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The decision already made and time quickly passing, the Harolds knew they had to act as quickly as possible.  Using Rold’s internet friends, they quickly discovered how to purchase illegal documentation.  They also came to realize how expensive it was and how little Harold’s money could actually buy them.  
Buying Social Security Numbers was simple, but as Harry feared, they wold mostly be buying the numbers off of the recently deceased.  The problem with this was that the SSNs themselves were real enough that any attempt to collect on unemployment or a simple credit check would probably result in being found out.  Driver’s licenses were significantly cheaper but in any case they each would have to buy new ones when the old ones ran out.  Harry argued that he didn’t need one, and Rold was too young for one.  With luck, if they purchased a good identity for Rold, he could get a license on his own someday, or move to a sanctuary state that would grant him one.  Things that were out of their range included passports and ironclad identities.  So, if they tried to leave the country, they would be caught.  
Three SSNs, three birth certificates and one driver’s license were what they could afford for an ungodly sum.  Hare agreed that as the fittest and most responsible, he would be the most likely candidate and easiest for Harold to teach:  Rold and Harry agreed, after all, they could drive even if they didn’t have a license and having SSNs were the most important things if they ever wanted to work.  They would have to sell the house as soon as possible after the hand-off.  Rold sent the emails (some with photograph attachments), but he consulted with the others about negotiating and haggling prices down.  The day of the pick-up came and Harold, Hare and Rold headed to Harold’s modest station wagon.  
“Check out the chickmobile!”  Rold shook his head in shame.  “I’m taking the back seat.  Hare, are you driving?”
“No.  I don’t know how to drive.”  Hare sat down in the passenger seat.  “I think I can probably wing it, though, if we need me to, you know, if it gets messy.”
“I’m the only one who drives.”  Harold repeated for the tenth time as he buckled his safety belt.  “This is how I get things around for all of us:  groceries, food, clothes.  No one else drives”
“I’m pretty sure I can handle this thing.  Where’s the Turbo boost button?”  Rold looked at the dashboard and stick shift.  “Does this thing have guns, too?  I love it when they have guns.”
“Slow down, tiger.”  Hare lifted his eyebrows as he buckled his seatbelt.  “Only Harold can drive, so only Harold is driving.”  
Grumbling under his breath, Harold started the car and they pulled out of the garage.  Harry waved as they drove away.
“Why can’t Harry come?”  Rold lay down across the back seats.  “He can at least keep Harold company.”
Hare leaned back.  “Rold, buckle your seatbelt.”
“Fine.”  Rold buckled a safety belt over his legs.  “Harry could have sat here, with me.”
“Sit up and put your belt on.” Harold gripped the steering wheel tighter.  “Now.”  He said tersely.
“Okay.”  Rold sat up.  “Harry wouldn’t have cared.”
“Harry’s not here.”  Hare kept his eyes forward.
In silence, they drove to the edge of the city.   The suburbs gave way to spurts of countryside, the separation between the real city and the urban developments were open fields, filled with not very much but the occasional outcropping of shops or a local sports park.  
“Everything’s so,”  Rold leaned his head against the car window.  “So boring.”
Harold and Hare remained quiet, focusing on the road ahead.  Through watching Harold, Hare hoped to figure out how to drive, if he had to figure it out, it would be best to start now.
“It’s a lot of the same, though, not even a lot of other cars,”  Rold continued without noticing the lack of response from the others.  “Why are you guys so tense?”
“This is very important.”  Harold stated, without gesturing or turning around.  
Hare said nothing, and kept observing Harold’s motions and the cars responses.
“These guys who are doing this, they probably do this all the time,”  Rold rationalized.  “I mean, they’re good, they’re professionals.  We’ll walk in, walk out, then go home.  Simple as that.”
“We’re paying a lot of money.”  Hare sighed.  “So, we’re pulling up close, Harold is staying in the car and you and I are going in.”
“Wait.  Are we paying in cash?”  Rold perked up.
Harold snorted.  “Yes, Rold.”
“That means we have a ridiculous amount of cash on us.”
“On me, yes.”  Hare looked out his side window.  “So, yes, we have to be careful.  Careful that we don’t miss our pick-up time, careful that we don’t give the money to the wrong people, careful that we get what we came for.”
