I’m a man who floats through life. I can’t remember a time when I was ever one of the guys. The dudes I knew hung out in testosterone fueled packs. I was a total loner. I had no interest in sports. Never played them. Watching them was boring. I just hung-out in my parents’ basement writing code.
I’m as dense as any fellow when it came to the labyrinth that is the female mind. But my nerdiness attracts them. I think it’s the opposite of the “bad-boy” effect. I am so far from being a bad-boy that I intrigue certain elements of the estrogen bearing set. So, I have had my share of deep sexual experiences, no pun intended. But, getting serious with a female required too much commitment. So, most of my sex-life involved the sultry Rosy Palms.
It’s not like I’m a hermit. I interact constantly, with people in the virtual world of the internet. People on the internet are detached and anonymous. You can be anybody you want to be. But, you touch nobody; and nobody touches you. That’s where I met Biff. I’m sure that she had an actual name. But we had corresponded so intimately in the nerd-chat-rooms that we decided that we were best-friends-forever. Hence “Biff.”
I had no idea who she was, what she looked like, or where she lived. For all I knew, she might have been a 90-year-old Ukrainian babushka; or even a guy. People have no gender in cyberspace. And status isn’t determined by looks or money. You rise, or fall, by your intelligence.
Biff was the smartest person I have ever known. We chatted for two continuous years. It wasn’t just a few messages. We would go back-and-forth for hours each day. Normal people wouldn’t have as much sustained conversation in a real-world setting, anywhere. But for me, virtual schmoozing with Biff and her incredible mind was my form of reality.
Our discussions ranged everywhere. We would go from topics like geo-politics, to why anybody would ever a particular TV show funny. She had a scope of intellect and an understanding of humankind that dwarfed and humbled me and her perceptions about life were second to none. She was humorous, insightful, sardonic and profound; all at the same time.
When we were together, I don’t believe any two people could EVER be as close as we were. We held nothing back. What would be the point when we were both faceless in the anonymous jungle of the internet? We shared everything. And if love is an absolute connection to another person’s soul; than we were indisputably in love.
Naturally, that eventually led to cybersex. I mean, after all, I’m a guy and she’s a girl; that is, if she wasn’t catfishing me. Our cybernetic fucking was detailed, imaginative and very, very hot. But it also brought on the usual male insecurities. So, I finally asked her whether sex with me was as good as the physical sex she was getting from real men. You don’t need to tell me. I know I’m a weenie. I never claimed otherwise. What I got back was:
>” If I get fucked in a forest and nobody hears me is that real?”
> “What ARE you, Nietzsche’s wet-dream?”
>” Nope, I’m just a girl who loves sex.”
>” Is that what we’re doing, having sex?”
>” YES!!! You’re the male abstraction. I’m the female abstraction. It’s a perfect joining. Our pleasure isn’t constrained by our physical self. We’re opposite sides of one virtual soul.”
That caused a major stiffie. I understood exactly what she was saying. The other person existed in our imaginations. So, in simple terms we were fucking OURSELVES. I couldn’t conceive of an intellect so powerful that it could have figured THAT out.
Then one day Biff simply disappeared. When I got my morning coffee, she was always waiting in our private chat-space. It was a companionable way to wake up. We would chat about our day and any of the things that had happened since we last talked.
I knew that Biff was more sociable than me. Who wasn’t? Occasionally we missed evenings, especially if she stayed out late on a date. But she was always there every morning of every day for the past 700 straight days. Except that fateful day.
When I entered the room the curser just sat there blinking. I waited, staring at the thing. Hours passed and no Biff. I went from watching to restless pacing. I kept saying to myself, “Come on Biff, where are you?”
A lot of options went through my head. Maybe she got hit by a car, or mugged? Maybe she had a stroke, or a heart attack? But the dominant thought was, “Have I just been played?”
Biff’s disappearance put a lot of things into perspective. I went through every one of the five stages of grief.
Denial: first I sat for almost 48 straight hours watching the curser blink. I kept telling myself that Biff would never do that to me.
