3 Is a Magic Number Ch. 18

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I got up from my fourth set of one hundred pushups that day, and sat down on my bunk. I had spent the last two years, three months, and twenty-eight days in the Federal Prison in Morgantown, West Virginia. As far as prisons go, this one hadn’t been bad. I felt the thin mattress under me, and I was glad that I would be leaving here in less than twenty-four hours.

Being locked in the joint for three years hadn’t been exactly what I’d had in mind when I graduated from Northwestern University with honors. I left with a B.S. in computer engineering and another I.T. security theory. I was picked up right out of college by Dunston and Gibbs, a prominent computer security firm that I had interned for between my junior and senior years. It was a bonus that they were located in Chicago, where I lived with Julia, Katie, and our three wonderful children.

Melissa was our first born, and she had three very excited parents. Katie was a wonderful mom. Don’t get me wrong, Julia was great too. Katie did the majority of the parenting, though. Julia and I were both taking eighteen to twenty credit hour semesters; with at me having at least one lab that took up six hours, of which I got credit for two. Katie got pregnant again at the beginning of my junior year. We had a boy that we named Shane, after the character in the old movie. Katie’s two pregnancies went off without a hitch, and her body bounced back in no time.

Julia clearly did not want to be left out, because between undergrad and law school she had a baby girl named Barbie. It was a tough pregnancy. She barfed the whole time, and when she delivered the baby, she weighed ten pounds less than her normal weight. She had all kinds of complications, and ended up having to deliver by cesarean section. Katie complained that the scar ruined her perfect body. I told Julia that the scar was physical proof of how much she loved the baby, and us. Julia told Katie that her twat was still as tight as an eighteen-year old’s, which it was; but so was Katie’s. I never got in the middle of that particular discussion.

Julia went on to law school at Loyola University, and I began working seventy plus hour weeks. The upside to my job is that I mostly worked from home, and could work whenever I wanted. Katie still handled the kids like a champ. She seemed to feed off the boundless energy of our offspring, and almost never seemed to be tired, or out of sorts.

After a year of hard work, D and I also earned big, big, fat bonus checks.

My downfall came when an agency that doesn’t official exist started having issues with their email. I found no obvious exploit that would be causing emails to be deleted, I moved through the shadow system underneath the visible system, and recovered emails for twenty-six members of this organization. I did not read emails, as I was instructed, but bundled them onto a new server with new user names and passwords.

I moved on to other projects, and put anything that I remembered about this invisible government agency to short term memory, to be forgotten. Six months later an email scandal broke out when a certain presidential candidate’s email began to be published anonymously, from an alleged hacker.

It was two days later when the FBI kicked in our front and back doors. They forcibly flung all three of us to the ground; while all the time waving their M-4’s, and looking like the jack-booted thugs that they were, with their black balaclavas and insectoid looking helmets. My kids got to see their dad hauled out of the house in handcuffs, and secured into a prisoner transport.

I was puzzled, and I was pissed. They read me my rights on the way to the Chicago Field Office. I had a bulletproof vest placed over my T-shirt, and I was lead out into the basement where a horde of reporters shouted questions about emails, and my picture was taken about seven thousand times. It all clicked inside my head now. The goddamn emails.

I was placed into a room where the table and chairs were welded to the steel floor. My cuffs were taken off, and my wrists were locked through a set of manacles that were welded to the table. It was no surprise that the room was very warm, the lights were too bright, and that one wall was made entirely of a mirror. I sat there sweating for seven hours. I had to piss so bad that it felt like my bladder had it’s own heartbeat. The door opened, and an unassuming middle-aged man entered, and quickly sat in the chair in front of me. He had been my contact point for the agency with no name.

“You motherfucker!” I yelled at him. His hands came up in a conciliatory gesture.

“Look, I only have a few minutes here with the cameras off. I am here to help you out.” When I stop yelling, he continued to talk. “Look, things got fucked up, and you got thrown under the bus. I didn’t have anything to do with it, but I have a way out for you; of sorts.”

“I’m listening.” Goddamn government bureaucrats.

