[11] Under Surveillance

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MAVIEL

MAGING ANG second floor, hindi nakaligtas sa pagiging obsessive-compulsive ni Manager Jameson. He noted how the couches were off by a few inches and the painting on the wall that was slanted. He was paying too much attention to details!

Ako na ang kumuha ng chamomile tea para sa aming kliyente. She introduced herself as Miley Cipriano, a special education student. Pinainom muna namin siya ng tea para kumalma ang tila nababagabag niyang isipan.

The manager sat on the solo couch while Nikolai and I settled down on a longer one. The client was seated across the table, exactly opposite of our boss.

"Maviel," tawag niya sa akin sabay tanggal ng kanyang salamin. He started wiping the lenses with his handkerchief. "Why do you think our client here has a stalker problem?"

I thought only Sigmund would put me in an on-the-spot question and answer portion. Pati ba naman ikaw, manager?

Dahil ang boss na mismo ang nagtanong, I had no choice but to answer. Kailangang maging maingat din ako sa isasagot ko, baka mapahiya ako sa kanya.

"Nang pumasok siya sa cafe kanina, lagi siyang lumilingon sa likuran. The uneasiness she was feeling earlier might be due to the fear that someone followed her here." My eyes were fixated on the client, trying to deduce something from her appearance. "Based on her features, it isn't surprising kung may magkakagusto sa kanya to the point of obsession."

"And that obsession led to stalking," Nikolai finished, crossing his arms across his chest. "Same with online stalking. Hahalughugin mo ang lahat ng social media sites para makilala pa ang target mo. Aabangan mo ang mga post at tweet niya araw-araw."

"Good observation, part-timer. You are showing some potential." The manager was busy cleaning his eyeglasses, I thought he wasn't listening. "My turn. Our client here has a number of admirers which, as Maviel pointed out, isn't surprising. But recently, one of them has frightened you. Maybe he acted unsual and alarming. Tama ba?

Kumurap ang mga mata ni Miley habang iginagala ang tingin sa aming tatlo. Hindi siguro siya makapaniwala na nagawa naming i-deduce kung ano ang problema niya kahit wala pa siyang isini-share sa amin.

"Ga-Gaya ng sinabi n'yo, sanay na akong magkaroon ng mga manliligaw. But this week, something happened." She took an envelope out of her shoulder bag and slid it on the table. "Someone sent me that thing noong Tuesday."

Binuksan ni Nikolai ang envelope at inilabas ang mga litrato mula rito. We were suprised to see photos of our client only wearing her undergarments. At the back of one photo, the following words were written:

I apologise for the intrusion. I can't help but admire your beauty. It would be such an honour to meet you face to face.

"Mag-isa akong nakatira sa isang apartment ilang street mula sa campus," garalgal na sabi ni Miley. Her hands were fidgeting. "Ang pinagtataka ko, paano niya ako nakunan ng photo sa ganyang angle?"

"Walang ibang tao sa apartment mo noong mga oras na posibleng kinunan 'to?" tanong ni Nikolai, kinuha ang isa sa mga litrato at tinitigan nang malapitan.

Umiling ang kliyente namin. "Imposibleng hindi ko mapansin kung may nagtatago sa unit ko. Studio type lang kasi at walang pwedeng pagtaguan sa loob."

"What kind of lock do you have?" he asked next.

"Doorknob lang."

"Did you notice anything strange on its surface? Weird scratches na wala roon dati?"

Muling umiling ang aming kliyente. "I thought that someone might be trying to break in. But there was no indication."

Why was this case familiar? Ah! The incident of the missing wolfsbane in the greenhouse! Wala rin daw nakitang kakaibang scratches sa padlock. Either someone with a key opened it or someone who's good at lockpicking did it.

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