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Friday, July 31, 2015

Page 34 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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When the strange homeless man had gone away, out of sight but very much in mind, Dave heard his sister say, "I can't believe you invited a homeless stalker to our condo."

"He's not a stalker," Dave said.

"He followed you to Laguna Mojado... or... God, what if he followed me? I could have been killed."

"You're overreacting."

"That man is crazy. Can't you tell?"

"He came to watch me race. Why does someone do that?"

"He's not normal," she said.

"Doesn't that make you even more curious?"

She gazed up at him from the towel while shaking her head, probably not even aware of her body language. "You're a freak. It's like you only care about racing."

"So what?"

"So do you think he's going to help you somehow? That guy?"

"I'm not talking to you. See you."

As Dave turned heel and left, Francy scrambled to her feet, collected her things, then hurried to catch up.

"I'm not staying here alone," she said.

"He's harmless."

"What if he comes back?"

"What if he followed you into Mexico and you didn't even know it?" Dave said.

"You're scaring me."

"He's not scary, and if he wants something it's from me, not you."

Francy made it to the elevator before Dave. He had to hurry, or she'd have let the door close and force him to take the next ride.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Page 33 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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It took a while for Inigo to pull his dangling feet from the water. He couldn't believe his luck. Dave Boarder had come downstairs to the beach on the lagoon, which presented the perfect opportunity to approach him.

But Inigo didn't want to blow it. He felt a nervous twitch in his legs and shoulders. The water didn't help one bit. He'd only get one shot at this. He had to try to persuade Dave to do something. It wouldn't be easy. He had no guarantee of success. And all the pressure made him self-conscious about his appearance, how he might move, and stand, and how he would sound.

By the time he'd mustered the courage, and approached Dave and Francy on the sand, he hoped his erect posture would ameliorate the soiled appearance, and the clothes of an unbathed homeless man. He wished he could have shaved too.

"Dave Boarder?" he said, then cleared his throat. It had come out like a whisper. "Excuse me. Dave Boarder?"

It sounded stiff and formal he knew, but that would do. He hoped Dave wouldn't sense his fear, or the way his heart had begun to pound.

"What do you want?" Dave said. It sounded unfriendly, hostile even.

"I'm sorry to disturb you. I wonder if I might have a word."

"We are having a word," Dave said.

"You don't know me..."

"No," Dave said.

"I had the pleasure the other day of watching you race..."

"Where?" Dave's eyes narrowed.

Inigo felt he had gained the young man's interest, though perhaps at the expense of whatever trust, of which there couldn't be much. He cleared his throat, lest what he say come out like a whisper again. "Twice," he said, and cleared a frog out. "Twice this week. The police were there the first time."

"Did you call them?"

"No, no. I simply happened to witness your remarkable performance. By accident."

Francy said, sharp and low, "He's homeless. He lives under the LandBridge."

"We won't be doing that anymore," Dave said. He looked away, as if to end the conversation, then kicked the sand. It formed into a little wave that held its shape.

"The other time..." Inigo said, then caught himself because his voice rose an octave. He felt things slipping away. He had to control his voice. "I mean, the second time I went to Laguna Mojado." It came out a little lower, closer to a normal tone.

"You were there?" Dave said.

"Yes sir."

"I remember seeing you. That was you?"

"Apologies." Inigo put out his hands, a gesture of surrender.

"How did you know I would be there?" Dave said.

The distrust again. Inigo felt it.

"Can we talk somewhere more private?" Inigo said.

"Do you also know where I live?"

"Yes sir. Up there." Inigo pointed up the side of the tall LandBridge. If one knew where to look, one could see the Boarder balcony above them. "With everyone else."

"Meet me there. Five o'clock. Can you manage that? Do you own a watch?"

"I can tell time," Inigo said, and it felt like sticking his toe in the door and planting it there. For the first time he'd asserted his dignity.

"You're not coming in looking like that," Francy said. "No. You take a shower, and put on some clean clothes first. Shave too."

"Yes ma'am. I will."

A silence gripped them all. Inigo couldn't let it get any stranger. They might cancel on him. "Have a good day. I'll see you at five. Milady." He tipped an imaginary hat to Francy, then swiveled, and walked away, without a clue where he might pick up a clean set of clothes.

As he went, he heard Francy say, "He is really weird."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Page 32 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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The lagoon in front of their home serviced a community of 7,000 souls. The main channel bisected the lagoon and cut a water passage to the north side by going underneath the LandBridge. The arched roof of this channel reached only half the height of the largest ones, so the biggest boats, and the widest floating islands couldn't use it. The residents of Aldrin generally liked it this way. They considered theirs a quiet, bedroom community.

In addition to all the wet garages, tackle shops, service stations, and rental rooms that fronted on the breakwater, the community had partitioned off a public swimming pool with concrete sides and polymer-plastic sand that looked and felt almost like the real thing. The difference lay in how the sand had a self-adhesive quality which kept it from accumulating at the deep end of the pool. Instead is remained spread out on the slant to give the swimmers and sunbathers an actual beach to rest upon.

Just a large, glorified infinity pool, the beach sat tucked against the safe side of the breakwater, so it faced the LandBridge from across the lagoon.

As long as Francy could sun herself she didn't care much for the water. The hybrid sand felt weird between her toes when it was wet. Since the beach had no waves, it wasn't really a beach at all. She preferred to swim in the pool upstairs, topside.

Since she could sun herself topside too, she'd gotten accustomed to coming down to sea level for one reason alone, to meet boys. She'd met Pegleg on this beach, after he tried a double flip off the high dive, then dripped cold water all over her when he'd seen her notice him and came to say hello.

Today it was Dave. He came and stood where he blocked her sun. Trying to get her attention, obviously.

"What?" she said.

Dave dropped his knees to the sand. Francy had to shield her eyes from sudden exposure to direct sunlight.

"Is he alright?"

"It's all over. Why shouldn't he be?" She looked the other way and rested her cheek on the towel.

"Did he say anything?"

"He just wants to forget about it. It's over." She adjusted her body to press into the contours of the sand beneath her towel, and felt the little sand-sized pellets shift. She couldn't get comfortable. Dave would have to leave first.

Instead, he came around to sit in front of her face. At least he stopped blocking her sun.

"Where do you think Ajax got the money?" Dave said.

"He's secretly rich," Francy said.

"I mean seriously."

She lifted her head. "I don't know. Maybe he has friends. Lots of people put money away for a rainy day. Maybe he just had it."

"It was a lot of money. I had to borrow almost as much for my first semester tuition."

"Why don't you ask him?" she said.

