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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 28. Chapter 28: Settling In

Settling In

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

Chapter Twenty Eight

September 4

I forgot about the long weekend. There there’s no school tomorrow. Monday is Labor Day. Yesterday and today, the school was as silent as a tomb. I don’t expect tomorrow will be any different. At least for the past two days, living was easier, in a weird way.

I got up way early Saturday and got out of the school library simply by turning the twist lock on the door. Done. I found three exits from this maze of a school that didn’t look like they got much use, and put a little stone in each one, jamming them open. Even if one of them clicked closed, I could try one of the others. Hell, I could always sleep outside if I had to.

At nine sharp, I rapped on the door at Mrs. Marjorie’s house.

“Oh, good, Andrew. You’re on time. Just a second.”

She bustled out the door and locked it behind her. She went down the steps, heading back toward the garage with a determined stride. I trailed along behind, wondering what we were going to do.

She unlocked the garage and looked around. Spying me, she called out,

“Come on, Andrew, we haven’t got all morning.”

I followed her in and got into the front seat of an elderly Volvo station wagon that had seen quite a lot of use.

“Fasten your seatbelt,” she instructed.

After I complied, she carefully extracted her keys from her bag, slid them into the ignition, and started the car. It roared to life. Looking over her shoulder, Mrs. Marjorie hit the gas, and we seemed to rocket out of the garage, down the driveway and into the street. Shifting into gear, she took off at a pace that pressed my back into my seat.

Driving with Mrs. Marjorie is an adventure. For one thing, she has no good concept of the speed limit. She also has this charming habit of keeping up a lively chatter with the passenger - me. She began her interrogation with something pretty standard:

“Tell me about your first week at school.”

“Nothing much to tell. It’s pretty much the same as my old school.”

“But what classes are you taking?”

When I reeled off my class schedule, Mrs. Marjorie made a face and looked at me expectantly. While she drove, she insisted on making eye contact with her passenger, so the car tended to swerve left or right, depending on the course of the conversation. I felt like I was riding inside a rabbit being chased by a fox.

“You can do better than that.”

I shrugged.

“Andrew, I can see you’re stubborn.”

The car swooped to the right again as she tried to stare me down while driving. “You’re smarter than the standard schedule, and you know it.”

What the hell did she know about me? I was getting annoyed.

“Ma’am, you hardly know me at all.”

“On the contrary,” she said with a smirk, “with thirty five years as a guidance counselor under my belt, I think I can figure most kids out pretty quick. I’ll admit, you’re a tough one, but I sense real intelligence under that mysterious exterior of yours.”

I didn’t know how to react to that.

“Well, I passed the first bunch of quizzes this week all right.”

“With what grades, may I ask?” she rejoined quickly.

“I don’t know about English or History yet, but I got A’s in Math and Physics.”

“An A in Physics? I’m impressed,” she said, sincerely. “An A from Dickie Hopewell sounds pretty smart to me.”

“You know Mr. Hopewell?” I asked, actually a bit curious.

“Andrew, I knew just about all your teachers when they were snotty little freshmen right here in Blackburn,” she laughed.

Her interrogation deflected, she chattered on about which of my teachers she had known and what they had been like as kids. If I’d known any of them for very long, it might have been more interesting, I guess.

Thankfully, we didn’t have too far to drive. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we pulled into the parking lot for a large supermarket, the Price SavR. I was furiously memorizing the route we took to get there. It turned out we were here not for groceries, but for the farmer’s market held at the far end of the lot.

Mrs. Marjorie got out and made a bee line over to where the vendors had set up their stalls. She found a nursery selling pots of brightly colored flowers. I thought she was going to corner the market on them, she bought so many. I got to fold down the rear seat in the car and then carry enough flowers over to fill the space to overflowing.

While I ferried flowers to the Volvo, Mrs. Marjorie visited several more stalls, buying veggies and other stuff. Hell, by the time I caught up with her, it looked like she was doing her grocery shopping there.

