Chapter II

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With a familiar squeaky creak, the glass doors at the entrance of Rendlesham Hardware slipped open. As Dodger made his way inside, he heard a familiar voice greet him. Dodger stepped out of the cool morning air toward the cash register to see a bright eyed young man with fiery hair and a welcoming grin on his face.

"Good mornin' there, Fort." Dodger nodded toward the hardware store employee.

"Mornin', Dodger! Did you bring my camera back?" Fort answered, setting down a clipboard and leaning toward Dodger.

"Sorry, I've had a busy week with work. Why don't you come by my place later to pick it up? There's something I wanted to ask your help with," Dodger scratched his mustache and looked away uncomfortably.

"Yeah, sure. What did you have in mind?" Fort stretched, being far too energetic for that early in the morning.

"I was taking video with the camera but the files went missing. The camera says it's all been corrupted so everything I recorded is gone," Dodger answered sheepishly, his sentence trailing off, becoming quieter and quieter.

"Aw, yeesh. That's a real bummer. Sorry to hear that. It wasn't anything important, was it? What were you videoing anyway?" Fort questioned, obviously distressed. He couldn't stand the idea of the camera equipment he let Dodger borrow becoming broken.

"I'd rather not talk about it here," Dodger shifted uncomfortably, unable to make eye contact with Fort.

"Ohhh, right! I gotcha. I know what you mean." Fort nodded enthusiastically before patting Dodger on the shoulder.

"Huh? You know what I mean? You know what I was videoing?" Dodger's head snapped up to meet Fort's gaze. Could Fort possibly have figured out Dodger's secret?

"Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Don't worry, your secret's safe with me," Fort reassured the then panic stricken Dodger. In an instant, his heart began to race as his hands became cold and numb.

"Uh... what do you think I've been videoing?" Dodger stammered, trying to keep his voice down. His eyes darted left and right to make sure no one who could recognize him would be within earshot. His lungs tightened up as Fort uncomfortably locked eyes with him. How did Fort figure out what Dodger was keeping in his basement? Did his new electric lock and metal security door fail? When did Fort see what was down there?

"Weird sex stuff, right? Don't worry. I won't tell anyone. It's normal for guys to experiment as they get old," Fort reassured Dodger as if he were some kind of doctor. In that moment, Dodger's eyes widened as the air evacuated entirely from his lungs. His body temperature just about dropped to freezing point as his jaw dropped.

"What in blue blazes? No! Dagnabbit, Fort! That's not what I've been videoing. Jeez! Why would you even think that?" Dodger sputtered, absolutely aghast. He could barely get the words out of his mouth.

"Huh? But then why's it such a secret?" Fort trailed off, absolutely befuddled by what Dodger could have been hiding. His eyes drifted up to the ceiling of the hardware store as his face scrunched up in frustration. What could Dodger have been so desperate to video but couldn't talk about in public?

"Just come by my place when you're off work and we'll talk about it then," Dodger coughed out, struggling to regain his composure. Fort nodded and agreed enthusiastically as Dodger marched off aimlessly into the isles of the store. With fists balled up tightly, Dodger tried to clear the echo of Fort's words from his mind. What did Fort mean by "old" anyway?

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