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                   Chapter 4 -- The Fugitive

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     There's one gun, probably more

     and the others are pointing at our backdoor

    

   -- from `Knife's Edge', on Bird Noises by Midnight Oil

  

   When Par failed to show up for his hearing on 10 July 1989 in the

   Monterey County Juvenile Court in Salinas, he officially became a

   fugitive. He had, in fact, already been on the run for some weeks. But

   no-one knew. Not even his lawyer.

  

   Richard Rosen had an idea something was wrong when Par didn't show up

   for a meeting some ten days before the hearing, but he kept hoping his

   client would come good. Rosen had negotiated a deal for Par:

   reparations plus fifteen days or less in juvenile prison in exchange

   for Par's full cooperation with the Secret Service.

  

   Par had appeared deeply troubled over the matter for weeks. He didn't

   seem to mind telling the Feds how he had broken into various

   computers, but that's not what they were really looking for. They

   wanted him to rat. And to rat on everyone. They knew Par was a kingpin

   and, as such, he knew all the important players in the underground.

   The perfect stooge. But Par couldn't bring himself to narc. Even if he

   did spill his guts, there was still the question of what the

   authorities would do to him in prison. The question of elimination

   loomed large in his mind.

  

   So, one morning, Par simply disappeared. He had planned it carefully,

   packed his bags discreetly and made arrangements with a trusted friend

   outside the circle which included his room-mates. The friend drove

   around to pick Par up when the

   room-mates were out. They never had an inkling that the now

   eighteen-year-old Par was about to vanish for a very long time.

  

   First, Par headed to San Diego. Then LA. Then he made his way to New

   Jersey. After that, he disappeared from the radar screen completely.

  

   Life on the run was hard. For the first few months, Par carried around

   two prized possessions; an inexpensive laptop computer and photos of

   Theorem taken during her visit. They were his lifeline to a different

   world and he clutched them in his bag as he moved from one city to

   another, often staying with his friends from the computer underground.

   The loose-knit network of hackers worked a bit like the

   nineteenth-century American `underground railroad' used by escaped

   slaves to flee from the South to the safety of the northern states.

   Except that, for Par, there was never a safe haven.

  

   Par crisscrossed the continent, always on the move. A week in one

   place. A few nights in another. Sometimes there were breaks in the

   electronic underground railroad, spaces between the place where one

   line ended and another began. Those breaks were the hardest. They

   meant sleeping out in the open, sometimes in the cold, going without

   food and being without anyone to talk to.

  

   He continued hacking, with new-found frenzy, because he was