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Driving home now, I feel dizzy and lost, like I’m drunk. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here but I’ve lived in that building almost every weekday for my entire adult life, and now it’s over. One minute I’m sitting there like every other morning, and the next I’m carrying a box of trinkets to my car and that’s it. Forever. Never going back.

But let’s be honest—it wasn’t like every other morning, was it? Since yesterday at the church everything in my life has been going downhill, and now it just got a hell of a lot worse.

I mean, is this a coincidence? All of that shit yesterday and then today I get fired? What’s next?

On the freeway, traffic moves a lot better now that it isn’t rush hour. And I still feel sure someone is watching me.

Think about it. How did that man in the bathroom find me? Why did I choose today of all days to talk to Dick? How likely is it that he would know about the Ant Farm game? Someone clearly has a vested interest in what I’m doing. They are probably watching my every move. And there must be more than one of them, because you can’t effectively monitor someone with just one set of eyes. There could be a whole team of them.

I pass a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. The driver is a small young woman with black glasses and a funky haircut. She stares back at me.

Is she one of them?

I pass a brown Ford sedan driven by a guy wearing a gray suit and matching Stetson hat. Actually, there are two men in the car, and they’re both wearing the same thing. Neither of them are looking in my direction, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been following me.

Now I drive past a silver Dodge Durango driven by a short bald guy. A black Jeep Liberty driven by a hot brunette.

Maybe none of them are watching me.

Maybe all of them are watching me.

When did the surveillance begin, I wonder? When I saw the blue orb in the church? Sometime before? Have I always been watched?

When I think about having been observed my entire life, my ears start to make that roaring sound again. My mouth tastes bitter, like pennies. And of course I hear the phantom woman, counting out numbers…

Or wait. They aren’t numbers anymore. Now she’s reciting words, like code words, using the same monotone voice as before.

Charlie, she says in a hesitant British accent, almost as if she is reading a language that isn’t hers. Alpha…delta…alpha…echo…India…bravo…foxtrot…echo…Charlie...

The crazy thing is I know this is a method for indicating letters of the alphabet, but if you asked me to recite these words from memory, I wouldn’t be able to get past alpha, bravo, Charlie. And yet I’m hearing them in my head, anyway.

My car chews up the road, and eventually I exit the freeway. A few minutes later I turn onto my street. Then my driveway. Finally I walk into my house, which seems strangely quiet and mysterious, maybe because I’m never here at this time of day…or maybe because an intruder was in here earlier.

It makes sense. If I’m being watched, whoever it is has probably been to the house when Gloria and I aren’t here. Maybe they came today.

Maybe they’re still here.

The main hallway is hardwood, and even in a house this new the wood creaks just enough to give away my position. I peek into the study on the left and the master bedroom on the right, looking for anything that might be out of place. My nose is on high alert, ready to detect the slightest scent. I think Gloria might have made eggs for breakfast after I left for work. I creep into the kitchen, then the living room, then the spare bedroom. Bathrooms are empty. The only places left to look are the closets, and the only one with enough free space to hide in is the big one in our master bedroom.

So I tiptoe in that direction, and the closer I get the more certain I become someone is in there. On the way past the chest of drawers I grab a 6-iron leaning against it. It’s no weapon, but it’s something, and as I creep closer to the closet, I swear I can almost feel a tiny increase in air temperature, a bit more humidity, the smell of something metallic.

Part of me thinks I should back away. Walk outside and dial 9-1-1. What the hell is a golf club going to do against a guy with a gun?

But I just lost my job and I’m not feeling so stable right now, so fuck it. I grip the club tighter and step boldly into the closet. I swear when I do, I can almost hear a dramatic music cue in my head, as if someone (you?) is watching all this unfold on the silver screen.

And I see him. For real I see him, standing in the shadows against the wall, holding something above his head. A gun? What is that smell? What the fuck?

I’ve got the 6-iron in both hands, held high above my head, and I bring it down like a sword as hard as I can. I aim exactly where the man is standing. He seems to move in response to me, and in the split second before impact I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

My golf club buries itself into the wall. A cloud of drywall dust and projectiles puff out of a 6-iron shaped hole I’ve just made. I let go of the grip, and now the club just hangs from its place in the wall. It looks like some kind of strange decoration, like it’s always been there.

Even without turning on the light I now see there is no one in here. What I do see is my own shadow falling against the far wall. Closer to me, the LED readout of the iron glows green. The iron is supposed to turn itself off when not in use, but it frequently forgets. For a moment I just stand there, examining the damage I’ve done to the wall. My heartbeat pulses in my ears.

How the hell did I think someone was in here? I mistook a pressing iron as the smell of a gun. As the body heat of another human being. I attacked my own shadow with a golf club.

I don’t want to think about this anymore, so I turn around and walk out of the closet.

The golf club stays where it is.

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