While growing up in Manhattan, I had always heard about this type of thing, but had never seen it in person. I had seen references to it in movies and on TV, and friends and acquaintances swear it’s happened to them, but I had always thought that they made it up as sort of practical joke on a city kid. I had dismissed it as a myth or an urban legend—like unicorns, alligators in the sewers, or that girl that had to go to the hospital because she got a frozen hot dog stuck somewhere.
The other day, when I got home and picked up my mail, I saw an odd looking envelope mixed in with a magazine and another envelope containing local coupons. This envelope caught my attention because it was a first-class letter sized envelope with both my address and the return address handwritten on the front. It looked like something that a friend would send me, except that I knew of no friends with the return name or at the return address. Additionally, it was addressed to “Joshua Madison”, and about the only people who use that form of my name are my parents and the I.R.S., neither of whom this envelope came from.
I was intrigued, but also weary. Visions of some long lost relative who left me a million dollars danced in my head; so did anthrax.