"Can't. You know how he is." Dave tried to lift up a chunk of hybrid sand in his fist. It clung together like soft, hot taffy, then held its shape in a narrow spire when he let go. He pushed the spire down to flatten it into the beach where it began.

"Do you know that guy?" Francy said, and with her chin indicated a pier that fronted a wet garage across the narrowest part of the lagoon.

Dave turned and saw what Francy had seen. A homeless man sat with his feet dangling in the salt water.

"He looked away," she said.

"Was he staring?"

She nodded. "Do you know him?"

"That guy?" He cast upon her a highly skeptical smile of disdain.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah," Dave said.

"He's coming over."


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Page 31 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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They rode to Aldrin in silence. The barest minimum of talk occurred between Dave and Francy, just enough to let him know she intended to stay with Pegleg until he got home. Dave hoped she might have something interesting to say about the day after she got a chance to talk with her boyfriend alone.

When Dave reached his front door, he found Ajax waiting for him, raking leaves in the front yard.

"Go out on the porch. Wait for me," Ajax said. It sounded ominous.

He grabbed a Thai iced tea from the fridge, dropped into one of the deep-cushioned seats outside, and hoped the comfort and the cool drink might ease his anxiety. When Ajax arrived a few minutes later, he slid shut the glass door before finding a seat. Dave had downed all but the last dregs of his drink.

"You need a primer on why things are the way they are," Ajax said.

"I know."

"No you don't. It's true you'll be a legal adult soon. You'll have to make choices as that comes along. But there'll be consequences, and not just for you."

"Okay," Dave said. "What's your biggest fear? Let's start there."

Ajax relaxed. He seemed glad to find Dave so receptive.

"Do I need to remind you how your parents were murdered?"

"No."

"Have you forgotten the three attempts on your own life before we went underground?"

"No."

"Do you need something more than that to motivate your silence... and cooperation?"

"Maybe."

"What does that mean? Are you going to go off and live a large life if things don't happen your way?" Ajax said.

"We don't know who tried to kill us. It was probably the same person, or people, who got Mom and Dad, but we don't know. Weren't their deaths ruled accidental? An industrial mishap?"

Ajax stared at the ground. He took a deep breath. "Soon you'll be on your own. I recognize this." He looked Dave in the eye. "But there's Francy, and there's Hep to consider."

"I am considering them," Dave said, feeling the anger rise.

"Then what do you want? Or better yet, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to do what you want," Dave said.

"Good. Thank you."

"But I'm also going to do something else. With your help if I can."

"What's that?" Ajax said.

His guardian's last few words felt like acid pouring on his bones, but Dave needed to go forward. "I want to investigate, find out what really happened, so I can know who or what we're running from."

"Why?"

"Because otherwise we'll never stop running." Dave could see how his words gave Ajax pause, but he needed to continued, and said, "Or hiding. Living like refugees."

"We've been that for a long time," Ajax said.

Dave nodded, and said, "Too long."

Ajax looked at the floor again. He stared and then, after making an apparent decision, he said, "I'll help you, but I want you to hold off for a little bit. Let things quiet down first."

"Can we do it before I go to Wellesley?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Deal."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Page 30 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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While they waited on the tube benches, Francy had a fire-free cigarette. The water vapor she exhaled hovered like a cloud above the platform and drifted over the tube track.

"It'd be cool if you could make funny faces in the cloud," she said.

"You're getting addicted," Dave said.

"A little nicotine never hurt anyone," she said.

"A lot of nicotine can."

"And you can crash driving a jetter around the pylons."

"Doesn't matter. I wasn't talking about your cigarette anyway," Dave said.

"Do you like him?" Francy turned the cigarette off, and let it drop in her purse.

"Yeah. I trust him... except maybe with you."

"It's cause of me he let you keep your jetter."

Dave blinked, and realized his sister might have the upper hand in the relationship with Pegleg. "I would not have done the same thing for him, so, thank you."

Francy nodded, which gave Dave a good feeling. They were not in the habit of thanking one another, for anything. Her eyes wandered past his shoulder, then latched onto something behind him.

Dave turned.

Pegleg walked toward them, and without the leather bag full of gold coins. Good news under normal circumstances, except, as he came closer Dave noticed he had a pale, shaken look, like a man ready to break down and weep on the spot.

As he rose from the bench, Dave couldn't help but say, "Did they threaten you?"

Francy moved smoothly into his arms, and let him hold onto her.

"You're alive. You're back with us," Dave had no idea what might make Pegleg open up, so it felt like fishing in dark water for the right thing to say.

"Tube's coming," Francy said. "Let's go home."

Dave hadn't heard it approach. He hadn't been listening for it, and yet there it was, their ride. As it pulled into the station, the tube seemed to offer an escape from danger, the kind that can give you nightmares.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Page 29 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Dave, Francy, and Pegleg shared a private booth on the tube ride to Helena. They flashed past windows over the Pacific, which created a strobe effect punctuated intermittently by wide concrete columns. The maglev train gave them a quite ride too. They could talk.

"I can't believe I'm about to hand this guy five times what it'll cost him to fix his stupid-ass boat," Pegleg said. He had a black leather bag at his feet.

"Expensive bag too," Dave said.

"Who the hell uses gold coins anymore?" Pegleg said. "I mean seriously, I didn't even know they made them."

"Moveable wealth," Dave said. "The guy's a criminal."

The tube ride reached a slow stop. Pegleg stood and held the heavy bag. It sagged in the middle.

"Tell Ajax I said thanks," he said.

"We'll wait on the platform. Westbound," Dave said.

They followed him out of the tube car onto an eastbound platform, a below decks area with expansive window views of the Pacific ocean and Renaissance art on the wall spaces that curved up to the rounded ceiling.

"Just give it to him and leave," Francy said.

Pegleg smiled down at her. He gave her a peck on the lips, and said, "I will," then turned and walked away. It resembled a limp due to the weight of the bag.

As he watched their friend depart, Dave said, "Did you know Ajax had that kind of money to throw around?"

"He's not throwing it. It was an emergency."

"It's gold. Where'd he get it?"

"I don't know."

"Don't you want to?" Dave said.

"It's not my business," Francy said.

She led the way over the connecting bridge to the far platform. They didn't talk on the way. Dave wasn't worried about Pegleg. He could handle himself. Rather, Dave couldn't get his mind off the gold. He wanted to know the source, and wondered how deep was the well.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Page 28 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Dave's room had the usual teenage accoutrements. In his case the living wallpaper sprang to action with scenes from top aircar races, with drivers from around the world. It required only a flip of the light switch to activate every time he entered the room. The names of the legends he knew well, learning them since the age of eight. Dominic Valjean, Marcus de Petty, and Ed Terrence who set the single lap speed record at Indianapolis. Lionel Augstrasse, who piled up more career wins than any AC racer ever. Hiroshi Shumo, who collected the biggest paydays. Chuck Sider, and Alphonse "X-Man" Loretti, both up and comers destined for greatness. He knew them all, their faces, their families, their vital statistics, even their strengths and weaknesses.

