Under Siege

We’re being followed. Neither your mother nor I were aware of our tail until recently. A man, about 6’0’’, 160lbs and likely of Vietnamese descent, was eyeing us from afar while we were walking together. Since your mother had taken off for a run as soon as we arrived at the park, our plan was to meet her at the half-way point. I knew that was an unrealistic goal because you don’t walk fast and tend to do whatever your mind desires, so she had to re-trace about 100 meters to meet us. When we passed the half-way point about ten minutes later, he was standing right around that area pretending to take pictures with his phone. No more than six feet separated us from him at the closest point.

He immediately caught my eye and noticed my gaze. I thought he could be the same guy that stole your mother’s iPhone last year but wasn’t sure. As we moved further away from him, I looked back several times to gauge his actions but couldn’t surmise anything. Your mother was wondering what I was doing because, stupidly, it was obvious that my attention was elsewhere. I told her my thoughts but, after looking back, she pretty much laughed it off finding the whole thing hard to believe and then briefly got mad at me for thinking “bad” things. Rightly, I stood up for my opinion and, fortunately, it didn’t cause an argument. Maybe she had realized the flaws in her thinking.

He was out of sight for the next 30 minutes. I looked behind us several times but nothing seemed suspicious. It wasn’t until we had abruptly, in a playful manner, pulled over into the playground and stopped behind a shrub that I saw him again. He was about five seconds behind us. I got my phone out as quickly as I could and was able to take a picture of him from behind. Not noticing him following us wasn’t surprising because there are other paths that he could have taken. Now, you might think that it’s just a coincidence. We can’t be the only ones who take that route. You’d probably be correct under normal circumstances, but that logic breaks down because we moved very slowly and even took one, maybe two, breaks. You were enjoying rubbing your palms on the ground and picking up random leaves. Why would I want to intervene in a learning situation when you weren’t trying to eat anything? Everyone passed by us, as usual, but not him.

Your mother took me a bit more seriously after I showed her the picture. Sometime soon after the city had just started to re-open from the strict lockdown on October 1st, he passed by you and your mother as you were waiting for me outside of 7-11 in a nearby walkway. He caught your mother’s attention because he glared at both of you with a black face, checked his surroundings, looked inside of 7-11 at me and then looked back at you and your mother before continuing on. Your mother told me what had happened right when I got back because his actions weren’t normal. We were lucky.

I took you back to the park on the following day around the same time. It was only you and me this time since your mother was busy with her work. Up until we passed the half-way point, everything seemed normal. I don’t know when or where he first saw us but our paths converged at an intersection about 100 meters after. Rather than follow from behind, he was a few paces ahead of us. I let that distance grow on purpose to see how he would respond. While trying to coordinate glances at us with sharper turns, he discreetly looked over his shoulder a few times to see what we were doing before taking a path that runs adjacent to our usual one. Understanding the situation, as soon as I felt it was safe to do so, we took a detour to get behind him for a few minutes before doubling back to go down the same path that he took. I wanted to observe him. My thought was that he’d think we were just taking our time like usual on the usual way.

Right after we passed by him as he was sitting on a bench, which was about 50 to 75 meters after the detour point, I could hear him scrambling to get up in a hurry. I’m certain he was surprised. To confirm my suspicions, without looking back, I opened the selfie camera on my phone and took some pictures from over my left shoulder. He was there. He was trying to catch up with us. But I kept pace, stayed ahead of him feeling a sense of danger and then, when we reached the playground, abruptly, in an evasive manner, tuned into it again but walking further inside this time to a more enclosed section behind peoples’ belongings. He didn’t follow us and continued to walk down the path. I took a few pictures of him as he passed by us seconds later. Unfortunately, I only got shots of his profile and backside.

Once I felt you were safe, of course, we went to play on the playground but that was short-lived, approximately five minutes, because my curiosity eventually got the best of me. I picked you up, sat you in the stroller and set out to find him. Not knowing where he went, I choose to follow our normal post-playground route. We caught up to him about five minutes later. He was walking at a significantly slower pace as compared to when he was trying to catch up with us. Cautious not to tip him off, we hung about 50 meters behind. I watched him take exactly the same route that we usually follow. As he was approaching our typical next stop, he constantly looked back in our direction for a good minute before proceeding towards the street where a guy in a black shirt on a motorbike was waiting for him. Then they drove away together. He probably didn’t know that I had been watching him but rather looked back to see if there would be another opportunity to take you. For someone to take the same exact route that we normally follow to our next destination is unusual. It’s not the direct way to the street. I’ve also only ever seen us there.

As soon as we got home, your mother and I examined my pictures of him. It was surprising to discover that between the time he scrambled to get up from the bench as we passed right in front of him with only a phone in-hand and my abrupt turn into the playground, he got a cloth-like from his bag and was able to palm it in his left-hand. One of my selfie pictures actually captured him going into his bag but there wasn’t enough detail to see what he was doing. We only noticed the cloth being concealed in his hand after zooming-in on one of the pictures taken as he was passing by. Your mother and I believe it had been doused in chloroform. The fucker was waiting for the right opportunity to disable me and take you.

If you’ve read my entries up until this point, it should be clear that I, largely, don’t like Vietnamese people. Your people, partly. They’re scum. So, keeping that in mind, I bought an Apple AirTag sometime last year with the sole purpose of tracking you because child abduction in Vietnam happens often but not much is done to combat it and doesn’t get any local press. Understand that we’d probably only have the first few minutes to take action if you were abducted before losing you forever. This is not the USA. This is Asia. This is Vietnam. Although your mother didn’t support tracking you initially, she now wants it to be with you every time we go outside.

I’ve fought the urge to weed him out by baiting him because I realized that’s not in our best interest. This isn’t capture the flag. It’s your life.

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