Nine days into my two-week deadline, I wait on a pier fifteen hundred miles from home. I abandoned the rental car two days ago in favor of the more economical bus. Money runs short. My inbox seethes with unread messages. Two doors slammed in my face. And this is my last chance to pull myself out of this mess with something in hand.
I’ve taken to stealing electricity from all-night diners, where I order cheap coffee and something a la carte every forty-five minutes or so. My sacrifices please the diner gods sufficiently to allow my stay. But the predawn hours this morning urged me toward the ocean. Lit sidewalks offered to clear my head, though I declined. I need a full head for what awaits.
Sad Boy. I finally found his home. Rather, a computer hacking friend found his home, but I paid said friend. The point is, I am about thirty minutes from ringing the doorbell of his oceanfront home.
This is not where my story will be. Sad Boy, by all accounts known to me, has not suffered Internet fame. I could, and probably should, have gone to two sisters who lost their jobs when their sexy video went viral. Every news outlet has been covering it since day one. And the reception seems to be more shaming the sisters than compassion for what they’ve lost. None of that is why I am here.
The sun rises over the ocean. Majestic rays steal the moon’s light. A bit of boldness rubs off on me.
I cinch my backpack and set out toward the address I’ve longed to visit. The city comes alive around me, as if everyone waited to worship the sun before starting the day. The bustle of business dies as I pass into a neighborhood. Somewhere, sprinklers ruin a fence. I dog barks in rhythm with bird chirps. Lined with tall trees arching overhead, the sidewalks roll forever before me until, finally, I reach the number I’ve memorized.
I practice my smile twice and then make my way to a wide, empty porch. The doorbell rings some classical tune I should know but don’t. I chew the membrane of my lip as my stomach chews itself. This was a terrible idea. I have to go! I need out. I must–
The door opens. Too late. Construct a lie or be brave?
“Can I help you?” The woman seems to try to place me somewhere in her life.
“I’m here,” I say with no oxygen in my system, “because of the video Sad Boy is Sad.”
She pales. Her lips tighten. All poise leaves her.
“How did you know?” she asks. Her voice breaks the question. Tears spill down her face. I don’t know what I expected, but this was not it.
“I saw the video, and first let me say how very sorry I am that the video went viral. That must have been really hard for Sad Boy.”
“He had a name.”
“His name was Jacob, not Sad Boy.”