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Brian Evankovich

The Sinister Activity of My Neighbor
By Brian Evankovich
Jul 19, 2004 - 7:11:00 AM

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Mr. Evankovich enjoys a thoughtful moment....

I'm not afraid of a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. I'm not afraid of getting killed in a car wreck. I'm not afraid of pianos falling from the sky. But I am paranoid about spending time in my bedroom, leaving the house, or doing anything that might make me visible to the people who are watching me.

Well, person.

My neighbor is spying on me.

It all started last Friday night at a cozy, intimate dinner with the neighbor to the left of my apartment. Her name is Kathleen, a plump brunette who invited me, my roommate, and another neighbor named Mandy over for pork chops (which were very good, by the way, served with steamed potatoes and a mix of veggies). Kathleen is the quiet type while Mandy is a vocal fireball blonde who is 27 but looks 35 because that's what 15 years of smoking and drinking will do to you.

The before dinner conversation was pretty light. I told a recent story of narrowly missing a deer along the road passing our complex; in my attempt to swerve and avoid the stupid animal that jumped in front of my vehicle, my passenger side mirror took a hit, went flying.

Mandy said in response: "How did it damage the mirror on a Saturn?"

That's key, my friends. I didn't tell her what kind of car I drive. Now, in fairness, she drives a Saturn, too. Its gold, like mine; a few years older, with two doors compared to my four. I've certainly seen Mandy driving hers so it's not impossible that she saw me in mine as well. (We Saturn owners like to look out for each other, you see. We're a tight-knit group.)

But then we talked about work. She said to me: "I see you coming and going at odd hours. What do you do?"

Now, when she says odd hours, we're talking up at 3 a.m., back around seven or eight; then I'm home all afternoon. She works at home, too, selling some kind of software for a local computer company.

So what it boils down to is, she's home all day except for when she goes on sales calls and probably gets bored, so she'll look out the window when there's activity outside.

I was somewhat comforted by the fact that she was aware of another neighbor's moving away (this individual had these two annoying wiener dogs I think everybody wanted to strangle), and the activities of the college boys who live in the so-called "party house" at the front of the complex.

But I think it's more sinister than that. Mandy is obviously a CIA agent sent to spy on me because of my, uh, subversive opinions and the general up-to-no-goodness that plagues all crusading journalists who are doing nothing more than looking out for you, gentle reader (he said sarcastically).

How can she be spying when she was there before I moved in, you ask? Simple: She heard ahead of time that my roommate was going to tell me about his open room (she may even have the place bugged).

I'm not as dumb as I look, however, and Mandy has another thing coming if she thinks her mission will be that easy. As Bogart once said, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Itís the only way that I can find out who she's working for. I can only stop the surveillance by tracking down the man who ordered it.....

Boy, this is starting to sound like the plot of a Robert Ludlum novel.

If I suddenly vanish from the face of the earth, you know what happened.

Brian Evankovich lives in California. Or does he? There are a lot of things he doesn't tell you at

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