Chapter 10 Jane has stayed at Tom’s house for the last few nights and each night they

double check the doors, the windows and they walk around the block before settling in for the night. So far they have not seen anytahing out of the ordinary. They are starting to think that Jane may have miss-interpreted what she saw in the window and that it kid is still in New Orleans. This conclusion give them a great sense of peace and they are beginning to forget about the entire series of events. Jane is working a lot and she has two new accounts at the graphic design firm which require her to stay up at night working on images and logo designs. Tom and Jane had never spent so much time living together under the same roof before and Tom loves having her around. He is very impressed with how hard she works and how committed she is to getting the details right with each design she produces. His job is not as stimulating and every day at the store feels like last week or last month. He used to enjoy helping customers find what they need and teaching them how to customize their home and make improvements to their windows and drains. But now it just seems so superficial and all of the customers are blending into faceless, nameless moments. He feels like every problem they come in the store with is a problem he solved last week and although it is a new customer each time, it’ feel like he is teach someone the same skill week after week. Jane and her roommate Jill have not been getting along and so Jane is happy to be staying at Tom’s most nights. Although they grew up together, Jane is realizing that Jill and he don’t have as much in common as they did when they were in school, or just starting out. Jill is all about her career and talks about her career as if that is all that matters in life. Jane has a great job and works hard but she also has other things that she cares about and Jill doesn’t seem to get that. Every time they hang out, it seems like Jill is only interested in talking about herself. It doesn’t help that Jane has put on a few pounds and Jill is not eating again. In college Jane remembered how Jill would obsess about her weight and go on month long anorexic episodes, loosing 15 or 20 pounds and getting seriously sick before admitting to her friends that she needs some help. Even then, Jill refused to call it what it was. She would simply say that she was fasting or “not feeling well.” All the girls in the sorority knew what she was doing to herself but most of them didn’t care enough to try to help or to stop her. Tom and Jane have been going to cooking classes together at the local community college on Tuesday nights. They love learning how to cook and the teacher is so much fun. She is an older woman, who owns a restaurant in Winter Park and teaches classes on the side. Each week they are given two new recipes, with the ingredients and the estimated cost and nutritional content of each ingredient.

That way they learn to do the shopping and the cooking and each week they prepare enough food for two or three meals. Jane’s favorite so far was the zucinni quiche. It tasted like a vegetarian dessert on homemade crust and Tom enjoyed it too. Tom likes the pot roast and thinks that he has perfected this recipe by adding a vinegar base to the broth. Jane is not as thrilled about the vinegar base but happy that Tom helps with the cooking. They are both feeling like an old married couple. Neither one is willing to admit it but they practically live together and it just feels right. One morning Tom was working in the warehouse again, adding new bar codes to a stack of storm windows when he got a text. It came from Jane’s cell phone and included a great photo of him dancing at the Damien Marley concert. He didn’t remember seeing this in the photos that Jane took previously but it was a very good photo and showed him really in the moment, rocking out with his hands up in the air. In the text it simply said, “Fortes fortuna iuvat” Tom texted back to Jane saying “Thanks for the photo. I didn’t know you spoke latin.” Tom didn’t speak latin either so he google it on his smart phone and this famous saying translates into, “Fortune favors the brave.” When he saw this is made his day. He had shared with Jane briefly about how bored he was with his job and he felt like he needed something to shake it up a little and give him some perspective on life. Or else he would keep putting off all of the other things that we hoped to do in life. About twenty minutes passed and then Tom got another text from Jane. This time is said, “What are you talking about?” Tom replied, “I got your photo from the concert. It looks good.” Jane immediately text-ed back saying, “I didn’t send you any photos today.” Tom was confused and double checked his phone. Sure enough it was still in there and it still said that it was from Jane. He called her and explained what had happened. Now they both were confused and decided to meet for lunch and review the photo. They met at a Pollo En Total off of State Road 436 and sat down over a half chicken and tropical rice medley. Tom handed his phone to Jane and she opened the file with the photo in it. She looked at it quietly while Tom dug into his quarter of the chicken and poured some salsa over the rice medley. “See, it’s one of your photos and it came from your phone.” Tom said.

Jane looked at Tom with a scared expression on her face and said, “This is not one of my photos.” “What do you mean?” Tom said. “Do you see this purple jacket in the photo? Jane said. “yeah.” Tom said “That’s me.” Jane said. Tom forgot that Jane did wear a purple jacket that night and in the photo it’s hard to see but there a purple jacket in the corner of the frame. Tom put down his plastic fork and wiped his mouth with a waxy thin, plastic textured napkin. “So you didn’t send this to me?” Tom asked. “No! I didn’t. ” Jane re-stated the obvious. “Did you have your phone with you all day today?” Tom asked “Yeah. I think so.” Jane replied “What time was the message sent?” Jane asked “10:30am” Tom replied Jane tried to remember where she was a 10:30am. “I was at Starbucks, downtown. I had my cell phone in my bag and I was working on a new design and I may have gone to the bathroom for a minute or two but that was it. Do you think.....? Jane paused Tom looked at he and both of them knew it was the kid. Chapter 11 That afternoon, Jane called her friend Stuart who works as a detective for the Orlando police department and asked him to meet her as soon as possible. Stuart had not heard from Jane in a few years and was happy to hear from her. He agreed to meet that afternoon at an Olive Garden on Colonial Ave. Stue was sitting in the Bar section of the Olive Garden when Jane walked in. She looked flustered but just as beautiful as ever. The two of them sat a a small round table on high barstools and Jane dranks ice water, while Stu had a scotch on the rocks. Jane described the entire saga from the first siting through to today’s sms message on Tom’s phone.

She was talking so fast that Stu had to remind her to slow down on two or three occasions. Jane and Stuart were friends in high school and Stuart had a major crush on her during most of those years. Tom knew him but they were not close friends. Stuart played on the soccer team and was an average player. He struggled in school and classified with attention deficit disorder so that he took special classes, which he took some flack for. But generally everyone liked him and he tried hard to be kind to everyone, especially to Jane and anyone she liked. Tom and his buddies used to call Stuart, “The Stude” because he watched The Big Lebowski about 1,000 times and knew just about every line by heart. After high school, Stuart went to community college for a couple years and then joined the force. Since then, he has move up the ranks, always with his goal being to make detective. Which he did two years ago. Since then he has mostly work the convention center beat. So his job is to investigate any crimes that take place on or around the perimeter of the Orange County Convention Center. This is no small assignment, as the OCCC is one of the largest convention centers in the Southeastern United States. Stu explains to Jane that there is no evidence of illegal activity from what this kid has done so far. If Jane had not touched the phone after the text was sent, then it may have been possible for Stuart to attempt to pull some prints form the keypad. But with the buttons on cell phones being as small as they are, it is usually very difficult to get a large enough sample size to gain a match. The other concern that Stuart suggests to Jane is how did this kid get a new photo onto her phone in the first place. If she was in the bathroom for only a few minutes then he would have needed to quickly remove her sim card, plug it into an identical cell phone with the photo pre-loaded, boot it up, trasfer the image to her card. Then replace the sim card into her phone and reboot her phone before she came back. This scenario seems highly unlikely to both of them. But they can’t imagine any other way he could have sent this new image from her phone at that time. Stuart wrote down everything that Jane had told him and promised to check with the airlines and the bus company to find out how many buses or planes left New Orleans on the same day as they did. When they stood up, Stu reached out giving Jane a big hug and told her not to worry. That he would do his best and for her to call him if anything strange happens. Driving home; Jane looked down at her cell phone and was filled with rage. She wanted to throw it out the window and yet she had a two year contract and couldn’t afford buying a new phone. “How could this happen?” she kept thinking to herself. “Why is this freak stalking her?”

She thought back to that night at the hostel, when she saw his face and his bright blue eyes looked so familiar, did she know him from before?... Just then, her cell phone rang and Jane was startled by the sound of it and feeling of it vibrating in her hand as she pick it up. She looked at the caller ID, it was Tom. “Hello?” she said. “Hey, did you talk to Stuey?” tom said “Yeah. He is going to open a case privately since there isn’t technicaly a crime.” said Jane. “Thats great. I was thinking... what about checking the flights from NOLA to MCO on the day we came back?” Tom suggested “Stuart suggested the same thing.” said Jane. “Oh, well good.” “Are you going to cooking class toinght?” Tom said. “Yeah, can you pick me up at my place?” Jane asked. “No problem.” “...and don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.” Tom said. “Thanks.” Jane said. That night Tom and Jane went to the cooking class without their groceries. The teacher asked them what happened and they explained that it has been a crazy week and they were not able to pick up the ingredients. The teacher said not to worry and that they could use some of her groceries and that all that matters is that they were able to make it. That night they forgot about the crazy stalker kid and made a delicious pot of Chicken Cacciatore. This dish consisted of:
● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

2 pounds of meaty chicken pieces 1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms 1 medium onion sliced 1 clove of garlic, minced 14 ounces of diced tomatoes 6 ounces of tomato paste 1 cup of white wine 1 teaspoon of sugar 1/2 teaspoon of salt

rosemary, thyme, oregano, and black pepper

The teacher let Tom and Jane take home the finished dish which made for six servings. Tom offered to pay for all of the food, but the professor knew that they needed a break and enjoyed helping the out this week. Tom and Jane took the food home in the professors pot and it smelled so good the whole drive home. It smelled like Jane’s grandmothers home cooked meals back in Ohio before her parents got divorced. Jane’s mom didn’t do much cooking after they moved to Florida. She worked two jobs at first and rarely had the time to cook. Jane and her sister were left to make their own dinners or order pizza much of the time. Tom knew that Jane was taking the stressful events of the day worse than she let on. He was surprised that she agreed to go to the cooking class at all. But he was glad they did. All of this stuff with the crazy stalker kid, was beginning to wear him down too. He felt like it was his job to stop this kid from haunting them. Like as the man, he needed as chance to face down this kid and scare him off or beat him up, or something. Chapter 12 Tom and Jane were now officially living together in Tom’s apartment and Tom installed a home security system at his house, which included cameras, doors and windows sensors, and motion sensitive outdoor lights. The out door lights are very bright and have come on a few times already but Tom thinks that it is the result of some stray cats in the neighborhood. Stuey has been communicating with Tom and Jane on an almost weekly basis, just calling to check and see if there has been another siting or strange event. He was unable to get any clues from the Airlines and the Bus station would not provide a list of people that traveled from New Orleans to Orlando without a warrant. Jane threw away her sim card and had to completely reprogram her phone with a new sim card. This was not easy due to the fact that she had now written record of all the people in her phone. So it was inevitable that some people were lost in the transfer. But she kind of liked the idea that she was reducing the random aquantiences and keeping only the people that she considered important. If anyone called her, then she would be albe to add them later but she did have hundreds of numbers in her phone that were people she never talked to. It was also a surprise to her that she had no record of any of her close friends phone numbers. If she had to use a regular phone, she would be lost not knowing any of the numbers. So she decided to create a file on her laptop with the most important people’s phone numbers just in case anything were to happen to her phone. Tom has been getting used to using the home security system and even downloaded an iphone app with a multi screen interface. He can watch all of the cameras

simultaneously on his iphone from anywhere in real time. He has seen some of the neighborhood cats walking around the back of his house during work hours. It’s pretty cool. He can even record up to 24 hours of video at a time. One night Jane and Tom were lying in bed and Jane was just falling asleep when the lights outside of their bedroom window flicked on. Without rolling over, Jane said, “Its probably the cats again.” Tom agreed and so they stayed put waiting to hear the cat sounds that usually accompanied moments like this. The light stayed on about about two minutes then shut off again. There was no cat sounds heard but the lights came on again about 4 minutes later. Tom decided to take a look outside just to be safe. So he got up and put on some jeans, which were hanging on the chair by the bed. He slipped into his leather flip flops and walked outside. As he turned the corner, he saw the red glow of a cigarette moving away from him in the dark. It was moving quickly down the street and Tom could see that it was someone on a bike riding quickly away for the side of his house and looking back to reveal the glowing embers of the cigarette. Tom though about running back for his keys to jump in the truck and chase after the kid but before he did anything, he saw something moving in the bushes by the house. Tom lifted a small LED flashlight up to his face and pointed the bright white beam of light in the direction of the sound. Rolling around in the bushes was a small puppy with a red ribbon around it’s neck. There was also an inflated beach ball laying in the wet grass by the bushes. The puppy ran out from the bushes and jumped at the ball as if it were playing with another puppy. Tom walked closer and the puppy look back, seeing Tom but it continued pushing the ball around in the grass. As Tom bend down to pick up the puppy, the hair of the puppies lower half was completely drenched by the night dew from the grass. Tom grabbed the beach ball and carried both back into the house. He called to Jane and asked her to come out into the living room. She shouted back, “Is everything okay?” “Yeah, everything is fine. You have to see this.” Tom replied. “What is it? Jane said as she walked down the hall from the bedroom into the living room. Jane was wearing panties and one of Tom’s old worn out t-shirts. She looked so beautiful and when she saw the puppy. She smiled like a kind on Christmas morning. “Oh my god. It’s so cute! Where did you get this?” Jane said. “It was outside by the window.” Tom said. “Someone dropped it off in our yard and then rode off on a bike down the street.” “What?” Jane said. “Yeah, it was the kid. I think.” Tom said.

