I stood on the side of the country club dance floor watching my wife out there making a spectacle of herself. She was enjoying herself in a way I never would--or could, for that matter. I guess you could call her a free spirit. My heart aches with that love, but to see her flashing around, it makes my heart hurt. She is six years younger than me. I am old and settled by comparison to her. I have always considered life and living it, a serious business. Fun was something you did when what you set out to do was done. The trouble is work and business for me were never completed.
I was in the restroom stall when I overheard a conversation. No one wants to hear their beloved being talked about in such a manner as I did. Every feature she had was discussed. Her full luscious lips, her full voluptuous breasts, and right down to the bright red thong that was shown when whirling around the floor in an earlier dance. The thing is, I don't think Amanda is aware of her display at all. She is just so alive and full of fun. So what am I going to do? That was a question I don't seem to have an answer for.
I watched as she and her friend June, headed for the powder room. I don't know why I caught it, but two of the club members, Tim and Bob Noland, nonchalantly made their way after the two women. That was odd. They looked furtively around before entering the hall to the restrooms. I slowly made my way through the dancers and was almost there when June came out and looked wildly around. I sped up and went rushing past her. I saw the door to the ladies room closing.
Amanda was either in the ladies room or the men's room. I chose the one where I saw the door just closing. I was right. The two men had Amanda up against the wall and had already removed her thong. Her gown was up over her head and one man had his pants down around his ankles. I never hesitated. I gripped his hand and using my momentum, swung him around and sent him flailing into the far wall with all the strength I could muster.
The other one, who had been holding Amanda's dress over her head so she couldn't see him, turned to face me. He tried to run, but I body blocked him into an open stall where he fell over the stool. He rolled onto the floor and I jumped on him with both feet, right in the middle of his gut. I hauled back to kick him where I had a clear shot at his cojones. "Mike! Stop it or you'll kill him if you haven't already."
I backed out of the stall and caught my breath. One man was lying on the floor moaning and the one in the stall was retching up this evening's meal. "Are you all right, Honey?" Amanda was standing there crying.
June came in just then followed by a security person. He stood there surveying my victims. "What happened here?"
"These two assholes were raping my wife. I stopped them. You can see that one over there has his pants down and that one in there was holding her dress so she couldn't see who they were."
"That right, Ma'am?" Amanda nodded, mutely.
"The police are on the way. I guess I better call the medics. You two don't leave, but maybe you better go out. Someone will take you into the office."
It took over two hours before the police were through with us. I had caused some serious injuries in the few moments I was addressing my wife's attackers. One had a broken shoulder with the other dislocated. He also had a concussion. The one I had stomped on had a ruptured spleen.
The media did us in with their headline, Wife Flirts. Jealous Husband Goes Berzerk. Followed was a listing of the injuries and two pictures of Amanda out on the dance floor with her dress twirling high enough to show her thong. Three days later I had to appear before a judge, charged with assault with unnecessary use of force.
I won the criminal charges that were brought against me and that only because of the police report that was filed at the time of the attack. My size had a lot to do with my winning. I am only five feet, nine inches tall and of slight build. When my lawyer stood me up against the two men, the jurors couldn't believe that I did anything except protect my wife.
I was, however, charged in civil court. It took all of my assets I hadn't managed to conserve to fight it and in the end, I lost. The judgment against me was astronomical. I was going to be broke the rest of my life.
Amanda was crushed from the moment I was first indicted in the criminal proceedings. We sat down and talked over what would happen if I had to go to jail. Luckily I didn't go to jail, but we still stayed with our plan. We divorced before the trial had ended. At that time I had turned over all of my assets to her. When the civil suit was brought, I didn't have diddly-squat. I looked to Amanda to hire my lawyer. At the time I wished she had hired a better one for me. The way the trial went, though, I could see everything was stacked against me, so the lawyer I had was adequate.
My wife blamed herself for all of the bad things that landed on me. She couldn't see where by divorcing we would be ahead. That was until I was served with papers in the civil suit. Then when the judgment went against me, she understood.
You wonder how our relationship was with each other? I think we were stronger. I know my love for her was, and I was sure hers for me was too. Sure we were divorced, but we were closer and loved each other with more intensity.
