It might have been my socialization, or diet, or early toilet training. Or maybe I am just a complete asshole. Whatever!!! But I have been a loner my entire life – and that’s just fine with me. Since I live in my head. And things are always a lot more interesting up there.
Needless to say, I hated school. Every second that I spent chained to the golden mean was agonizing. And since I was a nerd I didn’t have any actual friends.
Instead, I spent most of my time playing video games with a couple of guys who were as weird as I was. My folks thought that I was an unmotivated loser. And they weren’t exactly wrong.
But, nerds like me DO have a big helping of larceny in our soul. And we LOVE picking through the things that the lesser brains don’t understand. Especially if we are trespassing while we are doing it. That’s how I discovered reverse-engineering, zero-day vulnerabilities.
Zero-day vulnerabilities are those little flaws that hide in every consumer product. And finding them is like strolling through an orchard picking off low hanging fruit.
The real beauty of the thing is that you can sell what you find to the highest bidder. Blackmail is such an ugly word. I prefer to think of myself as an information broker. If you give me enough money I will tell you about the backdoor lurking in your company’s financial system.
The nerd code of ethics obliges me to offer my little insights to the folks who originally made the mistake. But if THEY aren’t interested, there are always the boutique sites on the Darkweb. Those places are chock full of desperados who are ALWAYS interested in ways to get access to other people’s money. And they will pay almost any price.
I had a sliding scale. It ranged from vanilla bugs at forty-thousand, to the “Holy Shit!!!” kind that sometimes topped out at a half-million dollars. I didn’t find many of the latter. But even so - by the time I reached legal drinking age I had a lot of ill gotten plunder stashed away in off-shore accounts.
And thanks to the anonymity of the internet nobody ever knew that I was a pimply-faced teenager. I hear you asking, “How could a teenager open an account in the Caymans?”
Well ... Along the way I MIGHT have helped myself to a few extra identities that I found lying around. So, there are a bunch of plumbers, machinists and housewives out there in blue-collar-land who are filthy rich. They just don’t know it.
Naturally, I had no outside social life except gamer girls. Those girls were just like me - nerdy and maladjusted. They were either painfully shy, or so covered in grotesque tats and piercings that they scared me.
Most of them would fuck me for a Call-of-Duty cheat code. You would have to be one of us to understand why THAT was coin of the realm. But they were not exactly what you’d call “attractive.”
That didn’t get in the way of my fucking them. Since I had only one criterion. She had to have a working hoo-ha and be willing to use it. I wasn’t looking for love. In fact, anything longer than a forty-minute relationship was more than I could commit to.
Hence, my twenties passed in a ganja and sex fueled haze. I still lived in my parent’s basement. Don’t judge me!!!! I’m a nerd. I had no desire to be a grownup. But by my thirty-first year I was getting bored with shaking down the software industry. And since I had squirreled away about nine million dollars at that point. I thought I might attempt my first foray into the adult world.
It was the sort of naïve exploit that I am legendary for. I just loaded up a backpack and bought a one-way ticket to Bimini Island, in the Bahamas.
I actually had a couple of not very well thought out - but nonetheless valid – motives for doing that.
My most important reason was weather. It had sucked my whole life. The temperature was either setting new lows, or highs. And the clouds, rain and snow in Ann Arbor were perpetual. So I wanted to live in year-around summer.
However, moving to a hip-happening place like Miami was totally out of the question. Especially given my social skills. And I am allergic to geezers. So the Southwest was out.
The main reason why I chose Bimini was the population, which was all of 2,000 year-round residents. I still didn’t have any desire to interact with the human race. And Bimini was isolated from the U.S. by 50 miles of ocean.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I got there; at least in terms of the practical aspects, like where and how I was going to live. I had some hazy idea that Bimini was the cannabis capitol of the Caribbean. But I might have gotten that mixed up with Jamaica, which it turns out WASN’T nearby.