Dave lay on his bed, letting a photo finish victory of Ed Terrence over Lionel Augstrasse play over and over as his own mind wandered, lost in a fog. The world, which had seemed so well planned, now seemed full of choices and dangers. Dangerous choices.

He wasn't sure he was ready for the world.

Ajax walked in. He flipped the wallpaper off. All around the room images faded, replaced by beige and boring. It forced Dave to return to reality, and focus on the face of his guardian.

Ajax said, "His name is Vitaly Yorga. He's a Senior Vice President for Grad Consulting. It's a global business. They've faced lawsuits for shady business practices, and criminal cross border weapons trafficking."

"Who is he?"

"The man you can't afford to have anything to do with, all because your friend Grant Woodman thought it was okay to sail through a sailboat."

"I'll call him," Dave said.

"It's too late for that. I'm intervening."

"Why?"

"Because I can't trust you to keep this quiet."

"I have kept quiet."

Ajax nodded, but his smiled seemed forced. "Yes, you have, but this requires a steady hand at the till. Someone who knows how to control it."

"Okay." Dave sat up straighter in bed. "What do you want me to do?"

"Nothing. You're to have no more contact with your friend."

"He's not my friend. Not really."

"Then it should be easy for you to do as you're told." Ajax turned heel and left. He flipped the wallpaper switch up on his way out.

Dave's eyes fixed on the photo finish of Ed Terrence over Lionel Augstrasse, at two one-hundredths of a second the slimmest margin of victory in Le Mans history.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Page 27 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Dave sat on the swing, watching the giant ships follow their gentle course. Off in the distance, one the size of an island moved with the speed of the tide, no doubt a floating vacation paradise, packed with people, landlubbers visiting ports-of-call on the LandBridge.

Behind Dave, Hep had a stick which he tossed for Edward. Edward jumped in the pool and swam for it, and returned dripping to place it at Hep's feet. Again his younger brother tossed it. This time the stick landed in the thick foliage of a maple tree. Edward climbed the bark, fetched, and returned.

Dave's mind remained fixed as a wanderer in the desert with nothing but sand in front of him. He thought about his loss today to Pegleg. Over and over in his mind, it nagged and cajoled him, sometimes a thing to grasp at, other times a haunting specter to avoid, but always present. Did he take the turn too slow? Too wide? Did he use too much time decelerating? Did he hit the top of the curve, or follow the best racing line? Was he good enough?

Recant sauntered out from his private door, across the grass, and found a spot on the stone bench beside Dave. The ropes of the swing creaked, while wind rustled the leaves.

"Your friend is in trouble," Recant said.

"How?"

"Cameras picked up enough detail to identify the jetter that caused the damage. Grant Woodman. Is that your friend Pegleg?"

Dave sighed, letting out a big bag of air. "Yeah. Can they prove it?"

Recant nodded.

"Thanks for the warning. I'll make sure he knows."

"Ajax asked me. He doesn't like anything about what you boys did, but he's determined that no harm should come to you."

"And no publicity."

"You have an official police record now. Can't change that. This is just damage control, and it may be useless in the end."

"Should I be worried someone will come for me?"

Recant inhaled a large breath, then stood and exhaled. "You need to learn from this. You're not like everybody else. You never will be."

"That's not fair."

"No. But it's true."

Dave walked himself backwards in the seat until he could stand. Then he stepped away, and let it swing by itself.

"Pegleg is the one who caused the damage, not me," Dave said. "What can I do?"

"You can tell him, for one. If it were me, I'd advise he turn himself in and offer restitution. You need to make this go away," Recant said.

"Who was he?"

"Who?"

"The owner of the sailboat. The man you're really afraid of."

"Never mind about that. Just call your friend."

Recant's abrupt departure left Dave a little bit terrified.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Page 26 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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"We settle our business outside," Pegleg said, the last words to pass his lips until they'd vacated Laguna Mojado and Flurry had closed and locked the doors.

Pegleg and Dave let themselves drift in among the pylons, even ignoring the sign that identified it as a restricted zone, written in Spanish, but using the common international pictograph of a circle with a slanting bar. Dave wondered if they enforced the edict with as much zeal this side of the border.

"I'm not going to make you walk home, if that's what you're worried about," Pegleg said.

"What are we waiting for?" Dave said.

They drifted toward an old dock and viewing platform, now used only for service and repair under the LandBridge. The place had a widespread, and rather wild distribution of black and white bird poop everywhere. Tar leached from the wood pilings as well.

It seemed like a good fishing spot.

"You won, fair and square. I should have, but you did," Dave said.

"I'm going to say this only once," Pegleg said, "so listen." He put his foot out, touched it to the dock, and prevented his own drift. "You're better at this than me. Right now you are at least. I feel bad taking your ride away."

They heard thumping noises. A door opened. A chain link fence rattled somewhere above, then footsteps came down creaky wooden stairs. Dave recognized the voice of his sister Francy. "It's this way I think," she said.

"We're down here," Dave said loudly, then in a normal tone said, "I got stupid at the end there. I wouldn't make the same mistake again."

"Maybe you would. Maybe you wouldn't. But you're not the only one capable of learning and getting better."

"You want a rematch?"

"I want someone I can race."

"Like me," Dave said. "Cause I make it hard for you."

The entire staircase shivered as footsteps neared. The first pair of feet came into view. Francy.

"I guess yeah," Pegleg said. "Why don't you keep it? I'd rather race you than give it to someone else."

"Cool. Thanks."

Hep's feet appeared behind Francy. She made a point of not touching the poop-encrusted handrail. This necessitated slow and careful steps.

"You didn't report me. That's also why. We're friends," Pegleg said.

Francy had reached a point where she could see them. A big smile beamed from her face. It vanished just as fast as it had appeared. Dave figured she'd worn that look of revulsion from the top of the stairs.

"This place is disgusting," she said.

"You can ride with me, or you can go back up," Pegleg said.

"Can Hep ride with you?" She looked to Dave.

"Yeah," Dave said. "Your boyfriend has done a good deed."

She stopped on the dock between them. "What?"

Hep hopped off the stairs, oblivious to the dirt, and fascinated by everything his eyes could absorb.

"Your brother will live to race again," Pegleg said. "Hop on."