Jane looked confused and annoyed as she looked down again at the tiny little dog on the carpet. The dog was again chasing after the beach ball and full of energy. “Why the hell would he bring us a puppy?” Jane said. “I don’t have a clue.” Tom said. “But we need to tell Stuart that he came by and that he knows where I live.” “What about the cameras?” Jane said. “That’s right. The camera by the bedroom window would have everything.” Tom moves over the the computer located in the corner of the living room. He clicks on the surveillance program all of the windows reveal the live footage of each camera he installed. Tom scrolls down the menu bar to find the Recorded Video file. He clicks on it and the program switches to recorded video mode. Each of the individual windows are now showing footage from last night. All of the windows are dark until Tom drags the navigation bar from left to right. A small clock in the top right of the display shows that he is now at 6am that day. All of the cameras light up and reveal various scene in each of the smaller windows. Tom sees that on the front door camera, there are people jogging, biking, walking down his street. The images are like freeze frame images as high speed as he moves the time bar to the right. The most interesting think about seeing an entire day in a few seconds is how little activity there really is at his home during a twenty four hour period. The smaller windows go dark again as the clock reveals 7:40pm. Jane and Tom see themselves coming up to the front door after dinner and going inside. Tom keeps scrolling the time bar to the right until about 11:13pm. The small window that represents Tom’s bedroom camera lights up and Tom stops dragging the time bar. The scene in the smaller window shows nothing but green grass and lots of bugs flying around in front of the light. Each light stays on for two minutes if there is motion in front of the sensor. So Tom and Jane watch patiently as the clock ticks forward. After about 30 seconds. The beach ball rolls into the frame, moving fast across the yard. The puppy appears right behind it and chases after the ball. Both the dog and the ball move to the right and disappear from the frame. Tom double clicks on the small window, enlarging the video to full screen. The resolution drops off considerably so that they are now watching a highly pix-elated video. In the top right corner of the screen there appears to be some movement around what looks like a bicycle, leaning against a tree. The bicycle rolls off the screen and the light goes out.

Tom and Jane fast forward again until the light comes back on. The pushing is now pushing the beach ball, which is twice it’s size back to the left of the video screen. They watch Tom walk up to the puppy and pick it up and walk away. Both Tom and Jane are disappointed by the lack of evidence in the recorded video. This kid is becoming a major pain in the ass for both of them and they still don’t have a clue what he wants from them. Jane starts to cry and Tom holds her saying, “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” Chapter 13 The next day Tom stayed home from work and Stuart stopped by the house to watch the video and look for evidence. He and Tom walked around outside and both of them talked about what the laws are which define stalking as a criminal activity. Stuart tells Tom about a case he had a few years ago at the convention center where two hackers showed up for a computer programming conference and then stayed around for another two weeks. They made fake badges and gained access into the Surfing Expo. The badges they made defined them as speakers and gave them access into special areas in the conference Center. They used that the figure out where some of the swimsuit models were staying and when they would be on the conference floor or at the hotel nearby. So they went to the hotel during the time when the girls were on the floor and broke into their rooms. They didn’t damage anything but they did steal some of the girls underwear.. The only way we caught them was that they foolishly left the girls a note. Offering to give them back their panties if they met the boys for drinks in the hotel bar. The models called us and we followed them down to the bar and knabbed the two dorks at the bar. We could have charged them with breaking and entering but the models asked us to let them off easy. So the only thing we could do was to pin them with a warning on charges of stalking. So they have a restraining order filed agains them by the Hawaiian Tropic Corporation. Which they probubly are wearing as a geeky badge among their nerd herd. Tom realized that the kid is not breaking any major laws by hanging around them and acting strange. A restraining order is probably the best they can do at this time. So Tom fills out the paperwork with Stuart coaching him on how to the courts to issue the stongest restraining order possible. This is also a useful step to ultimatley finding a more severe cause for arrest of this freaky stalker. Tom also asked Stuart about self defense laws. “So if I shot this kid on my property, would I get arrested for murder or is it self defense?” Tom said

“It all depends.” Stuart said. “If you are truly in physical danger, then you are leaglly able to defend yourself with force. In other words, i the kid brandishes a weapon, you can shot him.” “But what if he is unarmed and just breaks into the house?” Tom said. “If he breaks into your house, you can shot him.” Stuart said. “But be sure you kill him. Otherwise he may try to sue you.” Stuart smiles a wry smile after saying. He goes on to explain that there is some gray area in this whole subject of using lethal force and that if you are willing to buy a gun in self defense, then you must be willing to use it for lethal force. “Many folks buy a gun and go to the range once or twice and never really face the truth that in the heat of the moment having a gun can be more dangerous than not having one. If you’re not determined to kill the other person.” Stuart said. “What kind of gun should I get?” Tom said. “I would suggest a 9mm Glock A-5.” Stuart said. “It has a fast trigger and weighs less then most other hand guns.” “It’s the one that we use in the Orlando Police Department and many branches of the military use it too.” Stuart said. Tom and Stuart go back inside and after watching the video again. They both agree that the kid was riding a bike and that the ball rolled across the screen too fast to have been pushed by the puppy. Which means that the kid rolled the ball across the yard. It was not good enough quality in the video to get a color or make on the bike. The puppy may be the best clue yet. It probably was bought locally and so Stuart tells Tom that he will check with all of the local humane societies, and pet stores to see who purchased this puppy. Stuart takes some photos of the puppy from various angles and plans to take them around to each of the pet shop locations to try to get an id. (author laughs) Tom and Jane meet up that afternoon at the coffee shop by Tom’s house and discuss what the plan is to proceed. Tom tells Jane that he is planning on getting a gun and she doesn’t like that idea. “What are you going to kill him?” Jane says. “If I have to.” Tom replies. “That’s stupid.” Jan said. “All we need to do is talk to this kid. Explain that we will not put up with this crazy behavior. Don’t you think that he will get the message and leave us alone.”

“Yeah and that is what I have wanted to do all along but the little bugger is never around long enough for one of us to confront him.” Tom said. “I know. That is the problem.” “How can we force him talk to us?” Jane said. “I don’t know. What if we left a message on the door? Asking for a meeting.” Tom said. “That’s not a bad idea.” Jane said. So they went home and Jane wrote a bried note on a piece of copy paper and taped it to the front door. It said, “Dear Sir, We have noticed that you are hanging around this house and showing up in various other locations where we also happen to be. This behavior seems strange to us and we would prefer to speak with you face to face to discuss why your are doing this. If you are able to meet with us, we promise that this will be a safe encounter for you and hopefully we can agree on how to proceed with our individual actions. Please use the bottom half of this note to write in a place and time when you will be able to meet. Sincerely, Tom and Jane” Tom taped this messaged to his front door and they went inside. They double checked each of the doors and windows, making sure each was locked and had not been tampered with. After which they sat down on the leather sofa in the living room and watched a movie. Jane loves the older movies and especially loves watching Hitchcock thrillers. Tonight the two of them are going to watch as many Hitchcock movies in a row as possible. It is a Friday and they have nothing to do tomorrow. Both are still a little freaked out about their new stalker and yet they are enjoying the new addition of the puppy. So sitting on the carpet in the living room the two of them dig into a large bowl of popcorn and play with the puppy, while the movie begins. The first movie that they watched was Vertigo. In the opening scene, two police officers are chasing a crook from rooftop to rooftop in San Francisco at night. One of them falls and is hanging from the roof’s gutter. The other cop stops chasing the crook and reaches down to help his partner. In the process, he slips and falls off the room to his death. The other man survives.

Tom and Jane love movies that start with action scenes, which are only explained later in the movie. Both of them have seen this film and most of Hitchcock’s movies before. They two of them consider themselves to be well-schooled in the appreciation of classic movies. In fact, Turner Classic Movies was Tom’s favorite channel, when he used to have cable. Now, Tom only has a DVD player and watches most of his other content online. Jane is enjoying the popcorn and asks, “What is in this?” “Parmesan and pepper.” Tom said. “It’s good combination.” Jane said. “Yeah, it’s sweet, cheesy, and pepper gives it a kick.” Tom said. The puppy keeps trying to get it’s paws into the popcorn but Tom pushes it back and they two are playing a game of it. The puppy is not a pure bread golden retreiver but Tom and Jane can’t figure out what the other mixture is, possibly chow or lab. They have decided to call the puppy, Walter after Tom’s favorite explorer/poet Walter Raleigh. Walter means warrior/king and this little puppy is going to grow up to be a powerful dog. It already has humongous paws and a forceful tail. Laying on their bellies Tom and Jane wrap their legs into each others and Tom sways right to left, bumping into Jane with his shoulder. She grabs some of the popcorn and throws it at his face in a playful and taunting manor. Tom is quick and tries to catch some of the pop corn in his mouth but most of them just bounch off of his face and fall down onto the carpet. Walter quickly inhales the fallen popcorn. Tom reaches out for Jane and the two of them begin to suck each other’s faces like they were in high school. They really get into, knocking the bowl of pop corn over in the process. If seems like it’s been a long time since they go it on and so they get it on. Tom runs his hand up and down Jane’s slender back gliding along the rails of her spine. Jane kisses Tom’s lips again and again and rocks her head from left to right, letting her hair fall from side to side. They both rise to their knees and fall back down on their sides. Tom get on top with Jane laying between his legs, with his arms cocked under her shoulders. He kisses her neck and the puppy tries to get in between them. Tom pushes it away and sits up. Tom takes his shirt off and leans down again kissing Jane on the side of her face and down her neck. Now he has her hands in his and she is at his mercy in this moment. Then there is a knock at the door.... Tom’s head falls back and he hops up and runs the the door. This fucking kid is going to die. He thinks to himself. He opens the door and standing in front of him is the kid.

The kid is about sixteen years old and he has both hands up, trying to show that he is coming in peace. Tom’s first thought is to grab him and drag him inside. But the kid studders and saying, “I, I, I, I’m mm mm Benjamin. Don’t hit, h,h, h hit me.” Tom wipes his hand accros his face surprised by the site of this teenage menice. He doesn’t look like a killer or much of a threat. So Tom says to him, “What the hell do you want with us?” Jane is now standing behind Tom just beyond the door. “I’m homeless and I travel all the time.” The boy said. “When I s,s,s,saw you and your g,g,g,g girlfriend in New Orleans, I thought you may be able to h,h,h,h help me. So I,I,I,I, followed you around.” “Why would you think we could help?” Tom said. “B,b,b,b, because you have th, th, the right frequency.” The boy said. At that moment Jane came out from behind the door and said, “What the fuck are you talking about? You sound like a crazy person.” The kid looked down at his shoes. He was wearing old, worn out skateboarding shoes. They had a striped down the middle and the laces were mostly untied. His pants were two or three sizes too big and his shirt was obviously a donation. The boy grabbed his bike and rode away. Tom said, “Wait, come back here. You can’t keep bothering us like this.” The boy was gone like the wind. Tom looked confused. “Why did you snap at him like that? We were about to discuss why he is stalking us. But now he’s gone.” Tom said. “I don’t know but he was talking like a crazy man.” Jane said. They went back inside and sat down on the couch. The small and fluffy puppy jumped up onto the sofa and started playing again with Tom’s knee but Tom pushed him away. For the next few minutes the two of them just sat in silence. Each of them was thinking about what this kid is doing and where he could possibly have come from. Chapter 14 Later that night Tom woke up on the sofa and Jane was no where to be seen. He walked back to the bedroom and she was not in there. He looked outside and her