“Here, Andrew, would you mind carrying these?” she handed me several plastic shopping bags full of her purchases.

Mrs. M., her hands now free, selected several pies from a bakery table, and soon had a couple more bags for me to carry. At the sight of all this good food, my stomach began to remind me of how meager my breakfast had been. I wondered if I could get something for myself here.

But no, we kept moving on – Mrs. M was a bundle of energy, and we couldn’t seem to stop moving. She was like a hummingbird, stopping everyplace for a look, a sniff – and maybe a purchase or two. But I noticed something. Even though she moved efficiently between vendors, she took time to chat with each one, and more importantly, to listen to their conversation. She must have been a good teacher, I think.

The drive back was just as fast and terrifying as before. This time, I had a lapful of bags and purchases to cushion me if we crashed.

Back at her house, I got to carry all the bags into the tidy kitchen and help Mrs. M put things away. Next, she showed me what she wanted done with the flowers.

“Every year, I get pots of mums and plant them in front of the house. It makes things look so cheerful for the next six weeks or so, don’t you think?”

I didn’t have an opinion, and she didn’t wait for me to voice one.

“Now, I want you to plant these in the bed in front of the window, and in the beds lining the walk and driveway,” she directed, pointing to each spot. “I’m going to leave it up to you to choose the plants and colors. I’ve got some chores to do inside, so just knock on the door to let me know when you’re done.”

With that, she marched into the house.

I knew where the tools were in the garage; it was time to get down to work. Compared to fence mending, brush cutting or even barn chores, this was pretty light work. I put out the plants where I thought they would look best. I grouped colors instead of mixing them – it just looked better to me. Then I got to digging, and lost myself in the task of planting. I worked my way up the driveway and walk and finished planting by the big window in the front of the house.

I made sure to pull the weeds from the beds as I went. I remembered where the hose was, hooked it up, and watered everything. For good measure, I found a spade and cut a sharp edge around all the beds and along the drive and sidewalk. Just as I finished up, I heard the front door open,

“Goodness, Andrew, how are you coming –" Mrs. Marjorie stopped, staring at the neat new beds, with the flowers glistening in the sunshine.

Shit. Had I done something wrong? I hung my head, waiting for the inevitable lecture.

“This is marvelous, Andrew!” her words startled me. “You really did a great job with this. Thank you. Here I was going to ask you to go back and pull out the grass and weeds, but that’s done!”

Praise? Why do I never expect it? It feels good to hear it, but I have trouble believing any of it.

“Well. You come around back to the kitchen door and wash up. You’re about done with that then.” She eyed me up and down. “Did you eat breakfast today?”

I nodded. Did a handful of road rations count? Anyhow, I followed her around back. When I entered the kitchen to wash up, I saw Mrs. Marjorie had set out a couple of sandwiches and tall glasses of milk.

“I made us some lunch,” she said, waving me to a chair.

I made short work of my meal. Mrs. Marjorie chuckled as I downed the last drops of milk in the glass. She’d hardly finished half her sandwich.

“Hungry, Andrew?”

I nodded. “Thanks very much.”

“You’re welcome. Can I get you anything else?”

“No thank you, ma’am.” I didn’t want to eat too much, or seem like a burden.

“You sure? I’ve got some fresh apples. I’m going to have one, why don’t you have one, too?”

“Well, if it’s not too much trouble…”

She was on her feet pretty quick, for an old lady. In a few moments, a bright, round washed apple glinted on my plate in the light through the window. She held up a sharp knife, and I fought the urge to flinch away from the blade.

“Do you want to peel yours?”

“No, thanks,” I answered. “I’ll have mine plain.”

We talked for a while longer – mostly about school. I dodged a bullet when Mrs. Marjorie asked where my father and I lived. I told her we had an apartment on the other side of Main Street, but that we hoped to get a house of our own, soon. That satisfied her, I think. She talked about the real estate market and houses for rent for a few minutes after that.

