The citizens of Bertby, Maryland found themselves in a horseshoe surrounding the docks of their beloved fishing town on a cool September morning. Even those solitary and morose citizens that typically kept to themselves had put on their coats and joined the throng. They were watching an old, rusty cargo ship that had made birth on their sleepy island. Occasionally, the ship would throw off a metallic creek as it shifted in the water, but otherwise it remained silent. The fishermen, angry that this unknown ship had docked itself at their pier, had boarded the vessel to demand an explanation, for it had loaded nor unloaded any cargo or passengers. It just bobbed and creaked, taking up valuable dock space. The bravest, hardest, and strongest of the town's fishermen boarded the vessel, and they had left simpering, shaking, and pale. Some were even now sat on the side of the pier so that, when they needed to vomit, they could do so into the ocean. The police on Bertby were no more than three young men who were not cut out for life on the ocean. Their daily charge was to patrol the quiet, crime-free streets of the city and occasionally politely ask a sailor to leave a bar when he'd gotten too drunk to be considered decent company. Otherwise, they sat in the police station talking of the wives and daughters the fisherman left ashore and collecting their wages. Now they stood in the center of the horseshoe of townsfolk assuring them that everything was alright when it was clearly not. They had used some yellow rope to cordon off the area, and the townsfolk politely obeyed, but their curiosity was increasing. Now a young man approached the cordon. He was Mr. William Pacer. The townsfolk knew him as Billy, for they had hardly seen him since he was an adolescent, and no one knew him as an adult. Though only in his late twenties, his eyes were dim and vacant: an old widow's eyes in a youthful face. His face was covered in a reddish beard that didn't suit him, and he walked with his face held downward. Pacer spoke to the officers in a voice so quiet and void of emotion that people hardly took notice. It was his cargo on the ship, he said. He had ordered the cargo for his business. What his business was he did not explain. None of the townsfolk knew him to be employed. Really, they didn't think of him at all. The police, of course, refused, entreating the townsfolk to "just trust us" when it came to the rusty ship. With words of apology and acknowledgment of the callousness of his request in the face of what must be some sort of tragedy, Pacer insisted upon his cargo. A business deal will go bad, he said. It will put him out of business. A time sensitive deal. Not wanting to do harm to Pacer or his unspoken business, the police agreed to escort him onto the ship. Moments later, Pacer and his escorting officer emerged from the hold. The officer stopped at the top of the gangplank and gripped the railing. He fanned himself with his hat and took a few deep, steadying breaths. Pacer seemed completely undisturbed. With his morose, ambling shuffle, he made his way back onto the pier. His cargo was no more than a small, wooden box. It was six inches cubed and made of plain wood: no paint or stain, no label or lettering. The only marks or colors were those that time brings to all wood. Pacer quietly walked back into whatever obscurity he lived in. None of the townspeople cared enough about William Pacer to care about his affairs. Only the most meticulous diary keepers will ever remember that he was there. It did not even occur to them to mention the young man or his box to the State Police when they arrived. Old women playing gin rummy years later would mention that the coroner did not bring enough body bags, and had to send his assistant back to the mainland to get more. They would mention that the ship was scuttled days later. They would complain about getting elbowed out of the way by reporters. But their grandchildren would never hear of the box.