Francy did so, wrapped her arms around Pegleg's midriff, and grinned like a girl on an adventure as the engine hummed, water splashed, and they shot away from the dock.

"Why did you let him win?" Hep said.

"Just stupid at the end. I'll get him next time."

"You're better. You should always win."

Dave curled the jetter into a new angle so Hep could jump from the dock.

When he felt Hep's arms around his waist, he rolled the accelerator.

All told, Dave counted it as a happy day. He had no idea what was coming, and he liked it that way. All that mattered was the next turn, the one he could see in front of him as he approached the open sea.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Page 25 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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The race showed Inigo what he needed to know, that although Dave had a lazy, even casual attitude toward it, he also had a prodigal proclivity, what some might call a talent for the track. One never rose to the point where one could win races against fierce competitors without a ton of hard work, which meant putting in the hours at the amateur events, slogging through the dirty, unrewarding basement of the business. With his gift, Dave had nothing more than an early head start on his peers, on young men like Pegleg, but that early start gave him something to build on, for a real shot at a real career paying real money.

Inigo left without a word. He craved a drink, a shot of his favorite, his rum. Rummy they used to call him. His old friends, more like acquaintances, to a man had all used his disparaging nickname because he had a problem. He'd never thought of himself as Rummy. Never. He'd remained Inigo in his heart. Always. Even when those around him had forgotten, because all they saw was the rumster who slowly destroyed his own life, lost his family, his job, and his home.

With Dave he might have a chance to get back in the game. He could end his sordid existence sleeping where the sea birds liked to poop, begging for handouts, and eating at public soup kitchens.

Inigo let the hope live in him, that through Dave he might end his foolish life, and restore what had been lost for so long. He had to take care in how he approached the matter. Whenever he talked to anyone, they always saw Rummy. Never Inigo.

If Dave saw only Rummy, then Inigo could never get more than his foot in the front door.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Page 24 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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As they accelerated from their starting lines, and Pegleg shot to an early lead in his better AC, a thought rushed through Dave's head. Pegleg didn't care about the race, or not much in any event, except insofar as he wanted to impress Francy. He was after the girl rather than the checkered flag.

He also had an early lead.

Up the first hill, and round the first turn, a full 180 degrees. Dave had to come into it fast by delaying the moment of deceleration until he could close some of the gap between him and Pegleg. A desperate move, and a stupid one, because he had no practical familiarity with this track, didn't know what he could get away with, and ended up in a skid that sent him into the soft concrete wall. Without that wall, he'd have plummeted over the side and lose the race before it really began. As a result, he only fell behind Pegleg and would have to spend the entire race trying to catch him.

A turn this way, a turn that way, out over the water, then in toward the LandBridge, and up the steepest hill, every turn gained him two or three yards. He came into them fast, but not too fast, and out of them early, at the top of the curve, keeping the racing lines as straight as possible. Pegleg had no more experience with this track than he, and the certainty of that gave Dave confidence.

By the time the hit the sixty-foot summit, and they both had to slow to almost nothing to make it down into the final section, Dave's front bumper touched Pegleg's rear.

That last, dangerous, down-sloping left hand turn rushed at them fast. Dave knew he could get past his rival if he gained the inside.

And just like that, he had the lead. Round an easy right, along the final straight, and slow left around the last turn that reconnected with the starting line.

Dave thought he had it, as assured victory, so when Pegleg jammed into him from the left side, about midway through the last bend, and bumped him right off the track, it came as a complete surprise. It shouldn't have, but it did. He felt stupid as he watched Pegleg coast to the easy win that a second ago Dave believed belonged in his own hands.

As he regained the track, and finished second, last, he wondered which of them Francy had favored.

He smiled and waved to his brother and sister in the stands, when his eyes caught sight of something. A shadow. A figure of a man at one of the entrance ramps.

The sight gave him a thrill, and a chill. It scared him until he figured what the hell, he'd already lost his jetter, a second time. It now belonged to Pegleg.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Page 23 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Laguna Mojado had a curly layout. Mostly. It started on a long, uphill straightaway from water level, rising thirty feet as it curved into a gentle dogleg left up soft concrete ramps. This ran smack into a hard left turn, a full 180, then a short burst straightaway, now descending into a reverse curve of roughly 90 degrees. It came down to sea level again as it ran out over the ocean, to the furthest point from the LandBridge. Here it curved back using two left hand turns, each separated by a small uphill straight. As it returned home, the track rose to sixty feet in height, and ended at a precipitous falloff that also cut hard left, then hard right, with just ten yards between the turns. Back down to sea level it continued on a smooth slope which became a sharp left turn that was easy to underestimate in its difficulty. Most wipeouts occurred on this down-sloping curve. Dave knew that from watching some of the races here on local TV. Another right turn, easy this time, a short straight, and the track finally curled hard left to reconnect with the starting line. All told, about a mile and a half of tricky curvature that required excellent handling skills, steady brakes, and powerful acceleration.

Dave had no chance unless he could gain the inside turns on Pegleg, or make the guy overshoot a curve and wipe out. The Nissan Nooner simply had the goods on the Ford Freman. It cost more to purchase, to repair, and to upgrade. It had a higher top speed, quicker acceleration, and better brakes. Dave's only real advantage was in the superior ability of the Freman to handle the g-force, or the torque, around the turns without spinning out. His AC might even have the slight edge in that regard.

It was a big chance to take for just a pink slip. He found himself asking himself why he'd agreed to do this match.

But he knew the answer before asking the question. He wanted to find out of what stuff he was made. Did he have a true skill to match the passion he felt, that amazing thrill that came when he passed somebody who wanted to stay ahead of him, and would try to pass him tit-for-tat if he allowed it?

He was young so it seemed like the right time in his life to try to get answers. The world would intervene and shut down the questions soon enough.

Up in the stands, at sixty feet even with the highest point on the track, came a whistle. Dave and Pegleg had been sliding into position for their start, then waiting for Flurry to man the commencement controls. They'd get three red lights along with three short horn blasts, then all the lights would turn green with one long blast.

Dave looked up to see who had whistled. There they sat, his fans, his family, Francy and Hep. Somehow they'd found out about this little race. Someone had given them the location, and even let them in.

It had to be Flurry. That meant it had to be Pegleg.

Dave figured it out, a little slow on the uptake perhaps, that Pegleg wanted more than to win a race and claim an inferior vehicle as his own. He wanted Francy.

The epiphany came at a good time for Dave. It gave him more incentive to win.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Page 22 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

Francy and Hep rode the tube into LandBridge Mexico. Neither one had a passport or visa, but it didn't matter. At friendly border crossings they accepted biometric data, whether retina scans, hand prints, or DNA samples. As long as they could track your movements, they didn't much care where you went.