When both of us finished eating, I got up and gathered the dishes to the sink.

“What are you doing, Andrew?” Mrs. Marjorie asked sharply as she rose.

“Just doing dishes. I was going to ask for the soap.”

“What, do you think I’m a helpless old biddy?”

I thought that Eustace and Mrs. M would get along just fine. I missed Eustace right then.

“No ma’am,” I replied nervously, “I was just trying to be helpful.”

“Andrew, you’re my guest. Guests do not do the dishes in my house,” she explained more gently.

“Oh. I’m sorry.” I’m never going to get things right, am I?

“It’s OK,” she chuckled to herself, “go along now.”

I nodded and headed out the door. It seemed obvious that the next task was to mow the lawn, so off I went and got started. It didn’t take as long this week as last week. The grass was shorter, and I had less trimming to do. I hadn’t realized Mrs. Marjorie was watching me from her porch again until after I’d cleaned the mower and put it away.

I walked up to the porch.

“I guess I’m all done for this week, Mrs. Marjorie.”

She made a wry face. “My goodness, Andrew, you’ve worked hard today. I didn’t expect you to do the lawn, too.”

I looked down at my feet. Stupid, stupid, boy. How come I can’t get anything right?

“Goodness, I’m not scolding you,” I heard her laugh and looked up. She held out a blue rectangle of paper. I took it, looked vaguely at it, and pocketed it.

“Now, take this, and enjoy the rest your weekend – and do a good job on your homework!” she added.

With that, I grabbed my pack and walked off. Before I got too far, I took out the paper and examined it. I guessed it was a check. I’d never really seen one before.

‘PAY TO THE ORDER OF Andrew Stevenson, $50.00,’ it read.

Fifty dollars! If I could figure out how to turn this into money, I’d have enough to eat and pay for school stuff, too – without touching my stash from Eustace. I thought about the problems I could encounter trying to cash the check as I walked up to the grocery store. It was a longish way, so I had plenty of time to stew over it.

It turned out I was worried over nothing. The attendant at customer service looked younger than me and bored. She handed me a form to fill out and went back to texting someone. I used the same business card address and email that I’d used at school, and that was that. I had a Most Favored Customer account, and that meant I could cash a check. Just like that.

I probably bought too much stuff. But it was great to have real deodorant and toothpaste again. By the time I strolled back to the high school, I was ready to sneak back in, feast on my purchases, and go to sleep. I stepped up to the door I’d left open in the morning. It was still propped open a crack. I was about to pry the door open wider, when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.

In the distance, I spotted a couple of runners on the track in the waning sunlight. One was really tall. I don’t mean just tall, this guy was a tree on legs. The other – oh God, it was Lunch Boy. He was absolutely gorgeous in the golden light, jogging along effortlessly, talking with his giant friend. I couldn’t help staring. I didn’t care if they saw me. In that instant, I felt a stab of fear and jealousy. I was skewered by longing.

I couldn’t move.

I am in so much trouble.

 

September 6

I explored my school yesterday, Labor Day. Having nothing better to do, I used the time on my hands to look into every unlocked area, and scout out every nook and cranny that I could. I discovered some very interesting things.

For example, I discovered that Blackburn High School has a swimming pool. I wasn’t surprised to find that it was locked up tight. So was the door labeled “Weight Training Center.” The theater and auditorium was, too. So were most of the classrooms. The cafeteria was wide open. I learned my way around the building, so I now know the fastest route from my official hall locker to anyplace I need to go.

I also found a very interesting closet in the back of the library. It had no lock at all. It seems to be a storage place for many different neglected things. There was a shelf full of dusty AV machines and several red plastic containers labeled “filmstrips.” Whatever those are. Dozens of big, dusty boxes labeled in magic marker as "Computer Files," and "Library Archives" on the side were stacked along one wall. I peeked inside one or two of them. They seemed to be filled with stacks and stacks of odd looking cards, printed full of numbers and punched with random holes. God knows what they had been used for. But the closet itself seemed to be a place to put junk that nobody knew what to do with.

