A Fool and His Money
Thanks to findingmyvoice for editing this story. She made it a much better read!
You know that old saying, "A fool and his money are soon parted?" That rang through my head as I tried to figure out what the fuck happened. Three days ago, I was happily married, almost middle-aged, growing older with my wife. Today, I am happier than ever. My perception of reality, altered forever.
I made a very respectable income as a software engineer for a major antivirus company. I was what some considered, an elite hacker, in my younger years. Now, I was a respectable corporate guru in my field, and I could work remotely from anywhere in the world, if I had to.
At forty-two years old, I thought my life had gone pretty well, up until now. I'm Jake Paxton, formerly affiliated with several groups of nefarious characters.
My girlfriend in high school taught me how to rip all the new games and software and then to distribute them on the internet for free. As you can imagine, all of these companies worked hard at stopping us by coming up with elaborate security measures.
For the most part, Jasmine would be the one to rip and repackage the software, and I would be the one to find vulnerable systems to upload and share our work with the community, mostly on different university servers with good connections.
I was an above average guy with a smoking hot wife. She stands at five-foot eight, weighs in at 130, and has a kind face. You know, the kind of face you want sucking your cock.
She said I was a genuinely nice guy, that's what attracted her to me. We had met in college but didn't get together for another two years after we graduated.
She was pretty wild in those days. I thought she had left that all behind, the day I proposed.
It was March 30th when I found my first clue. My wife of twelve years had slipped. Not a literal slip, but a mistake that she would come to regret. She had neglected to shut down her laptop properly and had left it sitting on our cherry wood dining room table.
I had come home early to surprise my loving wife, Amy, with a bouquet of roses, and to get an early start to our anniversary weekend. We were married on April 1st, twelve years ago, on a beach in Southern California.
Our plan was to hop a flight to LAX, and then stop at the rental kiosk to pick up our reserved, sporty convertible. We planned to drive along the coast and spend five days hanging out at the beach, sightseeing, and enjoying the San Diego nightlife. I really wanted to see my cousin's new boat and take a ride over to Catalina Island.
The work Amy does is highly confidential. Being a Psychiatrist has kept a wedge between us for quite some time. I was never allowed to touch her laptop, even to do a simple Google search. She guarded it as though her life depended on it, hell, maybe it did for all I knew.
The screen had the usual options, shutdown, restart, and cancel. The cursor was hovering aimlessly over the shutdown button. It appeared as though Amy made a hasty exit that would prove to be the death of our marriage.
I have always respected her privacy and have never had reasons to doubt her. Nothing had ever given me any suspicions to what I would soon find. I didn't go snooping through her computer. However, I did cancel the shutdown and opened the browser. I was just going to confirm the plans I had made for the weekend. I had a hotel room setup on Catalina, and another at Huntington Beach. We had dinner reservations at several restaurants throughout our stay.
Her personal email was on the screen. I would have closed it out, had some of the interesting subject lines not jumped out at me. An electronic bank statement, from a bank I didn't know we dealt with, was what caught my attention first. Then, as I scrolled through her emails, some of the naughty titled messages ignited a fire within me.
After a few clicks, I was sick. Shock washed over me as I tried to make sense of the words on the screen. Then rage took over, and finally sadness set in. Yes, this was the death of my marriage for sure. I was able to click a link in the email that logged me directly into the bank account. It looks like Amy was lazy and allowed her login and password be saved for her accounts.
What I found in the account was a huge amount of money. What pissed me off the most was after twelve years, our savings had been drained. Well, not completely, but it always felt like we never had any extra money to play with. I did some quick calculations and found there was no way all of this money was made from her spreading her legs or from my salary.
I now knew where our money had gone, where my money had gone. I blamed myself for trusting Amy with our financial planning. I had my 401k and some company issued stock. The small trading account I had set up had grown as well, but what I was looking at was enough to retire on today.
I immediately set up a backdoor to gain access to her laptop whenever I wanted. I would be able to see every keystroke and click she would make from here on out.
I sent Amy a text, a normal everyday text that asked how her day was shaping up. She texted me back that she was at home, working on a troubling client's issues. She asked what time I would be home. I told her I would be late because of the time off I had requested for our anniversary. We said our goodbyes as if nothing had changed. EVERYTHING had changed.
I brought her laptop to my office computer and made an image of her drive. Amy was living a double life and it looked like she had no plans on keeping me around. After what I had found out, I didn't want her around. I would need all the information I could gather in a short period of time.