moped was gone. So Tom assumed that she went back to her apartment. He poured himself a glass of milk and walked back to his bedroom. The little dog was already asleep on the floor in his bathroom. Tom climbed into bed and watched some television before falling asleep. That night Tom dreamed again, This time he was on a train at night, traveling with his family but none of the people were recognizable. It was crowded in his cabin and there were to large dogs sitting to his right. Everyone was talking to someone else, intensely carrying on with side conversations. No one was talking to him or looking at him. In his hand was a book about trains and yet the words were not written in a language he could read. He tried to walk to the door and exit the cabin but there were too many people in the way. No matter how hard he tried he was unable to get around them. He kept asking each of the faceless people in the cabin, if they would let me by but no one was listening. The train kept moving faster and faster and the people kept talking louder and louder. Tom was trapped and the only people that saw him were the two dogs. He started to panic, thinking that he was running out of air in that cabin. But then Tom woke up.....and only remembered having a dream about a train. His radio was on and tuned to NPR’s “All Thing’s Considered”. The reporter was talking about a trainwreck that took place in Poland the night before. It was one of the worst train wrecks in years and over 120 people died. They are not yet sure if terrorists were involved but it is clear that the tracks were jeopardized and half of the cars in the train fell off the side of a mountain. Tom took a shower and got dressed. He walked out into the living room and let the dog out to go potty. When the dog had finished peeing in the yard Tom locked it back into the laundry room and jumped in his truck. He drove to the hardware story and clocked in. His boss was having a nervous breakdown, literaly. There was a large yellow ambulence in front of the store and Tom stood outside watching as they rolled his boss out on a stretcher. He looked liks a mess. His hair was all out of place and he was heavily sedated with three canvas straps holding him down to the stretcher. Tom asked a co-worker what had happened and she explained that the boss was getting laid off and just flipped out, like a crazy man. He threw a computer monitor into the break room and started climbing on some of the racks, threatening to jump of the top of the highest rack, which is like three stories high. The regional manager was in two to execute the layoffs and he and Tom’s boss have never been on good terms for as long as Tom had worked there.

So it seems that they bad news was made worse by the bad relationship. The regional director has a dark stain on his pressed dress shirt, his suit and his silk tie. He stank of dried coffee when Tom walked by. Tom waited until he was inside the warehouse to laugh but this was the funniest thing he’s ever seen. What a pointless reason to get upset. Tom soon realized that his boss was not the only person getting laid off. Lots of his coworkers were crying and standing around, near the customer service desk. Apparently the entire store was being closed down and some of the workers were offered positions at another location but many were just being let go. Tom didn’t know which category he was in but he didn’t really care either. He was surprisingly encouraged by the bad news. Feeling like this may be the shock he needs to break out of the futility of his chosen profession. Tom has always considered the Big Box Store format to be a cancer on society. Who really wants to work or shop in a warehouse, where every pallet of consumables wears a giant sticker saying, “Made In China”. It’s like they should just have a parking lot full of steel containers, dropped off straight from the docks. Instead of a giant warehouse full of pallets, people could just climb into the containers and shuffle through the junk looking for even lower prices. Rather than having employees and customer service staff, the new parking lot model would have one person per container, just to break up fights between people wanting the same item. Everything would have a QR code and people could scan them with their smart phones to find out the price, specs, warranty information, etc. They could even link their phones to a PayCheck account and walk to their car without having speak with a human. Which would make since because most of the container watchers would be illegal immigrants and with knowing English, they couldn’t be expected to help, if they wanted to. Above the parking lot stores would be large pole mounted cameras sending real time footage back to the lot owners in Singapore, Dubai, or Tokyo. So they could monitor the profit to theft variable and call the local police if it gets out of balance. Tom’s is surprised by his enterprising imagination and thinks for a moment that perhaps he will be the next Tom Walton, but then he remembers that this was supposed to be a dystopian warning and decides to let it go. He walks over the customer service desk and joins the crowd around Rachel. She is probubly the sweetest girl in their whole store and she’s 6 months pregnant. He husband was laid off just a few weeks prior and so she is really unhappy with this bad news. Tom has never been particularly good had consoling people in distress so he keeps his comments to himself. Barry, a large back man is standing next to Tom with his back resting on the warranty claims bench.

He looks at Tom and says, “What the fuck, man? What are we supposed to do now?” “Uh, I’m not sure.” Tom said. “They say we get two more weeks. But then they gonna shut down everything.” Barry said. “Well, I guess we need to look for another job. What did you do before this?” Tom said. “I was working in New Jersey at a Car Lot doing sales.” Barry said. “Did you like it?” Tom said. “Not really. Tom many tire kickers and I don’t like GM cars much.” Barry said. “What would you like to do?” Tom said “I don’t know. Something with sports.” Barry said. Another co-worker walks up and starts explaining that there is a SuperQuad Wall-Mart going in down the street and this is the reason why their store is closing down. He describes how SuperQuad WalMart’s are four times larger than ordinary Super WalMarts. “They even sell cars, RV’s, and boats at a SuperQuad.” he said. Apparantly a SuperQuad is more like a mall than a WalMart, it take up the size of 10 square acres of show room and includes a fitness center in the middle with a one mile track and swimming pools, tennis courts, a bowling alley, and movie theatre. Supposedly there is even going to be a series of apartments built on site to house all of the worker/consumer users of the SuperQuad. There’s only like four of these monsters in the world and Orlando is going to get one. It must be because of the Attractions and WalMart is trying to promote the worldwide adoption of SuperQuads through partnership with Disney and other theme parks in the area. Tom looks at Barry and say, “I guess we should get apply for jobs at the SuperQuad.” Barry smiles and walks away. The entire morning customers wandered through the store looking for someone to help them but most of the workers were on their phones or congregating in the break room or by the customer service department. It was such a weird day that Tom decided to go home early. He call Jane on the way home and explained that he had been laid off and would be looking for work stating immediately. She suggested that look at some of the local solar businesses, since that was something he has had an interest in. When Tom got home he began to search the web for jobs in his field. He asked himself, “What is my field?”

Tom knew that he didn’t want to do retail but he didn’t know what he could do with his diverse list of skills. Possible corporate espionage, global yachtsman, exchange school headmaster, illegal substance importer, controlled substance exporter, social studies teacher, assassin, solar contractor. He called the local solar contractors and no one was hiring. In fact a few of them suggested that he look at something else, because they were struggling to stay in business. Apparently the state recently canceled the solar incetives and customers were few and far between considering the southward economic trends. Tom broadened his focus to include anything. The unemployment rate in Orlando was up around 15% and he knew that he may have to lower his expectations a bit. So he interviewed at a carpet cleaning company, hoping to be a service technician. The interview went pretty well. Tom met with the owner of the company and was asked why he wanted to become a carpet cleaning engineer. Tom thought for a few moments before responding. “Well, when I was younger I played with my friends out behind the house and we used to get quite filthy with critters and the like. On more than a single location, my mother was horrified to discover that my friends and I have tracked all maner of filth into the living room, the foyer and the den. She then demanded that I work by her side for as long as it took to remove the damage done. During those hours spent cleaning beside my dear mother, I learned so much about myself and life lessons that remain to this day. So I can truely say that cleaning is in my blood.” The owner of the carpet cleaning business couldn’t determine if Tom was being serious or sarcastic. He sat back and stared at Tom for a few minutes and then after looking back down at the resume Tom had given him, he said that Tom could start on Monday but it would only be part time at first. Tom smiled widely and left the office feeling like he had just won the lottery. On his drive home Tom noticed that his phone was one and that he had accidentally butt dialed a random number. He hung up the phone. The accidental call had lasted 35 minutes. The phone number that he had dialed was: 504-482-1984. Tom looked through his call log and found this same number showing up numerous times over the last four days. Each time it was for extended durations and each time, he was the one calling this number. Tom decided to do a google search for the number by putting quotation marks on either end of the full number. That way the search would only be for this specific number. The first think he noticed was that it was a New Orleans based phone number. He immediately thought of the crazy stalker kid. How the hell could he have used Tom’s phone to call someone else’s number, so many different times. As he scrolled down

further he found that the the phone number he was calling belonged to a motorcycle repair shop in New Orleans. Tom called the number and it went to voicemail. No instructions to leave a message, no human voices or verbal greeting, just a long beep. Tom wait for a few seconds, not sure if he should leave a message or not. He decided to hang up. When Tom got home from the job interview, he jumped on his computer and looked up the motorcycle repair shop again. There was an address and a name. He search each of these individually and then combined with quotations and without. After about twenty minutes of searching around from one query response to the next he found the shop owner’s home address and another phone number, possibly his home phone number. Tom call the number from his skype account and used a *69 prefix to mask the area code he was calling from. The phone rang about four times and Tom was about to hang up when someone picked up on the other end. Tom said “Hello.” “Hello?” The other man said. “Is this Al’s motorcycle repair shop?” Tom asked. “Who wants to know?” The man said. “Uh, my name is Jerry Stringer and I’m looking for some spare parts for my Harley roadster.” Tom said. “Okay, yeah. We can do that. How did you get my home number?” The man said. “I was looking online and your other number doesn’t seem to work, so I kept searching and found this one. I hope you don’t mind.” Tom said. “Yeah, I lost my cell phone a few weeks ago and I haven’t changed the website to the new number yet. If you would, please call me on my new cell phone from now on. It is: 504-784-5594.” the man said. “Sure. No problem.” Tom said and hung up the phone. He though again about the kid and how could he have possibly made calls from Tom’s phone, when Tom had it with him all the time. Just them Tom’s phone rang and the ring tone had been switched to a children’s lullaby. Tom recognized it after only two bars. It was a song from Tom’s childhood. One that his month used to sing him when he couldn’t sleep. Tom answered the phone, “Who the hell is this?” “I, i, i, it, it’s m,m, mm, me.” the boy said.

Tom paused, not sure what to say. Chapter 15 Tom and the kid talk for about twenty minutes. The kid is studdering with almost every word. Tom can tell that he is nervous and unable to explain why he chose to reach out to Tom and Jane but he doesn’t seem to be much of a threat. Tom asks him who he his and where he’s from, why he’s homeless and why he keeps stalking them. The boy struggles to explain that he is from the gulf coast and has been rambling around for many years. He doesn’t have any regular friends and lives mostly hand to mouth from the generosity of strangers. Tom is very patient with listening to the kid’s story because with the studdering, it take him a long time to get even a few words out. The boy explains that he is not meaning to scare Tom or Jane and that he really just wants to be their friend. Tom asks him what his name is. The boy responds, “My name is Canan Leiman.” Tom suggests that he and Jane meet with Canan at a coffee shop nearby. He tell Canan that he needs to stop showing up unannounced and to stop hacking their cell phones. Canan agrees. Tom asks Canan how he did the auto-calling trick and Canan explains that there is a vunerability in the source code that allows him to remotely dial from most Motorola phone. Tom is impressed but reminds him to stop doing that. They hang up and Tom sits back at his desk, impressed with the honesty of this kid. He feels sorry for his situation but still he doesn’t trust him. Tom calls Jane and describes the events of his day. Jane and him meet for pizza at the local pizza shop and she peppers him with questions. Jane asks, why is he willing to move to an entirely new city to make new friends with complete strangers? She also points out that it is weird he took so long to explain his intentions. “If he wanted to be our friend, he should have told us that in New Orleans.” Jane said. “I agree. But he is very socially awkward.” Tom said. “So are serial killers.” Jane said. “I don’t think that his is a serial killer. He’s just a weird, homeless teenager.” Tom said. “It’s obvious that he needs professional help. Possibly social services.” Jane said. “That’s a good idea. But he said that he’s been on the road for more than three years and he’s not dead or in jail so far....” Tom said.

