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“Thank you, looks great!” said Ben to his barber. He walked out of the local shop and began meandering towards his car in the next lot. It was around 4 o’clock, and kids and teens who had been let out of the school were running around old Webster getting dinner and congregating in study groups.
Ben raised his head to see Sophia Meyer, the high school track star (and notorious object of male attention) waving out of her Jeep to him; he rotated his shoulders to follow her with his wave as she passed. He continually ran his fingers through his hair to see if she’d notice his haircut, until she pulled into the Bread Co. parking lot. As he turned he noticed out of the corner of his eye that a person, presumably a male, was following a few feet behind him with a hoodie on and his hood up. It occurred to Ben that it was rather hot out and it was strange that the subject was following so close behind him. Ben fought thoughts of, you’re being paranoid, you’re in Webster, not the Bronx. Nevertheless he continued to check the reflection in the window of stores he passed to keep an eye on his strange stalker.
Ben came to a fountain in front of San Sai and decided he would stop in front of it to see if the man would pass him. As soon as Ben stopped, the stalker, who had apparently been walking just inches behind Ben at this point, ran into him.
“What are you doing!” grumbled Ben irritated.
The man said nothing, grabbed Ben’s shirt collar and cocked his fist. Ben saw the fist get bigger, a flash of light, and then nothing.
“Bmm, Behhh, Bennn, Ben!”
Ben heard his name slowly become more and more clear. He sat up and saw the face of Sophia.
“Am I in heaven? I thought angels had wings.” said Ben, staring rather blankly at Sophia.
“You’re an idiot.” replied Sophia, blushing.
“Dang! You alright brah?” came the voice of Sam VerMeer from the street.
“That dude in the blue hoodie just socked the mess outta’ you and went through your wallet and stuff!” He pointed, and Ben followed the indicative finger to see the blue hoodied assailant disappear around the back of Bread Co.
“Im’a go chase him,” said Sam starting.
“Nonono!" Said Ben, groaning and shutting his eyes in discomfort.
“Its not worth it, you don’t know what he has in that hoodie.”
Ben was being supported by Sophie, who explained what happened as Ben gradually remembered the events and became more acquainted with his headache. His wallet was sitting on his chest when he awoke and his phone was at his side. Nothing was missing. A few more friends of theirs showed up to the spectacle to find out what happened:
Joey Witzig, star striker on the varsity soccer team, Paul McCaughey, Jacob Virtue and Meagen Chamoun showed up from their study group in Bread Co. Next came Kylie Wurgler from San Sai, who apparently saw nothing, and lastly Perry Townsend from Bread Co.
“Well, at least you got a nice haircut!" said Sophie, glancing away like she didn’t really care.
“Yeah, you should try it sometime." came Ben’s self-impressing reply, smirking.
“Uh! Idiot!" said Sophie, trying to act legitimately offended.
“Thats the LAST time I compliment YOU on anything!" she said, turning away and putting her hands on her hips. Ben stood up, thrust his arm around hers, mimicked her stance and said “hmmm, I can think of more urgent things you might wanna focus your time on," he said.
“Oh? and what would that be?" said Sophie turning her head away but not resisting Ben’s taking of her arm.
‘...Like putting on makeup for one” said Ben, immediately removing his arm, and then himself in general, from the situation.
“Idiot!” came the reply.
Ben drove home and told the friends that already knew to keep the events secret. Ben intended to find out what had happened, and he didn’t want worried parents involved. Naturally it was the talk of the school the next day.
“Why wouldn’t he take anything? Did he think you were someone else? Did you start something, Ben?” asked Kylie throughout the day.
Questions like these came from various aquaintances and rankled in Ben’s head as he tried to deduce the man’s motives over the next few days.
