A man is running from some people who have him under surveillance, and when he wants to send a letter he thinks they can see the address he wrote on the letter, so he writes a fake address and prints a differing postal code surreptitiously, by hand. This was many years before the invention of the Postal Bar Code, and it used dots instead of bars. But the UPS MaxiCode uses a two-dimensional square of dots, very similar to what was used in the story. Thus I think of this as a Heinlein story, one more "invention" ahead of his time.


You may be looking for Robert Heinlein's novella "Gulf".

Wikipedia article

Our hero is an agent working for the government (World, I think). He has just returned from the moon carrying vital evidence (film canisters, I think). After the sequence involving forging the destination codes and posting the evidence, the protagonist retires to a hotel, where he is easily and ellegantly captured by sinister forces working out of the building (to which he was directed by a plant at the port). He meets the arch villainess, and has to watch some poor innocent tortured to keep the vital secret. He gets some help busting out from a fellow prisoner who turns out to be running a secret society of supermen and women. Our hero is offered a place in this organization and trained in varied skills and arts.

In the end he and a partner undertake dangerous mission on the moon. The partner is a women he met and fell in love with.

And they die in the execution of the mission.

  • Good guess. Lots of "scramble codes" in that story, but no hand-printing of dots for a postal address. – Zack Bass May 3 '15 at 22:12
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    Unless I'm mixing up two stories in my head, there is just such a sequence. It comes early in the story. But I don't have a copy in front of me right now so I am relying on my frail memory. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 3 '15 at 22:14
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    You are exactly correct, I found it there! "... addressed the top one to “Raymond Calhoun, P.O. Box 1060, Chicago” and commenced to draw with great care in the rectangle reserved for electric-eye sorter. The address he shaped in arbitrary symbols intended not to be read, but to be scanned automatically." – Zack Bass May 3 '15 at 22:18
  • Great story! Also, this story is the prequel to the novel Friday. Friday is an "artificial human" - created with hand crafted DNA, and some parts of her DNA were taken from the main character and his partner from Gulf. – Donald.McLean May 4 '15 at 12:38

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