<She's hiding something.> The voice said in my head.
I know she's hiding something, but what is she hiding and do I really care? I was doing a house call in a quiet suburban neighborhood. The area looked worn, like it had seen its fair share of decades. The houses around here were all in good shape, but everything around pointed to the neighborhood being past its prime. The particular house I was in belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They were the average, common, American nitwit. Their computer was hosed. I poked around on it pretending I was doing something to stall for time. Sally looked in her late thirties and worn down. She was also keeping an eye on me. She kept fidgeting as she watched me do my thing. Her husband Chuck was either working or somewhere else, but he wasn't home.
<She's hiding something about her husband.> The voice teased.
So what, I don't care! Shut up!
<Her husband has violent tendencies.>
Does he beat her? I wondered. She didn't look like she had been roughed up. I should just reformat the drive and get this over with. I don't want to be around violent people.
<There is evidence on the computer.>
What kind of evidence of violence would there be on a computer? Bah, its none of my business.
<She is unaware there is anything incriminating on the PC.>
Again, none of my business. Leave me alone. But if she wasn't hiding something on the computer then what was she hiding?
<Look in the basement.>
And how am I going to look in the basement? I am here to work on the computer, not take a tour of the house. Just go away!
Sally spoke up for the first time since I started working. "Do you think you can fix it?" She almost sounded worried.
I faked a concerned look and said, "Most likely, but you are going to need a new hard drive. I have one in the van I can install if you want me to do it now."
"Oh I see. Well go ahead, might as well get it over with while you are here." She said. It was obvious she didn't have a clue what I was talking about.
I made a move for the door, hoping that by saving the hard drive that would appease the voice in my head. Just then the phone rang and Sally excused herself.
<Down the hall, the door on the left. Quick while she's busy.>
Shit! I don't want to go snooping around in someone's house. Still, it wouldn't be the first time. I followed the directions, opened the door, and hit the light. I was half way down the stairs when it hit me how serious this was. Against a wall was a work bench stacked with what was unmistakably explosives and enough ammo to supply an army.
<Her husband is planning on bombing a bank.>
Double shit! Why me! I ran back upstairs, shut the lights off and was out the door in a flash. I cant just leave that would be too suspicious. I rooted around in the van until I found that extra hard drive and built up some courage. I grit my teeth and swear inwardly. I want to get this over with ASAP.
Back in the house, I power off the old junk box they use for a computer and rip it open. Out with the old, in with the new. Its over and done with in a minute. I power it back on, pop an old pirate copy of windows in and run thru a standard install. Now I just have to sit through it and wait for it. This part can take some time depending on the speed of the computer, and this clunker looks like its none too speedy.
<Her husband will be home in 18 minutes.>
Not enough time. Argh why did I waste so much time earlier. I slid the old hard drive inside a static bag and tossed it in my toolkit.
Sally interrupted my thoughts, "How's it coming?"
I nearly jumped out of my skin. I didn't hear her enter the room. She shocked me back to reality. She didn't know I knew anything. Just play it cool. "Good, just setting it back up for you. Should take maybe another half an hour." I hope my voice didn't betray me.
"That certainly is quick."
Not quick enough.
"So have you been doing this for a long time?" She asked.
No, no small talk, I don't care about you, you don't care about me. I hope to be out of her and never see you again in under 20 minutes. Instead I said, "About three to four years now." I faked a smile and turned to focus my attention on the progress bar slowly inching its way across the screen. Move faster you old piece of junk computer!
<Ask her about her kids.>
No! I don't care about her kids, I don't want to hear it. Shut up and leave me alone! Shut up!!!
Against my will I felt words forming on my tongue and being pleasantly ejected from my mouth. "I saw a picture in the foyer, are those your children?" A mocking ruthlessness consumed the fore of my consciousness.
You psychotic piece of mental refuse. Get out of my head!
She started to mist up, "Yes, they were. They both died in a car accident."
<She's lying. They died of drug overdose. They were a couple of crack heads and she blames society for their problems.>
"I'm sorry." Awkward. Gee, Thanks.
The computer was rebooting. Finally, the end is in sight. I finished the configuration and installed the hardware drivers. Everything was up and running but there was nothing on it, all their software and files were on the old hard drive. I'll pretend to not care. It wont be hard. They might not even notice.
"All done. As good as new." I said as I stood up, eager to be somewhere else. Anywhere else.
She already had her checkbook in hand. Good.
<She has a negative balance in her checking account. Her check is worthless.>
"How much do I owe you?" Sally asked.
"Ill throw in the hard drive for free since I had it just laying around. $30 for my time will be good." I said.
I didn't want to have to write up a bill I knew wasn't going to be paid and the $30 seemed a lowball figure she wouldn't argue about. Id be glad just to get out of there. Hurry up!
"Well that's certainly nice of you, I'll be sure to recommend you to all my friends."
Yea thanks but no thanks psycho.
<Look who is calling who a psycho.>
I opened the door to leave just as the husband was arriving. He was a short wiry man with a think mustache. He wasn't too scary. I bet I could take him. He extended his hand and looked expectant. I hate this part, disease ridden scumbags always want to spread their germs.
I switched my toolkit from my right hand to the left and grabbed his hand. I met his gaze and held it as I introduced myself. No choice about that really. I should start using a fake name for my business. Sally told him I just finished fixing their computer, his eyes left me and went to his wife.
I stepped back and said "Nice meeting you, let me know if you have any further problems with it."
He went inside, I turned to go. Game over. Whew, at least that was over.
I got in my van and found some sanitizier wipes to clean my hands with. That done, I pulled out of the drive. Driving through town I passed a number of banks and vaguely wondered which one was the weirdo's target.
<The office building of first national.>
When I got home I hopped on my own computer, logged into my brokerage account and bought a bunch of short options in that banks stock.
Some people are so disturbed.