“That’s not the point. What kind of life can he be having roaming around the country, stalking complete strangers?” Jane said. “I don’t know.” Tom said. They finish their pizza and sit at the table for another hour talking and drinking coffee. After Tom persists in defending the kid, Jane eventually agrees to meet with him at the local coffee shop. She does qualify the meeting with one conditional variable. If the boy refuses to meet with a social services representative, then they would contact Stuart and report the kid to local police. Tom agrees and they drive back to his house. Ever since the kid showed up at Tom’s house, Jane has been sleeping again back at her apartment. So when Tom and Jane get back to his house he asks if she would like to stay the night. She shrugs saying, “I would but I really need to get home, you know laundry.” He misses having her around but gives her a kiss and says good night. Jane jumps on her scooter and drives home wearing her funny looking goggles and helmet. Tom goes back inside and sits down at his computer. He searches the Internet looking to learn how to hack Motorola phones the way this kid did. If this trick allows someone to remotely place calls on other people’s phones then, every Motorola cell phone can be turned on as a live mic. This means that the kid was listening to Tom’s conversations for three days and Tom didn’t have a clue. Tom thinks to himself, what else does this kid know about him or Jane. Tom opens the back of his cell phone and takes out the battery before going to sleep. Chapter 16 The next day Tom woke up at his normal time of 7am and almost got dressed in his normal clothes for work at the big box store before he recalls that he doesn’t have a job anymore. Technically he is supposed to work for another two weeks but he will be getting paid whether he shows up or not. So he chose to not show up. After all, he is now a carpet cleaning engineer and has no time for storm drains or windows. He love the idea that he wont need to ever talk to another homeowner again. There’s nothing wrong with homeowners but he just hates the reality that he will soon become an ex-owner of his own home and when the foreclosure finally goes through, Tom will be homeless. Tom feels that he worked his ass off at the hardware store and before and that unlike his hedge fund trading contemporaries, will not be benefiting from a government bailout.

If he has learned anything from the last two years, it is that the world is not designed for naive people to succeed. He hopes that his crash course in economic hegemony will not be wasted on an inconsequential life. Tom doesn’t know what to do with himself, now that he doesn’t have to go to the hardware store. He thinks that perhaps he should go to the beach. So he does. king a lot and she has two new accounts at the graphic design firm which require her to stay up at night working on images and logo designs. Tom and Jane had never spent so much time living together under the same roof before and Tom loves having her around. He is very impressed with how hard she works and how committed she is to getting the details right with each design she produces. His job is not as stimulating and every day at the store feels like last week or last month. He used to enjoy helping customers find what they need and teaching them how to customize their home and make improvements to their windows and drains. But now it just seems so superficial and all of the customers are blending into faceless, nameless moments. He feels like every problem they come in the store with is a problem he solved last week and although it is a new customer each time, it’ feel like he is teach someone the same skill week after week. Jane and her roommate Jill have not been getting along and so Jane is happy to be staying at Tom’s most nights. Although they grew up together, Jane is realizing that Jill and he don’t have as much in common as they did when they were in school, or just starting out. Jill is all about her career and talks about her career as if that is all that matters in life. Jane has a great job and works hard but she also has other things that she cares about and Jill doesn’t seem to get that. Every time they hang out, it seems like Jill is only interested in talking about herself. It doesn’t help that Jane has put on a few pounds and Jill is not eating again. In college Jane remembered how Jill would obsess about her weight and go on month long anorexic episodes, loosing 15 or 20 pounds and getting seriously sick before admitting to her friends that she needs some help. Even then, Jill refused to call it what it was. She would simply say that she was fasting or “not feeling well.” All the girls in the sorority knew what she was doing to herself but most of them didn’t care enough to try to help or to stop her. Tom and Jane have been going to cooking classes together at the local community college on Tuesday nights. They love learning how to cook and the teacher is so much fun. She is an older woman, who owns a restaurant in Winter Park and teaches classes on the side. Each week they are given two new recipes, with the ingredients and the estimated cost and nutritional content of each ingredient. That way they learn to do the shopping and the cooking and each week they prepare enough food for two or three meals. Jane’s favorite so far was the zucinni quiche. It tasted like a vegetarian dessert on homemade crust and Tom enjoyed it too. Tom likes

the pot roast and thinks that he has perfected this recipe by adding a vinegar base to the broth. Jane is not as thrilled about the vinegar base but happy that Tom helps with the cooking. They are both feeling like an old married couple. Neither one is willing to admit it but they practically live together and it just feels right. One morning Tom was working in the warehouse again, adding new bar codes to a stack of storm windows when he got a text. It came from Jane’s cell phone and included a great photo of him dancing at the Damien Marley concert. He didn’t remember seeing this in the photos that Jane took previously but it was a very good photo and showed him really in the moment, rocking out with his hands up in the air. In the text it simply said, “Fortes fortuna iuvat” Tom texted back to Jane saying “Thanks for the photo. I didn’t know you spoke latin.” Tom didn’t speak latin either so he google it on his smart phone and this famous saying translates into, “Fortune favors the brave.” When he saw this is made his day. He had shared with Jane briefly about how bored he was with his job and he felt like he needed something to shake it up a little and give him some perspective on life. Or else he would keep putting off all of the other things that we hoped to do in life. About twenty minutes passed and then Tom got another text from Jane. This time is said, “What are you talking about?” Tom replied, “I got your photo from the concert. It looks good.” Jane immediately text-ed back saying, “I didn’t send you any photos today.” Tom was confused and double checked his phone. Sure enough it was still in there and it still said that it was from Jane. He called her and explained what had happened. Now they both were confused and decided to meet for lunch and review the photo. They met at a Pollo En Total off of State Road 436 and sat down over a half chicken and tropical rice medley. Tom handed his phone to Jane and she opened the file with the photo in it. She looked at it quietly while Tom dug into his quarter of the chicken and poured some salsa over the rice medley. “See, it’s one of your photos and it came from your phone.” Tom said. Jane looked at Tom with a scared expression on her face and said, “This is not one of my photos.” “What do you mean?” Tom said.

“Do you see this purple jacket in the photo? Jane said. “yeah.” Tom said “That’s me.” Jane said. Tom forgot that Jane did wear a purple jacket that night and in the photo it’s hard to see but there a purple jacket in the corner of the frame. Tom put down his plastic fork and wiped his mouth with a waxy thin, plastic textured napkin. “So you didn’t send this to me?” Tom asked. “No! I didn’t. ” Jane re-stated the obvious. “Did you have your phone with you all day today?” Tom asked “Yeah. I think so.” Jane replied “What time was the message sent?” Jane asked “10:30am” Tom replied Jane tried to remember where she was a 10:30am. “I was at Starbucks, downtown. I had my cell phone in my bag and I was working on a new design and I may have gone to the bathroom for a minute or two but that was it. Do you think.....? Jane paused Tom looked at he and both of them knew it was the kid. Chapter 11 That afternoon, Jane called her friend Stuart who works as a detective for the Orlando police department and asked him to meet her as soon as possible. Stuart had not heard from Jane in a few years and was happy to hear from her. He agreed to meet that afternoon at an Olive Garden on Colonial Ave. Stue was sitting in the Bar section of the Olive Garden when Jane walked in. She looked flustered but just as beautiful as ever. The two of them sat a a small round table on high barstools and Jane dranks ice water, while Stu had a scotch on the rocks. Jane described the entire saga from the first siting through to today’s sms message on Tom’s phone. She was talking so fast that Stu had to remind her to slow down on two or three occasions.

Jane and Stuart were friends in high school and Stuart had a major crush on her during most of those years. Tom knew him but they were not close friends. Stuart played on the soccer team and was an average player. He struggled in school and classified with attention deficit disorder so that he took special classes, which he took some flack for. But generally everyone liked him and he tried hard to be kind to everyone, especially to Jane and anyone she liked. Tom and his buddies used to call Stuart, “The Stude” because he watched The Big Lebowski about 1,000 times and knew just about every line by heart. After high school, Stuart went to community college for a couple years and then joined the force. Since then, he has move up the ranks, always with his goal being to make detective. Which he did two years ago. Since then he has mostly work the convention center beat. So his job is to investigate any crimes that take place on or around the perimeter of the Orange County Convention Center. This is no small assignment, as the OCCC is one of the largest convention centers in the Southeastern United States. Stu explains to Jane that there is no evidence of illegal activity from what this kid has done so far. If Jane had not touched the phone after the text was sent, then it may have been possible for Stuart to attempt to pull some prints form the keypad. But with the buttons on cell phones being as small as they are, it is usually very difficult to get a large enough sample size to gain a match. The other concern that Stuart suggests to Jane is how did this kid get a new photo onto her phone in the first place. If she was in the bathroom for only a few minutes then he would have needed to quickly remove her sim card, plug it into an identical cell phone with the photo pre-loaded, boot it up, trasfer the image to her card. Then replace the sim card into her phone and reboot her phone before she came back. This scenario seems highly unlikely to both of them. But they can’t imagine any other way he could have sent this new image from her phone at that time. Stuart wrote down everything that Jane had told him and promised to check with the airlines and the bus company to find out how many buses or planes left New Orleans on the same day as they did. When they stood up, Stu reached out giving Jane a big hug and told her not to worry. That he would do his best and for her to call him if anything strange happens. Driving home; Jane looked down at her cell phone and was filled with rage. She wanted to throw it out the window and yet she had a two year contract and couldn’t afford buying a new phone. “How could this happen?” she kept thinking to herself. “Why is this freak stalking her?” She thought back to that night at the hostel, when she saw his face and his bright blue eyes looked so familiar, did she know him from before?...

Just then, her cell phone rang and Jane was startled by the sound of it and feeling of it vibrating in her hand as she pick it up. She looked at the caller ID, it was Tom. “Hello?” she said. “Hey, did you talk to Stuey?” tom said “Yeah. He is going to open a case privately since there isn’t technicaly a crime.” said Jane. “Thats great. I was thinking... what about checking the flights from NOLA to MCO on the day we came back?” Tom suggested “Stuart suggested the same thing.” said Jane. “Oh, well good.” “Are you going to cooking class toinght?” Tom said. “Yeah, can you pick me up at my place?” Jane asked. “No problem.” “...and don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.” Tom said. “Thanks.” Jane said. That night Tom and Jane went to the cooking class without their groceries. The teacher asked them what happened and they explained that it has been a crazy week and they were not able to pick up the ingredients. The teacher said not to worry and that they could use some of her groceries and that all that matters is that they were able to make it. That night they forgot about the crazy stalker kid and made a delicious pot of Chicken Cacciatore. This dish consisted of:
● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

2 pounds of meaty chicken pieces 1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms 1 medium onion sliced 1 clove of garlic, minced 14 ounces of diced tomatoes 6 ounces of tomato paste 1 cup of white wine 1 teaspoon of sugar 1/2 teaspoon of salt rosemary, thyme, oregano, and black pepper

The teacher let Tom and Jane take home the finished dish which made for six servings. Tom offered to pay for all of the food, but the professor knew that they needed a break and enjoyed helping the out this week. Tom and Jane took the food home in the professors pot and it smelled so good the whole drive home. It smelled like Jane’s grandmothers home cooked meals back in Ohio before her parents got divorced. Jane’s mom didn’t do much cooking after they moved to Florida. She worked two jobs at first and rarely had the time to cook. Jane and her sister were left to make their own dinners or order pizza much of the time. Tom knew that Jane was taking the stressful events of the day worse than she let on. He was surprised that she agreed to go to the cooking class at all. But he was glad they did. All of this stuff with the crazy stalker kid, was beginning to wear him down too. He felt like it was his job to stop this kid from haunting them. Like as the man, he needed as chance to face down this kid and scare him off or beat him up, or something. Chapter 12 Tom and Jane were now officially living together in Tom’s apartment and Tom installed a home security system at his house, which included cameras, doors and windows sensors, and motion sensitive outdoor lights. The out door lights are very bright and have come on a few times already but Tom thinks that it is the result of some stray cats in the neighborhood. Stuey has been communicating with Tom and Jane on an almost weekly basis, just calling to check and see if there has been another siting or strange event. He was unable to get any clues from the Airlines and the Bus station would not provide a list of people that traveled from New Orleans to Orlando without a warrant. Jane threw away her sim card and had to completely reprogram her phone with a new sim card. This was not easy due to the fact that she had now written record of all the people in her phone. So it was inevitable that some people were lost in the transfer. But she kind of liked the idea that she was reducing the random aquantiences and keeping only the people that she considered important. If anyone called her, then she would be albe to add them later but she did have hundreds of numbers in her phone that were people she never talked to. It was also a surprise to her that she had no record of any of her close friends phone numbers. If she had to use a regular phone, she would be lost not knowing any of the numbers. So she decided to create a file on her laptop with the most important people’s phone numbers just in case anything were to happen to her phone. Tom has been getting used to using the home security system and even downloaded an iphone app with a multi screen interface. He can watch all of the cameras simultaneously on his iphone from anywhere in real time. He has seen some of the neighborhood cats walking around the back of his house during work hours. It’s pretty cool. He can even record up to 24 hours of video at a time.