A perfect place for me, really.

I got an idea. Within an hour or so, I’d moved all the boxes out just a couple of feet away from the wall, making it look like a much wider stack of boxes. From the back of the closet, I could slip in behind the wall of boxes and have a perfect place to hide – kind of like my hay room in Eustace’s barn. Of course, my space in the closet is a lot tighter, but still, if I can slip into the storage closet at night, I won’t much care what the cleaning crew does.

Later, I took time to organize my pile of possessions. This way, I figured I’d have less to carry around in my overstuffed pack. The books went into the hall locker, food into an empty paper box in the stack, and my new-to-me gym clothes (some scavenged, some purchased at the thrift store) went into a pile to be put in my gym locker. It’s amazing to me that the gyms – there are actually two of them – were left open.

Later, I discovered that the locker rooms weren’t locked either.

Last night, very late, I was able to take a long, hot shower, without having to worry about other people in the room. I’ve got to say that the showers at Blackburn High are way better than at Carlsberg. The individual stalls include changing areas, so nobody can see me. Believe me, I prefer my privacy.

Under the hot spray, I couldn’t help thinking – OK, I daydreamed - about Lunch Boy. About how, in some impossibly changed space and time, I’d have the courage to talk to him. About how, in some alternate universe, we’d be friends. About how, maybe he’d actually touch me…

I got hard just thinking about it. My cock twitched and turned to steel. And then I realized it had been a long, long time since I’d had any release. Like weeks. Maybe a month, even. God, I couldn’t remember how long.

Before I could think about it, my cock was in my fist, my hand pumping madly, sliding along my almost painfully hard flesh. It felt so damn good. I closed my eyes as my orgasm overtook me. I groaned aloud, my cum painting the wall. It had been so, so long. This is a problem of living on the run: fear really puts a damper on being horny.

While I dressed, I thought about how dangerous my lust after Lunch Boy really is. He’s the single most beautiful person I’ve ever seen and that probably means he’s the most dangerous guy in the school to me. Even if he never knows me enough to hate me or hurt me, my infatuation with him is going to give me away.

I can dream all I want about him, but I’ve got to find a way to be invisible to him.

Starting now.

 

September 8

Big question for today: why is it when you actually try to be invisible, the person you want to avoid pops up just about everyplace you go?

For the last two days, I’ve seen Lunch Boy before school, in the corridors between classes, after school near the library – and of course, at lunch. I don’t know why, but I can’t miss him in the crowd. Fortunately, there’s usually a bunch of people with him. Not too many, but enough to keep him occupied. Enough to keep him from seeing me looking.

I see that he hangs out with the huge guy I saw him running with last Saturday. At lunch, he sits with the Giant, and with Terry, my lab partner in Physics, and maybe a three or four other people. In the cafeteria, I eat as quickly and inconspicuously as possible, making sure my back is to their preferred table.

Some other things I’ve learned about Blackburn High School: the teachers here appear to care about their students. At least, some of them do. My English teacher, Mr. Warfield, actually invites discussion. And then he listens to what we have to say. He’ll chip something in, but it’s not like the mindless lecture we got back in Carlsberg. Despite myself, I actually listened and learned something.

Another thing I learned is that the school hosts events at night many days of the week. There’s a volleyball league, and an adult art class, for example. I suppose it would be a good idea to see if there’s a schedule for this stuff posted somewhere, so I know what to expect. The good news about this is that many spaces are left unlocked after school - like the Library, for example – and if someone spotted me here in the evening, it probably wouldn’t look like a big deal. The bad news is that if I want to say, take a shower, spread out something for supper, or read by myself, well that’s a little harder to do.

Or maybe not – I suppose it wouldn’t be too strange to see someone having a snack in the cafeteria, even if the place is deserted.