Bimini WAS the fishing capitol of the Caribbean. But since fishing is the only pastime that I can think of that is more excruciating than having my fingernails yanked out, that wasn’t a selling point. Flying over the place, I could see that it was mostly mangrove swamps. Of course you never get a sense of where you are until you step out on the tarmac.
My first impression was that it was “tropical” – hot and humid. But there was a decent breeze. There were a couple of beaten up old taxis at what passed for an airport. I had not thought to make reservations. You don’t get worldly, or sophisticated lurking in your parent’s basement.
So I asked the driver to take me to an available hotel. He took me someplace that was so expensive that it must have been paying the drivers kickbacks. It was pretty clear that the islanders considered people like me legitimate prey.
The following morning was exactly like the day before, hot and cloudless. That was precisely what I was looking for. I am. excruciatingly introverted. But I knew I would have to talk to somebody. That is, if I ever wanted to find a place to live. So I screwed up my courage and approached the dude behind the concierge desk.
He looked like a caricature of an island creole, right down to his shaven head. He was a good looking guy, tall and whip slender. And he certainly didn’t seem like a concierge. He had his feet up on the desk. He was dressed in a tropical print shirt that was opened to his navel. And he had on a ratty pair of boat shorts with flip-flops. He looked happy. Maybe it was something in the air. Or maybe he saw me as a newcomer ripe for the plucking.
He said, “May I help you?” It was in that musical, lilting British accented voice that I had come to associate with the locals. I told him that I was looking to move down to Bimini but I needed advice. He literally appeared to swap hats. And he said, “I can advise you sir.” The “for a small sum” part was a foregone conclusion.
He was a jolly fellow named Reg, which was short for Reginald. Reg was one very interesting dude. He appeared to be working every scam imaginable – from weed, to girls, to island tours. And he knew everybody and everything. Looking back on it I considered myself to be a very fortunate nerd to have fallen into his clutches.
If moving to a totally unfamiliar place strictly on a whim sounds a little immature, I can assure you that it was indeed. I knew nothing about Bimini except that it was warm and sunny. The fact that Bimini was a legendary hangout for the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Lucille Ball and Earnest Hemingway was completely unknown to me. I just thought that the name of the island sounded cool.
That kind of ignorance can sometimes get you killed. But luckily, my new buddy only wanted a surprisingly small amount of my money to help me get acclimated. He and I toured the island – or perhaps the better term is islands since Bimini is actually two separate islands with a short passage of water in between.
The place with all of the bars and restaurants is Alice Town. That is on the North Island, just the other side of the passage. I was on the South Island, which is definitely NOT where the action is.
Reg and I walked to the water taxi. That took us from the South side to the North side. It was only 11:00 in the morning but Reg suggested lunch.
I was not thinking “alcohol” as we walked over to Sherry’s Place. But that was what we were there for. The building looked like it had been put together out of driftwood and the clientele at that time of day was decidedly un-touristy. But it turned out that the food was great. And the people were so friendly that I didn’t feel TOO ill-at ease around them.
As I might have mentioned, I am not exactly a fan of the human race. But the camaraderie there was infectious. Of course Reg knew everybody. So five beers later I was part of a happy clan of about a dozen locals.
All of those people had opinions. The general consensus was that I needed to live in Alice Town. Since that was where most of the fun stuff was. I wasn’t exactly looking for fun but most of the stores were there too. So I want along with that.
I had spent the past 15 years living in a basement. And the houses were WAY too communal for my nerd-like tastes. Finally, one of Reg’s friends said, “Why don’t you live on a boat mon? A lot of us do.” Now THAT was intriguing.
Keep in mind that I had never been on a boat in my life. But the concept of a house that was separated from land and that I could move if I didn’t like the neighborhood was offbeat enough that it was very appealing.
I said, “Do you know if there are any that I could look at?” The guy who had brought it up said, “Certainly mon, there’s one over at Browns Marina that you probably can’t afford. But it’s a good example of what I’m talking about.”
.... There is more of this story ...