Everything was quiet. The only sound to be heard was my own nervous breathing. I looked at the doorknob, realizing my hand was gripping it tightly. I took a deep breath and allowed myself to relax. I reached for the sliding chain, and clicked the lock into place.
I never have done well confronting those who interrogate me, but this was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Requesting to stay in someone else's apartment isn't totally unheard of, but going all the way to the top floor to do so makes little to no sense at all. Also, something about the way he talked seemed like he wanted to talk to me in particular. I highly doubt that he actually went through every apartment building asking if he could stay with the multiple different owners. He would have surely been kicked out if that was the case. Saying I wasn't interested in his "long story" would undoubtedly be a lie, yet something about the whole situation turned me away from listening to it.
Curiosity got the best of me and I leaned forward, pressing my ears against the door to listen for any movement outside.
I heard nothing.
Instead of forgetting him and leaving the door, I began moving towards the peephole for closer inspection. I turned my head, preparing myself for whatever I may see, and looked through.
I saw the man, "Simon" as he called himself, standing outside the door. He looked slightly worried in the same sporadic manner as his initial introduction. I got a feeling he didn't completely know what he was doing. His actions seemed very unprofessional, possibly justifying his bizarre choice of room to invade. I came to the general conclusion that he had never really done this sort of thing before, but the reason as to why he was going about it through this particular course of action was still very unclear.
He looked around in pretty much every direction, hesitantly pacing around with uneven steps. He stopped for a moment, obviously thinking to himself before he eventually left my slightly extended field of vision.
I took it upon myself to begin my own little private investigation on the subject. My genuine curiosity would not allow me to do otherwise. It would probably be for the better, to be honest. Surfing general news boards and reading mediocre headlines wouldn't provide me with the information I needed, so I couldn't do any of my remote investigation until I had a manageable setup.
This operation would just have to begin a little bit differently than those in the past. I quickly looked around my room for any sort of starting point. My eyes immediately landed on the telescope I knew so well.
It sat within the small bit of sunlight that leaked through the curtains. I rushed over and quickly opened them, revealing the rest of the world beyond my window. I turned the small handle and slid open the door. I moved outside onto the balcony, making sure to bring my telescope with me.
Directly below me I could see a strikingly large amount of cars moving through Collingwood Avenue. I slowly shifted my gaze upward towards the horizon as the rooftops of the buildings across the street came into view. I turned a little to the left and spotted the gigantic park. From the looks of things, there seemed to be a pretty massive event happening down there.
This sort of thing was very unusual, and because of the situation, very interesting.
I angled my telescope towards the trees and leaned into position.
The park came into view and I slowly pointed my telescope around, surveying the area completely. From the excessive amount of people walking their dogs around, the loud music playing, and the giant poster reading "McAllister Park Dog Festival", I feel like it was pretty easy to assume what was going on here. This also would explain the unusual amount of cars rushing about.
Today really isn't a good day to investigate. Businesses would be crowded, people wouldn't have time to stop and chat, and the music...
On second thought, I would probably be able to move around without being spotted. I would be one of the masses, just out enjoying a festival. That way, our unknown man wouldn't be able to find me so easily... Yes... Maybe...
I decided on going out. There were plenty of other things I could do during this time away from my apartment. I returned to my desk chair one final time and sat down for a moment, thinking to myself in silence. There wasn't really anything I needed to bring along that I didn't already have on me. I did one giant final scan of the room, searching for anything else that could be of use. Upon finding nothing of the sort, I made my way to the front door once again. I slid the little chain lock out of its position, opened the door, and left my room.
I moved down the small cramped hallway with caution. Any sign of our mysterious "apartment squatter" and I would have to change things up a bit. Luckily, I managed to make it all the way to the bottom of the winding staircase without a single encounter. Everybody must be out with their dogs today. I made my way through the crowded streets, steering clear of the festival for now. It wouldn't help me at all, really. Maybe if I needed to disappear, but I doubt that would need to happen. People seem to forget my existence quick enough as it is.
Instead, I went in the opposite direction. The street that lead towards a coffee shop close to the edge of town. Its a very small place called Chivo's House, owned by none other than, well... Chivo. He opened the place on his own and has yet to pass it on to someone else, not that he needs to.
