When you pay by cash, there is no record. Andrew Barker had paid cash. Selling the house had gotten him a huge knapsack of cash. His last credit card purchase was that very knapsack from the corner store.
When he’d left the Agency with the cash, he drove about a mile. He’d pulled into a gas station, was about to use the card, then changed his mind. He’d pay cash.
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To avoid ever using the card, he tossed it in the sewer and drove away. Since then, he’d paid for everything by cash.
He’d grown his hair long and had it styled in a saloon, as well has having his freshly grown beard trimmed. Gone was the clean shaven short haired Andrew Barker.
Although he hadn’t been consciously erasing his trail, subconsciously that is exactly what he’d done.
As he lay abed, the first night alone in his, (Pete Paulson’s) house, he went over his actions. Trying to understand if there had been some planning.
He’d consciously tossed his wallet with all but money, into the soupy acid under the pit toilet in the back of Elliot Hudson’s gas station, knowing it would dissolve, wanting to cut all links from likable Pete to horrible Andrew.
He wait a few days then tell Elliot he’d lost his wallet, and get the documents to prove he was Pete Paulson. He’d stay here for a little while then get a job in another town under that name.
His major quandary was what happened to the real Pete Paulson? Was he dead? Was he living in a city? Would he return?
He slapped those thoughts out of his mind to be dealt with tomorrow.
When tomorrow came he was already up and dressed when a neighbour delivered breakfast. He’d have to go shopping.
He spoke with Linda Gyer, his breakfast bearing neighbour and she said he should write a list and she’d pick up everything he needed. He admitted he didn’t know what he needed, and she laughed, ‘Just like a Man!”
After he gave her two hundred dollars for groceries, he got into his car and drove to the nearest big city. It wasn’t much as cities go, but it was big enough to have Internet in its library.
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He did a search of Peter Paulson and found eighteen years ago, stationed in Korea, Private Paulson had gone MIA and was not seen since.
He tried to find out is that was the same Peter Paulson that he was portraying but it was unclear. But it did explain why no one saw him, why he wasn’t at his parent’s funeral.
The town assumed that he was in live combat during the period and out of touch. In response he’d said; “If you’d ever been in that situation, all that you know is staying alive…” and he’d gone off into a kind of PTSD memory pause he’d last seen in an episode of Law & Order.
Could he, Andrew Barker, be so fortunate as to have lucked into a town where he was assumed to be Pete Paulson, who was actually a deserter from the Army who’d never been seen since? No doubt his parents had never told anyone.
Andrew left the city, after buying a few pairs of jeans and household items for his friends driving back to his new home.
Late that night, after dispensing his gifts, getting the thanks and hugs, he realised this was the first time in his life he’d ever done anything like this. Ever noticed kindness, ever rewarded kindness.
Andrew Barker had been a pretty horrible guy, Pete Paulson would not be.