Then Anger: I said to myself, “Fuck her! I don’t need the bitch!” I went out and bought a case of Jameson’s and spent the next week drunk on my ass. Occasionally I staggered over to the screen to look at that diabolical little prompt. It was still blinking away. Finally, I smashed the monitor with my last bottle of Irish.
Then Bargaining: I woke up lying on the floor covered in vomit and little pieces of plastic. I took my wasted body out to the local Best-Buy, and bought a top of the line system. I wanted all the compute power I could get; because I had made a deal with God and every proxy server that Biff had ever hopped through. I would find her and we would work this out. I n the end, I was pretty sure that she lived in the continental U.S. but that was as far as I got. The girl was good.
Depression: that led to two solid years of sadness, regret and anguish. It was unpleasant and scary. I was not used to feeling anything about anybody. The depression stage DID boost my business because working was the only way I could stay sane. During that painful period, I was a code writing machine. My élan-vital was all-consuming.
It took me an endless two and a half years to reach Acceptance. Of course, I didn’t move on. But at least I could function like normal. Ahem!! You don’t need to remind me. I know Biff was a virtual entity and that I’m a geek; and that “normal” is a pretty relative concept with me.
One of the oddest outcomes of those two years was that I began to cultivate a buddy. He worked on the talent management side at the contracting house I was attached to. He was an actual human being not a nerd.
I think they tasked Julian to look after me; because my behavior had been so bizarre; even for me. Somewhere in that assignment he came to like, or perhaps the right term is “feel sorry for”, me. He would take me out for drinks every time I dropped projects off.
Julian was a very affable guy. Of course, you don’t succeed in sales if you’re an asshole. So, the likeability factor was to be expected. He had just moved down to DC from New Haven; where he had done the entire Yale MBA experience. So, he wasn’t dumb.
Nonetheless, he was about as opposite me as you can get and still be in the same species. I am early 30s very tall, skinny and best described as unkempt. He was five eleven, and a preppie’s preppy. Crisp blue oxford shirt and khakis.
I have no social skills whatsoever. Julian could sell fabled ice boxes to proverbial Eskimos. Whenever we were at a bar he would flirt outrageously with every female in the place. They all loved him. Those same girls didn’t even know I existed.
That was probably because I spent the entire time looking at my hands. I liked girls as much as he did. But inarticulate, painfully shy and self-conscious doesn’t come close to describing my savoir-faire.
It was the day before Thanksgiving. I had brought in a C++ code module that was a little jewel. Julian was buying me the usual reward. He said, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving Jake?”
I told him that I was planning on microwaving two turkey TV dinners with all the trimmings and sharing them with my old dog Buster. Then to be conversational I added, “What are you doing?”
He said, “We’re new in town and the family is up north in Boston so it’s just Hannah and me. We would love to have you join us, you can bring Buster if you like.” Normally I would rather be tied to a rabid porcupine than have dinner at somebody’s house, especially on a holiday. But I got the sense that the guy really wanted me there. So, against my better judgment I said, “What time’s dinner?”
I have no idea what caused my sudden onset of sociability. But the situation with Biff had changed me and Julian was a decent fellow. Maybe I was finally growing a heart? Consequently, I was standing on the doorstep of Julian’s trendy McMansion the following afternoon. My unruly shock of brown hair was slicked back and I was wearing my only sport coat. I had even given Buster a bath. He wanted to know what he had done to deserve such painful abuse. Buster is big, stupid and smelly and the best dog in the world. I got him from the pound seven years ago. He looks like the hound from hell. But he is as sweet tempered and loving as any dog, EVER. He is also just as shy and unforthcoming as I am.
He’s mostly Labrador with a touch of some bigger and rangier dog, like an American Bulldog. There was also what might have been Shar-Pei in him, since he has wrinkles. In fact, his skin fits him just as badly as my clothes fit me.
