The Jail Bird
by Patricia Crandall
A thief can steal more money with a computer than with a gun. In Gibson, New York, Clayton Swarmik took advantage of people who depended on computers to advance their finances by indiscreetly controlling their services, and accumulating a great deal of wealth. It all came to an end when he went to make a withdrawal at the Carlton Bank. He found someone as devious as he had made a deliberate attack on his computer and drained the account of all monies.
He was incensed by the depletion of his life savings, and more so by the fact his competitor went to the authorities concerning his dealings. Whereby, a thorough investigation landed him in jail. To add to his misery, Swarmik’s rival remained at large and an institution was created to adopt safer and more secure computer systems.
At six A.M. on a Monday, three of Swarmik’s cronies sauntered along the courtyard beneath the brick walls of the Newbury jail where he was incarcerated. Todd Davies stopped to light a cigarette. The other men conversed in low voices.
Damion Hunter looked over his shoulder, surprised to see two guards walking toward them.
Attempting to appear outwardly calm, the trio acknowledged the police officers.
“Hi,” Lou Snelling said, “Thought we’d say good morning to our buddy Swarmik through the channel up there.” He pointed to barred window openings set in the four-story cement building.
“This jail yard is off limits,” the first guard said. “Buzz off.”
“How can that be?” Damion asked, in a pretense of shock. “We come once a day to cheer Swarmik. We talk to him through the window. No harm in that is there, Officer? Everyone does it.”
The guard grumbled, “There’s been too much noise and loitering going on here. Complaints are pouring in from the neighborhood. Get along or I’ll have to arrest you for trespassing.”
“For cripe’s sake,” Todd said. “Swarmik’s mother will be upset. She passes a Biblical thought to him through me every morning. The old lady is confined to a wheelchair. All she has for company is a computer. Poor old woman.”
“Is that right? The message Mother Swarmik passed along to her boy yesterday made him go berserk. Clayton’s in a straitjacket.”
“What was the message?” Todd asked in a surprised voice.
“May God bless you and jail keep you.”
“Blast old lady Swarmik!” Damion said angrily when the three men were alone. “That woman should never have been a mother. Too bad we can’t prove that Edith Swarmik is the No. 1 computer thief who nudged out her own son. Worse than that, Clayton had to find out.”