Both of them had received different sets of lessons on the perils and the ripe possibilities of international travel since earliest childhood. The school teachers crowed about the benefits of open borders and open trade, how they tended to create prosperity everywhere over the long haul, and helped avoid deep pockets of poverty from forming, such as might arise in sequestered areas controlled by powerful elites. If people could go anywhere, and do anything within reason, they were harder to keep down.

Ajax, on the other hand, had always warned them, forbidden them, from crossing into Mexico or Russia, their neighbors to the east, and west, respectively. If the police could track them, then so could any enemy of the family.

Today they ignored Ajax. Dave had a race against Pegleg. Either of them might lose, or gain, a jetter. With stakes so high, neither could resist the temptation to come and see it first hand.

After they hopped off the tube, they would have to find the place, and someone would have to let them in, but that would pose no real problem. Pegleg had visited Laguna Mojado with his father on many occasions, for the jetter races of course. He knew the way by heart. Ever the charmer, he'd provided Francy with written directions. She took Hep along because he wanted to see Dave race too, she didn't relish traveling alone, and he spoke better Spanish than her.

As they walked the short distance from tube stop to race course, they had no idea that a man had picked up their scent somewhere along the way. They paid no attention as he followed them to the service entrance at the Laguna Mojado ticket office.

They were long gone into the innards when this man stopped the door from closing with his big toe.

He suffered no fear that the others might see him as he entered, because Francy, Hep, and the young lad who'd let them in talked in loud voices that resonated off the walls, while the stranger moved like a silent spider, unseen in the shadows.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Page 21 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

"This was your idea. Do you have a plan on how we get in?" Dave said.

"We wait."

Pegleg let his engine idle as the waves lapped at the buffers, making gentle sounds as they bounced off the invisible force field that kept their rides aloft.

Dave often wondered at the genius that had created these things. No moving parts across the entire slab that formed the flat bottom of every aircar, jetter, or any other machine that deigned to defy gravity. It all ran on weak electromagnetic forces that men had learned to repurpose for the benefit of humanity in its climb and claim of supremacy over nature. So now he could sit on his jetter, flip a button, turn a throttle, and work what anyone a hundred years ago would have considered a magic trick if they saw it on an Internet video.

He needed to rely on this machine, on what he knew it could do.

"Hey Pegleg, you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

"We're not doing anything," Pegleg said.

"What's your real name?"

"Grant. Nobody calls me that, except my parents."

"My sister likes you," Dave said.

"I know."

"I'm still going to beat you."

Pegleg grinned, and looked across the water at the lagoon-facing entrance of Laguna Mojado. He waved.

Someone had just opened a door, and now waved back.

"That's Flurry. His father manages the sales office."

"Is he Mexican?"

"No."

"So he speaks English?"

"Yup." Pegleg zoomed forward.

Dave took his last moments to plot how he would catch Pegleg from behind, then pass him, probably on the turns, with his cheaper, slower Freman. He'd have to do it that way order to overtake the newer, faster Nooner.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Page 20 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

Dave felt nervous, and undeserving, as if every fear of failure, or fear of success, chose this moment to gang-rush and overwhelm him. His hands shook. His eyelids fluttered. But after mere moments of this, he felt a surge of adrenaline. The power of it coursed through his veins. Though the fears remained, they faded into something less significant.

He knew the adrenaline must be helping, but that didn't explain what he felt. In school they'd talked about animal instinct, or animal spirits, and the fight or flight response when confronted by real danger. Here he sat on a jetter outside an empty racing circuit, with no one in sight, no one he could even hear, so where did the sense of danger come from?

From his mind. From his hopes, and those fears, and the choices that had been made for him, or urged upon him, by those who cared about his future. His fear of Ajax, whom he loved like a father, surged like a crashing wave on the edifice that formed the exterior bulwark of Laguna Mojado. And though his jetter could float above the foam with ease, Dave thought if he crossed the threshold into that world that lay beyond the locked entrance, he just might drown.

"Hey."

It was Pegleg, approaching from the canal, silent as a shark, alone, and with a competitive glint in his eye.

Dave glanced at his own machine. They were playing for pink slips. Without the jetter, he'd have to swim, and he didn't know how to last more than a few laps in the pool.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Page 19 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

As he flipped on the power and throttled away from the dock, out the wet garage doors, and across the lagoon, to the channel and the wide open seas, Dave's thoughts gradually grew as big as the expanse that lay before him.

He had to cross three townships, and the nearest US border into LandBridge Mexico, then another five towns before reaching Laguna Mojado. It would take an hour to get there, and an hour or more to return, but he didn't spend much time thinking about the race.

He thought about the engine. It took no small amount of energy to keep it humming and hovering above the salty waves. The nuclear battery needed swapping out once every few years, while the fuel it used, common seawater, floated all about him in abundance. What concerned him today, however, as his mind wandered across random thoughts like a wild ocean breeze, was the amount of kinetic energy dispersed by the motor. The simple atoms that made up the water molecules, cracked open by the anti-gravity process, and then harnessed to propel the craft, caused a massive amount of warming to the air and the ocean around it. With billions of people all over the planet making use of this technology every day, Dave wondered if the environment would heat up.

He remembered from school stories about the global warming scare at the turn of the century. That particular phenomenon faded in importance when the earth and its atmosphere had stubbornly refused to follow the predictions of prominent scientists. Instead, the modern field of Climate Cycles had emerged, and people had grown very, very skeptical of consensus claims by small cadres of elite intellectuals who could control vast budgets with which to intimidate their peers.

Now, in the Aldrin school system, the teachers taught all their student not to believe everything you heard, even if it came from some very powerful people.

Dave's mind gravitated further afield.

He wondered about his own skeptical nature, and his growing disquiet over the direction his life would soon take. Was Ajax the powerful person in his own life for whom he should hold more skepticism? Or was it the school's fault that he wanted something more than the future Ajax thought best?

At the border no one bothered him. He liked that about the LandBridge. Open borders everywhere. No one could draw a municipal jurisdiction line across the shifting seas. The tide could take you anywhere.

So why did it feel like Laguna Mojado meant something? He imagined it as his destiny in a dramatic, self-important sort of way, but also as a fantasy, the way a young boy might play football in his backyard, and dream of making a winning end zone catch with the clock running down and the fans in a frenzy.

Half an hour later, there it sat, Laguna Mojado. They'd taken a standard rectangular lagoon, widened it by a factor of four, then built a racing circuit from water and soft concrete.