Julian was a study in “at home” fashion. He looked like Mr. Rogers from his plaid shirt and shawl collar sweater to his topsiders. He might as well have been smoking a pipe. I handed him the screw-off bottle of Chablis I had picked up at the drugstore. I knew that Julian’s wife would skin Buster if he disgraced himself on their rug. So, my first act was to navigate him to Julian’s spacious and well-tended back yard. My aim was to encourage the old fellow to do his daily constitutional.
We chatted about Julian’s wife while Buster was attending to business. That conversation took a while because Buster’s “business” also involved a lot of sniffing and rolling around in unspeakable things. It had been a whirlwind courtship. Julian had picked her up at a Starbucks three years back. He had only ducked in for a latte but when he saw her sitting there he HAD to make her acquaintance. He said it was love at first sight.
One thing led to another and they finished the night in bed. According to Julian she was an absolute animal in the sack. And yes girls; that is the first question most guys will ask the man in your life. It comes well before any questions about your literary interests, ability as cooks, or mothers. Anyway, that remarkable first night led to more dates. Six months later they were married. They had been married for a year and a half when Booz transferred him down to the Beltway.
Julian finished his story and Buster finished his business, and we all three walked back into the house with our tails wagging. As might be expected, Julian’s wife was smoking hot gorgeous, long blond hair on a five foot four frame. She was doing the full “Stepford” thing in the kitchen.
She could have been a central-casting stereotype of the successful yuppie wife. Except for the fact that she added new meaning to the term “brick shithouse”. Even though that body was clad in a simple, domestic diva outfit, she still set off deep lustful urges in my lizard brain.
Big, high, round and proud didn’t come close to describing the wonder of her chest and the tiny waist and perfectly muscled hips and legs in her form-fitting cashmere slacks only added to the goddess impression. I could see why a player like Julian had fallen head-over-heels for her.
When we arrived, she was bustling around the kitchen acting like Martha Stewart on meth. Julian introduced us. The direct gaze and the profound intelligence lurking behind those huge cat eyes almost made me take a step back. It was totally unexpected. She had a low sultry voice that only added to the image of lightning in a bottle. I was a long way past tongue-tied.
I took her proffered hand and began to closely study the tops of her shoes. If I had raised my eyes any higher I was afraid I would be turned to stone; at least in one part of my body. Intimidated doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings.
Buster was taking a disturbing amount of interest in what she had laid out on the table. That gave me an opportunity to bolt the room dragging him along. As I did I exchanged the classic guy look with Julian. He said with sympathy, “Yes I know. She is something, isn’t she?” I gushed with all sincerity, “You two look perfect together.”
Dinner was probably normal for them. But it was sheer agony for me. Hannah was witty, and a great conversationalist. It was distressing to have somebody as beautiful as she was focus her entire attention on me. In fact, getting me to talk at ALL was an achievement; my being a loner and all. She got more of my life out of me than most women would get in a year.
When I DID occasionally raise my eyes, I kept catching her expression. She was looking at me like I disturbed her. It was as if there was something about me that she couldn’t get her arms around and it was nagging at her. The more we talked the more curious she got about me. I was getting the same kind of vibe. But, I had no idea why. It just seemed like I knew her. But the odds of me knowing a woman that stunningly attractive were either zero, or none.
We finished the evening over drinks. It was something exotic and expensive. I got the feeling that the Chablis that I had brought had gone directly into the trash. Hannah was sitting on a couch next to Julian, shoes off, with her fabulous legs curled under her and her hand resting possessively on his shoulder. She was the perfect loving wife.
I am not a talker. So, I just sat there staring into space, my hand stroking Buster’s head. He was sitting up next to me with his muzzle resting on the arm of my chair. He was giving me his normal helping of dog-love, slobber-slobber-drool-drool, mostly all over their upholstery.
Mr. Affability tried a conversational gambit, just to get me to stop sitting there like an idiot, “You two have a lot in common. Hannah is an internet whiz too.” Just to be polite I idly said, “Oh, what are you interested in?”
