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Vector of Fear

by Ryder W. Miller

Eddie looked at the door to the garbage disposal room which was now open, but he decided there was nothing he could do about it this morning. He was running late on his way to work and could not make time for a dangerous confrontation. What if they were waiting for him on the other side of the gate he thought? They could get rid of him in the garbage bins and nobody might see him for a couple of days. They would be long gone on a cold trail before anyone did anything about him being missing. He would have to figure out another way to solve this problem.

It sure did seem like it was easy for him to get killed these days. It was his lifestyle choices to some degree, but he did not want to make the accommodations. He did not want to adjust or conform. He wished to live his life the way he wanted to, but now he needed to make some changes so he would be less easily to do away with. He didn't really know if he was a dead man walking, but he could be.

Who would do it? There were people he had met during the last few decades of work who may want to do him in because he was a writer. They would be afraid that some of the crap that people talked about at work may come out someday. People had all these awful things to say about each other at work, especially when one was being talked down to. That was at least the case for some of the jobs he had. Maybe they feared that he would write them down one day? It was a risk to take it, but it was also a risk to fight back. These were more than insults, they were actually accusations. One could also call the insults allegations, but there would be people who would believe them even if there was no proof. One had to worry about those people saying those things for the rest of their lives. Those who said them had to worry about retaliation. They could say that they said them first. If one became famous there could be all sorts of things remembered. Eddie realized that he was in a superior position being able to write about things, but others could change the game and the odds. If one wrote them they were providing proof of the fact that they did the slander. People had turned the game around on him.

Then there were all those sneers around town. He might be making the sneers back, but not consciously. He would try to keep them to himself, but that was not always really possible. That was why he had the beard. He wanted to keep his emotions to himself. Maybe others were having the same problem. In research people seemed to be more vocal. In sales people made more of an effort to be friendly; he preferred that better to the nastiness. Eddie figured if two people talked and were polite and friendly that it was an accomplishment of sorts. That did not always go over in east. People were less concerned about politeness compared to really knowing what one could expect from others. Maybe people were being disingenuous and you needed to be careful because such people could surprise and kill like in the mafia movies?

Life could be a long time and there was plenty to worry about. As one got older things seemed to accumulate.

There was one thing to living a good and clean life, but was that still possible for adults? Much of what learned in childhood also had to be forgotten. There were also the saboteurs who would divert one from the strait and narrow. After one had lost those type of battle one would also likely get in other people's way. Maybe he would have to?

But now he felt like he needed to make an adjustment.

Maybe they were sending him messages? There were all sorts of strange things that he found on his doorstep. It was almost as if someone was reading his email and listening to his phone calls. It was not clear to him who would be doing it. The CIA had been accused of such things before? They probably could make someone read his email. There was a fair bit of press about the loss of civil liberties during the Bush years? He even remembered one time at the library where there was a notification on the screen that a third party could read his email. It sure made him feel vulnerable.

Maybe it was his madness to make these connections or maybe this was a secret way of communicating? In the movies everything was made clear. This was necessary because young people were also watching the movie and they needed to understand. But were these messages on the street or had he not recovered from being crazy? Part of the problem with being paranoid was that you took too many things personally. One could joke that one's fears were legitimate, but it was not a funny joke to make. It was wry and possibly true. He thought they were likely true, but maybe he was being a brat even if they were true? Things were just the way things were in the big city.

This town had become a vector of fear. He figured he was now realizing what things were like if you stayed in one place for too long. Why there would be people who figured you out. There would be more resentment and hate. Others would understand your motives and actions. One would be more predictable. There also were more opportunities to annoy and antagonize people. One did not necessarily know who one's enemies were. Even a small sleight could have ramifications. After time one would forget, but one could not expect that of all the others.

One had to pay attention more closely to what was going on. One could no longer relax. One would remember such lessons from the movies. Hell it was a dog eat dog world.

He wanted the good times, but maybe he lived his way out of them.

One of the downsides to living in a popular neighborhood was that all sorts could walk by one's door. It was not like living in a quiet part of town where people could observe all the people who walked down the street. Why one could call a stranger suspicious in those parts of town. Here one had to contend with neighbors knowing who you were and where you lived.

Life had now caught up with him. It was not like he deserved this he thought, but he did need to make a change. Was this karma? He did not believe in such things, but there sure seemed to be repercussions. It was not likely tit for tat, but it sure did seem like he regularly got to understand what other people were thinking or had gone through.

Why those doors to the garbage were open was not clear, but he did not keep close track to when the garbage was picked up. Maybe they were picking it up today. There was no truck there now though. Once in a while there were people who parked downstairs, but he had been looking and nobody showed up.

This morning he would leave the doors to the garbage cans open and deal with the bus stop. That was a whole other vector of concern. He worried about people knowing when he would get there. He kept somewhat of a predictable schedule. Others who used the bus may also know where he lived? Others had complained about bus stops, but now it was new and fancy again. There also had been art at galleries in the city about this vector. Eddie like the fact that there were a few regulars who used the stop and that the police from the station only a few blocks away drove down the road in front of his house in the morning.

Would the rising sun stave off the problem this winter? Would it send the "evil" spirits away? There were also the evil spirits to talk about, but that was a different story. That would came later. Now he would just focus on crime. The rain could keep things safe.

It was hard to know where on the chain one was. Eddie did not know if he was being tailed or if he had been made part of the investigation. He could either be the suspect or witness? It did seemed like he was being protected, but he did not know by whom. He had lost some friends recently, but he was not sure if there was a connection. He did not know if this had anything to do with him.

And then there were the dangerous open spaces, especially for one who walked alone.

A relative asked if she could visit and he thought it was not a good idea. She visited anyway. It was fun, but scary at times. He realized that she could not save his life. He was writing this to save his life.

He decided he would have to make some accommodations. That was what growing up was about. A story about staying at home when it was dark would make a great horror or crime story.

He decided to commute with others, take less walks alone, and spend more time at home. He would also throw out the garbage when the sun was out.

Most of the people on the streets were asleep when he got up earlier and earlier to go to work. He decided not to stay out late either. Safety had it's price.

Copyright Ryder W. Miller 2011

Ryder W. Miller is the editor of From Narnia to a Space Odyssey, and co-writer of San Francisco: A Natural History. He has published stories at MythCircle and the Lost Souls website.

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