“The press has already seen you, so any option güvenilir bahis that we might have had for a switch out has passed. They don’t know your name yet. The FBI pricks are withholding that until they can have an official press conference. Right now, they are too busy strutting like peacocks, and sucking each other’s dicks to release your name. I will make this simple: you can go to jail as Jackson King, and never be allowed in the same room as a computer; or you go to jail as Truman Potter, super hacker. Truman will get a cushy arrangement in minimum security, and $250,000 a year to cover what business that you will lose. You confess, sign whatever they put in front of you, only speak through your attorney, which we will furnish; and we guarantee that you will serve no more than three years.” I started to speak, but he waved me off.

“I know that this is a hot steaming pile of shit that you have been dropped into, but other than the time that you will serve, it isn’t a horrible deal. You are looking at possibly being charged with treason. They can give you life in prison for that. I doubt they would seek the death penalty, but it is possible. After prison, you would be labelled a hacker, and would be under federal scrutiny for that forever. You could never touch a computer again, so there goes your career, and you are very talented indeed. You will be able to get a job at a car wash, or working doing landscaping. This will blow you and your family out of the water. Who is going to hire Julia when she finishes law school? She will be both the wife of a hacker that helped fix an election; and they will drag her through the mud for your incest threesome.” I started to say something, but he held up a finger. “Time is not our friend. The media will figure this all out without help from anyone. They will talk to anyone that you ever knew, and you will all be branded; and that is all before the lawsuits.”

I considered his offer for a brief second, and nodded my head. I didn’t need my family to go through this. I stood, and he removed my wallet from my pocket, and everything else from my pants.

“Don’t say anything. Ask for your lawyer.” He showed me a business card, and then stuffed it into my front pocket of my jeans. Without a final look back, he was gone. My name was now Truman Potter. It took the asshole cops another three hours to come in to question me. I told them I wanted my lawyer. They persisted in asking me questions, but I would only sit in silence, or ask for my lawyer. Finally, nearly four days later, and after various sleep deprivation techniques, and starvation had failed to make me talk; I got to see my lawyer.

My only hope for an eventual continuation of my “normal” life went by the improbable name of Winston Buzzby. He immediately asked the Feds for some time to talk to his client alone. The two goons that had been sweating me for days left the room. Winston opened up his briefcase on the table, and pushed a toggle switch which turned on a green light inside. I immediately heard the sound of speaker feedback, and some cursing. He flipped anther toggle switch, and a blue light came on, followed by the sound of crashing waves on a beach. He put his hand over his mouth before he spoke.

“They can’t hear us now Truman, but they can still read lips, so put your hand over your mouth when you speak.” This was all super fucking weird to me. Some real spy type shit. “I have been fully briefed on your situation, and I am in possession of the plan that will extricate you from it. All I require from you is your silence. Just don’t speak to anyone. Anyone can try to trip you up and extract information. From now, until the end, it is in your best interest to be completely speechless.” I nodded by assent, and he turned off the two toggles, closed his briefcase, and waved the goons back in.

I stuck to the plan. I let him do all of the talking for me. He answered all of the questions with answers that he was supposed to give. The Feds were furious. They knew that they were being fucked with, but couldn’t figure out how. Even places on the internet like my Facebook page had my name down as Truman Potter. It was like I was wiped out of the matrix and made into Truman.

I was held in solitary confinement in the nearby Lucas Waters Federal Detention Facility in Crystal Lake, Illinois. This was the kind of place that I dreaded going to. This was a place full of murderers, ¬rapists, and criminal gangs. I was not in general population, though. I watched them in the yard through the windows of the only cell on my floor; which was also the roof. I was guarded around the clock by two FBI agents. They would bring me my meals, and try to chat me up, but I played mute. They finally just brought me my food. I exercised on the roof for an hour a day if I chose to. The hours were picked seemingly at random, and I tried to go out on the rooftop even when it was bitterly cold, just to ease the monotony. I started working out seriously. I had no weights, but I found ways to work almost every türkçe bahis muscle in my body by doing calisthenics. The very worst part was that I couldn’t talk to the girls, or the kids on the phone. I could also receive no visitors. All that I could do was send letters to Winston for the girls. It was all very anonymous. I got letters from him that were censored. They were photocopies with blacked out bars.