Dave almost pooped his pants just looking at it, feeling tiny and awestruck.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Page 18 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

At the police dock, which took up almost an entire lagoon, Dave arrived on foot. He didn't want anyone to plant another microfilament, and he knew if he parked his jetter in the police wet lot, it might tempt an officer or two to try again. At the very least they'd know he'd disposed of the first tracker, because their satellite feed would show his machine resting at home, while their eyes told them it bobbed on the waves right in front of their faces.

The lagoons built into the LandBridge followed the usual structural design, a wide rectangular space bordered by peninsulas of steel at both ends. This gave residents quiet lagoons to live in protected by steep walls on three sides. On the fourth, sea-facing side, protective breakwaters kept out the waves. Large nets kept out most large fish, in particular the dangerous ones, the sharks. A gap in the middle of each lagoon let boats come and go as they pleased, and even to pass under the LandBridge via the ubiquitous north-south channels. These channels bifurcated the lagoons into two parts, typically with one end zoned for commercial and government uses, and the other zoned for residential dwellings and private wet garages.

In the police lagoon, the east half went for administrative offices of the Aldrin City Council. Just topside was where he'd had his court date and learned his fate, forty hours of community service picking flotsam from the traffic lanes, the edges, and the gutters of Aldrin, more than a full week of work.

He approached a short, heavyset woman who stood at the City Council dock. She handed out orange day-glow vests. Several men and women lolled about while wearing them. She had many more vests in a large cardboard box, or draped over her arm.

"I'm here to volunteer," he told her.

"Volunteer?" she said, grinning with a bit of disdain.

"On orders of Judge Vanderhall."

"Put this on. It's an eight hour shift. Lunch will be provided."

"I can only stay four," Dave said.

"This is punishment, not volunteer work. What's your name?" she said.

"Dave. I owe you forty hours. You'll get it, but I have till mid-August to do it."

"Okay, but we only do this on Saturdays, so make sure you put in the hours. There's a heavy fine if you don't."

Dave donned the vest.

Later, as he did the work, though Dave resented the loss of time, stolen from him by a stupid, patronizing law that punished people who caused no harm to anyone, but merely put a scare in them for the statistical possibility of harm, he also felt rather good about the results of the service he had to perform. They had him ride a one-stander, nothing more than a square platform with guard rails and controls for steering. It let him move over the waves at a very slow pace. The one-stander displaced a lot of water, but hovered only an inch or two above it. Much of its energy went toward maintaining balance when the wind kicked up or a big boat happened to produce a large wake.

In this fashion, Dave scoured the edges of the lagoons, picking out bits and pieces of trash that had found homes pressed against the tall walls, or in narrow corners, and among the maintenance gutters that filled the spaces between the numerous wet garages.

He actually enjoyed the outdoor work. The sun felt good. He loved the saltiness, and the smell of the sea. He'd been left alone to clean as he saw fit. No one barked orders in his ear. No one pushed him to hurry.

And he counted every minute to noon, when he could grab a lunch, then hurry home.

The jetter was waiting.

Pegleg was waiting.

His destiny at Laguna Mojado was waiting for him.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Page 17 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

Recant Albatross. That was his name. A name so cool, and yet so bizarre, that one could reasonably be torn between wanting to reward the parents, or to condemn them.

"My parents didn't give me that name," Recant said, and cast upon Dave a sheepish smile. "I chose it for protection. Anyone looking for me is more apt to search for something innocuous. You know, Smith, Jones, that sort of thing."

"You actually chose that for yourself?" Dave smiled back at him, and decided to go with the cool rather than the bizarre interpretation.

"My skills, you know, with the computer and all. Got suckered into a mafia deal, laundering stolen money, or money from stolen property. Got caught, witness protect. All that. They found me though. Sent me a note promising reprisals. Against me, my family, friends, people I knew and cared about."

"Ouch."

"I had to recant. Hence the name."

"They try to kill you anyway?"

"I was worried, but, you know, I was also on my own at that point. Now I'm just laying low, avoiding the public eye. Just like you guys."

"Who warned you?"

"A friend. Told me I had to disappear or they would disappear me."

Dave blinked, then turned to Ajax. "Is that what happened to us?"

"No. And I know what you're thinking," Ajax said.

"What am I thinking?"

"We don't face the same risks as Recant, so we shouldn't have to take the same precautions."

"You going to talk me out of that idea?" Dave said.

"Dave," Recant said, leaning forward, "You should listen to Ajax. He reached out to me, five years ago. Offered to help me hide. He knows what he's talking about."

"You didn't have to grow up with it, this fear of discovery, this... distrust of the world, and what it can do."

"Dave, I want your word," Ajax said.

"On what?"

"You'll stay away from things that could put your sister and brother at risk. Don't race places where you might get arrested. Official records are created. Pictures get circulated and they can be discovered by unsavory people."

Dave looked away. The sun had almost set. It cast long, glittering colors across the Pacific waves, while the clouds that once shielded it hung still in the sky, left behind by its slow and unstoppable progress.

He turned to Ajax again. "I'll try to stay out of trouble."

"Don't try. Do it."

"I still have community service."

"Doing what?" Recant said, amused.

"Cleaning trash."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Page 16 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

Coming off the elevator, which opened into the Boarder apartment, Dave said, "You like beer?"

"You eighteen yet, kiddo?" Recant said.

"I won't be drinking. It's in the fridge."

"Sure it's okay?" Recant said as he crossed the TV area near the door. Next came the dining area, then around a small divider and into the kitchen.

Dave waited near the patio door, and went outside when he saw Recant emerge with an IPA.

Ajax sat in the corner of the balcony, watching the sun set to his right, on the western horizon. Purple, orange, pink, and a darkening white all competed for the prize of most spectacular entrant in the stakes of the sky. The white-haired older man put his book on a table, and propped his glasses on his head.

"How did it go?" Ajax said.

"Community service." Dave sat beside his legal guardian. "Thanks for letting me do it alone."

"You handled it. No fuss?"

"No fuss."

Recant came out with his beer.

Ajax raised his eyebrows. "I didn't know you two were friends."

"Dave came to me with a problem. Just trying to protect his anonymity," Recant said. He sat in a deep cushion chair. "Something I think you would appreciate."

"What's going on?" Ajax said.

"Shall I tell him, or you?" Recant said.

"Arresting officer is working some sting thing. Wanted to use me to find someone else," Dave said.

"You should cooperate, if they keep your name out of it," Ajax said.

"They didn't ask. It was a secret tracker," Dave said.

"I see," Ajax said.

"You don't have to worry Ajax," Recant said. "When it doesn't pan out, they'll have to let it go."

