The credit card statement had been folded inside its envelope in such a way as his name and the opening part of each line of his address, including the house number, had been sliced off. They nestled behind the manilla frame cradling the transparent window. Hats off to the postman, or woman, for ensuring delivery. He or she didn't seem to have torn back the manilla in order to unshutter the full window. But he himself did so just then, so as to reveal his full name and address and ensure all was in order. It was indeed his bill.
He removed the statement and could see that it had been folded out of kilter. The edges of the pages didn't sit flush with one another, but formed small terraced strata. He idly wondered whether a machine or a human being was responsible for the folding and enveloping. He looked at the total due for the month, (paid automatically by direct debit so as to avoid incurring interest). That's odd he thought to himself.
For the total was about three times his normal monthly spend. He unfolded the statement and smoothed it flat with his hand. His eye alighted to scan the spending summary. He looked at the amounts and totted them up in his head. The arithmetic was correct. Each category, Entertainment, Household, Food And Drink, Hotels, Motoring, Other Retailers and Cash Advances, were above his carefully budgeted amounts. He never usually had anything but a zero in Hotels and for Motoring, He didn't own a car, nor did he travel anywhere. His carbon footprint was very small, though not from any ideological commitment. He had a sinking feeling. He had been cloned. Stolen. Thieved from. Defrauded.
He marched over to his jacket hanging on the peg on the back of the front door. He fumbled for his wallet from the inside pocket, but the credit card was comfortably nestled there. So the card itself hadn't been stolen, but seemingly his identity had been. He returned to the statement to peruse the detail of the individual transaction lines themselves.
The earliest listed items were recognisably his. His mobile phone account. His weekly trip to the supermarket of a Saturday. His monthly train season ticket. The £2 donation he made to sponsor an animal in the zoo, whose photo lovingly adorned a frame on his bedside table. The renewal of his annual membership to the Ramblers Association, even though he hadn't been on a country walk for some considerable time.
But then from here it all went a bit skew whiff. The first alien entry was for a restaurant and not a cheap one either, unless it was for a medium sized party of diners. He went over to his desk and looked up the restaurant on the internet. It was a seafood restaurant and he never touched seafood. He didn't trust its hygiene, coming from the polluted sea and a seabed rippling with bacteria. And yes, calling up a sample menu he could see that this was indeed a most expensive eaterie.
Though it was hard to be certain, one thing was for sure, it wasn't a single person dining out on their own. But he himself could never imagine sitting alone in a restaurant, which is why the category for dining was always followed by a zero. But not today. He gauged that the meal must have been for two people. He tried to conceive who the two could have been. The most likely was a lothario trying to impress a woman. But could he be so self-possessed as to do this with a forged credit card? He wondered if they'd had oysters.
The next item was petrol. Since the Motoring total had been quite high, he skipped down the list and found several other petrol entries. This man, or woman - no he felt that it was almost certainly a man - evidently drove a lot. He did wonder if the car was for business trips, which might then amend his supposition about the expensive meal. Maybe that was a business entertaining (which was taxable). Dipping into a finger bowl to clean off the shellfish flesh, prior to shaking hands on a deal.
He returned to the petrol stops. Each in a different location. He wrote down the names of the towns and began to plot them on a map he had of the whole country on the wall of his study. Never the same location twice. Perhaps he was a travelling salesman. He was intrigued to know whether the man would double back on any of these places within the next month. What was he saying? He had to nip this in the bud now.
Another item on the list caught his eye. Some establishment called "The Flagstaff", which after a quick mental calculation rated under Other Retailer. This category had been particularly inflated, so he returned to the internet and discovered it was a pole dancing establishment. Whatever one of those was. He delved further and became acquainted with the nature of such a venue. Ah, that explained the cash withdrawal on the same night then. The location of the enterprise also matched to one of the garage towns. As did other garage towns to "Club Wraparound" and "Perpendicular" and "Wet Gravity".
He really should... He looked at the stated credit limit. The total of the bill was two-thirds of the way to the maximum, but he figured that was not too bad a value. Not for the purchasing of vicarious pleasures. the chance to let his own imagination run amok. Maybe tomorrow he would contact the credit card company and ask them to lower the limit to what he was prepared to invest in his new proxy identity. And he would buy some pins for his wall map to keep track of his progress.
He was rather taken with his new self.
Many thanks to ian firth @mashie1964 for info on credit card summary categories