One night Jane and Tom were lying in bed and Jane was just falling asleep when the lights outside of their bedroom window flicked on. Without rolling over, Jane said, “Its probably the cats again.” Tom agreed and so they stayed put waiting to hear the cat sounds that usually accompanied moments like this. The light stayed on about about two minutes then shut off again. There was no cat sounds heard but the lights came on again about 4 minutes later. Tom decided to take a look outside just to be safe. So he got up and put on some jeans, which were hanging on the chair by the bed. He slipped into his leather flip flops and walked outside. As he turned the corner, he saw the red glow of a cigarette moving away from him in the dark. It was moving quickly down the street and Tom could see that it was someone on a bike riding quickly away for the side of his house and looking back to reveal the glowing embers of the cigarette. Tom though about running back for his keys to jump in the truck and chase after the kid but before he did anything, he saw something moving in the bushes by the house. Tom lifted a small LED flashlight up to his face and pointed the bright white beam of light in the direction of the sound. Rolling around in the bushes was a small puppy with a red ribbon around it’s neck. There was also an inflated beach ball laying in the wet grass by the bushes. The puppy ran out from the bushes and jumped at the ball as if it were playing with another puppy. Tom walked closer and the puppy look back, seeing Tom but it continued pushing the ball around in the grass. As Tom bend down to pick up the puppy, the hair of the puppies lower half was completely drenched by the night dew from the grass. Tom grabbed the beach ball and carried both back into the house. He called to Jane and asked her to come out into the living room. She shouted back, “Is everything okay?” “Yeah, everything is fine. You have to see this.” Tom replied. “What is it? Jane said as she walked down the hall from the bedroom into the living room. Jane was wearing panties and one of Tom’s old worn out t-shirts. She looked so beautiful and when she saw the puppy. She smiled like a kind on Christmas morning. “Oh my god. It’s so cute! Where did you get this?” Jane said. “It was outside by the window.” Tom said. “Someone dropped it off in our yard and then rode off on a bike down the street.” “What?” Jane said. “Yeah, it was the kid. I think.” Tom said. Jane looked confused and annoyed as she looked down again at the tiny little dog on the carpet. The dog was again chasing after the beach ball and full of energy.

“Why the hell would he bring us a puppy?” Jane said. “I don’t have a clue.” Tom said. “But we need to tell Stuart that he came by and that he knows where I live.” “What about the cameras?” Jane said. “That’s right. The camera by the bedroom window would have everything.” Tom moves over the the computer located in the corner of the living room. He clicks on the surveillance program all of the windows reveal the live footage of each camera he installed. Tom scrolls down the menu bar to find the Recorded Video file. He clicks on it and the program switches to recorded video mode. Each of the individual windows are now showing footage from last night. All of the windows are dark until Tom drags the navigation bar from left to right. A small clock in the top right of the display shows that he is now at 6am that day. All of the cameras light up and reveal various scene in each of the smaller windows. Tom sees that on the front door camera, there are people jogging, biking, walking down his street. The images are like freeze frame images as high speed as he moves the time bar to the right. The most interesting think about seeing an entire day in a few seconds is how little activity there really is at his home during a twenty four hour period. The smaller windows go dark again as the clock reveals 7:40pm. Jane and Tom see themselves coming up to the front door after dinner and going inside. Tom keeps scrolling the time bar to the right until about 11:13pm. The small window that represents Tom’s bedroom camera lights up and Tom stops dragging the time bar. The scene in the smaller window shows nothing but green grass and lots of bugs flying around in front of the light. Each light stays on for two minutes if there is motion in front of the sensor. So Tom and Jane watch patiently as the clock ticks forward. After about 30 seconds. The beach ball rolls into the frame, moving fast across the yard. The puppy appears right behind it and chases after the ball. Both the dog and the ball move to the right and disappear from the frame. Tom double clicks on the small window, enlarging the video to full screen. The resolution drops off considerably so that they are now watching a highly pix-elated video. In the top right corner of the screen there appears to be some movement around what looks like a bicycle, leaning against a tree. The bicycle rolls off the screen and the light goes out. Tom and Jane fast forward again until the light comes back on. The pushing is now pushing the beach ball, which is twice it’s size back to the left of the video screen. They watch Tom walk up to the puppy and pick it up and walk away.

Both Tom and Jane are disappointed by the lack of evidence in the recorded video. This kid is becoming a major pain in the ass for both of them and they still don’t have a clue what he wants from them. Jane starts to cry and Tom holds her saying, “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” Chapter 13 The next day Tom stayed home from work and Stuart stopped by the house to watch the video and look for evidence. He and Tom walked around outside and both of them talked about what the laws are which define stalking as a criminal activity. Stuart tells Tom about a case he had a few years ago at the convention center where two hackers showed up for a computer programming conference and then stayed around for another two weeks. They made fake badges and gained access into the Surfing Expo. The badges they made defined them as speakers and gave them access into special areas in the conference Center. They used that the figure out where some of the swimsuit models were staying and when they would be on the conference floor or at the hotel nearby. So they went to the hotel during the time when the girls were on the floor and broke into their rooms. They didn’t damage anything but they did steal some of the girls underwear.. The only way we caught them was that they foolishly left the girls a note. Offering to give them back their panties if they met the boys for drinks in the hotel bar. The models called us and we followed them down to the bar and knabbed the two dorks at the bar. We could have charged them with breaking and entering but the models asked us to let them off easy. So the only thing we could do was to pin them with a warning on charges of stalking. So they have a restraining order filed agains them by the Hawaiian Tropic Corporation. Which they probubly are wearing as a geeky badge among their nerd herd. Tom realized that the kid is not breaking any major laws by hanging around them and acting strange. A restraining order is probably the best they can do at this time. So Tom fills out the paperwork with Stuart coaching him on how to the courts to issue the stongest restraining order possible. This is also a useful step to ultimatley finding a more severe cause for arrest of this freaky stalker. Tom also asked Stuart about self defense laws. “So if I shot this kid on my property, would I get arrested for murder or is it self defense?” Tom said “It all depends.” Stuart said. “If you are truly in physical danger, then you are leaglly able to defend yourself with force. In other words, i the kid brandishes a weapon, you can shot him.”

“But what if he is unarmed and just breaks into the house?” Tom said. “If he breaks into your house, you can shot him.” Stuart said. “But be sure you kill him. Otherwise he may try to sue you.” Stuart smiles a wry smile after saying. He goes on to explain that there is some gray area in this whole subject of using lethal force and that if you are willing to buy a gun in self defense, then you must be willing to use it for lethal force. “Many folks buy a gun and go to the range once or twice and never really face the truth that in the heat of the moment having a gun can be more dangerous than not having one. If you’re not determined to kill the other person.” Stuart said. “What kind of gun should I get?” Tom said. “I would suggest a 9mm Glock A-5.” Stuart said. “It has a fast trigger and weighs less then most other hand guns.” “It’s the one that we use in the Orlando Police Department and many branches of the military use it too.” Stuart said. Tom and Stuart go back inside and after watching the video again. They both agree that the kid was riding a bike and that the ball rolled across the screen too fast to have been pushed by the puppy. Which means that the kid rolled the ball across the yard. It was not good enough quality in the video to get a color or make on the bike. The puppy may be the best clue yet. It probably was bought locally and so Stuart tells Tom that he will check with all of the local humane societies, and pet stores to see who purchased this puppy. Stuart takes some photos of the puppy from various angles and plans to take them around to each of the pet shop locations to try to get an id. (author laughs) Tom and Jane meet up that afternoon at the coffee shop by Tom’s house and discuss what the plan is to proceed. Tom tells Jane that he is planning on getting a gun and she doesn’t like that idea. “What are you going to kill him?” Jane says. “If I have to.” Tom replies. “That’s stupid.” Jan said. “All we need to do is talk to this kid. Explain that we will not put up with this crazy behavior. Don’t you think that he will get the message and leave us alone.” “Yeah and that is what I have wanted to do all along but the little bugger is never around long enough for one of us to confront him.” Tom said. “I know. That is the problem.” “How can we force him talk to us?” Jane said.

“I don’t know. What if we left a message on the door? Asking for a meeting.” Tom said. “That’s not a bad idea.” Jane said. So they went home and Jane wrote a bried note on a piece of copy paper and taped it to the front door. It said, “Dear Sir, We have noticed that you are hanging around this house and showing up in various other locations where we also happen to be. This behavior seems strange to us and we would prefer to speak with you face to face to discuss why your are doing this. If you are able to meet with us, we promise that this will be a safe encounter for you and hopefully we can agree on how to proceed with our individual actions. Please use the bottom half of this note to write in a place and time when you will be able to meet. Sincerely, Tom and Jane” Tom taped this messaged to his front door and they went inside. They double checked each of the doors and windows, making sure each was locked and had not been tampered with. After which they sat down on the leather sofa in the living room and watched a movie. Jane loves the older movies and especially loves watching Hitchcock thrillers. Tonight the two of them are going to watch as many Hitchcock movies in a row as possible. It is a Friday and they have nothing to do tomorrow. Both are still a little freaked out about their new stalker and yet they are enjoying the new addition of the puppy. So sitting on the carpet in the living room the two of them dig into a large bowl of popcorn and play with the puppy, while the movie begins. The first movie that they watched was Vertigo. In the opening scene, two police officers are chasing a crook from rooftop to rooftop in San Francisco at night. One of them falls and is hanging from the roof’s gutter. The other cop stops chasing the crook and reaches down to help his partner. In the process, he slips and falls off the room to his death. The other man survives. Tom and Jane love movies that start with action scenes, which are only explained later in the movie. Both of them have seen this film and most of Hitchcock’s movies before. They two of them consider themselves to be well-schooled in the appreciation of classic movies. In fact, Turner Classic Movies was Tom’s favorite channel, when he used to have cable.

Now, Tom only has a DVD player and watches most of his other content online. Jane is enjoying the popcorn and asks, “What is in this?” “Parmesan and pepper.” Tom said. “It’s good combination.” Jane said. “Yeah, it’s sweet, cheesy, and pepper gives it a kick.” Tom said. The puppy keeps trying to get it’s paws into the popcorn but Tom pushes it back and they two are playing a game of it. The puppy is not a pure bread golden retreiver but Tom and Jane can’t figure out what the other mixture is, possibly chow or lab. They have decided to call the puppy, Walter after Tom’s favorite explorer/poet Walter Raleigh. Walter means warrior/king and this little puppy is going to grow up to be a powerful dog. It already has humongous paws and a forceful tail. Laying on their bellies Tom and Jane wrap their legs into each others and Tom sways right to left, bumping into Jane with his shoulder. She grabs some of the popcorn and throws it at his face in a playful and taunting manor. Tom is quick and tries to catch some of the pop corn in his mouth but most of them just bounch off of his face and fall down onto the carpet. Walter quickly inhales the fallen popcorn. Tom reaches out for Jane and the two of them begin to suck each other’s faces like they were in high school. They really get into, knocking the bowl of pop corn over in the process. If seems like it’s been a long time since they go it on and so they get it on. Tom runs his hand up and down Jane’s slender back gliding along the rails of her spine. Jane kisses Tom’s lips again and again and rocks her head from left to right, letting her hair fall from side to side. They both rise to their knees and fall back down on their sides. Tom get on top with Jane laying between his legs, with his arms cocked under her shoulders. He kisses her neck and the puppy tries to get in between them. Tom pushes it away and sits up. Tom takes his shirt off and leans down again kissing Jane on the side of her face and down her neck. Now he has her hands in his and she is at his mercy in this moment. Then there is a knock at the door.... Tom’s head falls back and he hops up and runs the the door. This fucking kid is going to die. He thinks to himself. He opens the door and standing in front of him is the kid. The kid is about sixteen years old and he has both hands up, trying to show that he is coming in peace. Tom’s first thought is to grab him and drag him inside. But the kid studders and saying, “I, I, I, I’m mm mm Benjamin. Don’t hit, h,h, h hit me.”

