James Alphaeus

James, son of Alphaeus, is listed in the Bible only three times and is often referred to as James the Lesser. Very little is known about him, which made the handle appropriate for the last of the group, Leif Danvers. He was known to the others as Alphaeus.

Alphaeus was more quiet than silence. Conversations would diminish when he walked into a room, even though he wouldn’t make any effort to join them, as though he was the living embodiment of a pause. The discussions would continue, but the participants would feel like he was listening. He was.

Never feeling a need to pretend to be normal, Alphaeus didn’t go through the motions of social connection. No one would have considered him a friend, and even casual acquaintances realized the effort to deepen a relationship with him was futile given the lack of reciprocation.

Nearing the end of a long career working for a state agency, Alphaeus had been able to design his work situation to maximize his alone time. Staff attrition without a corresponding reduction in department office space allowed him to minimize interaction with his coworkers. His office, stationed at the far end of the floor, past the supply room and two offices vacated by unreplaced analysts, was finagled without much effort from a boss with whom he shared a mutual loathing.

Alphaeus’ job was to gather and forward certain reports related to expenditures in the state’s penal system. It used to require a certain amount of collating information from the monthly reports the individual prisons would send to his office. Pulling the data from all reports into one, A would send the system-wide report to the Comptroller’s office, the executive branch budget office, and the legislative Ways and Means committee.

Along came computers, databases, and the Internet, and Alphaeus’ job became substantially easier. He didn’t even have to do the programming himself. The Office Automation Department sent someone to his door and offered to handle the whole thing as long as Alphaeus would answer a few questions about how the data was collected. An online form was created where the individual prisons could enter the same data from their reports, and a system-wide report was generated complete with text and updated dates. Alphaeus’ job became pressing the button once a month and forwarding the report by email. He didn’t even have to print it out any more.

Alphaeus didn’t tell anyone about the subsequent change to his workload, and his boss, a member of the civil service union himself, wasn’t out looking for union members to get off the payroll. The job was getting done, and Alphaeus was creepy, so why rock the boat.

At the end of the work day, Alphaeus waited until 5:15 to leave in a further effort to avoid others. This was a successful tactic when working with civil servants, and he almost never had to talk to anyone on his trip to the parking garage. The top level, although open to the elements, was the most solitary, so he parked there in the farthest spot from the stairwell.

His home was the third to last on a dead end in a less developed part of the city he worked in. A small, gray ranch with attached garage, it had an eight foot fence around the back yard that prevented anyone else from seeing what he was doing when he was back there. The other houses were all single levels as well, so no one could spy on him from above. He once saw a teenager in a tree in the park abutting his property. The was girdled in the middle of the night by someone. It died and was taken down by the city.

The parts of his yard that were visible to his neighbors were manicured well enough to avoid personal confrontations, but not so well as to invite complements. When he mowed it, Alphaeus made sure there wasn’t anyone lurking on the street. The curtains on all of his windows allowed him to scan the area without being seen. Headphones and dark sunglasses allowed him to pretend not to see anyone. If someone did accost him, he would rush inside to answer the phone, waiting just long enough to be sure the coast was clear.

If a news reporter ever visited any of Alphaeus’ neighbors to interview them about him, they all would have said the same thing. “He was a quiet man. Kept to himself. Never a problem.”

The motor of the garage door opener hummed the only welcome Alphaeus would receive. He pulled the car in and turned it off before pressing the remote, waiting until the door finished its descent before exiting the car. The door into the house had two locks, one a deadbolt, that he kept engaged at all times. He liked locks. He also liked ropes and chains and doors and bars. They held things where they were supposed to be.

The kitchen was spotless and white. Not enough presence had been given to the room to add a patina of use. The pristine living room bore only the pattern of wear in the carpet from window to window. The only life in the room was the blinking number one on the answering machine.