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   breaking that kind of news, well, that was harsh. Especially since

   Corrupt had worked with Gandalf in 8lgm.

  

   `Thanks,' Par said finally. Then he took off.

  

   When Par tried out the MOD password, it didn't work of course, because

   Gandalf had disabled the account. But Par didn't know that. Finding

   out that Theorem's account was disabled didn't bother him, but

   discovering who disabled it for her didn't make Par all that happy.

   Still, when he confronted Theorem, she denied that anything was going

   on between her and Gandalf.

  

   What could Par do? He could believe Theorem or he could doubt her.

   Believing her was hard, but doubting her was painful. So he chose to

   believe her.

  

   The incident made Theorem take a long look at Altos. It was doing bad

   things to her life. In the days that she was locked out of the German

   chat system, she had made the unpleasant discovery that she was

   completely addicted. And she didn't like it at all. Staring at her

   life with fresh eyes, she realised she had been ignoring her friends

   and her life in Switzerland. What on earth was she doing, spending

   every night in front of a computer screen?

  

   So Theorem made a tough decision.

  

   She decided to stop using Altos forever.

 

                            [ ]

  

   Bad things seemed to happen to The Parmaster around Thanksgiving.

  

   In late November 1991, Par flew up from Virginia Beach to New York. An

   acquaintance named Morty Rosenfeld, who hung out with the MOD hackers

   a bit, had invited him to come for a visit. Par thought a trip to the

   City would do him good.

  

   Morty wasn't exactly Par's best friend, but he was all right. He had

   been charged by the Feds a few months earlier for selling a password

   to a credit record company which resulted in credit card fraud. Par

   didn't go in for selling passwords, but to each his own. Morty wasn't

   too bad in the right dose. He had a place on Coney Island, which was

   hardly the Village in Manhattan, but close enough, and he had a

   fold-out sofa bed. It beat sleeping on the floor somewhere else.

  

   Par hung out with a Morty and a bunch of his friends, drinking and

   goofing around on Morty's computer.

  

   One morning, Par woke up with a vicious hangover. His stomach was

   growling and there was nothing edible in the fridge, so he rang up and

   ordered pork fried rice from a Chinese take-away. Then he threw on

   some clothes and sat on the end of the sofa-bed, smoking a cigarette

   while he waited. He didn't start smoking until he was nineteen, some

   time late into his second year on the run. It calmed his nerves.

  

   There was a knock at the front door. Par's stomach grumbled in

   response. As he walked toward the front door, he thought Pork Fried

   Rice, here I come. But when Par opened the front door, there was

   something else waiting for him.