My speedy date in front of a judge came eight months later, and was a regular zoo. I arrived in an armored van, wearing a heavily plated body armor, and a sheer hood over my head. The hood was part of the plea bargain. The courtroom was conspicuously empty. I wore a dark blue suit with a striped yellow tie. We stood, we sat. The prosecution stated that we had agreed upon a plea bargain, Winston confirmed this. The lawyers approached the bench. The lawyers returned to their places, and the judge sentenced me to three years and one day. The time that I had already spent locked up would count as time served.

I was driven by three US Marshalls to Morgantown in the middle of the night. I was searched, issued clothes, bedding, and toiletries, and claimed my “suite in the Penthouse.” The guards said this jokingly, but there was no laughter in their eyes. The Penthouse was a pretty good name for it. There were ten cells in total, each hosting one occupant. We had our own dayroom, that doubled as our dining facilities. We also didn’t eat the same food that other prisoners ate. It wasn’t anything crazy like they showed in “Goodfellas,” but as I understood it, our food was several grades higher than general population. We also didn’t use the yard with everyone else, in fact we never interacted with any other prisoners other than the library trustee; and that was only by our choosing. We also had two phones that were for our exclusive use. The prison even allowed calls in. That was something that I never expected.

I’m sure that some of the people that I was in there with would be familiar names to some of you. One was a Mafia Captain that decided to turn federal witness in exchange for not going to prison for what could have been seventy-two consecutive years. Another was a famous rock star that was arrested crossing a state line while having a threesome with two girls in his hot tub. The problem was that one girl was fourteen, and the other was thirteen. All had methamphetamine in their systems, and a huge amount had been found in the tour bus.

Most were guys like me who were politically sensitive, or valuable. One guy had leaked a bunch of federal secrets, one had run a call girl service that many of the members of Congress used, along with a lot of their political action groups. We were mainly here to be kept safe, and to do our time. None of us were really friends, but we were all friendly. The Mafioso had some great stories, and so did the rock star. I told stories about my wives, and kids. I think some of the guys thought that I was in for polygamy.

The best part was that after that long stretch, I could finally see my girls, and my kids. I cried so hard the first time that I saw them because they grew so much. I had missed nine and a half months out of their lives. I enjoyed the first visit so much, but it really brought home to me what I had lost because of government maneuvering. Katie visited every week. It turns out that my parents softened their stance on our relationship. I guess grandchildren wore them down. I would receive letters occasionally from my mom, telling me to keep my mood up, and to not let prison kill my spirit. I never received even a post card from my father. Julia visited when she could. A lot of her visits were not with Katie. She was very busy, and flew down when she could. Conjugal visits were pretty epic to me, especially when the girls could get there together. I think a lot of the guys in the penthouse were jealous of my sex life.

Time stretched by. I read voraciously. I had access to the internet, and read all that I could find in my field. I received my Masters in Experimental Information Technology from M.I.T. It involved using Artificial Intelligence along with blockchains to make the A.I. exponentially more aware of data. A new way of processing data that I cooked up along with another grad student would become my doctorate dissertation.

I was sitting on my bed, deep in meditation when the guard came to take me down to be released. It is hard to describe my emotions as I rode down the elevator with the guard. I was excited to be reunited with my wives and children, but I was also very anxious. I had not been a fixture in their lives for three years. Barbie, who was my youngest, barely knew me. I was her dad that they went to visit once a month. Her parents were Katie and Julia. I knew that things were not going to be all sunbeams, and fucking rainbows.

I changed into a new outfit that had been brought for me. It had never felt so good to take off clothes. Off went the Federal Department of Corrections jumpsuit, and Crocks; and I put on güvenilir bahis siteleri matched Jordan basketball shorts and a T-shirt, and a new pair of black and red Air Jordan XXXII’s. My ladies knew me so well. I was escorted out of the prison by the guard, and into the pickup waiting area.