She lit up like a searchlight. The web obviously turned her on. She said, “Everything! I do a lot of exploring in the deepweb and I even do some ethical hacking for Julian’s company.” I said, just to sound a little less like I belonged on the short bus, “I do too, maybe we’ve met in the virtual world. What’s your handle?” All hackers go by their handles. In our little community, our handle is as sacred to us as a hat is to a cowboy. It’s our persona and it is distinctive.
She said, “I call myself Persephone69, she was beautiful and she was also the goddess of the underworld.” She added with a flirty smile, “I’ll let you figure out what the last part means.”
OF ALL OF THE GIN JOINTS, IN ALL OF THE TOWNS, IN ALL OF THE WORLD, SHE HAD TO WALK INTO MINE!!!
Handles are unique. So, the woman sitting across from me, hand draped lovingly across the back of her husband’s shoulder, was BIFF. No doubt!!! One of the chief advantages of being a stone nerd is that your emotions are buried way down deep. That was the only thing that saved me. I was taking a sip of their liquor at the time, which brought on a coughing fit. It was the only way to cover up the reaction.
I said, still choking, “Sorry, I am not used to drinking something this strong.” I was glad I had not sprayed my drink all over them both. Then I unceremoniously dashed to their little powder room. I needed to get my emotions under control. I was astounded to discover that I HAD emotions; and they were indeed bottomless.
First, I threw up the dinner. All I could think of as I splashed water in my suddenly very grey face was, “I’ve gotta get out of here!” As I emerged, Buster was standing at the door. He looked concerned, “What’s wrong Boss?” I said, knowing that they would overhear, “I’m not feeling very well old buddy. We have to hit the road.”
I must have looked ghastly. So, they happily hustled me and my canine pal out the door. Fear of an Ebola outbreak can do that to a host. I drive a Range Rover. It’s my only indulgence. I like the luxury and the fact that it can go anywhere. Buster got obediently in the back, like he always does. He sat there looking worried; pant-pant-pant-pant-pant-drool on the leather seats.
I couldn’t lie to Buster. He’s my loyal pal. I said, with real tears running down my cheek, “I’m in a real mess old buddy!” I might be a nerd, and as unplugged from society as you could get; unless I was an actual display at Madame Tussaud’s. But there were so many unresolved issues; that I didn’t want to think about all of them.
That was an understatement. Let me count the ways. The wife of my only male friend is the single human being I have EVER loved. And I care so deeply about her that the detailed stories that Julian had told about her past feats of sexual athleticism were driving me into a jealous frenzy. Then, to complicate the picture ever so much further, there is no way I could tell either of them what I knew.
Biff and I had explored way too far down into each other’s souls to ever walk that back. Hannah would put out a hit on me, if she thought that I knew who she really was. Of course, I probably wouldn’t get my ass any MORE kicked if I told Julian that I had actually fucked her in real-time. He would never understand a virtual love affair like we had.
Then there was the matter of her attitude toward men. I didn’t know whether marriage had changed her but one of the last things I had found out about her was that she was slightly more dangerous to the males of the world than Messalina herself. So, Buster and I went home and locked the door.
All the next week I did what I do best. I hid-out from everybody. I wasn’t answering messages. I disabled my phone. I worked 20 hours a day and I thought about my situation. First and most obviously, I had to declare Biff irrevocably dead.
I had existed for the first 30 years of my life without human contact. As far as Biff was concerned – well, she was dead – right? So, I had nothing to worry about now, didn’t I? I really wanted to believe that.
I don’t bullshit myself. Of course, I could reconnect with Biff. I knew who she WAS now. But that would be wrong. Biff/Hannah was married to a friend and I wasn’t even starting to go there. Only heartbreak and perdition lay at the end of that road; right? It does, doesn’t it??
I was certain that I knew more about Biff/Hannah than Julian did. Biff and I had interacted soul to soul for two years without any of the distractions of the physical universe. And husbands never pay much attention to their wife anyway.
What puzzled me was why Biff/Hannah had decided to take on the guise of Julian Appleby’s loving wife. Julian clearly didn’t know that he was living with a very rare and in many respects daunting intelligence. And I knew Biff well enough to know that what I had observed on Thanksgiving was a total act. Biff simply wasn’t wired that way.