He met with Sophie a few more times to try to find any extra details he could. At least, that was his excuse for the rendezvous over multiple meals when his friends questioned him jealously. Sophie obviously couldn’t remember much and tended to wander into conversations about how excited her and her girlfriends were about their upcoming weekend trip to Chicago to see Owl City live. Though this disgusted Ben and his closer comrades, he understood and eventually gave up trying to interrogate Sophie any further and let the matter be. She bragged to the whole school about the backstage passes and tickets she kept in her glove compartment. Sophie’s friend group had been planning the trip for months. It was a special premier showing at a secret underground venue. The group would head up Friday night to ensure early check in so that they could meet Owl City. She bragged only to the end of being whined at by boys who would rather her spend that weekend by themselves than Owl City. Of course, along with Sophia’s group of girlfriends there were always at least two or more guys prone to swallowing their most indelible beliefs and hatred for the “artist," to try and impress Sophia with their knowledge of the poser. One boy in particular however, did NOT suck up to Sophia. Perry had such an aversion to Owl City that it seemed like the very thought of it caused him physical pain. He was very vocal during Owl City discussions.
“Ahhh! I can’t wait for Saturday!!! We’re gonna MEET him!" Sophie and company would rant.
“What the heck?" came the not unforseen reply from Perry. “He’s SO dumb!”
“Why don’t you like him” Sophia would say, sparking a revolutionary militia of male voices in the background.
“I dont know...cause he’s super d-dumb, duh!” came Perry’s notoriously poorly thought out responses.
Conversations like these were common in the highschool.
The week went by. Sophie and her friends left for her trip and Ben passed the weekend trying not to think about solving the case.
Friday night, the night before the concert, Ben received a call from a hysterical Sophie claiming she was at the early check in line at the venue but she lost the tickets. Upon deciding nothing more could be done, Ben said he would gather friends and drive up for the weekend and try to make the best of it.
Bright and early Saturday morning Ben, Sam, Paul and Jacob left and headed up for the few hour drive to Chicago. Upon arrival, a lugubrious Sophia and friends met him in front of her aunt’s apartment. Ben said the friend groups would have fun with or without Owl City and gave her a hug. He noticed just half a block away there was a man, looking at them with a hoodie that looked familiar to Ben, but he immediately suppressed any worry with an ok, that’s just preposterous, thought. He couldn’t help it though; it did worry him a bit- how could the man know where Ben was? Did he follow him? Ben would have noticed a car that stayed near him the whole trip. Was he following Sophie? No…but, maybe. Ben ran to his car, pulled out a soccer ball and immediately kicked it under Sophie’s Jeep.
“My bad,” he said to his somewhat skeptical friends, as he dove beneath the Jeep to retrieve his ball.
He paused under the Jeep, scrambled out from under it without the ball, grabbed his guy friends and whispered to them:
“There’s a Boost Mobile cell phone taped under Sophia’s car. Those phones have a built in GPS connection. There’s a man in a blue hoodie about a half a block down the street behind you, Sam, and I think its the guy who hit me.”
The boys all nodded and took off simultaneously. The blue hoodied assailant, realizing what had happened, took off, but his speed was no match for Sam VerMeer’s varsity soccer training, and he was quickly apprehended and tackled down. Sam was scraped but fine, as the other boys fell on the man to further subdue him. Ben pulled back the man’s hood to reveal the face of Perry Townsend. Ben reached into Perry’s hoodie pocket and removed four Owl City tickets—Sophie’s Owl City tickets.
Perry was arrested and Ben explained what happened.
“I realized that Perry may not have been following me, but Sophie. I kicked the ball under the Jeep on purpose to see if maybe, just maybe, the man had kept track of Sophie’s car with any obvious shenanigans. He had duct taped the small phone onto the bottom of her car. Perry had been so vocal about hating Owl City to distract us—a red herring.”
“Why’d he knock YOU out?” asked Sam.
“To pull Sophie out of her car in a hurry so she wouldn’t lock it, and to distract her long enough to steal the tickets. He stole all the tickets to further distract from the fact that he planned on going himself. He wanted people to think he was gonna sell them.”
“You really figured all that out? I think you were in on it.” said Sophie mockingly.
“I’m just really really, ridiculously smart- what can I say?” came Ben’s reply.
“Idiot... Well, lets go to the concert!”
“ Sounds good, we’ll hang out here ‘till its over,”
“Aww, I don’t want you guys to be alone while we’re at the concert,” said Sophie.
“Nonono, please, nothing would make this day better than missing an Owl City concert.” replied Ben.