The car fell silent again.  They reached the city in record time, almost short enough to make the silence less awkward.  They neared an office building which looked like it had been built twenty years ago.  Harold steered their car to park it under the carport near the entrance.  
“It shouldn’t take that long.”  Harold said after he had stopped the car.  “I’ll keep the car running.  Good luck.”
Hare quickly got out and opened Rold’s door, they headed in.  The security guard demanded who they had come to see and they gave the false name of the company they had bought their documents from.  He waved them in without another word.  They headed upstairs.  Hare insisted on going after Rold.
“Are you nervous?”  Rold asked Hare.
“Yes.”  Hare admitted.  “This is the first time Harold’s ever accompanied us out before.”
“Feels kind of dangerous, huh?”  Rold rubbed his hands together.  “Personally, I like it.  No, I love it!  I should be a superspy.  This is like a mission.  Here’s our floor.”
Hare held the stairway door open.  “Right.  It is.”  Hare took a deep breath.  “No funny stuff, okay, Rold.  We go in, hand over the money and we take the documents.”
“We should check the documents first.”  Rold squared his shoulders.  “Documents, check them, then money.”
“Then back to the car.”
“Easy, easy.  Simple, simple.”  Rold looked at the door numbers.  “This way.  Looks like this one.”
Before they could reach the door, it opened to reveal a single man in a simple grey business suit.  “Gentlemen, all three of you could not come?”  His dark hair was slicked back accentuating his angular features.  His pale skin seemed almost yellow under the fluorescent lights in the room, all of which seemed bathed in white and off-white colors, white linoleum flooring accented by windows, accented by the white tile ceiling.  “Please, step into my office.”
Once Rold and Hare entered, their greeter closed the door.
“Please pardon our appearance.”  He indicated the nearly empty room which housed only a desk and a few chairs.  “Feel free to sit.”  Reaching into the desk’s drawers, he produced a thin manila envelope.  Raising the envelope, he gave Rold and Hare a once-over, “Do you have the money?”
Hare reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a thick wad.  “May we see the documents first?”
“This is a problem,”  The man tutt-tutted.  “If I hand you the documents and you run, well, it is my head.  But, you seem honest.  Tell me, what should I do?”
Hare gulped.
“You could hold onto me as collateral.”  Rold offered.  “I mean, I’m pretty scrawny, but he’s, well, he’d never leave me.”
“Rold.”  Hare squeaked.
“It’s okay, I know what I’m doing.”  Rold nodded.  “I saw it on YouTube once.”
“Ah, a child of the internet.”  the man tapped a finger against his lip.  “Without the internet, this would not be possible.  The ordering, the work itself.  Now, it is simple.  I will make this simple.”  Waving Rold over, the man indicated the desk.  “Please, sit on this desk.”
Rold sat on the desk.  
The man pulled out a gun.  “Now, I am not going to use this gun.  I am going to have it here to remind him to pay me.  Okay?”
Rold quietly contemplated the gun.  
Hare gulped.  “Yes.  Okay.”
The man held out the thin manila envelope and Hare nearly dropped it.  Putting the money away first, he opened it up.  Hare glanced up at Rold, and upon seeing that he seemed to be handling the situation quite well, decided not to protest their treatment.  There were three SSN cards, each with seemingly valid looking numbers which matched the birth certificates.  Hare’s driver’s license, in which mostly looked like himself, had mismatched birthdates with both still claiming he was a bit older.  The results were decent and he could not complain, although he certainly did not know how they would eventually deal with the discrepancies.  
“It all looks good.”  Hare reached into his coat pocket again and pulled the money out.  “Here.”
“Give it to your son.”  The man intoned in a gentle manner.  “When he gives it to me, he will count the money.  If I am happy, I will put the gun away.”
Hare handed the money to Rold, who in turn tried to give the money to the man.  
“No, you count the money.”  The man jiggled his gun.
Rold counted the money out.  Satisfied, the man put his gun away from where he had produced it.  “What, no tip?”
Rold gulped.  “We’re sorry, that’s all we could afford.”
“No, no, you misunderstand.”  The man shook his head.  “I make joke!”
Awkwardly, Hare and Rold laughed and the man joined in.  The sound of their uncomfortable noises echoed in the mostly empty room.
“Leave.”  The man’s voice resounded authoritatively.
Only too happy to comply, Rold and Hare scrambled for the door.


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November 2010

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