Chapter 2 Page 4 of 4

Now she was angry. Those large dark eyes were piercing into me, with a sparkle that hadn’t been there moments before. Her nostrils flared and her breathing came in shorter intervals. Her lips were drawn tight. Yet she said nothing, waiting. I felt thoroughly disarmed. Was this the same woman? Was this the woman that had appeared so uncaring yesterday on the way to her interrogation at the bank? Despite my best efforts to remain collected I found myself shrugging sheepishly.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said, “things didn’t turn out quite the way I planned.”

“PLANNED!?” She was on her feet now, facing me with her hands on her hips, her feet spread wide. I was still seated and this, combined with her own height, meant that her eyes bore down on me from above. “I don’t know what your plan was, but I sure as hell hope it didn’t turn out quite the way you planned! What were you trying to accomplish?”

She didn’t give me a chance to reply as she continued to berate me. Her hands were on her hips and she was bent forward with her chin chutting outward. “The police say that thousands of dollars were stolen. Are you the one that was messing with the transmissions? Do you know that tampering with electronic banking is a serious federal offense?

“Did you just pick a person at random and decide you’d see if you could completely screw up her life?” Her eyes burned into me as she now waited for a response.

“No,” I said, “I didn’t pick a person at random. I didn’t pick anybody. The fact that you were singled out is the part that I still don’t understand. It wasn’t my doing. Really.

“I don’t even know you,” I continued. “I never saw you before yesterday. I came here today because I want to help you. If I’m going to help you then I need to understand why only you were affected by the bad transfers.” I was talking fast, on the defensive, and I could see that I wasn’t helping my case. Her face was twisted in utter contempt.

“So tell me again why you want to help me. If you are the one behind all of this then that hardly gives me the impression that you are the most humanitarian person around,” she jeered. She quickly added, “why shouldn’t I call the police or the bank immediately? You can talk to them. And before you get any ideas, one scream from me and the landlord and his staff will be in here before you can get out of that seat.”

I glanced around and could not help but notice that the place was deserted. I had no intention of harming her in any way, but that last comment was clearly a bluff and I began to worry that she would cut our conversation short unless I put her at ease.

“Look”, I said. “I’m not going to do anything. You can call the police if you like. Or the bank for that matter. I’ll tell them what I know, they’ll ask some more questions of you, and together we can all try to work this out. But I don’t think anything will be resolved if we try that.” I needed to placate her, and do it quickly before she gave up on me.

“The situation is actually quite complicated,” I continued. “I really don’t know what is going on myself. One thing I do know however is that dragging First Chicago and the police into this matter at this time might not be the best way to proceed.”

“And why not?”

“Because First Chicago’s role in all of this is pretty suspicious.” I raised my hand to cut-off her reply, having already realized that I’d left myself wide open to another barb about my own suspicious behavior.

“As near as I can tell,” I explained, “you were singled out as a result of their actions… or at least their reactions to my actions. Yet, they are investigating you as if they don’t realize this. They should know full well that you were not actively involved. This is the part that I don’t understand,” I said. She let out an exasperated sigh and shook her head, rolling her eyes slightly.

“Look,” I said as I spread my arms wide imploringly, “if we are going to get anywhere with this, you’ll have to let me explain everything from the top. But this isn’t really the best place for that.” I glanced across the room at a middle-aged couple that stepped out of the elevators and headed for the door.

She let out a short sigh, looked at the clock on the far wall, and said, “OK, you’re right. But you’re not coming up to my apartment. Do you have any suggestions? Would a restaurant be OK?”

“Perfect. I’ll let you pick the place; I don’t live around here.”

“There is a small restaurant down the street. They have good seafood. Why don’t we go there?” she suggested. I nodded and she continued, “It’s still too early to eat now. Come back in about two hours. That’ll be 6:15,” she said, doing my math for me.

We agreed to meet again in the lobby at that time, as I wasn’t exactly sure where the restaurant was and it seemed easier to walk over together. I got up and offered to shake her hand as I prepared to leave. She shook my hand lightly and we went our separate ways — she headed back for the elevators and I headed off to kill two hours.