By Andrew Looney

I live in an apartment building in New York City, on the upper east side. My apartment is a cozy little place up on the 38th floor.

I have a mailbox in the lobby. There's a huge bank of mailboxes there in the lobby, rows and rows of little steel doors, each with a keyhole and a tiny brass plaque. My box is number 3806.

Last month I went away to Bermuda for two weeks. When I came home, I discovered something shocking in my mailbox.

I got home around 8:30 PM. It was raining. I got out of the cab and the cabbie helped me get my luggage out of the cab and into the lobby of my apartment building. I thought briefly about going directly up to the apartment, and fetching my mail later on, but decided that once I got up there and kicked off my shoes, I wouldn't want to leave again. Plus, I was interested in seeing how much mail I'd gotten during the past two weeks. So I went over to the bank of mailboxes. I dug out my keys, found the mailbox key, located my mailbox, shoved the key in, and, with a turn of the key and a slight squeak of hinges, the little door opened.

Looking in, I was amazed to see that someone had moved into my mailbox. Instead of a thick pile of envelopes, my mailbox was filled with tiny home furnishings.

My suitcase fell from my hand with a loud thump. With my jaw hanging open, I moved in for a closer look.

The mailbox was set up just like a one room apartment. On the left side of the room, near the front, was a kitchenette. A miniature refrigerator was positioned at one end of a small white countertop, at the other end of which was a stainless steel kitchen sink. On the counter was a microwave oven and a toaster, and on the wall above the counter were a couple of small cabinets. I could even see a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. On the right side of the mailbox was a sort of living room area, with a couch and a carpet and some throw pillows, plus a tiny black and white TV squatting on a small coffee table. I could see that some new walls had been installed, and that my mailbox now sported a bathroom and a walk-in closet. Lastly, in the back corner, I could see a bed and a dresser.

Just as I was studying what seemed to be a framed Escher print on the wall above the sofa, I realized that someone was shouting at me. "Hey, do you mind?" called a tiny voice. "I'm trying to get some shut-eye!"

Peering into the dimly-lit back corner, I became aware of a tiny person sitting up in the bed.

"Oh, uh, sorry," I stammered. I had no idea of what to say.

"Well, close the door already!" shouted the little person.

I started to close the door when I came to my senses. "Wait a second," I said. "This is MY mailbox."

"Oh yeah, well I'm living here now, so back off," yelled the little person.

"Well, what's been happening to my mail?" I persisted.

"I told the Post Office to stop delivering it!" shouted the tiny man defiantly. "You got a problem with that?"

"Yes, I've got a problem with that!" I shouted back. "What's the deal here? You can't just take over my mailbox like this!"

"Hey, buster, this is New York City we're talking about here! You know how hard it is to find an apartment for rent? I got to have someplace to live!"

"Yeah, but-"

"You think it's easy living in a mailbox? It's a tight squeeze in here, let me tell you!"

"Yeah, but-"

"And listen! I got problems of my own! I was only here for a couple of days when someone moved into the top drawer of my dresser! So I don't want to hear about your problems! I got problems of my own! So get lost already!"

I could think of nothing else to say, so I closed the door to what used to be my mailbox and put the keys in my pocket. Then I pressed my ear against the steel door, and listened. Inside, I could hear grumbling and complaining.

I sighed heavily. "Maybe I'm imagining things," I said to myself. "I am pretty exhausted." And I picked up my luggage and shuffled over to the elevators.

I unlocked the door to my apartment and flipped on the lights, feeling wonderfully happy just to be home again. I let my luggage fall randomly onto the floor and, heading into the bathroom, started drawing a nice hot bath.

As I took off my shoes and massaged my aching feet, I was startled by a loud, booming voice. I ran back out into the living room and threw open the drapes. Outside, I saw giant faces.

"OK, who's been messing around with the architectural models?" bellowed one of the Giant faces. "Somebody turned on the lights in the model of the Blankenship building again."

The other Giant shrugged. "It wasn't me," he said.

This story appears in My Secret World. Copyright © 1985 by Andrew Looney.

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