I saw Julia and Katie sitting at a picnic table talking excitedly. Melissa, Shane, and Barbie were all doing cartwheels in the warm spring air. Tears ran down my face as I saw my family. Katie was really starting to show again. Her sundress showed the curve of her pregnant belly perfectly. Honestly, she was never more beautiful than when she was pregnant. This had been the product of a conjugal visit about five and a half months ago. She wanted to try for another kid, and I agreed. Kids make life different, but in the very best way. When you live your life for only yourself, life is a struggle. When you live life in tandem with a significant other, life is beautiful. When you live your life in tandem for others that you have brought into being, life is divine.

“There he is!” It was my mom that had first spotted me. I hadn’t even seen her there. All the kids made a mad dash for me, with exclamations of “DADDY!” I bent down, and all three of them launched themselves onto me like a troop of marauding baboons. Melissa and Shane had been doing that since they were tiny, and Barbie must have picked up the habit. I had a kid on both arms, and wrapped around my legs when Julia wrapped her arms around my neck, and kissed me like I had been in prison for three years. The kiss finally broke amid the “OOOH’s” and “AHHH’s” of the kidlets. She was also crying, but her crooked smirk let me know that the three years that we spent apart meant nothing to her. She had referred to my prison stay as ‘life getting in the way’ when she wrote. My mom pulled the kids away so that we could have a little more privacy.

“You know,” Julia said, “You look pretty good for a guy that has been on bread and water for the last three years.” I laughed. She knew what my real situation had been. The only way that prison changed me was to make me more patient.

“I would have stayed on bread and water for another ten years for a welcome home kiss like that.” Her cheeks grew rosy as she smacked my arm, and mumbled that I was ‘still a dumbass.’

Katie could wait no longer, and launched herself into my arms like a spider monkey. She kissed me there in the sunshine, and I knew that things would work out. I felt her belly poking into me, and smiled inwardly. I wondered what it was like for my mom to watch this scene. It was a weird thought, but my mind went towards the weird. Her pregnant daughter, kissing the father of her children, that happened to be her son; along with their mutual wife, who was also her niece. Kind of fucked up. Katie had her fingers tangled in my hair, and was giving me a severe tongue lashing. Finally, she came up for air.

“Mom is taking the kids tonight so that Julia and I can get lucky.” Katie’s elfin nose squinched up with her smile, bunching her freckles.

“Why? Are we going out?” Julia said dryly. “There aren’t any guys around here but loser ex-cons and prison guards. Sounds like we would have more fun by ourselves.” I could almost feel the heat of her body from two feet away. Her sex drive was that powerful.

“Well, I think we are stuck with this guy, so we might as well take him back to the suite.” Julia huffed, and Katie lowered herself to the ground. My mom brought the kids back over, and they started to tug on my hands. My mom looked much older than when I had been arrested. I spoke with her on the phone at least once a month. I knew the calls were stressful to her, so I never insisted that she call. I hugged my mom tight. She had always been tiny, but now she was stick-thin as well. I hadn’t expected her to be there, but I was pleased to see her.

“I love you, momma.” My tears, which had subsided for a moment, began to hit the top of her head.

“I love you too, son. Don’t blame yourself for this. They stole three years of your life, don’t let them take another minute.” I knew that I wouldn’t. They had stolen part of my life with their spying and political wrangling, but I now had enough software patents that I would be keeping us just as flush every year as the one time endowment from Aunt Barb to Julia made us. It is funny how wealth is relative.

We started walking from the picnic area to the parking lot. Mom took the kids in her rental Toyota Camry, and the girls buckled them in. They lead me over to a boxy Mercedes G-Class SUV that had been tuned by AMG, and had the bumper guards, and a rack of lights on top. Something told me that this had to be Julia’s car. I got into the plush leather passenger seat, and felt that tiny sliver of stress that I had kept alive in the back of my mind suddenly fizzle out of existence. Katie handed me a black plastic bag. It had my wallet that I had given to the unnamed man back in the Federal Building in Chicago. It had a brand-new driver’s license with my old picture. It had the forty-seven dollars that I had in it when I was arrested, and a business card with just a phone number on it. I tore it into little pieces and tossed it out the window as we rolled to the highway.

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