After thinking about it I concluded that she had contrived the entire marriage for some purpose of her own. But I was sure that she had not shared that little nugget with her loving husband. I was not going to enlighten Julian about his wife. If I had done that there would be no way it would end well. But it was extremely uncomfortable to be around the guy now, knowing what I did about Biff/Hannah.
I finished the project and brought it in as Christmas-time approached. I was trying to get out of the building before Julian found me. But, they must have called him when I got there. He was waiting with the usual gregarious smile plastered on his face. He said, “Beer buddy?” I thought, “Why not, how much worse could it get?”
I quickly found out.
As soon as we got situated he regarded me with something approaching a serious look and said, “What did you do to Hannah? Since Thanksgiving she has been trying to fuck me to death.”
Great! That was something that I positively DIDN’T need to know.
The picture of Julian and Hannah entwined in a sweaty heap of passion was very detrimental to my soul. And the detailed description of her sucking his cock to get him ready for the next round was making me throw-up a little in the back of my mouth.
But I am robot-man so instead I said, “Why in the world do you think I have anything to do with it? I wasn’t exactly at my best bolting out of there. You might as well blame Buster. He was there too.”
Julian said, “No dude, all she has done the past three weeks is ask questions about you. And the more I tell her the more she wants to fuck me. You are the one causing it, not that I’m complaining. Are you sure you aren’t some kind of long-lost brother separated at birth?”
I thought to myself, “Man, if you only knew?”
I said, “Your wife is the most smoking hot gorgeous woman I have ever met. She is so far out of my league I wouldn’t even be allowed to be a bat-boy on her team.” I was certain that Julian believed THAT.
I added sincerely, “Whatever has gotten into her; ahem, so-to-speak, it isn’t me. But YOU should go down to St. Mary’s and light a few candles that you are the only stud in her life.”
Julian got a weird look and said, “I hope so. Sometimes I wonder.”
I thought, “Oh Shit!” but I said, “What do you mean by that?”
He said, “I have NEVER had the slightest reason to doubt that she is anything but a devoted wife.”
I thought to myself, “If you knew her like I know her you wouldn’t put much stock in what you see.”
He added, “We are rarely apart, except when I go to work. And she has never given me less than her best when we are together. But there are occasional times when it feels like she isn’t really there.”
My little voice was very smug. It knew something he didn’t know, “She has NEVER been completely there my friend.”
Then the guy drove a stake through my heart, “When she is in one of those moods it is like she is some kind of phantom spirit. I know that she spends too much time on the internet. I wonder if she is carrying on some sort of virtual affair with somebody out there.”
THAT thought ratcheted my blood pressure up to cerebral embolism status, “She was fucking around on-line?” I was suddenly the cliché of the spurned lover. Except it was a virtual betrayal. It wasn’t that Biff was getting intimate with another guy in the physical universe. She was fucking around like we used to do in the cybernetic one!
I am so repressed that Julian never saw any of the raging battle that was going on inside my head. Instead, I said as casually as I could, “I can find out if you want me to.”
He looked like Buster does when I get out his treats. He said, “What would you need?”
I said simply, “Access to whatever computer she is using.”
He said eagerly, “Come over tonight. She only uses the workstation in our den and her own laptop. But she keeps that in the den as well.”
I said, “Isn’t she going to be a tad suspicious if I just show up out of the blue and head straight for the den with my cracking tools?”
Julian said, “Wait until we go to bed. You can sneak in then. I’ll leave everything unlocked and available.”
I said, “Is she a heavy a sleeper? Aren’t you afraid that she will hear something?”
He said with hearty confidence, “If she does I’ll distract her. Just wait until about 11:30 tonight. I’ll turn off the outside light on the patio to signal that the coast is clear.”
I said, “This is a big favor dude. The last thing I need is for your wife to find me doing a black bag operation in your den. And if one of your neighbors sees me and calls the police I am going to rat both of us out.”