Amanda grew and matured when she saw that life wasn't all fun and games. Also that sometimes the littlest thing you do has an effect way beyond comprehension. Myself, I didn't have anything and not much chance of ever having anything again. So I lightened up and started to enjoy life more. We still lived in the same house (her house) and on the surface we were as happy as ever. Still we wanted a family and I wanted any kids we might have to know their parents were wed.
I always felt that criminals were foolish to set out on a life of crime. It would only end with the perpetrator headed for jail. What the hell, I almost made that already and I felt I was as far from being a criminal as the Pope. To tell the truth, I wasn't out to make a whole lot of money for myself, I just wanted to even things up a bit. My target, of course, were the two that had cornered Amanda in the ladies room and tried to rape her. The ones with such disastrous results for me. hr I guess this is a good time to tell you about myself. I'm Mike Murdock, and I was an auditor for a financial group. I was, anyway, until people heard about me having a huge monetary judgment against me. Companies just didn't want me looking at their books and seeing where their assets were kept. I was now reduced to keeping books for a small computer firm that did sales and installations. They also did repairs.
A germ of an idea came to me when a computer was brought in that had been damaged by dropping it. You guessed it. It was from the firm that was run by the two assholes that had caused me and Amanda such grief. This company I worked for was actually too small to keep a full time bookkeeper occupied, so I often helped in the repair department.
The repair man, Randy, diagnosed the problem and extracted what was on the computer using a recovery program. When the new part was put in, all of the information he had extracted had to be reinstalled. This was time consuming, but anyone could do it with just a few key strokes. The job was given to me. I started this near the end of the day and offered to come back after dinner to complete the installation. The computer was scheduled for delivery before noon the next day.
It was eight-thirty that night when I finished the installation. I decided to look to see what was on the computer just to make sure I had things installed properly. I discovered the dumb-fucks had their passwords listed in a file. The computer was now an open book to me. I first looked at the financial files. Being an auditor, it took me only a few minutes to see that the two of them were crooks and the Treasury Department was not getting paid what was owed.
Rather than look further, I ran an extraction of my own onto a couple of disks and took them home with me. I guess this was my first criminal act.
For six months, I never looked at those disks. In the meantime my wages, such as they were, were being garnished to the tune of fifteen percent--and that was on the gross. Hell, I couldn't even buy more than two beers if I wanted to. Amanda was supporting me. It was originally my money, of course, but it still didn't make it right. I was getting into more and more of this computer tech stuff. Randy was a computer geek from way back, and was pleased to show me how to find my way around more than the basics. Even he was surprised on how fast I caught on and was letting me do minor repairs as they came in.
One day a customer brought in a computer and said he couldn't find his files. Randy showed the customer what had happened. He had been hacked and his files deleted. That brought up a whole new area that I was interested in. In a discussion with Randy later, I asked him if he would show me how it was done. Randy refused, saying it wasn't ethical working in repairs as I did. He did mention some hackers and told me which one was best. I made the trip.
It took three months for the hacker to teach me all he knew. When I was able to hack into his computer and he couldn't find where the hack came from, he graduated me. He had his ethics too. He made me promise that I would never hack into any sensitive government entity. I complied.
"Amanda, do you want to get out of this mess we are in?"
"Of course I do, but how? Are you going to rob a bank?"
"No, but something just as good and maybe even better. It might even have some good old 'get even' in it."
"God, if we only could. Tell me more."
"It is pretty illegal. I wouldn't consider it, but I want to be married to you again. I don't think there is much risk. Let me run it by you and see what you think."
Amanda was all for it. In fact she was enthusiastic and set out Monday morning to get it started. First she put on a disguise and rented a room by the week in a middle-class neighborhood, making sure that it had Internet access. She told the landlady that for a few weeks her husband wanted a quiet place to write up his invoices, for the kids bothered him at home. Her husband was on the road in another state and had taken the checkbook with him. Would cash be acceptable? No problem.
Next she went cross town and bought a used high-powered computer from a pawnshop. This was one that I had specifically asked Amanda to look for. The landlady's son even carried it into the rented room for her. He also helped her move in a table for the computer which was large enough to provide working space, and one chair. Then a trip to the service provider, and using the same excuse, was able to pay cash there, too. That put me onto the Internet the first time I booted up.
Kissing Amanda, I left home with hopeful and cautionary wishes following me out the door. I spoke genially to the landlady whom I met in the hallway to my room. I had a three-day-old beard, a fake mustache, two-inch elevator shoes and horned-rim glasses. As I went by I commented, "I have four kids that prevent me from concentrating."