Being invisible and fading into the background is harder here. I’m new. I’m the stranger. I overhear other kids talking about weekend plans. Soccer practices. A pool party. I’m not part of any of this, of course. And, while nobody has made any real move to be friendly, there hasn’t been any hostility.

Yet.

I’ll have to stay alert about this. Keep out of Lunch Boy’s way.

Craftingmom edited this chapter, for which I am enormously grateful. Of course, any errors remain my problem.

Please leave a review. Your remarks and comments of whatever stripe or variety are always welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

I guess Andy is settling in!

 

Hmmm ...Terry is friends enough with Lunch Boy to sit at his cafeteria table. She could be the liaison needed if Lunch Boy ever mentions Andy to her.

 

I wonder if Mrs. Marjorie ever speaks with her former students, now his teachers. That could develop quite interestingly too.

 

OK Parker, you've given us enough to wonder about the next chapter! Good work!

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On 11/20/2015 02:39 AM, skinnydragon said:

I guess Andy is settling in!

 

Hmmm ...Terry is friends enough with Lunch Boy to sit at his cafeteria table. She could be the liaison needed if Lunch Boy ever mentions Andy to her.

 

I wonder if Mrs. Marjorie ever speaks with her former students, now his teachers. That could develop quite interestingly too.

 

OK Parker, you've given us enough to wonder about the next chapter! Good work!

Right now, Andy is being very watchful. Despite his resiliency, he's still pretty hurt from having to flee the farm. He felt safe there, too, and look what happened. For Andy, the problem is that he hasn't ever felt safe for the past decade. Mrs. Marjorie and Eustace Whitley were safe people; Toby was a question mark. You may be right (no spoilers) about Terry P becoming a safe person, but that's gotta be a long way off, in Andy's eyes.

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A lot has changed for Andrew (Erik) in a short span of time. I thought it was pretty gutsy for him to tackle school with all the obstacles it would pose for him,but it looks like he is settling in quite nicely. The one problem I saw him having was with the $50. check. Sooner or later someone is going to start figuring things out about this boy, especially lunch boy. Keep up the good work with this story!!

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Mrs. Marjorie drives like my grandmother...
There are so many possibilities this could go wrong, I can't even think about it. The only hope is that when they find out, he has some kind of support team that will help him.

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On 11/20/2015 04:27 AM, slapshot said:

A lot has changed for Andrew (Erik) in a short span of time. I thought it was pretty gutsy for him to tackle school with all the obstacles it would pose for him,but it looks like he is settling in quite nicely. The one problem I saw him having was with the $50. check. Sooner or later someone is going to start figuring things out about this boy, especially lunch boy. Keep up the good work with this story!!

Yes, the whole structure of Andy's (I guess we have to call him Andy now) is really pretty fragile. The whole art to his existence is to project a normal enough image that nobody will ask any serious questions. The check cashing thing is unlikely to bite him unless he tries something more ambitious. As long as the checks are good, he ought to be fine.

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On 11/20/2015 04:39 AM, aditus said:

Mrs. Marjorie drives like my grandmother...

There are so many possibilities this could go wrong, I can't even think about it. The only hope is that when they find out, he has some kind of support team that will help him.

Did Mrs. Marjorie ever listen to Click and Clack? Now there's a question I never even thought of. This could all go very badly wrong in a very big hurry, and Andy knows this. The most important thing for him to do (in his mind) is to try to be as normal as possible, so that nobody asks any pesky questions. He needs to do the expected thing at the expected time, and in the expected place. But you are right to hope that if it all goes bad, there will be some kindness at the end of it all. Not that our boy's track record suggests that will happen. Many thanks for your review, and even more for reading this story.

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Yeah Andy, you will see Lunch boy everywhere now! Andy is indeed settling. I was worried about the check, but that worked out. I have a feeling that Marjorie may look more closely at Andy than Eustace did and he may not be able to put it over on her as easily. I was thinking of my school, and assuming that because this is a small town, there is relatively no security in place?
It is no little anxiety I feel with each new chapter, wondering what's going to happen..
Good job Parker.

