I switched on my computer and clicked on email. There was one message from Bruce. I opened it.

TO: Reaganfan@aol.com
FROM: Vanilla@aol.com
DATE: Thursday, 6pm, EST
SUBJECT: Unequal Affections
Dear Frederick,
Groan! A delivery man from UPS? Please! I beg you, abandon this mad scheme! Cheers, Bruce
P.S. May I remind you that stalking is a Class Four felony?

I hit the reply button.

TO: Vanilla@aol.com
FROM: Reaganfan@aol.com
DATE: Friday, 2am,
CST SUBJECT: Over-emoting Dear Bruce,
Don’t be tedious! You urge me to branch out from sex clubs and chatlines. When I do, you throw stalking laws at me. A real friend would help me with some opening lines.
Love, Frederick
P.S. What are blue-collar guys into these days anyway? Fishing? Camping Trips? Please respond a.s.a.p. The next UPS delivery is on Saturday.

I clicked on the internet and checked out the live chat groups. There was only one person in the discipline chat room that late at night: ‘Topman’. I logged in under my handle.

Sicpuppy: Hi, Topman.
Topman: That’s Topman sir!
Sicpuppy: Yes, Topman, sir!
Topman: Speak, Sicpuppy.
Sicpuppy: What’s your scene? Sir!
Topman: S/M, B/D, C/B Torture.

I switched off the computer. I took out my list of the day’s expenses and examined it again.

DAILY EXPENSES
St Louis Post Despatch $0.50
Breakfast $2.95 ( + $0.50 tip)
Morning Coffee $1.00
Lunch $5.75 (+$1.00 tip)
Afternoon Coffee $1.00
Gasoline $10.00
Cover Charge at The Anvil $5.00
2 Beers $7.50

It was driving me crazy. I couldn’t account for 75 cents. I went through my day. Bought the morning paper. Had breakfast at Bell’s Drug Store. Went to work. Revised Mother’s fax on education to members of the House Subcommittee. Bell’s again for morning coffee. Sent fax. Lunch at Bell’s. Wrote draft of Mother’s weekly syndicated newspaper column. Bell’s for afternoon coffee and a jelly donut… ‘Eureka!’ I added the donut to my list.

The next day was murder. We were on deadline for Mother’s syndicated newspaper column. She sent me back the draft that I’d prepared the previous day, a column in support of the baptist boycott of Disney Corporation. Her comments appeared in the margin in red ink. ‘A little stronger?’ she suggested. I was in no shape for re-writing, not after driving sixty miles before work to drop off an envelope at UPS. At this rate I’d soon need another eye-tuck.

That night I tallied my daily expenses.

DAILY EXPENSES
St Louis Post Despatch $0.50
UPS ‘Saturday Special’ Delivery $11.95
Breakfast $2.95 ( + $0.50 tip)
Morning Coffee $1.00
Lunch $3.95 ( +$1.00 tip)
Afternoon Coffee $1.00
Dinner $24.75 (+$4.00 tip)
Parking Garage $5.00
Coffee at Intermission $1.50

I stapled my opera ticket to my programme and filed it along with my daily expenses. I switched on my computer and clicked on email.

TO: Reaganfan@aol.com
FROM: Vanilla@aol.com
DATE: Friday, 6pm, EST
SUBJECT: Workingman Blues
Dear Frederick,
I don’t think blue-collar guys go in for fishing these days. Try bowling. Will you ever learn? Remember what happened when you changed flights to get on the same plane as that guy you met at Newark airport?
Cheers, Bruce

I replied straight away.

TO: Vanilla@aol.com
FROM: Reaganfan@aol.com
DATE: Saturday, 12.05 am, CST
SUBJECT: Useless Advice
Dear Bruce,
Your are no help at all! Less than twelve hours until my UPS delivery and I still haven’t worked out what I’m going to say.
I’m completely exhausted. I’ll let you know how tomorrow turns out. Wish me luck!
Love, Frederick
P.S. I resent you bringing up Newark airport. How did I know that that guy had a bad heart?

Alone in the office the following morning, I jumped when the buzzer rang.