"You stay away from that stuff, that racing, or whoever it was. You see him, you go the other way. Understand?" Ajax said.

"It's no big deal," Dave said.

"This could blow up in our faces. Impact everyone. It's not just you," Ajax said.

Dave felt an anger rise. The same he'd felt when the cops arrested him. "Look, I know we have to stay anonymous or whatever, but I'm almost eighteen, I'm about to go to college, and I don't want to have to do it forever. We don't even know if anyone's looking for us any more."

"Some people never give up kid," Recant said.

"Recant, tell him why you had to change your name," Ajax said.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Page 15 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

Dave took a second before he decided to come clean for Recant. "There's a cop in town who wants to use me to solve a crime."

"It's for a good cause then."

Dave shrugged. "I don't want to help him."

"You got a thing about cops?"

A loud ding reverberated through the wet garage. The sound had emanated from the large front doors, made of a hybrid metal that salt water couldn't corrode. Either someone wanted to get in, or someone dinged the door while passing outside.

Or a large fish hit it. Perhaps a bit of flotsam.

"Let's talk upstairs," Dave said.

"Okay." As they started for the door, Recant said, "You know there are ways to rig that thing to go faster than it can off the rack."

"Tried them already. Just so you know, I don't have a thing about cops."

"You're young. Give it time." Recant pushed open the door.

Meanwhile, outside the wet garage, Inigo the drunk swam in heavy, sodden clothes while treading water in the lagoon. A double breakwater protected him from sizeable waves and all but the most curious of wandering sharks. Smaller fish abounded. They feasted on the barnacles and algae that grew everywhere below sea level on the LandBridge.

Inigo had two problems at present. One, how to stay afloat as his flailing arms and legs grew more and more tired, while the handholds built into the steep sides of the LandBridge were few and far between. Rescue ladders abounded, built into the walls as municipal code precautions, but none near enough to where he needed them.

His second problem he chose to attack head on. How would he get inside Dave's wet garage without permission, and without being discovered?

There was only really one way in. Underwater. He took a deep breath, and dove. His heavy clothing slowed him quite a bit, but he managed to descend thirty feet to skirt under the wet garage door. At about the same time his ears endured painful pressure, his lungs screamed for air, and his head felt ready to implode.

Swimming up never felt better, nor more necessary. When he broke the surface he gulped in the oxygen like an infant uttering its first post-natal cry after a difficult delivery.

If this was his baptism, then let it constitute a true rebirth, he thought. Let him put away the booze. Let him find a faith that would sustain him.

Let Dave Boarder be everything Inigo thought he could be.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Page 14 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

Almost everyone Dave knew had a 3D printer. Their capabilities depended on the price of raw materials, and how recently each machine had been manufactured. You could print almost anything but food in the luxury of your own garage, and people wondered when that barrier would fall as well. Recant was special, however, because he always had the latest hardware, and had leveraged that savvy into a small business making and selling first-rate household gizmos for the local folk. He was a common type of person, as far as Dave knew, meaning that he expected he could find one or two like him in every home section or apartment block. Tinkerers knew their way around modern technology. Hackers could scour the connected world and find specs to print whatever they wanted, even illegal stuff. Dave thought of Recant as both a tinkerer and a hacker. He didn't even know the man's real name, but he expected Recant could fulfill the request he had in mind while napping on the couch.

"Morning Boarder," Recant said through a crack in the door. With tousled hair in the way, his hands rubbed his eyes. Yup, he'd definitely just woken up.

"It's afternoon," Dave said.

"Not quite." Recant showed him a watch embedded in his wrist.

"Can that thing track you?" Dave said.

"Course not. Not after I finished with it." Recant yawned. It was a little contagious. Dave felt one coming. "What do you need?" Recant said.

Dave didn't know the guy's age. Maybe thirty. It played into how willing he might be to deliberately thwart a police investigation. Younger meant less cynical, more adventurous. And he might not ask for money.

"Someone may be tracking my jetter," Dave said. Better to leave the cops out of it if he could.

"What makes you think that?"

"Paranoia."

Recant laughed, then said, "What? You want me to scan it? You know that's easy to do for yourself."

"Could you show me?"

"Sure. Come on in."

Recant pushed his door wide open for Dave to come in. The musty smell assaulted him. He had to gag, then glanced around at closed windows. He'd wager the man rarely if ever opened them. Otherwise the place looked clean, though in need of a vacuum job. Someone should toss out a few soda bottles and pizza boxes too.

He wondered what Recant did for real money. Probably wrote computer code or something.

Recant grabbed a device that resembled a staple gun, and together they went down to the wet garage. This private area at water level housed all the boats and water-ready aircars owned by the residents. Breakwaters and other firm barriers kept the surface of the ocean in here perpetually serene, the sole sound that of gentle, lapping boats, when they moved at all. The presence of two humans walking on the floating docks caused the disturbance to the placidity of the place. Only the deepest, most powerful of ocean swells could create any real rocking in here.

Dave had his jetter in the family spot. Recant stretched a lanky leg over the side and sat as if he intended to ride it. The man moved with more athletic grace than Dave expected from him, especially considering he had to shift the heavy staple-gunny thing from hand to hand as he did so.

Recant pressed a button on the gun. A red pair of lights, each a thin line about an inch long, shot lasers against the hull of the jetter.

"Got to widen it," Recant said.

He turned a dial, and the lines grew to over a foot in length. He then ran these lasers up and down both sides of the jetter.

Since the engine remained off, the jetter had no buffer beneath it to keep it aloft. It rested wet on the salt water.

"What about the bottom?" Dave said.

"Unlikely. Turbines'll eject any foreign particle no matter how small. They'd lose track of you the minute you turned it on."

"I rode it home."

"Then it's not there."

"Guess I don't have one."

"Nope. You're just paranoid."

Recant turned off the laser gun, and handed it up to Dave on the dock. It was a lot lighter than Dave had thought.

As Recant stepped onto the dock, Dave said, "They can still track me using cameras, or satellites."

"Something you're not telling me kid?"

"You didn't check the bin. In back. Could you check that?"

He looked put upon, but Recant held out his hand. Dave gave him the laser gun. Recant leaned down to open the bin, then fired up his gun and shot the lasers across the interior. As he did so, a green light flashed, followed by a low, fast beeping.

Recant set the gun on the dock. He had a pair of tweezers in his pocket. He used these to poke around inside the bin until he found something, and could withdraw it.

Between the tiny tongs he came up with a small microfilament, and showed it to Dave.