Of course, my motives were actually anything but pure and altruistic. I had the once in a lifetime chance to find out everything I needed to know about Biff/Hannah. And I was suffering from a lot more sheer jealousy than Julian could ever comprehend.
I know that sounds creepy. But I had to have closure. And I was going to get it tonight. I knew that Biff was smart but I am too. She had been dealing with Julian the past three years so I was hoping that her guard would be down.
I probably didn’t need to wear the black hoodie, gloves and camo face-paint as I lurked in Julian’s rose bushes that night. But I was being more adventurous than I had been in my entire repressed life; and I wanted to dress the part.
The outside light flicked off. I waited five more minutes and approached the patio doors. They were unlocked. I quietly made my way toward their den. As I did, I flicked on one of those little headband LED lights that bikers wear. They must have gotten the idea from a mining helmet. I was also carrying a backpack with every kind of electronic gear I might need.
I was a study in ninja stealth, as I opened the door to the den. It squeaked noisily. I heard a whispered female voice from the nearby master bedroom. I thought, “Great! I’m not here two minutes and I’m busted!”
The voice sounded insistent. I was frozen in place. Then I heard a male voice. There was a little furtive discussion. Then I heard a fretful, “No, don’t! Stop it!! Go check first!!!” That was followed by the sound of very heavy and rapid breathing and a loud moan. Then she started muttering, “OhGod-OhGod-OhGod” over and over in a semi-dispassionate voice. It was like she was making a comment about religion, not firing up.
Then there was a loud, AHHHHH!!!” That was followed by the sound of thrashing. I thought, “Julian definitely knew what he was talking about when he said he could distract her.” Given my obsession with Biff/Hannah, the LAST thing I needed to hear were the increasingly louder sex noises coming from that room. But at least I could go about my clandestine business without worry of interruption; and I could keep track of the time by the sounds of the fuck.
I booted both devices and found the reference monitor and system logs. They gave me a detailed second by second picture of what had gone on in each computer. I dumped all the data. While I was doing that the noise in the other room had built to wall-banging proportions. The pounding, rhythmic sound of the bedsprings was almost hypnotic. She was crying out and gasping loudly with each thrust. She was also getting more and more vocal, in an unsettlingly explicit way.
I dumped the log files for both computers and began to mirror both hard-drives using my own homegrown compression algorithm. It captured the sectors that had something in them but had been marked “deleted”. It even picks up the contents of sectors that have been wiped but not degaussed. And it does it in much less time than any other application on the market.
Finally, I dumped her e-mail from every account including the hidden one that she had on TOR. She was very good. But my Kung-Fu is most excellent. And I was a lot more motivated. The action inside the bedroom had gotten white-hot. I had to admire Julian’s stamina. He had been pounding her for 20 minutes. The wet slurping and slapping noises and her grunts and guttural moans were driving me nuts.
Then there were faster and even more intense effort noises. From the sounds that she was making she was getting wilder. Finally, she yelled, “OH SWEET JESUS! Fuck-Me-Fuck-Me-Fuck-Me!! Don’t-Stop-Don’t-Stop-Don’t stop-Oh YES! CUMMING! CUMMING!!! OHHHH YEAHHHH!!!!” That was my Biff in there orgasming her brains out.
Her wild finishing cries were tearing my heart out. Even though she had been nothing but an abstraction all the time I had known her. The hard-drive mirroring process finished with a beep. I hastily closed everything up and put my cracking tools away. I could hear the murmuring of the afterglow in the other room.
Then I heard almost right next to me, “You filled me up Baby! I’ve got to go clean.” Her voice was so close that I almost yelled in surprise. Shit!! I had to get out of there. The door of the bedroom opened. I was plastered against the wall as she emerged. She was hurrying up the hall to their bathroom running in that odd hippy fashion that all naked women do.
I lingered for a look. Her body was exquisite. Her big full breasts had large brown nipples, still erect from her fucking. As she continued down the hall I admired her tight round apple shaped ass and those gorgeous long legs. I bolted for the patio the instant she closed the door of their bathroom.