The two disks that I had downloaded nine or ten months ago kept me busy that night until nearly midnight. I figured when I was done looking at them, I knew more about their company than they did themselves. They had more damned hidden files on their machine. The jackpot turned out to be a file I almost missed. It was a porno file with pictures. I had put the machine on scroll and went to the john. When I came back I was seeing text and spreadsheets scrolling by.
Apparently anyone looking at the file would think it was blank beyond the pictures, but the good stuff was after a three minute blank near the end of the file. Accidents do happen and I was lucky, or someone up there was thinking maybe it was my turn for some of that good luck. I closed down for the night. All I had done was look at a couple of disks, but my time was well spent. I knew of course what I saw had changed in the time the disks had set idle. Having kept track of these two assholes because I was turning over part of my paycheck, I couldn't have imagined they would have changed their system to any great extent.
I wiped everything down for eventually I was going to do something that could land me in the slammer. I was making a habit of being extra cautious. Amanda was waiting expectantly at home. "You know I feel every time you go out the door I'll get a call from the police that you are in jail."
"It could happen, but I'm going to risk it. The more I see of their records, I think the less danger there is. I'm going to be like a crook stealing from other crooks. Who are they going to complain to? If they don't find out it is me, then we'll be okay."
"So what did you see on the disks? Anything interesting, more than finding out they are cooking the books?"
"Yes I did, and I almost missed it. If I hadn't had to go to the john, the only thing I could have done was turn them into the IRS and ask for the reward. I found a place where they have stored a slush fund and it is all illegal money. They have been skimming money off the top from the company and stashing it out of the country. I think I can get to it. It will take some time, but it is there for the picking."
"Is it enough to bother with?"
"More than enough. I'm not going to get greedy though. I'm going to take what I have had to pay the bastards, the costs I have had to put up in attorneys' fees, and the difference between what I would have made and what I make now. Beyond that, I'm going to have them fighting amongst themselves. I still might set the IRS on them. I haven't decided that yet."
"You can do all of that?"
"I can and I'm going to."
"How long is it going to take?"
"The actual doing isn't going to take long, but the setting up may take a month or more. We are going to have to do some traveling too. Would you treat me to a vacation in the Cayman Islands? I'll pay you back when this whole thing is over." I laughed. "I'll just put it in as a business expense."
"A vacation Mike? God, we need it after what this past year has done to us. If we get caught, we will have that anyway."
"Wait until I can hack into Tim and Bob's computer before we get too excited. I might not find what I think is still there. I will be very surprised if that slush fund has been moved. The way I read the accounts, the two assholes are building toward their own personal retirement fund. The projected completion date is five years from when those disks were generated. I should have at least three years to set this up. If I was greedy I might wait for awhile. I'm not and there is more than enough in there to get my pay-back and cause some trouble."
I waited two days and then went back to my rented room, finding things just as I had left them. I could see why some crooks were paranoid. I know I was about safety on this project. Tonight I was going to be hacking into Tim and Bob's computer system and I was pretty damned nervous.
Thank God this company was big enough so that the computer network was turned on twenty-four hours. I was into the network as easily as if I was sitting in front of a computer in one of the offices. I had just a little more trouble finding which password matched the computer I wanted into. I had the passwords, I just didn't know which one to use. On the seventh try, I was in.
The file hadn't been changed much, the same password worked on the same file. The porn was different. Whoever had this computer in his office was partial to blondes, if the selection he had compiled indicated anything. The sum in the account had increased by a bit over one hundred thousand dollars in the last year. Either business was very good or they were getting greedy.
The money itself was stashed in a bank in the Cayman Islands. It was beyond the grasp of the US Government. It was in a numbered account. Remember, I was an auditor and when I saw a number, I wondered about it. If something had a number on it, there had to be a reason for it. Those blondes--they were all numbered. The numbers were not sequential--so--why weren't they? Because the numbers were there for some other reason.
This indicated a code. A code to something that in itself was thought to be hidden. It had to be the account in the Cayman bank. I would bet my life on it. So what else would I need to access the account? Probably something like a password. The only other place I might be able to find it would be on their PCs at home. There again another problem presented itself. The computers had to be turned on. I left this for some other time and did more sniffing around the company network. Fuck it! If I never was able to get anything back but satisfaction, I sure could cause the Nolands some real grief. I was smiling to myself as I downloaded a hidden file that was the true finances of the company. I extracted the other file with the women posted on it so I could study it at my leisure.
