Chapter 2 - Stalking

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"I have Chinese!" Dad yells as he walks through the front door.

I swipe the last little bit of peanut butter out of the jar that I bought yesterday, then I greet my father.

"Hey Dad! How did the hunt go today?" I ask cheerfully. Peanut butter always brightens my mood. My father lost his job about three months ago and has been scouring half the state for one ever since.

He looks at me and smiles. The skin around his eyes crinkle as a result of age. "I found a few people who are willing to offer me a few opportunities to make some money."

What's that supposed to mean? "A lot of money?"

Dad shrugs. "Money."

I smile. I guess even if it isn't a lot, it should help lessen the load. I have been working two jobs for as long as I have been able to work. I am currently working as a cashier at the store I got my peanut butter at and at a strange store at the mall that sells incense, candles, soaps, tarot cards, and other things of that sort. There are a lot of strange people that come through there. A lot of Wiccans.

I check my watch. I have to hurry up and eat the food my dad brought me so I can walk over a block to start work.

I pick up my white, styrofoam box filled with rice and sesame chicken and go at it with a fork. There's no sense in chasing individual grains of rice around for hours with chopsticks. The delicious flavors of sweet and salty dance around in my mouth as if they are partying. The rough, yet tender texture of the chicken mixed with the smooth, little grains of rice creates an interesting feel to add to the wonderful flavors.

Too soon, I finish my takeout and have to go to work. I grab my ring of keys that has both the keys for Anthony's and the keys for Madame Christina's Spiritual Specialties attached to it.

I step up the first stair to the fully-finished attic and yell up to my father, "Hey, Dad, I'm heading out to the store! I get off at ten! Love you!"

I hear a reciprocation of my love and then I walk down the stairs and out of the back door to where I walk a block back to Anthony's. I swear I can feel someone watching me as I walk, but I write myself off as crazy and head inside.

Ricky, my very lazy, very high, coworker slouches over the counter as if he can't be bothered. I walk over to him and tell him he can go. He gathers a few things and then heads out, leaving me to start my shift.

I sit back on the stool behind the counter and wait for about an hour for my first customer to come in. It's two boys about twelve at the most. One holds a crinkled twenty in his fist. They both pick out a Gatorade and a snack-sized bag of chips. They check out and then race each other out of the store and I assume to back where they came from.

+++

Another three hours go by and I'm glad that my shift is over. This job is a lot more boring than the other. At the other, at least I can get a bit of interesting people watching in.

Anthony, of Anthony's, walks in the door causing it to ding. He steps behind the counter and scratches his beard, "You can go now, Diana."

I nod and walk out.

The group of guys that "mugged" me yesterday stand around the back of the store again watching me.

I can't resist. I stop and taunt them, "What? Did you realize that you were shitty muggers and are trying out stalking instead?"

A few laughs come from the crowd. They approach me and today, I don't freak out even though there are a few more guys with them.

I pull out my wallet from my pocket. "So which do you want today? My library card or my punch card for the coffee shop downtown?" I've been stalking a job application for an over-the-summer job at that specific coffee shop. They get pretty decent tips because it's closer to the nice side of town.

"Neither," says an older man who steps forward. He was not here yesterday. I would have remembered him. This man has dark hair that's even darker than mine, but not quite as black as his eyes. He is, by all definitions of the word, intimidating.

I try to keep my cool but I feel my confidence fading. "What do you want then?"

"Are you Diana Saunders?" the man asks.

"Yes," I say, glancing to the guy who stole my school ID to figure that out. I address him when I speak, "Didn't you relay the contents of both my driver's license and my student ID to him?" I gesture to the old, scary guy staring me down.

"I did. He just-" the guy starts.

The scary guy cuts him off, "I just wanted to make sure the information Hunter supplied me with was accurate. He tends to mix things up." The scary guy shoots a very scary glare at the guy who took my wallet, Hunter.

Hunter's face turns red with anger. He stomps over to where they were standing next to the fence muttering, "One time! It was just one time!"

"Is that all or do you want to waste more of my time asking questions you already know the answers to?" I ask, trying to anger him. He shows absolutely no signs of anger. He just smirks and seems satisfied with my response. This is even more scary than if he were mad.

"Fiesty. Perfect," he says turning to the guys around him.

I shiver. This guy is a creep.

"I'm gonna go," I say with a tight, little wave. I walk off, knowing without a doubt that they are still watching me.

These people are starting to creep me out. Much like the other, rougher local gangs do.

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