I almost threw out the letter with the three pieces of junk mail that hit Pete's box that day. It was addressed "To Current Occupant" but didn't look like a mass mailing. It was stamped rather than metered, and it bore a curious return address: "Eubie Careful" followed by a post office box number in Homestead, Florida. The message inside kept me up half the night:
Your poking around is going to get you in alot of trouble, if you don't stop it now. So be advised to put your muck shovel down for your own good.
It was upsetting enough to keep me glancing over my left shoulder in the empty elevator. Checked out the whole apartment before closing the hallway door behind me. Turned the deadbolt and set the alarm before giving the letter a second look-over.
It was done in 12-point Courier type using a laser printer: no more traceable than a gangster's message with letters cut out of a newspaper. It started in the center of a page of copy paper — left and right justified to a one-inch margin. The envelope was also laser-printed. I took another look at the name above the return address: Eubie Careful. You be careful.
This one was different from the hate letters in Pete's file folder, those awkwardly-worded, handwritten missives addressed, as often as not, to "Perfesser Peterson at the Bryan Medical University." Sure, this one had misspelled "a lot." Sure, its reference to a "muck shovel" added a bucolic touch. But this writer had a word-processing computer and knew how to use it. And this writer knew where I lived.