I couldn’t believe how upset I was. It tore my heart out to hear what the woman in that bedroom was capable of. I wondered how Biff’s exceptionally well-honed and rational mind could give itself over to such out-of-control animal behavior. At the same time, I couldn’t believe how turned on I was by what I had heard.
I have had my share of one-night stands. And a few of them have gotten hot. But I have never in my wildest dreams experienced the kind of fuck that Biff seemed capable of throwing; just as an example of marital relations on any given Tuesday. It was extraordinary. I had no concept how much it would hurt to listen to the only woman I had ever loved having sex. If I had, I would have never volunteered to run the exploit. But, the upside was that I NOW had all the information I would need to make Biff/Hannah’s life an open book.
Good old faithful Buster was waiting patiently for me in the Rover, “Hello Boss, pant-pant-pant-drool-drool-drool pooling on the seats.” I scratched his grey muzzle as he slobbered on my hand. I slung the backpack in the back of the vehicle and drove home. It was too late to do anything constructive. But seven hours later, in the cold light of morning I was going to dump last night’s ill-gotten gains.
My only real extravagance in life is the stuff that I have stuffed in my condo. I have a collection of servers and monitors in my spare bedroom that would make the bridge of the Starship Enterprise look amateurish. And, I buy expensive things off hacker websites that will let me crack anything from a cell phone to a Cray XK6.
Thanks to our virtual affair I felt like I knew more about Biff than anybody in the world including her husband. So, I was sure that it would be tucked away on her laptop; if she was up to something.
Their desktop computer was too communal. She would put the stuff that she wanted us to find on that. And indeed, I quickly discovered that there was nothing suspicious there. Her laptop was very high-end. And most of the things on it were password protected and encrypted, which raised some red flags. But then again, maybe she was just careful.
The brute-force crack took almost 15 hours, which was a new record for the time to break into another person’s stuff. But I wouldn’t expect any less from my virtual lover. The real problem was that, once I got in I learned NOTHING. Her SecureMail account, which I was sure would hide a smoking gun, was empty, no messages in or out. No history.
Seriously!? That made no sense. Nobody sets up an anonymous e-mail account on the Onion Router and then doesn’t use it. A completely empty and apparently unused anonymous message platform just reeked of mischief. But that was the only dubious thing I could find. The fact was that after three days of intensive analysis I came up with a big blank.
I knew that Biff/Hannah spent a lot of money shopping on-line. But there was no proof that she was buying anything clandestine, or setting up love affairs. She did the obligatory social media stuff and corresponded frequently with close friends and relatives. But those were all plaintext messages about everyday life. They were a lot more boring than they were enlightening.
She visited some very naughty sites. And that was for extended periods of time. Of course, I knew about them. We had shared them for days at a time; and they were already bookmarked on my own system. And, unfortunately for the well-being of my very soul, I had the opportunity to witness a far too graphic exhibition of her real-world sexuality.
She DID chat a lot in public rooms but never anything private. That was clear from the system logs. So, I could only conclude that there was nothing going on with any on-line love affairs. I could not begin to convey how relieved that made me feel.
In fact, I was astonished to see how normal and apparently average Biff’s life was. I knew from personal experience that she has a superb and voracious mind. But there wasn’t more than a hint of her exceptional intelligence in her conversations with others.
The girl was either very good, or she was as wholesome and ordinary as her user-profile made her out to be. Knowing Biff I was prepared to go with what was behind door number one. But, I had no evidence to support that conclusion. For all I knew, she might really be the loving yuppie wife she was depicting.
My explorations did convince me of one thing. I had wondered over the past weeks, if it was just an unfortunate coincidence that Julian’s hot wife shared the same handle as Biff. The three days I spent wading around in her computer history DID manage to convince me that I WAS dealing with my virtual lover.
Biff might be pretending to be a housewife for her own reasons. But the mind that was occasionally revealed in her correspondence and on-line activities was clearly my girl. It was like seeing the occasional flash of a stalking Bengal Tiger in the surrounding jungle. I picked up the phone and called Julian. I said, “How about a beer old buddy and we can talk?”
