I did a quick scan of the street and seeing no sign of Grape-Jelly I slipped into the post office and took my place in the line. There were about 3 people in front of me and five more being served at the counter.
Two girls stood were at the front of the line with clothing in a clear packaging. I knew that they would be unable to post them like that and wondered how could they have reached their teen-aged years and not know that you needed to secure your parcels in a box/envelope before shipping. The man behind them looked to a be a fairly distinguished gentleman, but he seemed preoccupied.
The five customers at the counter consisted of: one woman in her thirties, an Indian woman with her son and an elderly man with his son. I admit that I extrapolated familial relationships, but I didn't have a lot to go on.
There was still no sign of Agent Grape-Jelly but I didn't relax too much. Anyone of these people here could well be his accomplice.
The Indian duo had no less than 6 huge boxes packed up and ready to ship out to ..yes, you guessed it India. I cringed a bit inside because the packages already looked as if they had been through a war. They were covered in duct tape as if to seal their mouth shut from speaking of the horrors they had seen.
I took a moment to feel compassion for them and also, ever the budgeter, to have compassion for the duo's budget as they were no doubt about to pay at least six hundred dollars in postage fees.
I noticed that there was a skinny male lurking in the back of the post office. He seemed restless and idle which was never a good combination.
After a few moments he moved to lift one of the boxes from the floor to the counter for the Indian duo. I deduced that he had come with them specifically to do the hard labour and so he ceased to be of interest.
The woman in her thirties, had about 5 packages that she was receiving. I watched her as she slit them open and pulled out the contents for the perusal of the stern, middled-aged post-woman.
Her packages were filled with everything from snacks, to jackets and rubber-soled shoes. I dismissed them both and looked to see what the elder man and his son had come to collect. It appeared to be a computer tower. That in itself was a rare sight as most people used laptops these days; it even came with a keyboard, how novel.
What was most interesting however was that the young post-woman serving them was wearing a purple shirt. Was that mere coincidence or a blatant show of force? My heart quickened and I stood up straighter, I was making ready for the unexpected.
My gaze was glued to Post-Woman Purple, as she dispatched the two men with the computer to the pay window, then dismissed the two girls to buy proper packaging and then directed the man in front of me to another department.
I stepped up to the counter when she motioned for me and handed her my blue notice and my ID card. Mannerly words were exchanged on both sides as I was sizing her up.
She seemed sturdy though small, and her expression was neutral. I surmised that a fight between the two of us would be hard to call.
On top of that, she had plenty of co-workers in the room behind her, so there would be no jumping over the counter and snatching my package, if we came to high words.
I would have to play it cool and calm to collect.
She disappeared into the storeroom and returned with my package. I had imagined that it would be bent out of shape, stained and down-trodden but in contrast it looked normal. There was not a scuff mark in sight (well done Mr. Martin!).
The only thing out of place was that the tape that sealed it was clearly marked, Barbados Postal Service instead of the usual badge-coloured packaging tape. I deduced that my package had been opened here in Barbados and resealed. I could only guess at why; had it be received with the original seal already broken or had something more sinister occurred?
It seemed a bit silly when she handed me a box cutter and told me to open the package. Clearly someone in her department had done that already and gotten themselves a good look at my loot.
I did as she bid with a sense of expectation rising in my spirit. Finally I would get to see what was the cause of this mission. I opened the flaps and peered inside.
Disappointment flooded through me when I realized that the package contained only stationary. On any other day that would have been excitement enough, but I had been hoping to find a gold coin or data-stick with state secrets.
There was still some hope for intrigue however as there was a letter tucked into a corner of the box and as I expected, Post-Woman Purple asked me to open it.
Time slowed to crawl as I carefully slid the box cutter under the flap of the envelope and sliced it deftly open. Her cold, brown eyes were upon me like lasers as I retrieved the note card and I flicked it open with a flourish, still hoping that something unusual would slip from between the fold.
Alas, it was not to be. Mr. Martin had already collected whatever secrets had been left in my package, risked life and limb to keep them safe and delivered them to the client.
I pictured Mr. Martin in the Bahamas drinking coconut water and rum, while the agents had flown to Barbados and tailed me in vain. The mission was over, and I felt relief replace the disappointment.
Post-Woman Purple instructed me to pay customs for my items and that brought my back to the present moment. I packed away my goodies and waited for my change.
As I was leaving I was almost sure that I saw Agent Grape-Jelly enter the post office. I smirked to myself and hastened into the bus terminal knowing that he would probably be quite angry when Post-Woman Purple gave him the bad news, and I did not want to be anywhere in the area when that happened.
You can find part one and two here and here.