"Maybe you should tell me what's going on?" Recant said.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Page 13 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

As he traveled surface streets across town, all built from the same soft concrete used on race tracks, Dave got to thinking about the judge and her decision. She never asked him about Pegleg. Furthermore, she released the jetter to him on the recommendation of the arresting officer. Did she even know about Pegleg, or about the property damage to the sailboat? The officer would not have been required to report such details to the court, because Pegleg had not been arrested. Not yet.

That meant they still had plans for him, clearly in an ongoing investigation. Either the officer, whose name he now wanted to know, had a lot of free time to pursue inconsequential crimes, at least in the larger scheme of things, or the owner of the boat had made a stink and wanted blood like a shark in the water.

But why recommend leniency? Why give Dave the jetter when police could hold onto it thirty days, or until he finished his community service, whichever took longer?

The obvious answer sort of plopped into his head as he turned the corner at Walnut and Witherspoon. The family residence, at 400 Walnut Lane, came into view just after the idea took full form for him.

They were going to follow him, hoping he would lead them to Pegleg.

As far as he knew, there were any of a number of ways they could track his movements. They could use a tail. They could watch him via closed-circuit TV cameras, ubiquitous in Aldrin, or even via satellite if they thought he might leave town. Every police municipality on the LandBridge had satellite access.

They might also have put a homing signal on his jetter, something so small he might never detect it.

Dave came to the gate, which opened automatically for him. Rather than park the jetter with the other aircars, however, he rode across the lawn, leaving the moist grass flattened behind him as he went. He intended to ride downstairs to the wet garage. The neighbors all shared it. They used the wet garage for ACs as well as old-fashioned floaters. Down there he'd have more privacy to do what he needed to do, away from prying eyes.

One of his neighbors, a close family friend and tinkerer named Recant, might have a way to detect any micro-filament homing device.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Page 12 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.
---

In the town of Aldrin they had an old-style courthouse. It looked like something quarried from a Greek mountain, stone fronted by Ionic columns. It even appeared weathered and chipped, as if the faux presentation conferred authority and prestige. To Dave it just seem pretentious. Everyone knew they used a white sand hybrid mixed with a firming agent. They taught that to every student during their freshman year at Aldrin High School. Inside, however, people wielded the reins of power, local power, as if the stones on the outside were real, imported from Greece or something.

When his turn on the docket came, Judge Vanderhall glanced down at Dave over a thin pair of bifocals. He found it odd she needed two versions of glasses, and yet didn't use them when she wanted to see the people upon whom she inflicted municipal justice. That was the law to Dave, something no one could see straight. You had to alter your eyesight before it made sense.

"You're a lucky man, Mister Boarder." Judge Vanderhall said. "I'm releasing your jetter back into your custody."

"Thank you ma'am."

"Don't thank me. The arresting officer made that recommendation, and I'm inclined to follow his recommendations."

Dave looked around. He had learned somewhere that arresting officers were supposed to show up to testify, even in civil cases like this one, yet the guy who'd caught him had not done so. It seemed odd, like something out of sync.

"Now, are you pleading guilty or innocent today?"

"What's the charge ma'am?"

"Driving in a restricted zone."

"Well, I was there, but no harm was done ma'am."

"Something bad could have happened. Those areas are restricted for your benefit young man."

"Ma'am, with all due respect, I was driving their for my benefit."

"And you broke the law. I'm entering your plea as guilty."

Dave knew in her eyes he deserved it. So, he might have done himself a favor by acting more conciliatory, and perhaps by showing a measure of remorse. Problem was, he didn't feel remorse. He felt abused by a bad law.

Apparently, a few kids had died in some nearby town, racing among the pylons, and the parents of the deceased raised a fuss through an awareness campaign. Now everyone had to suffer because of their loss. As a consequence, the idea had taken hold that the town council should protect people first and foremost, rather than protect the freedom of the people.

"Do you have anything more to say?" the judge said.

"No."

"Forty hours community service, or a fine of eight hundred dollars. I'm giving you a choice because I know you don't have the money, nor even a summer job with which to acquire the money."

"Thank you ma'am." He hated himself for saying thank you, for extending her even an ounce of undeserved respect, but she might raise it to a thousand bucks, or double the community service. Later, he'd have to try to figure out a way to not pay, nor serve, for breaking a law put in place for his own protection. For the time being he simply had to leave the courtroom.

Funny how the judge never asked him about Pegleg. It meant that, apart from thanking her, he didn't have to lie to her, not about anything, but neither had he been afforded the opportunity to reduce his own sentence.

At least he got the jetter back. He could ride it home.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Page 11 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

---

He dipped a toe in the pool, and felt it cool his foot, but changed his mind about jumping in. Francy looked at him. Her friends stared. They'd want to know everything, either to satiate their curiosity, and give them gossip to spread, or to feed some mythology, maybe a romantic one, about older brother Dave, the dangerous criminal.

Instead of getting himself wet, he beelined to the swing. He'd surround himself with a cooling breeze. He had no real intention of dive bombing from the top of the arc, although the idea, even if just an idea, still had its charms.

So he sat and swung on the swing, although not with any concerted effort. More like he let it do all the work of drifting this way and that while his feet dragged or tapped or pushed the grass.

"Are you in trouble?"

That was Francy. She came wrapped in a towel. Good thing for her too as the breeze picked up. The swing drifted in a wider circle. The oak branch that held it creaked above him.

"Ajax'll fix it. We'll stay anonymous," Dave said.

"I don't care about that." Francy sat on a wood stump, the sawed-off trunk of a second old oak, now dead, and painted over with a varnish and hardened lacquer. "What did you do?" she said.

"Nothing. Just racing."

"Well what happened? The cops were here."

"They took my jetter."

Francy smirked. She wasn't buying it.

Dave said, "They also want me to rat on Pegleg. He damaged a sailboat."

Her eyebrows shot up at the mention of Pegleg. "You can't. He is so cute."

"Don't be an idiot. He doesn't know you."

Francy rose to her feet, indignant. "I bet I know him better than you. He beat you didn't he?"

"No."

"Yes he did. His jetter costs a lot more than yours."

"He didn't beat me. I was winning."

"Did you win?"

"We never finished."

Francy sat again. "Please don't tell on him."

Dave stopped himself from swinging. Came to a dead halt. "Oh my god. You've got a think for him don't you?"

She stared, while her face went flush.

"I bet the race wasn't even an accident. He came looking for me."

"He heard you were the fastest jetter at Aldrin High."

"Yea? Who told him?"

"If you rat him out he won't like me anymore. He'll probably think I caused it or something."

Dave let himself sway again, while his feet stayed in one place. "Did you really say I was the fastest at Aldrin?"

"It's the truth isn't it?"

Dave grinned.