He said, with more emotion than I had expected, “Thank God!”
I said, “What’s the matter? Problems?”
He said apprehensively, “I’ll tell you when I get there.”
Two hours later I was sitting in our usual booth with a pitcher in front of me. Julian walked in as dapper and handsome as ever. He saw me and rushed over to plop down opposite. He looked distressed. I poured him a mug. Beer will soothe all manner of distress. I said, “Do you want to talk first, or shall I?”
He said nervously, “Tell me what you found out.”
I said, “I just spent the past 72 hours living on Skittles and Mountain Dew digging into your wife’s life. So, I can say with absolute confidence that there is nothing suspicious on either computer.” I was not going to mention the TOR account because I had nothing substantive to say about it. I smiled and added, “And thank you very much for the live sex-show. Given my unfortunate state of unwilling celibacy that was a little hard to take.”
He grinned back at me and said, “She IS the hottest piece of ass on the planet, isn’t she?” I gave him a “no shit” look back. It was a tender guy moment.
I said, “So what’s the problem buddy?” The obligatory guy-banter was beginning to get a little tiresome.
He said, “She keeps a diary.”
I looked at him inquiringly, “Really!?? You mean like paper and pencil? How delightfully backward.”
He said, “I have been getting a vibe that she is thinking about somebody else. I don’t believe she has acted on anything yet. But in the past, she has always been all-there for me. So much so, that I can tell when she is distracted.”
He looked worried and said, “I can tell that something has come between us. So, I went hunting for evidence and I found an old journal in the stuff she kept when we moved in together.” My ears perked up. Now, that was moderately interesting! I said, “Do you have it?”
He produced a small, cheap, leather bound book that looked like he had gotten it directly out of the prop closet for the Partridge Family. It was kind of quaint and cute in a little girl way. It even had that miniature lock on it that all pre-teen diaries have.
To say the least, the concept of a woman with Biff’s killer body and sexuality ever being a sweet little girl was a bit disquieting. I took it and opened it. It was almost full. There were entries for several years, ending about the time the two of them got married. It was in the neat, precise handwriting of an elementary school teacher. I said curiously, “What did she do before she married you?”
He said, “She taught third grade”. D’oh?!
I said, “What has you so bothered? This was all before she met you?”
He said, “I read the whole thing. She had a man in her life back then who she claims she loved so absolutely that she had to break it off with him.” I said, “That’s crazy. Why would she break up with somebody she supposedly loved?”
He said, “It was too all-consuming for her. She felt like she was lost in the way she felt about him. I think he was married because there are several references that indicate she could never be with him. The whole relationship got so painful that she couldn’t stand it any longer. So, she ended it.”
Pangs of jealousy were bouncing around in me like a ball of silly putty. She was having a red-hot affair with a married man while we were conducting our own little electronic romance. I was about as devastated as I could be at that revelation. I was fighting hard to keep my nerd cool. I said, “And I repeat, why should you care about a crush that she had before she met you? Didn’t you have a few hotties who you couldn’t live without, back when you were younger?”
The irony wasn’t lost on me. I might be the only male exception to that; excluding Biff of course. But she was virtual. He said, “You haven’t read it. If you saw how she felt about this guy you would not want to even THINK about what might happen if he ever resurfaced.”
I “got” that line of reasoning. That was because I was feeling the same way he was. Both of us were seriously threatened by Biff’s mystery lover. Because, Julian believed that the dude was the absolute true love of Hannah’s life.
I normally make it a point to stay out of everybody else’s business but Biff had made me vulnerable in that one place. So, I said, “What can I do to help?” Noble self-sacrifice was not what was behind that offer.
Fortunately, Julian was flirting with one of the women at the table next to us. If he had been looking directly at ME, he would have seen an uncharacteristic flash of blinding rage in my eyes. I had lived for two years secure in the thought that Biff and I had something special going on; something that she never shared with anybody else. Now I had found out that I was getting the cyber equivalent of sloppy seconds.