Episode 109: “The Treasure Box”
It’s the night of the finals for the Miss Special Delivery pageant as Norman quizzes Rita on her postal history. As he does, Shane sits and unwraps an old and disheveled parcel containing a wooden puzzle box. A centuries old tradition, puzzle boxes can only be opened through a series or movements. The first compartment of the box opens easily and contains a note that reads:
“Here it is. And remember, wherever you keep your treasure, that’s where your heart will be, too. And that’s the real secret.”
Norman quickly solves the riddle box puzzle revealing a safe deposit box key. A little research reveals that the key originated at the Mountain High Bank. And, as luck would have it, the bank is around the corner from the Brown Palace hotel where the Miss Special Delivery Pageant is being held. While Norman and Rita prepare for the pageant Oliver and Shane head to the bank to finish the delivery. With the bank so close, Oliver and Shane should have plenty of time to make it to the pageant.
At the bank, Shane and Oliver meet Jason, the temp safe manger who’s preoccupied with his phone. Jason is able to tell Shane and Oliver that the safe deposit box they are looking for is delinquent and scheduled to be opened, and have its contents auctioned off. Jason takes Shane and Oliver to the vault so they can inspect the safe deposit box, but while they are in the vault, the bank alarm is triggered causing an immediate lock down. As the giant vault doors seal, all cell service and access to the outside world are closed off. The only contact with the outside world is via the emergency red phone that rings in an empty bank.
Trapped in the vault, Oliver and Shane frantically debate their next move. From his new employee training last week, Jason remembers that in an emergency, the vault seals for 12 hours. Jason also remembers the vault holds about 13 hours of air. With 3 occupants, that leaves 4 hours of air before they begin to suffocate. In the dire situation, Shane paces nervously while Oliver sits down to compose what may be his final letter.
Meanwhile, Rita and Norman arrive at the pageant. Surprised at Oliver’s tardiness, Norman says that Oliver is normally as reliable as “a mule delivering mail bags to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.” Unaware of Oliver and Shane’s predicament, Rita heads off to the stage while Norman waits. In the lobby, Norman overhears a bank patron describe the alarm and evacuation. Hearing the conversation, Norman to put two and two together and concludes that Oliver and Shane are somehow still trapped inside.
Back in the bank vault, Jason opens the safe deposit box. In the box is a stack of letters wrapped in ribbon. With nothing else to do, they open the letters and begin reading. The first of the letters is dated “January 2, 08.” The letters, written from Jonathan and Katherine, are a chronicle of one couples love story. As they read, we learn that Jonathan is a sports writer who covers baseball while Katharine works at the Brown Palace hotel in Denver. The letters chronicle their growing a love that, despite great distance, flourishes via the written word.
Oliver and Shane have finally read all but three of the letters. Enchanted with the story, Shane explains that she must know how Jonathan and Katherine’s story ends. Oliver picks up one letter and reads…
“Sweet Katherine. Sometimes in the night when I’m on the road – in another town – in another room, I hear a train whistle blow outside. I never know where it’s going, but I always lie there, imagining it is headed West to the Rockies, to Denver, to you. And I bless that train as it rolls by. You are the best person I have ever known, even if we have shared little more than a kiss and our hearts on a few pieces of paper. But I have run out of words to express my love and I am running out of road. The road ends where you are, dear friend, dear lady, my love. Will you marry me?”
The response, which Shane reads, is not what anyone could have expected. Instead of a love letter, Shane reads a form letter from Katherine’s employer. The writer, who identifies Jonathan as Katherine’s fiancé, says it is his sad duty to inform Jonathan that Katherine is seriously ill with a rare for of pneumonia. Enclosed is Katherine’s final letter..
“My dearest Jonathan. With the few breaths I have left I want to speak words of love. All we’ve ever shared have been words, but they have been good words and true words. And now I am sending every letter you wrote to me back to you, so that even if we cannot be together in this life, the words we created together can be kept somewhere side-by-side. Dying is hard, my love, but not hopeless. And as I walk through the valley of the shadow, I fear nothing but the thought that I may have left only one word unspoken. Yes. Yes, I will be your wife. Perhaps not in this life, but in your heart forev…
Devastated, a teary eyed Shane searches for another letter or any sign of what happened. Saying she doesn’t know how to pray, she begs Oliver to pray that Katherine survived. Suddenly the emergency phone rings. On the other end of the phone, an Norman and Rita literally jump for joy at having located the lost Postables. Within a few moments, a bank security guard opens the door, freeing Oliver, Shane, and temp vault manager Jason.
Now free, Oliver and Shane track down the recipients of the puzzle box and the letters. As they approach the home, they hear what they think are Jonathan and Katherine in the midst of an argument. They knock on the door and present the box and letters. It’s then Jonathan explains that he is “Jonathan Walker IV” and his great-grandfather wrote the letters. It turns out the box and letters are a wedding gift handed down from generation to generation. The gift includes the message that “the secret to true love belongs somewhere in the letters.” As Jonathan acknowledges his turn in the tradition, Oliver recommends Jonathan and his wife read the letters out loud, together. The experience is not lost on he and Shane as they share an understanding glance, recognizing their own transformation after reading the letters.
Back at the pageant, it’s down to the final question and answer round. Tied for first, Rita steps up to the podium for her final question. The question, “Name thirteen US Government-approved modes of mail transport,” initially has her stumped. She thinks back and remembers Norman’s earlier comment about “A mule delivering mail bags to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.” And with that, Rita clinches the title and is crowned Miss Special Delivery!