Tom wipes his hand accros his face surprised by the site of this teenage menice. He doesn’t look like a killer or much of a threat. So Tom says to him, “What the hell do you want with us?” Jane is now standing behind Tom just beyond the door. “I’m homeless and I travel all the time.” The boy said. “When I s,s,s,saw you and your g,g,g,g girlfriend in New Orleans, I thought you may be able to h,h,h,h help me. So I,I,I,I, followed you around.” “Why would you think we could help?” Tom said. “B,b,b,b, because you have th, th, the right frequency.” The boy said. At that moment Jane came out from behind the door and said, “What the fuck are you talking about? You sound like a crazy person.” The kid looked down at his shoes. He was wearing old, worn out skateboarding shoes. They had a striped down the middle and the laces were mostly untied. His pants were two or three sizes too big and his shirt was obviously a donation. The boy grabbed his bike and rode away. Tom said, “Wait, come back here. You can’t keep bothering us like this.” The boy was gone like the wind. Tom looked confused. “Why did you snap at him like that? We were about to discuss why he is stalking us. But now he’s gone.” Tom said. “I don’t know but he was talking like a crazy man.” Jane said. They went back inside and sat down on the couch. The small and fluffy puppy jumped up onto the sofa and started playing again with Tom’s knee but Tom pushed him away. For the next few minutes the two of them just sat in silence. Each of them was thinking about what this kid is doing and where he could possibly have come from. Chapter 14 Later that night Tom woke up on the sofa and Jane was no where to be seen. He walked back to the bedroom and she was not in there. He looked outside and her moped was gone. So Tom assumed that she went back to her apartment. He poured himself a glass of milk and walked back to his bedroom. The little dog was already asleep on the floor in his bathroom. Tom climbed into bed and watched some television before falling asleep.

That night Tom dreamed again, This time he was on a train at night, traveling with his family but none of the people were recognizable. It was crowded in his cabin and there were to large dogs sitting to his right. Everyone was talking to someone else, intensely carrying on with side conversations. No one was talking to him or looking at him. In his hand was a book about trains and yet the words were not written in a language he could read. He tried to walk to the door and exit the cabin but there were too many people in the way. No matter how hard he tried he was unable to get around them. He kept asking each of the faceless people in the cabin, if they would let me by but no one was listening. The train kept moving faster and faster and the people kept talking louder and louder. Tom was trapped and the only people that saw him were the two dogs. He started to panic, thinking that he was running out of air in that cabin. But then Tom woke up.....and only remembered having a dream about a train. His radio was on and tuned to NPR’s “All Thing’s Considered”. The reporter was talking about a trainwreck that took place in Poland the night before. It was one of the worst train wrecks in years and over 120 people died. They are not yet sure if terrorists were involved but it is clear that the tracks were jeopardized and half of the cars in the train fell off the side of a mountain. Tom took a shower and got dressed. He walked out into the living room and let the dog out to go potty. When the dog had finished peeing in the yard Tom locked it back into the laundry room and jumped in his truck. He drove to the hardware story and clocked in. His boss was having a nervous breakdown, literaly. There was a large yellow ambulence in front of the store and Tom stood outside watching as they rolled his boss out on a stretcher. He looked liks a mess. His hair was all out of place and he was heavily sedated with three canvas straps holding him down to the stretcher. Tom asked a co-worker what had happened and she explained that the boss was getting laid off and just flipped out, like a crazy man. He threw a computer monitor into the break room and started climbing on some of the racks, threatening to jump of the top of the highest rack, which is like three stories high. The regional manager was in two to execute the layoffs and he and Tom’s boss have never been on good terms for as long as Tom had worked there. So it seems that they bad news was made worse by the bad relationship. The regional director has a dark stain on his pressed dress shirt, his suit and his silk tie. He stank of dried coffee when Tom walked by. Tom waited until he was inside the warehouse to

laugh but this was the funniest thing he’s ever seen. What a pointless reason to get upset. Tom soon realized that his boss was not the only person getting laid off. Lots of his coworkers were crying and standing around, near the customer service desk. Apparently the entire store was being closed down and some of the workers were offered positions at another location but many were just being let go. Tom didn’t know which category he was in but he didn’t really care either. He was surprisingly encouraged by the bad news. Feeling like this may be the shock he needs to break out of the futility of his chosen profession. Tom has always considered the Big Box Store format to be a cancer on society. Who really wants to work or shop in a warehouse, where every pallet of consumables wears a giant sticker saying, “Made In China”. It’s like they should just have a parking lot full of steel containers, dropped off straight from the docks. Instead of a giant warehouse full of pallets, people could just climb into the containers and shuffle through the junk looking for even lower prices. Rather than having employees and customer service staff, the new parking lot model would have one person per container, just to break up fights between people wanting the same item. Everything would have a QR code and people could scan them with their smart phones to find out the price, specs, warranty information, etc. They could even link their phones to a PayCheck account and walk to their car without having speak with a human. Which would make since because most of the container watchers would be illegal immigrants and with knowing English, they couldn’t be expected to help, if they wanted to. Above the parking lot stores would be large pole mounted cameras sending real time footage back to the lot owners in Singapore, Dubai, or Tokyo. So they could monitor the profit to theft variable and call the local police if it gets out of balance. Tom’s is surprised by his enterprising imagination and thinks for a moment that perhaps he will be the next Tom Walton, but then he remembers that this was supposed to be a dystopian warning and decides to let it go. He walks over the customer service desk and joins the crowd around Rachel. She is probubly the sweetest girl in their whole store and she’s 6 months pregnant. He husband was laid off just a few weeks prior and so she is really unhappy with this bad news. Tom has never been particularly good had consoling people in distress so he keeps his comments to himself. Barry, a large back man is standing next to Tom with his back resting on the warranty claims bench. He looks at Tom and says, “What the fuck, man? What are we supposed to do now?” “Uh, I’m not sure.” Tom said.

“They say we get two more weeks. But then they gonna shut down everything.” Barry said. “Well, I guess we need to look for another job. What did you do before this?” Tom said. “I was working in New Jersey at a Car Lot doing sales.” Barry said. “Did you like it?” Tom said. “Not really. Tom many tire kickers and I don’t like GM cars much.” Barry said. “What would you like to do?” Tom said “I don’t know. Something with sports.” Barry said. Another co-worker walks up and starts explaining that there is a SuperQuad Wall-Mart going in down the street and this is the reason why their store is closing down. He describes how SuperQuad WalMart’s are four times larger than ordinary Super WalMarts. “They even sell cars, RV’s, and boats at a SuperQuad.” he said. Apparantly a SuperQuad is more like a mall than a WalMart, it take up the size of 10 square acres of show room and includes a fitness center in the middle with a one mile track and swimming pools, tennis courts, a bowling alley, and movie theatre. Supposedly there is even going to be a series of apartments built on site to house all of the worker/consumer users of the SuperQuad. There’s only like four of these monsters in the world and Orlando is going to get one. It must be because of the Attractions and WalMart is trying to promote the worldwide adoption of SuperQuads through partnership with Disney and other theme parks in the area. Tom looks at Barry and say, “I guess we should get apply for jobs at the SuperQuad.” Barry smiles and walks away. The entire morning customers wandered through the store looking for someone to help them but most of the workers were on their phones or congregating in the break room or by the customer service department. It was such a weird day that Tom decided to go home early. He call Jane on the way home and explained that he had been laid off and would be looking for work stating immediately. She suggested that look at some of the local solar businesses, since that was something he has had an interest in. When Tom got home he began to search the web for jobs in his field. He asked himself, “What is my field?” Tom knew that he didn’t want to do retail but he didn’t know what he could do with his diverse list of skills. Possible corporate espionage, global yachtsman, exchange school headmaster, illegal substance importer, controlled substance exporter, social studies teacher, assassin, solar contractor. He called the local solar contractors and no one

was hiring. In fact a few of them suggested that he look at something else, because they were struggling to stay in business. Apparently the state recently canceled the solar incetives and customers were few and far between considering the southward economic trends. Tom broadened his focus to include anything. The unemployment rate in Orlando was up around 15% and he knew that he may have to lower his expectations a bit. So he interviewed at a carpet cleaning company, hoping to be a service technician. The interview went pretty well. Tom met with the owner of the company and was asked why he wanted to become a carpet cleaning engineer. Tom thought for a few moments before responding. “Well, when I was younger I played with my friends out behind the house and we used to get quite filthy with critters and the like. On more than a single location, my mother was horrified to discover that my friends and I have tracked all maner of filth into the living room, the foyer and the den. She then demanded that I work by her side for as long as it took to remove the damage done. During those hours spent cleaning beside my dear mother, I learned so much about myself and life lessons that remain to this day. So I can truely say that cleaning is in my blood.” The owner of the carpet cleaning business couldn’t determine if Tom was being serious or sarcastic. He sat back and stared at Tom for a few minutes and then after looking back down at the resume Tom had given him, he said that Tom could start on Monday but it would only be part time at first. Tom smiled widely and left the office feeling like he had just won the lottery. On his drive home Tom noticed that his phone was one and that he had accidentally butt dialed a random number. He hung up the phone. The accidental call had lasted 35 minutes. The phone number that he had dialed was: 504-482-1984. Tom looked through his call log and found this same number showing up numerous times over the last four days. Each time it was for extended durations and each time, he was the one calling this number. Tom decided to do a google search for the number by putting quotation marks on either end of the full number. That way the search would only be for this specific number. The first think he noticed was that it was a New Orleans based phone number. He immediately thought of the crazy stalker kid. How the hell could he have used Tom’s phone to call someone else’s number, so many different times. As he scrolled down further he found that the the phone number he was calling belonged to a motorcycle repair shop in New Orleans.

Tom called the number and it went to voicemail. No instructions to leave a message, no human voices or verbal greeting, just a long beep. Tom wait for a few seconds, not sure if he should leave a message or not. He decided to hang up. When Tom got home from the job interview, he jumped on his computer and looked up the motorcycle repair shop again. There was an address and a name. He search each of these individually and then combined with quotations and without. After about twenty minutes of searching around from one query response to the next he found the shop owner’s home address and another phone number, possibly his home phone number. Tom call the number from his skype account and used a *69 prefix to mask the area code he was calling from. The phone rang about four times and Tom was about to hang up when someone picked up on the other end. Tom said “Hello.” “Hello?” The other man said. “Is this Al’s motorcycle repair shop?” Tom asked. “Who wants to know?” The man said. “Uh, my name is Jerry Stringer and I’m looking for some spare parts for my Harley roadster.” Tom said. “Okay, yeah. We can do that. How did you get my home number?” The man said. “I was looking online and your other number doesn’t seem to work, so I kept searching and found this one. I hope you don’t mind.” Tom said. “Yeah, I lost my cell phone a few weeks ago and I haven’t changed the website to the new number yet. If you would, please call me on my new cell phone from now on. It is: 504-784-5594.” the man said. “Sure. No problem.” Tom said and hung up the phone. He though again about the kid and how could he have possibly made calls from Tom’s phone, when Tom had it with him all the time. Just them Tom’s phone rang and the ring tone had been switched to a children’s lullaby. Tom recognized it after only two bars. It was a song from Tom’s childhood. One that his month used to sing him when he couldn’t sleep. Tom answered the phone, “Who the hell is this?” “I, i, i, it, it’s m,m, mm, me.” the boy said. Tom paused, not sure what to say.

Chapter 15 Tom and the kid talk for about twenty minutes. The kid is studdering with almost every word. Tom can tell that he is nervous and unable to explain why he chose to reach out to Tom and Jane but he doesn’t seem to be much of a threat. Tom asks him who he his and where he’s from, why he’s homeless and why he keeps stalking them. The boy struggles to explain that he is from the gulf coast and has been rambling around for many years. He doesn’t have any regular friends and lives mostly hand to mouth from the generosity of strangers. Tom is very patient with listening to the kid’s story because with the studdering, it take him a long time to get even a few words out. The boy explains that he is not meaning to scare Tom or Jane and that he really just wants to be their friend. Tom asks him what his name is. The boy responds, “My name is Canan.” Tom suggests that he and Jane meet with Canan at a coffee shop nearby. He tell Canan that he needs to stop showing up unannounced and to stop hacking their cell phones. Canan agrees. Tom asks Canan how he did the auto-calling trick and Canan explains that there is a vunerability in the source code that allows him to remotely dial from most Motorola phone. Tom is impressed but reminds him to stop doing that. They hang up and Tom sits back at his desk, impressed with the honesty of this kid. He feels sorry for his situation but still he doesn’t trust him. Tom calls Jane and describes the events of his day. Jane and him meet for pizza at the local pizza shop and she peppers him with questions. Jane asks, why is he willing to move to an entirely new city to make new friends with complete strangers? She also points out that it is weird he took so long to explain his intentions. “If he wanted to be our friend, he should have told us that in New Orleans.” Jane said. “I agree. But he is very socially awkward.” Tom said. “So are serial killers.” Jane said. “I don’t think that his is a serial killer. He’s just a weird, homeless teenager.” Tom said. “It’s obvious that he needs professional help. Possibly social services.” Jane said. “That’s a good idea. But he said that he’s been on the road for more than three years and he’s not dead or in jail so far....” Tom said. “That’s not the point. What kind of life can he be having roaming around the country, stalking complete strangers?” Jane said.