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On 11/20/2015 01:20 PM, Defiance19 said:

Yeah Andy, you will see Lunch boy everywhere now! Andy is indeed settling. I was worried about the check, but that worked out. I have a feeling that Marjorie may look more closely at Andy than Eustace did and he may not be able to put it over on her as easily. I was thinking of my school, and assuming that because this is a small town, there is relatively no security in place?

It is no little anxiety I feel with each new chapter, wondering what's going to happen..

Good job Parker.

Marjorie may look more closely, but she only sees Andy once a week, not like Eustace who saw him every day. And in both cases, he was supposed to get dirty, so the occasional day in which he shows up that way won't glare. The biggest danger will be from anyone who asks too many probing questions, who tries to get much below the surface. Andy is still a very guarded, wary guy, likely to bolt at the first sign of trouble. And yes, Blackburn is a small town; security is minimal - indeed, not worth writing about, really.

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On 11/20/2015 04:22 PM, ninecila said:

Great chapter! :) I especially like Mrs. Majorie :)

Mrs. Marjorie is a wonderful character to consider and write for. I am so glad you enjoyed this chapter. Thank you for reading and taking the time to review!

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Honestly, as an avid reader of both gay fictional novels and gayauthors as well as other sites. I am at a loss when it comes to your story yes it is very well written and I get where you are attempting to take it but it is taking a bit long to get there. I realize the entire plot is based on this kid being a runaway but how is it connected and is it relevant to the overall outcome of the story. I find that it is a bit repeticious and I skip ahead waiting for something new to happen. rather than walk, sleep and almost get caught, ask for work, then have to leave town again. you are a good writer but sometimes short and sweet are better than a million words to say what you could say in a few sentences.

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On 11/21/2015 05:53 AM, Ford said:

Honestly, as an avid reader of both gay fictional novels and gayauthors as well as other sites. I am at a loss when it comes to your story yes it is very well written and I get where you are attempting to take it but it is taking a bit long to get there. I realize the entire plot is based on this kid being a runaway but how is it connected and is it relevant to the overall outcome of the story. I find that it is a bit repeticious and I skip ahead waiting for something new to happen. rather than walk, sleep and almost get caught, ask for work, then have to leave town again. you are a good writer but sometimes short and sweet are better than a million words to say what you could say in a few sentences.

Thank you for an honest and forthright review. I appreciate it. Perhaps you are right that A to Z is long winded and repetitious. I shall have to work on this if I complete another story. I can only say that the patterns of Andy's existence condition him and preclude fast-paced developments. Again, thank you for your comments.

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On 11/21/2015 05:01 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Good chapter, Parker. Things going too well perhaps?? We'll see.

The cloud banks of trouble are always on the horizon. Andy must be able to feel this. We'll have to wait and see.

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Stefan once again is doing very well at hiding in plain sight, I guess after being on the run for so long he's learnt how to mask himself so easily. Two things here - lunch boy will be a problem, as he's sure to slip up sometime soon when lunchboy is near him (as he sees him a lot) and Mrs Majorie will probably get more and more suspicious like how Ambrose was when he was with Eustace.

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But the important thing is that Andy - as he calls himself now - decided to stay in Blackburn and try school. Somewhere on the road between Carlsberg and Blackburn, he began developing into

someone he might not have recognized: himself. Eustace may have had a fair bit to do with that. You’re right that Andy has hazards ahead of him. He may have to run yet. Thanks for your thoughts and for reading the journal. 

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Andy is starting to settle in and make himself at home. Everything is going so well at the moment, let's hope Andy doesn't relax his guard to much.

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2 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Andy is starting to settle in and make himself at home. Everything is going so well at the moment, let's hope Andy doesn't relax his guard to much.

It's exactly when things start going well that Andy runs into trouble. You're right in that he really has to remain vigilant to danger and exposure. Thanks for your comments!

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