Puzzling in my mind how to get into the home computers, I cleaned up the room, wiped everything down and headed for home. Amanda had company when I arrived. A person was sitting in the darkened living room. I could just make out that it was a woman. Amanda didn't say who it was but steered me to the kitchen. "Mike, we have to talk. This goes back to the night I was almost raped. You know June, my former friend, disappeared after that night and we couldn't find her. We thought then she might have been able to help your case.
"Well, she could have, but she was too afraid to come forward. It seems that she helped Tim and Bob set me up to be raped. They were blackmailing her because of some indiscretions of her own. She was supposed to lock the door to the ladies room and stand outside and tell people the facility was out of order until they had finished with me. She chickened out and just left. That was why you were able to get in and save me.
"The Nolands were so pissed that they got hurt, they used the information to destroy her life. In the last year her husband and she were divorced and he has custody of their little girl. I hate what she did, but I feel sorry for her at the same time. She is about ready to take her life. I don't want her to do that. She has come here to ask for my forgiveness. Would you speak to her?"
"Sure. Maybe she can help us with our little project at the same time too." Amanda and I went into the living room and I turned the lights on. June was sitting on the corner of the couch looking ready to run. I couldn't believe the change in the woman. Where she had been vivacious and sparkling with life the last time I had seen her, she was looking dull and with that look of hopelessness that comes before one knows she is soon to die.
"Hi June. Amanda tells me your life has turned to crap. Would you tell me about it?"
"What's the use? It all happened because I cheated on Brian. Only one time, and I tried to stop what happened that afternoon as soon as I got there. I was practically raped and prevented from leaving. It was a place where they had cameras from every angle which I wasn't aware of until they showed me an edited video. They said if I didn't do what they wanted me to do, they would send Brian a copy. The next weekend at the dance they told me what to do to trap Amanda in the ladies room. I just couldn't do it. You know what happened after that.
"Tim and Bob sent the tape to Brian. I gave up and filed for a divorce. I had my lawyer give Brian everything including custody of Linda. She is only four and will soon forget me."
"What did Brian say about this? Did you ever explain to him what and why this happened?"
"No, I haven't talked to him since he got the video. My lawyer kept trying to have me get together with him, but what was the use? It would only make the pain worse for both of us."
"Where have you been staying in the last year?"
"I stayed with my sister out in Colorado, but she said if I didn't stop crying she was going to kick me out, so I left. That was three months ago. I guess you could say I am homeless now."
"Well, you aren't homeless anymore. You can make your home with us until you get back on your feet. How come you are back in town?"
"I wanted to see Linda before I--"
"Before you did what?"
June broke down and started crying her heart out. I motioned for Amanda to take June upstairs and put her to bed. As soon as they were out of hearing, I made a phone call. It was late, but I couldn't see any reason for putting it off.
"Brian, this is Mike Murdock. You know your wife June used to be friends with my wife Amanda."
Brian interrupted. "Has Amanda heard from her? Is she okay? I need so much to talk to her."
"Cool down. June is here with us. Let me ask if you still have any feelings for your wife?"
"Of course I do. If she will only talk to me, we could put this all behind us. Linda still has nightmares about losing her Mom. Can I see her at your house?"
"That is why I am calling. Look, June came into town to say good-bye to Linda and then was going away forever, if you catch my meaning. She came here to Amanda and I for the same reason. She felt responsible for the trouble that we have had this past year. Amanda forgave her and I have done the same. Why don't you get your daughter up and both come over? Maybe between all of us we can change the direction she is determined to go."
"We'll be over in a half hour."
Before Brian and Linda arrived, Amanda came down and said she had helped June take a hot shower and she was now sleeping in the guest bedroom. I told her what I had done, which earned me a loving kiss and a thank you.
Brian was carrying his sleeping little girl in his arms when he came in. Amanda took Linda and they went upstairs. She came back down and said she had slid Linda in beside her mother. Brian asked, "Do you think she will talk to me?"
"Don't talk to us. Amanda will show you where June is sleeping. Go up and crawl in bed with her so she will be between the two people she loves when she wakes up. I doubt she will get up and go on with her plans after that."