‘UPS!’
‘Second floor, end of the hall.’
The approaching steps echoed in the empty hallway. I took a deep breath and opened the door. It wasn’t him. ‘Good morning,’ said a middle-aged, overweight, balding delivery person in a crumpled uniform
‘Sign here please.’
‘May I ask you a question?’
‘Sure.’
‘It’s about a UPS delivery we had last Saturday.’
‘Was there a problem?’
‘Oh, no. It’s just that, it wasn’t you who made the delivery.’
‘No, it wasn’t.’
‘I would have thought drivers had the same route to cover each week.’
‘It’s different on weekends.’
‘I see. You wouldn’t happen to know who delivered a package here last Saturday, would you?’
‘What did he look like?”
‘Well, he’s about twenty-five years old. Brown hair. Six foot tall. Wears eyeglasses. Crisp, clean uniform.’
‘We all try to keep our uniforms crisp and clean, sir.’
‘I hope that didn’t come out the wrong way.’
‘No problem, sir.’
‘Well?’
‘Well what, sir?’
‘Do you know who delivered a package to this office last Saturday?’
‘It sounds like Jeff.’
‘Jeff?’
‘Some college kid -works part time.’
‘And would you know Jeff’s last name, by chance?’
He didn’t. I called the 800 number for UPS. A rude woman said that under no circumstances would the company give out the name of an employee. She would not even provide me with the phone number for the local UPS office.
‘Bitch!’
I slammed down the receiver.

I calculated my expenses that night.
DAILY EXPENSES
St Louis Post Dispatch $0.50
Breakfast $2.95 ( +$0.50 tip)
UPS-man tip $0.50
Afternoon Coffee $1.00
Cover Charge at The Anvil $5.00
4 Beers $15.00

I composed an email message to Bruce.

TO: Vanilla@aol.com
FROM: Reaganfan@aol.com
DATE: Sunday, 4 am, CST
SUBJECT: Despair
Dear Bruce,

The UPS package I sent myself came attached to the wrong delivery man. I went to The Anvil tonight to forget my sorrows. Some big number took me down to the dungeon and gave me the treatment I deserved. Oooh… I feel wonderfully sore.
Love, Frederick

P.S. How am I going to contact Jeff? (that’s his name) Today’s driver didn’t know his last name and UPS wouldn’t give out personal details. My only option is to keep up the Saturday deliveries. Any other suggestions?

The following week was a madhouse. The House Subcommittee did not go the way Mother had hoped. We did a mass fax to our contacts on the House floor. I drafted copy for Mother’s weekly radio show. It was so busy I almost forgot to drop off another package at UPS on Friday. I busied myself at the office that Saturday, waiting for the buzzer.
‘UPS!’
‘Second floor, end of the hall.’
The delivery man from the previous week appeared at the door.
‘You again,’ I playfully chided him. ‘I distinctly recall you saying that weekend drivers weren’t assigned a particular route.’
‘They’re not, sir.’
‘But you delivered a package here last week.’
‘So?’
Hopeless. So much for fraternising with our social inferiors.

That night, after calculating my daily expenses, I composed another email message to Bruce.

TO: Vanilla@aol.com
FROM: Reaganfan@aol.com
DATE: Saturday, 10 pm, CST
SUBJECT: Joy! Joy!
Dear Bruce,
Today’s UPS delivery man ( the same fat slob from last week) told me he’d found out Jeff’s last name: Sovocol. There was only one in the phone book, with an address in a nearby housing estate.
He came home around 5pm, dressed in that lovely brown UPS uniform, neat as a pin. He went out again around 7.30, wearing jeans and a wind-breaker. I lost him on the approach to St Louis.
Love, Frederick
P.S. I hope you can be happy for me and not prattle on about stalking laws.

I was too distracted for The Anvil. Instead, I clicked on the internet. The discipline chat room was busy, but that creep Topman was lurking about. Finally, I settled down in front of my VCR to watch Grease Monkeys from my collection of macho videos. ‘A businessman brings his Jag in for repairs and is serviced by four young gas pump jockeys,’ the package read. The service attendants wore work clothes that resembled Jeff’s UPS uniform. One of them was about the same height and build. As the film and I reached our climax, I called out his name.

Later that week Bruce sent a particularly annoying email.