I slid through the crowd of people, mostly looking at my feet the entire time, until I was right next to the door. I turned the handle and entered the room.
The quiet atmosphere was relieving compared to that of the outside streets. The smell of assorted hot beverages the barista had concocted drifted throughout the entire room. I took my seat at a table not far from the bar itself and looked at the menu beyond the counter. Hot tea sounded very nice. My gaze drifted to the right and I noticed the price. $4.00 for a cup. This is when the sudden horrific reminder kicked me directly in the teeth. I was essentially broke. I had no money with me at all.
How on earth could I have made such a mistake!?
My short moment of panic had me frantically turning around and looking in every direction for a source of redemption for my own foolishness. I was enraged at my own self, determined to find a solution.
"excuse me ma'am is everything alright?"
The man behind the counter was giving me quite a questionable look. Yes, I lost control of myself for a moment. That happens a lot more than I would like to admit. I would like to imagine I had a look of maniacally distressed anger and self loathing running throughout my entire body. It was only logical for the man to be concerned. I made no effort to reply and instead immediately looked to the floor and began thinking things out in a more logical fashion.
Ignoring the barista, I looked around the room and took note of every person in the front end of the store. One man sat in the very corner reading a book, history from the looks of it. A young girl seemed to be asleep on the couch by the window, completely detached from her environment. It was oddly relatable in a sense. The rest of the people seemed pretty average, looking on laptops or reading newspapers. It was only once I turned to my side that I noticed one very important person. She was a middle aged girl standing near a public ATM beside the bar. I had met her before.
I used to work part time at a grocery store back before I moved to Collingwood. During my less than awesome experience bagging groceries and cleaning up after careless customers, my working hours were only brightened by the one friend I managed to make on the job. Her name was Penny Lane, and she made a connection with me like no other. The only issue is that it was all for show. You see, she was a con artist of sorts, and I was a victim of her schemes. Through a complex method of manipulation, she somehow convinced our boss to fire me and give all my previous paychecks to her.
Essentially, she stole a the two things I have never accurately experienced, money and a genuine friendship.
To add insult to injury, Penny Lane deleted her profiles on every form of social media and changed her phone number. She then disappeared from my life.
Her sudden reappearing happened to occur at an incredibly convenient time. I needed money, and she hadn't seen me yet. Perfect.
I waited patiently for her to finish doing whatever money management, probably involving stolen currency, she needed to do. After a good, solid minute she turned away and headed toward the back of the shop, passing by me completely. Considering she skipped the bar, it was safe to assume she was headed to the bathroom. I would now make my move.
I got up from my chair and casually walked over to the ATM. Judging by the outdated interface, it was probably manufactured sometime around 2002. I have found that the older something is, the easier it is to manipulate. An ATM from 2002 would be absolutely no problem.
Instead of swiping my card like any normal person would do, I began my process by taking my cellphone out of my pocket. I ran an application I had programmed a couple years back. It does a scan within a general radius of the phone and displays any potential systems I can take control of remotely. After completing the scan, a couple things showed up on the list, the ATM being one of them. Its menus provided me with a range of useful information. The key bit here, was the "Last used by:" section. The one in question's name was clearly displayed as Penny C. Lane.
I knew it. I wouldn't ever mistake her. Not a chance.
I proceeded to gain her access codes along with a very large chunk of other personal information. Then I got to do what I had wanted to do for a very long time. Using my cell phone in combination with the access codes I had just acuired, I successfully broke into her bank account.
I wasn't surprised to see a scarily large amount of money in her posession. Most of it was probably money that had been stolen, if not all of it. I took no hesitation in removing a good two thousand dollars from the girl's posessions. I wasn't worried about her finding out now. I already knew too much for her liking.
I put the money in my pockets and turned around. Everybody seemed to be caught up in their books, computers, and newspapers to put any bit of care onto a woman using an ATM. Spectacular.
I walked away from the ATM and returned to the barista. He looked at me with a bit of awkward confusion about him. I stood before him full of confidence and pride. I smiled at the man and spoke my one request.
"One hot tea please. I'll leave the flavor to you."