each home because half the time the doorbell didn’t work. Some doorbells were silent on the outside and he’d have to wait 40 seconds before trying a second time, not wanting to seem impatient.
He could hear scrambling inside.
“Yeah, who is it?” a man on the other side of the door said.
“United Express Delivery. Package for Mr. Darren Tompkins.”
“Leave it by the door and be on your way.”
“Sir, I’m required to get a signature.”
“I said leave it by the door.”
The door swung open and Brandon was face to face with a double-barrel shotgun.
“I think you’ll make an exception in this case,” scraggly bearded man said.
“Yes sir. I don’t want trouble.” Brandon gently laid the package down, raised his hands, and backed away slowly with his pad. Not knowing what to enter on the pad was the least of his worries at this point. Getting away from this madman was the most.
The man lowered his shotgun, stooped down to pick up the package, and grunted as he lifted it.
“Have a nice day,” the man said, closing the door.
Brandon drove three blocks away and parked the truck. After reporting the incident to the police, his hands stopped shaking.
He imagined the conversation when he got home in an hour, “Honey, you’re not going to believe what happened today.”
Or perhaps, “Can you help me with my resume for that desk job I was eyeing?”
Either way or both, Brandon had made his final delivery for United Express Delivery.
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