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   print-out was the size of a phone book. He also had dozens of disks

   loaded with the cards and other sensitive hacking information.

  

   Par had used the cards to make a few free calls, but he hadn't been

   charging up any jet skis. He fought temptation valiantly, and in the

   end he had won, but others might not have been so victorious in the

   same battle. Par figured that some less scrupulous hackers had

   probably been charging up a storm. He was right. Someone had, for

   example, tried to send a $367 bouquet of flowers to a woman in El Paso

   using one of the stolen cards. The carder had unwittingly chosen a

   debit card belonging to a senior Saudi bank executive who happened to

   be in his office at the time the flower order was placed. Citibank

   investigator Larry Wallace added notes on that incident to his growing

   file.

  

   Par figured that Citibank would probably try to pin every single

   attempt at carding on him. Why not? What kind of credibility would a

   seventeen-year-old hacker have in denying those sorts of allegations?

   Zero. Par made a snap decision. He sidled up to a trash bin in a dark

   corner. Scanning the scene warily, Par casually reached into the red

   bag, pulled out the thick wad of Citibank card print-outs and stuffed

   it into the bin. He fluffed a few stray pieces of garbage over the

   top.

  

   He worried about the computer disks with all his other valuable

   hacking information. They represented thousands of hours of work and

   he couldn't bring himself to throw it all away. The 10 megabyte

   trophy. More than 4000 cards. 130000 different transactions. In the

   end, he decided to hold on to the disks, regardless of the risk. At

   least, without the print-out, he could crumple the bag up a bit and

   make it a little less conspicuous. As Par slowly moved away from the

   bin, he glanced back to check how nondescript the burial site appeared

   from a distance. It looked like a pile of garbage. Trash worth

   millions of dollars, headed for the dump.

  

   As he boarded the bus to Salinas with his mother, Par's mind was

   instantly flooded with images of a homeless person fishing the

   print-out from the bin and asking someone about it. He tried to push

   the idea from his head.

  

   During the bus ride, Par attempted to figure out what he was going to

   do. He didn't tell his mother anything. She couldn't even begin to

   comprehend his world of computers and networks, let alone his current

   predicament. Further, Par and his mother had suffered from a somewhat

   strained relationship since he ran away from home not long after his

   seventeenth birthday. He had been kicked out of school for

   non-attendance, but had found a job tutoring students in computers at

   the local college. Before the trip to Chicago, he had seen her just

   once in six months. No, he couldn't turn to her for help.

  

   The bus rolled toward the Salinas station. En route, it travelled down

   the street where Par lived. He saw a jogger, a thin black man wearing

   a walkman. What the hell is a jogger doing here, Par thought. No-one

   jogged in the semi-industrial neighbourhood. Par's house was about the

   only residence amid all the light-industrial buildings. As soon as the

   jogger was out of sight of the house, he suddenly broke away from his

   path, turned off to one side and hit the ground. As he lay on his

   stomach on some grass, facing the house, he seemed to begin talking

   into the walkman.