“I don’t know.” Tom said. They finish their pizza and sit at the table for another hour talking and drinking coffee. After Tom persists in defending the kid, Jane eventually agrees to meet with him at the local coffee shop. She does qualify the meeting with one conditional variable. If the boy refuses to meet with a social services representative, then they would contact Stuart and report the kid to local police. Tom agrees and they drive back to his house. Ever since the kid showed up at Tom’s house, Jane has been sleeping again back at her apartment. So when Tom and Jane get back to his house he asks if she would like to stay the night. She shrugs saying, “I would but I really need to get home, you know laundry.” He misses having her around but gives her a kiss and says good night. Jane jumps on her scooter and drives home wearing her funny looking goggles and helmet. Tom goes back inside and sits down at his computer. He searches the Internet looking to learn how to hack Motorola phones the way this kid did. If this trick allows someone to remotely place calls on other people’s phones then, every Motorola cell phone can be turned on as a live mic. This means that the kid was listening to Tom’s conversations for three days and Tom didn’t have a clue. Tom thinks to himself, what else does this kid know about him or Jane. Tom opens the back of his cell phone and takes out the battery before going to sleep. Chapter 16 The next day Tom woke up at his normal time of 7am and almost got dressed in his normal clothes for work at the big box store before he recalls that he doesn’t have a job anymore. Technically he is supposed to work for another two weeks but he will be getting paid whether he shows up or not. So he chose to not show up. After all, he is now a carpet cleaning engineer and has no time for storm drains or windows. He love the idea that he wont need to ever talk to another homeowner again. There’s nothing wrong with homeowners but he just hates the reality that he will soon become an ex-owner of his own home and when the foreclosure finally goes through, Tom will be homeless. Tom feels that he worked his ass off at the hardware store and before and that unlike his hedge fund trading contemporaries, will not be benefiting from a government bailout. If he has learned anything from the last two years, it is that the world is not designed for naive people to succeed. He hopes that his crash course in economic hegemony will not be wasted on an inconsequential life.

Tom doesn’t know what to do with himself, now that he doesn’t have to go to the hardware store. He decides to go to the beach and do some surfing/fishing to clear his mind. He loads his surfboard and fishing gear into the back of his pickup truck and heads off down the highway. Tom sips on his coffee and listens to NPR on the radio. The reporter explains that the heads of each of the central banks are meeting again to discuss the possible default of Italy and Spain on their soverign bonds. The European Union has been struggling to keep each of these heavily indebted smaller countries from slipping into complete insolvency. First it was Iceland, then Portegul, then Greece, Ireland and now Italy and Spain.

The reporter describes a doomsday scenario of the EU having to drop these countries from membership in the union. The Euro is getting weaker by the day and the BRIC (Brazil, Russa, India and China) countries are complaining about western nations efforts to manipulate their currencies. Tom would have changed the channel before his home went into foreclosure but now he is capitavated by this global debate, feeling that his personal debt is only a symptom of weak leaders and corruption in the bond markets. His basic understanding is that the high-growth nations like China, India and Brazil are benefiting from a strong dollar. Which means the goods they export cost less in dollars than the goods that they import. China has gone so far as to link or peg their currency to the dollar. This means that no matter what the dollar does, the yuan tracks with it maintaining a purchasing advantage. Uber-wealthy investors in the west have been complaining about this peg strategy for years and China refuses to break the peg. Tom believes that the housing crisis was allowed to happen to force the Chinese to break this peg. The U.S. central bank has been inflating their currency for almost a century as a way to keep the illusion of prosperity active in the minds of their populace. With the Chinese refusing to play along with this game, they keep gaining on a trade imballance, as the U.S. keeps loosing. The average person's wages have not gone up in 20 years, when adjusted to inflation. But the investor class has seen their income quadruple and with the new

tax cuts they will see even more rapid growth in their domination of our social and political systems. Tom wants to find a way out of this system. It feels like slavery under a different name. Because everyone works for 80% of their waking life to earn money. The money is made from worthless paper and the leaders are not protecting its value and in fact they are undermining it on a regular basis to distract people for the fact that they are loosing all ability to produce any of the goods required to live with dignity and freedom. Tom hopes that he will find a community of like minded patriots, who have had enough of this monetary tyranny. He doesn't know what the alternative is but it has to be better then trading hours for paper. When he arrives at the beach, Tom checks the surf and sees that their is a decent swell and light wind on the face of the waves. He throws on a rash guard and grabs his board. Walking out into the waves, Tom feels the cold, salty water as it rises up his legs and fills his shorts with the harsh reminder that nature is harsh. Tom paddles out about twenty feet before the first line of white water collides into his board, pushing him back toward the beach. He struggles to stay on top of the board and wipes the salty water from his eyes. Another wave is approaching and he has to work hard to maintain the progress he's made so far. The next wave hits him and it's big enough to knock him from his board and into the cold, salty water below. He scrambles to climb back on top of the board and digs into the water with his cupped hands, breathing heavy. This continues for about twenty minutes. Ten feet forward and 5 feet back for about 65 yards out into the ocean.

Eventually Tom duck dives under the last crashing wave and emerges from the cold with a clear horizon. He is exhausted from the struggle but tells himself that the ocean is a wild force and he will never tame it. But he wont be tamed by it either. Tom sits on top of his foam and fiberglass surfboard looking out on the horizon. In the distance there are more waves building and a few clouds but mostly its blue sky for as far as the eye can see. Tom checks the pier and he can see that there are a few guys at the end but not many fishermen out this early. A wave shows up about 100 yards in front of Tom and he can tell that from the shape of it, this may be a good one. He turns on his board and faces the beach. The wave is now about 50 yards out and Tom paddles fast toward the beach. The wave builds behind him and he can almost feel it's energy but mostly he feels the rush of adrenaline in his blood as his heart beat quickens. Eventually the wave catches up to him and Tom can feel it pushing him forward. He looks left and right and the peak of the wave is rising to his left, about twenty feel down the face from his position. So he stops paddling and angels the board to the right. Tom pushes down on the deck of the board and he can feel the speed of the wave as he begins to fall down the face of the crashing wave. He quickly finds his feet below him and stands up. The rush of adrenaline fills his brain as he glides down the face of the wave and turns at the bottom to avoid pearling the nose of his board. He cuts back up the face of the wave and the board slows down. Now he is back at the top of the wave and moving slowly to the right. He points the nose back down toward the

beach and begins to pick up speed again. The sensation of weaving back and forth on the face of a moving wave is unlike anything else in life. It feels like he is dancing with God. The wave closes out and Tom is thrown down to the bottom of the wave. His board flies up into the air like a bottle rocket. Tom's face slams into the sandy bottom of the ocean and then the wave crashes onto his back, pushing him down again and holding him on the bottom. His ears fill with the ocean water and then all the force of the wave rolls him along the bottom of the ocean pushing the air from his lungs. Tom panics for a second, not sure which way is up or how far down his. He need air soon and hopes that he chose correctly. Swimming for his life he rises up to the surface and gasps for air. He feels the rush of survival for a few seconds before remembering that another wave is about to crash on his head and he can't find his board. The wipeout seems to have ripped his leash in two parts and his boad is 120 yards away and on its way toward the beach without him. Tom paddles toward the beach and gets tossed around a few more times before he gets there. When he finally does reach the beach, Tom finds that his board was broken in half by the for of the wave and he is not happy. Tom sits on the beach for about 20 minutes, catching his breath and thinking about his life. Chapter 17 Why is he still in Orlando? Why is he still doing meaningless jobs for little pay? If the politicians

and bankers are shamelessly looting his country, why does he put up with it? Tom doesn't have any good answers to these questions. He feels powerless and shamefully insecure about his future. Tom hates this feeling and wants to do something about it. but has no good vision of what that would be. He carries his surfboard back to his truck and swaps it out for his fishing gear. Tom takes his fishing gear and carries it out to the end of the pier. Unfortunately, Jose doesn't look to have showed up on this day. Tom say hello to a few of the other regulars and sets his bucket down in his regular location. After dropping his net into the water a few times, Tom is able to catch a few small mullets for bait. He cuts the first of these small fish into little bloody parts and after wrapping his hook around one of them, he throws the line out into the deep waters below. Tom sits back down on his bucket and sets his eyes on the thin clean line. Back in Orlando, Jane is sitting at her computer and working on a new design project for her new customer. She likes designing original fonts when the customer is willing to pay for it and this customer has agreed to sponsoring a custom font on their new menu and logo project. Jane loves working with local restaurants on developing logos, websites and especially menus. Her love of food and cooking are helping as she considers which font to use for this Greek restaurant. She thumbs through her old design books looking for regionally appropriate font types from the mediteranin area. After much searching, Jane comes across TK which is perfect for this customer.

Jane loads the basic style of the font and then begins to adjust the subtle details of the spacing, length and curve of each letter. The goal is to convay the flavors of the chef in the words on the menu. Jane hopes that the readers of the menu are able to taste the food simply by looking at the ingredients as they are listed in the menu. Jane's roommate unlocks the door and walks in carrying a bag of groceries and talking on her cell phone. "Yeah I know. What a creep. I can't believe that he called her again. I hope she kicks him in the balls, next time he stops by." Jill said. "Okay, talk to you later bitch." the cell phone. Jill said hanging up

"Hey girl, whats new?" Jill said to Jane as she dropped the bag of groceries down on the counter. Jane is working on an Apple Probook on the breakfast bar next to the sink where Jill had placed her groceries. Jane is wearing her geeky looking glasses, with tortoise shell frames and the silver link chain that spans the ends. "What's happening with the crazy stalker kid?" said. Jill

"Tom and him talked on the phone and Tom thinks that he's just a scared and lonely homeless kid." Jane said. "Serial killers are scared and lonely, until they start killing people." Jill said.

"Did you tell Stuart that this kid is still bothering you?" Jill said "No, not yet. Tom wants for us to sit down with this kid and explain that we are willing to help him but don't like him stalking us." Jane said. "So, I figured we would try that and see if it stops the problem." "Fuck that. You should call Stuart and tell him where the meeting is set to be. Then he should show up and arrest the kid." Jill said. "Thats not a bad idea." Jane said. "Do you think that they can arrest him for the cell phone tricks?" "It's worth a shot." Jill said. "This kid is probably insane and he may try to kill you. "I don't think that he is dangerous. Tom says that he's just a strange kid that is looking for someone to help him." Jane said. Chapter 18 Tom sits on his bucket thinking about what it must be like to grow up on the streets, the way Canaan did. Did he starve? Was he forced to fight and defend himself on a daily or weekly basis? Was he cold and wet when the weather went bad. Or did he just jump around, from city to city staying with random shelters or friends? Either way it must be a very hard way to live. He is so young to have had to go through so much pain and yet he doesn't seem to be angry or complaining. Tom thinks, maybe he likes it. What if this kid just prefers to be out there. He has no bosses, no bills, no responsibilities, no commitments. It's like he is a native human living in

the midst of domesticated variations. Canaan is more human than Tom is. More equipped to forebear hardship and to survive no matter what happens to him. Then Tom catches himself feeling jealous of this homeless kid and shakes his head surprised at how easy it was to slip into that level of nonsense. Jose walks up, sets his gear down and leans over the railing next to Tom. "You're here early." Jose said.

"Yeah, well I got laid off from the Home Store last week." Tom said "Good for you." Jose said. "Maybe now you'll think about getting a real job or starting your own venture." "Easy for you to say." Tom said.

"There's nothing easy about it." Jose said "Life is all about starting over again and again. The goal is to learn something along the way. This isn't the end of something but the start." "That's good. I'm starting.... lost." Tom said. "What do you mean?" Jose said. I'm starting to feel

"It seems like there is no justice and that taking is the best way to get ahead in life. Look at all these crooked politicians, bankers, and such. They aren't concerned with doing good. The people who focus on goodness are all broke and holding their hands out to the crooks." Tom said. "I just don't know if I have the animal instinct to take like they do."

"Why are you trying to "take" like they do when you can make something. Something unique" Jose said. "I know some wealthy people from Miami and they are not happy. But they have everything. Is that who you want to be? Rich, angry, bitter, jealous and weak? Or do you want to be happy, with our without riches? "You're right." Tom said.

