Chapter 15 - April 5-7, 2003 - Episode 4Listen to podcast
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“Yes!” says Dom. “YES!” He slams his right fist into his left palm, gets up, and almost dances around the kitchen.
“Vhat is it, liebchen?” asks Alte. “I’m glad to see you happy. You deserve it.”
“Can’t explain, but I’ve got help,” says Dom. “I’ve got the help I need. Now I can do it.”
“Good, liebchen,” says the old lady. But Dom is already hunched over the computer working furiously.
“No,” wails Dom. “No! Shit! Can’t be!”
“Vhat, liebchen, vhat is the matter?”
“I can’t get in! I’m locked out! I’m stuck.”
“Who locked you out, liebchen? Who would do that?”
The old lady’s voice seems to calm Dom. “It must be Kevin,” he says. “It must be. I taught him how to do the lockdown. Now he’s done it. Shit!”
“Why would this Kevin do this to you?”
“I doubt if he thinks he did it to me. Something must have scared him, made him hit the switch. But I trusted Donna… Not Kevin, too.” Dom looks as if he’s close to crying.
“This is a computer thing?” asks the old lady. “This lockdown is a computer thing?”
“Then you can fix it,” she says. “You can fix anything wit computers. Even I know that.”
“I would have to break it to fix it,” says Dom. “And I made it so it couldn’t it be broken. It was only for use if something happened to me. I made the lock. Kevin just closed it.”
“You vill open it. I know.”
But Dom can’t. He’s now been without sleep for thirty-two hours, not that unusual for him, but wearing. His head is on the kitchen table in despair. Occasionally he tries a few keystrokes or mouse clicks, only to look away again at the result.
“There’s no way,” he says. “I can’t.”
“Yes you can, liebchen, you always can.”
“But…” says Dom, “this time I beat myself.”
The old lady says nothing. Dom puts his head back down. Then suddenly up, staring at nothing. “No,” he says, head back down. “I can’t ... I can’t do what…”
“What?” asks Alte.
“I can’t get into the building,” says Dom. “I mean the real building, not the network. I can’t; the cops are guarding it. And, even if I did, they must have guards in the building. They must be watching. I couldn’t be in the halls. I couldn’t … I can’t…” His face is white.
“You can’t vhat, liebchen?”
“I can’t crawl through the pipe. I can’t. It’s too close, too tight, too dark. I can’t.”
“You can,” she says decisively. “Ich weiss … I know you can. I saw you. You saved me. I vill help you…”
“How can you help me?” asks Dom, miserable.
“There vas a story,” says the old lady. “There vas a story from vhen I vas a little girl. There vere two animals — a lion vas one, I know, the other I think vas a mouse. One day the lion didn’t eat the mouse. And the mouse said: ‘Thank you. Thank you for not eating me. One day I vill help you.’ And the lion laughed that the mouse vould help. And he forgot. But one day the lion got a big thorn in his foot. And he couldn’t run around any more like a lion and he couldn’t catch anything to eat. And the mouse came and she took the thorn out of the lion’s foot with her sharp little teeth. And she said: ‘See. You shouldn’t laugh vhen someone says she vill help you.’”
“How will you help me, Alte?” asks Dom.
It’s just after midnight. The cop at the backdoor of the building in which hackoff.com is located is cold and bored. He’s alert though. Detective Mark Cohen, himself, has told the officer that the suspect likes backdoors.
An old lady shuffles past him; there have been several during the night, although not as many as there would’ve been in the days before Giuliani somehow reduced the street people population. A minute later, the old lady screams. The cop turns, but she has gone out of sight into a small alley. There is no question where the screams are coming from. He runs into the alley and has his gun drawn by the time he gets to the still-screaming bundle of rags.
“Get him!” she screeches. “He hit me! He knocked me down. He took my purse! Get him! Is everything I have.”
“Where? Where is he? Are you alright?” The cop’s flashlights shows no apparent wounds on the old lady who is struggling to her feet, and nothing in the alley but trash and … something moving. A rat.
“There,” she says and points to a dark corner. The cop runs there with light and gun ready. Nothing but the scrappling of claws.
“No! He’s there! Get him!” Different direction. Same result.
The old lady is in tears. “He has taken everything, all. I have nothing, now; nothing.”
“Come on, grandma,” says the cop. “I’m gonna call an ambulance. Then we’ll get social services. They’ll take care of you. You’ll be all right. Fucking predators — excuse me, ma’am. It just gets me upset. But we’ll take care of you, okay? Don’t worry. And don’t cry.” He is a kind man.
“No,” says the old lady. “Nein! They can’t take me away. Don’t let them. No!”
“They’ll HELP you, grandma.”
But she won’t be persuaded. She won’t even wait for the backup to come so he can bring her in to file a complaint and try to ID her attacker. “He vas big,” she says. “He has a very vhite face and a very black beard and cold black eyes.”
She finally scurries off despite his objections.