TO: Reaganfan@aol.com FROM: Vanilla@aol.com
DATE: Wednesday, 6pm, EST
SUBJECT: I Fought The Law and the Law Won
Dear Frederick,
Are you incapable of perceiving how extreme and inappropriate your behaviour is? Perhaps the following will help you see the potential consequences of your actions:
Chapter 720
Section 5/12-7 .3. Stalking 1992, amended 1993. [Form 38-12-7.3]

(a) A person commits stalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least two separate occasions follows another person or places the person under surveillance and:

(1) places that person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future sexual assault, confinement or restraint…

(b) Sentence. Stalking is a Class Four felony.’

Cheers, Bruce

TO: Vanilla@aol.com
FROM: Reaganfan@aol.com
DATE: Wednesday, 10 pm, CST
SUBJECT: We’ve Only Just Begun Dear Bruce,
I was tempted to ignore your latest email. My behaviour is neither extreme nor inappropriate. Someone has got to get this relationship off the ground!
Love, Frederick

Bruce’s rude comments dampened my ardour. The following Saturday morning, waiting in my office yet again, I contemplated my efforts. I’d driven 180 miles out of my way, spent $35.85 on ‘Saturday Special’ UPS deliveries and only had one sighting of Jeff to show for it. He’d stayed away from his home all week, or at least from 5.30 to 8pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. What’s more, it had been a month since I had a Saturday off work. The buzzer sounded.
‘UPS!’
‘Second floor, end of hall.’
Maybe Bruce was right. Perhaps I should join a walking group or one of those dating agencies that arrange dinners for their members at nice restaurants. I opened the door. It was Jeff.
‘I have a ‘Saturday Special’ delivery for you.’
‘Please. Come in.’
He stepped across the threshold, my package under his arm, examining some papers on his clipboard. Tall. Handsome. Business-like. My recent doubts evaporated. ‘You sure do get a lot of Saturday deliveries,’ he chirped.
‘That’s true. Especially recently.’
He handed me a form. I searched my desk for a pen and my mind for something to say.
‘Do you like fishing?’
‘Pardon me?’
‘Fishing. You know, ‘the call of the wild’ and all that.’
‘Sounds a bit rugged,’ he laughed. ‘Bowling’s more my speed. I’m on a league with some of the other drivers and we’re doing pretty well this…’
‘Camping out. Sharing the same tent. Buddies, doing buddy things.’
‘Um, no, it’s really not my thing.’
‘Would you like to go camping with me, Jeff?’
‘How do you know my name?’
‘Isn’t it on the invoice here?’ I fumbled with the paper in my trembling hands.
‘No, it isn’t,’ he answered.
‘Lucky guess?’
‘If you’ll just sign the invoice, I can be on my way, sir.’
‘I was looking at some camping equipment on Wednesday night. Why, I even saw a portable VCR.’
‘Actually, you can just give the signed invoice to your regular UPS driver during the week.’ He moved to the door. It was now or never!
‘We wouldn’t have to rough it at all, Jeff. What with air mattresses, butane stoves and a VCR, why, you’d barely know you were off your housing estate.’
‘ls this door stuck?’
‘Jeff, I have a confession to make. I sent this package myself. See!’
I tore open the package. Strips of newspaper fluttered to the floor.
‘I had to see you again.’
‘Open this door, sir.’
‘Would you slap me, Jeff? Please?’

DAILY EXPENSES
St Louis Post Dispatch $0.50
Breakfast $2.95 ( +$0.50 tip)
Bail $250.00
Cover Charge at The Anvil $5.00
6 Beers $22.50

TO: Vanilla@aol.com
FROM: Reaganfan@aol.com
DATE: Monday, 2 pm, CST
SUBJECT: Defence Fund
Dear Bruce,
I hold you responsible. You should have given me a good opening line.
Mother is livid. I’m to stay away from the office until press interest dies down. My lawyer is optimistic about the assault charge. After all, I asked Jeff to hit me.
Love, Frederick

P.S. I met the cutest paralegal! Pert. Efficient. Adorable. He took my statement at my lawyer’s office. I think I’ll return to make some amendments. I’ll let you know how things develop!