"Do what makes you happy and be someone that you respect. Thats my advice." Jose said. Tom nods and looks back out on the water. There are seagulls flying down into the water and then back up into the air. They keep swooping down to pick off little fish from a school of thousands below. Each time one of the seagulls hits the water, the school of fish splash around, panicking and all of them flock to the right and then back to the left. But the birds from above are watching as the school moves a few feet in either direction. Tom feels like this recession is like that foolish school of fish. Everyone is worried and blaming someone else but no ones behavior is changing, just moving like a herd from right to left. The smart fish would dive and get away, which is what Tom wants to do. But where would he go? Tom is sure that he doesn't want to be like everyone else but he hasn't decided who he truly wants to be. Jose only fishes for an hour or two before standing up and announcing that he needs to head back to the house for his grand daughter's birthday party. Isabella is turning 8 and he wouldn't miss her party for the world. "Good Luck and keep me posted." away. Jose says as he walks

Tom keeps fishing for another hour or two and then as it is getting dark he packs up his stuff and heads back to the car. When he gets to the car, he notices that his cell phone is blinking. He has 8 messages. Chapter 19 Tom gets the truck started and rolls out of the parking lot, while he calls the voice mail application. The first message is from Stuart. Stuart sounds troubled as he explains that the background check for the kid came back and he doesn't exist. There is not record of a Canan Leiman in New Orleans or anywhere. Stuart suggest that the boy is providing a fake name to Tom because he is hiding something and that they need to stay away from this kid. The next message is from Canan saying, that he would like to meet with Tom today to discuss his plans. He leaves a phone number for Tom to call. After that there are two messages from Jane both are about how Stuart called her and explained that the boy was using a fictitious name and that she feels that they need to turn the boy over to the police. He next message asked where Tom was and why he didn't tell her where he was going. Then there was three blank messages from three different numbers each on hanging up. the final two messages were from Jane, each one demanding that he call her immediately and that she is getting worried. Tom calls Jane back as soon as he hears the last message and she answers the phone crying. She is at Tom's house, sitting in his living room with Stuart.

They are both worried about Tom until he explains that he was fishing at the pier. Jane describes that after her second call in the mid afternoon, she drove over to Tom's house to see if he was alright. The front door was wide open when she arrived and the puppy was sitting in the doorway. She called out for Tom but no one answered. She walked inside and noticed that the camera screen was up on Tom's computer. All of the files were open and there were numerous seperate windows for each of the cameras open. Someone was trying to erase the video files from his computer. Jane said that she heard a noise in the bathroom, someone flushing the toilet. Jane quickly moved from the computer to the kitchen to grab a frying pan and before she could turn around the boy was running through the living room and out the front door. Jan screamed and slammed the door shut, locking it in a single move. She then called Stuart and yelled for him to come over impermeably which he did. Tom told Jane that he is so sorry for not being there that he was on his way. He sped up in the diesel truck on the highway. His next call was to the phone number provided by Canan. Before Canan could say a word, Tom yelled, "What the hell were you doing in my house? What happened to being friends?" Canan started to studder again saying, "I, i, ii, I'm sorry. It was a bad idea." "Why were you there? How did you get in?" Tom said.

"I was t,t,t trying to erase m,m,m,my face f,f,f,f from your cameras." Canan said. I d,d,d,d didn't t,t,t,t take anything." "I know but you scared the shit out of Jane." said. "I, i, i, I know. I'm s,s,s,s sorry." Tom

Canan said.

"Listen, I understand that you are on your own and need some friends but I don't think that Jane is comfortable with you being around. So I suggest that you go back to Louisiana." Tom said. "I can't go back yet." "What? Why not?" Canan said.

Tom said.

"Not yet."

Canan said as he hung up.

Tom called him back a few times but the voice mail went to someone else's phone. It makes sense now, that Canan is stealing other peoples cell phones and using them for a few days or weeks and then throwing them away like a disposable. Tom realizes that this kid is on some kind of mission and wont be turned away so easily. This means that Stuart is going to have to find where he lives and some reason to arrest him or issue a restraining order. Chapter 20 Tom arrives home and Jane with Stuart by her side. at him, wrapping her arms that it's okay and not to is sitting in the living room She looks up at Tom and jumps around him. He tells her worry.

Stuart suggests that Tom call him in the morning and they can discuss what can be done about the break in.

Tom and Jane sit in the living room and have a long talk about what to do next. Jane wants to find where this kid is staying and have him locked up for a long time. Tom agrees that they need to find out where he is staying and that they will look into the options of how to file a restraining order or something. Tom thinks about telling Jane that he spoke with the kid on the phone only two hours before but decides that this would just complicate her thinking on the matter. Jane told Tom that she was not happy with how he is so non-chalant about this stalker and how angry she is with him. She asks how he can just disappear for a day at the beach when they are being haunted by this creepy kid. "You didn't even think to tell me where you were going." Jane said. "I'm sorry. I just wan't thinking." Tom said.

"You're never thinking." Jane said. She explained that Tom is often doing things without asking her if she wants to come along. She also tells him that he needs to be more focused on protecting her and not just thinking about himself all the time. Tom defends himself by saying, "Wait, wait, wait. I'm always asking you if you want to go to the beach. Remember a few weeks ago, when I pleaded with you to go fishing with me." "I had a party to go to that day." Jane said. "Your not getting the point. I need you to focus on me more. Jane stood up and looked around for her purse. Tom could see that she was not happy and so he walked her

to the door and leaned in for a kiss. walked away.

But Jane just

Closing the door, Tom realized that this was not going to be easy for them to get back to normal as long as this kid was around. He sat down at his computer and started searching for different ways that they could prevent this stalker from bothering them. He read articles in Women's Health magazine and in Police Quarterly. Most of the existing literature available was written for women that were being stalked by ex-lovers and ex-husbands. Tom felt that this was not directly applicable to their situation. This kid was motivated by something else. But what, he thought to himself. He started reading about homeless kids and found a website all about homeless kids and why they end up that way. Many of the kids are from families that abused them or families that were involved in substance abuse and passed these coping mechanisms onto their children. Tom thought about his own childhood and how he had it so good. Tom's mother was the sweetest mom in the world. She put her family above all things and bent over backwards to give them every chance she could. She would make breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks if that is what they needed. Many times Tom remembered leaving his PE clothes at home and his mom would always bring them to him and never seemed to complain. Tom's dad was just as supportive, showing up at all of this games. He was a hugger and this is why Tom is so quick to hug people, even new friends. Tom's dad was the neighborhood dad. Every Saturday, he was willing to go and throw the football or drive them to the gym for some basketball. His dad often would play one on

one and they had so much fun together, that Tom feels sorry for a kid like Canan. Why did he end up the way that he is, living on the streets and wandering around like this. It's not fair. Tom wants to help him but not at the cost of his relationship with Jane. The next day doughnuts in and get back and smiled. Tom knocked on Jane's door with a box of his hands. He wanted to fix this quickly to where they were. She opened the door "Mmmmm, thank you." Jane said.

They sat down at her kitchen table and ate doughnuts, while watching some cartoons. Jane was wearing here pajamas and looked so cute. After they finished eating a few of the doughnuts Jane said, "Tom I've been thinking and I think that we should go together to meet with a couples counselor just to help us through this rough patch. What do you think?" Tom thought this was a stupid idea. But he said, "Okay. If that's what you want to do. Let's do it." Jane smiled and said that she had an appointment already for Monday afternoon. Would he be able to take off work a few hours early. Tom thought about his new job at the carpet cleaning business and said, "Sure. I'll call them today to confirm but it shouldn't be a problem." Chapter 20 They walk into the counsellor's office and are greeted by the secretary, who says, "Have a seat right over there. Dr. Martinez will be with you soon."

Tom and Jane both grab a magazine and sit down in the waiting room. Jane has a magazine about weddings and Tom has a book about sail boats. After about three or four minutes jane says, "I am so happy that you are willing to do this. I think that it is going to really help us. I have seen Maggie for years and she is just wonderful. You're going to love talking with her." "Yeah, I can't wait." Tom said.

A little while later, the door opens and a large Hispanic woman with glasses and a sweater vest walks through the door. She walks right up to Tom and sticks out her hand. "You must be Tom. Maggie said. "Oh, you have?" I've heard so much about you."

Tom said.

Until this moment Tom didn't even know that Jane was seeing a counselor. Now he is starting to feel like he has walked into a sweet smelling trap. Dr. Martinez hugs and kisses Jane on the cheek and Tom can tell that Jane is feeling better already. They three of them walk into Dr. Hernandez's office and sit down. Tom and Jane are sitting together on a large purple couch with pillows on either end and two blankets on the back rest. There is a box of kleenex's on the coffee table in front of them. Dr. Hernandez is sitting beside them in a leather office chair. Behind her is a large desk and a wall full of books. On Maggie's desk is a ton of picture frames. It looks like she has a collection of picture frames one of every shape and size known to man. There are photos of

her husband, her kids, her grandkids, her friends, their families, their grandkids, and on, and on. Photos at the beach, photos at campsites, ball games, reunions, graduations, weddings, proms, and on, and on. Tom turns from the photos and looks Maggie in the eyes. She is smiling at him when she asks, "So Tom, why do you think that you and Jane are having problems in your relationship?" S-I-L-E-N-C-E Tom looks at Jane and then at Maggie, both of them are waiting and it feels like he should know the answer to this question but he doesn't. He looks around again, as if looking at Jane might jog his memory. Sensing that he is struggling for a response, Jane suggests that they thought it was time to come in and talk with Maggie about the future and to get it all out on the table. Maggie smiles, nodding her head. Jane goes on to say, "I feel like Tom is a great guy and I am so lucky to have him but he doesn't appreciate me in the same way." Tom looks at Jane surprised to hear that she is so fond of him. He had never heard her say this type of thing before. Tom finds his que just in time and says, "Not true. I do appreciate you. Very much." Jane said.

"Then why won't you tell me you love me?" Tom clears his throat. "I have said that before.

Haven't I?" Tom said.

"Not that I recall." "Well I do. ever known.

Jane said.

Jane you are the most amazing woman I've I do love you." Tom said.

Jane smiles and grabs a Kleenex from the coffee table in front of them. Maggie says, "Great. That will be $75 and let's meet again next week. Just kidding. But seriously, there must be something else going on here." "There is a crazy homeless kid, stalking us." said. "What?" Maggie said. Jane

"Yeah, he started stalking us while on vacation in New Orleans and then followed us back to Orlando. Now he is getting dangerous. And Tom is not taking it seriously" Jane said. "Hold on one minute. I am taking it seriously." said. "It's just that I think that this kid is reaching out for help and not a serious threat." Tom

"He broke into your house and hacked my cell phone. How much more serious are you waiting for him to be?" Jane said with some anger. Maggie interrupted and turned to look at Tom. you think this kid wants from you and Jane?" "What do

"I don't know. That's the problem." He said that he was not willing to leave us alone until.... Tom stopped talking and realized that he was going to have to explain himself speaking on behalf of the kid. "What?" Jane said loudly. "When did he tell you this?

Maggie and Jane are both looking at him with wide eyes and Tom recognizes that he is treading on some thin ice. He goes on to describe the phone calls on his phone and the voice mail, the phone call, etc. Jane is pissed that Tom tried to keep this from her. Maggie agrees that they need to get all of this out in the open and deal with it together. "If this is the most difficult test of you relationship, then you really need to work together to resolve it quickly." Maggie said. Have you guys contacted the authorities yet? Because my husband has a friend on the force." Maggie said. "Yeah, I have a good friend, Stuart who's a detective and..." Maggie sits back with a shocked look on her face, "Stuart?" she asked. Tom watches Jane's expression change when Maggie says Stuart's name. "Yeah, Stuart is a detective and we asked him to look into it." Jane said. "Well what did he find?" "Nothing yet." Jane said. Tom still confused by the response Jane gave about Stuart turns his attention to Maggie. "The kid hasn't threatened or hurt isn't much to do. We could file a but in order to do that we need to address for him, which we don't." "He comes and goes like a ghost." anyone yet so there restraining order have a physical Tom said. Jane said Maggie said.

There is a gentle knock on the door and Maggie's assistant pokes her head in to let Maggie know that

there is another patient waiting for her scheduled appointment. Maggie informs her that they are just now wrapping up. She apologizes to Tom and Jane and suggests that they meet again next week. Jane looks at Tom and He agrees. Maggies hugs both of them and tells them to be strong and to trust each other. "No more secrets." out of her office. Maggie said as Tom and Jane walk