After the image completed, I took her laptop back to the dining room. I went through her emails with a fine tooth comb. I was like the bull, seeing the red flag waved. I kept charging ahead, wanting to skewer anything in my way. I printed off the deposits as far back as the bank would let me. Then I printed every email from her 'clients.'
I came to find out that her 'clients' were actually customers. Some of the emails were extremely explicit. My bitch of a wife was not just a common prostitute, she was a high priced hooker with a steady stream of regulars that she must have cultivated over the years.
She had siphoned off most of my money throughout our marriage and was making a shit ton more, fucking the highest bidder, and doing some kinky shit while she was at it.
One guy in particular seemed to know everything about her life, and mine for that matter. By the looks of it, Doug has known Amy even longer than I have. He knew when she was planning on screwing me over and wiping out the rest of my finances. Doug Shields was now on my shit list, right next to Amy.
I had seen enough to know that I wanted no part of this marriage, or whatever Amy considered it.
I was feeling it now that I had some down time. I never dreamed my wife of twelve years would betray me or that my life would be turned upside down.
My mind drifted to a better place and time. A time well before I was married. With my love shattered and my life about to make a complete 180, I thought about my first love, Jasmine Hardy. I think many people tend to do the same thing when they find themselves in a similar situation.
I wondered what became of Jasmine, the brilliant and beautiful software cracker, who was also my best friend. She didn't hack computer systems, she cracked all the newest security for software and games. She could rip a game faster than most of the elite groups.
We had been best friends all through high school. It wasn't until our prom, and being legal adults that we actually consummated our relationship.
She taught me quite a few things back then. Besides computers, she taught me how to make love. It wasn't sex. We managed to display our love for one another in every position we could think of.
I loved yoga! No, I didn't do it myself, but Jasmine excelled at it, and she was the most flexible girl I have ever known.
The day before she moved away, I thought she was trying to kill me. We made love the entire day and into the night. At the end of my seventh orgasm, my balls were completely drained.
Her parents had moved the family out to the East Coast at the end of that summer. Jazz had been accepted to MIT and her parents had family in the area. I couldn't blame anyone. Life was moving forward. Our last day together found me standing in front of her empty house, watching as they pulled out of their neighborhood. I watched her go, until they were out of sight. I don't think she saw the bloody mess of a heart that had been ripped out of my chest and was now trailing behind them, tethered.
We tried to stay in touch and promised each other we would meet again. Over time, our communications dwindled until the flame finally extinguished itself. The distance was too great for us to overcome.
I snapped out of my walk down memory lane. I needed a plan, and fast. I made a phone call to the one man I knew could help me.
"Marcus! Yeah, it's really me. Listen close, I need your help. You told me to call you if shit ever hit the fan. Yup, it just fucking exploded all over it. You remember what we talked about? Exactly. Yes. The whole package, my friend. Actually, make it two packages. Yes, both for me. How long will it take? You are, the man, Marcus! See you soon."
Let's just say Marcus was in the business of relocating people when needed. Fifteen years ago, I met him through a mutual friend. He was set up in a condemned motel, with working utilities, after one of the earthquakes had damaged it beyond repair. There were two walls completely filled with computers. I had never seen anything like it.
For ten-thousand dollars, he would give people new identities. Each package included a clean social security number, a birth certificate, a driver's license, a passport, and a twenty-five thousand dollar Gold credit card. I told him at the time, I admired his services, but doubted I would ever need them.
We became good friends after that and kept in touch. We would meet up at least twice a year, just to hang out, talk shop, and bullshit. His services were expanded over the years to include setting up dummy corporations, increasing credit limits, and even relocating people if needed.
I had to clean up my tracks as if I had never been on Amy's laptop. I wrote down the pertinent information I would need and I shutdown the system.
I texted Amy and told her that I had an emergency situation that needed to be handled. I told her to catch the flight and I would meet her at our hotel as soon as I possibly could.
Amy called me a few minutes later. I had to sound convincing. She seemed reluctant but said she would go. I had no intention of joining her, tomorrow, or ever.
My next stop was a divorce lawyer. She had come highly recommended by a friend of ours that went through a nasty breakup. I recalled her name, Madeline Jensen, and called to make an appointment. I would be filing for a no-fault divorce. We don't have any children because Amy said she couldn't have any. I doubt that was true.
Madeline was not cheap, but the cost would depend on what was needed to ensure the divorce went through as I wanted. She assured me that the papers would be served on my anniversary at the address I specified. I thanked her for the quick attention. "You get what you pay for in this business," she stated coldly while looking out of the high-rise glass.
Amy would be leaving in a couple of hours, if she wasn't lying to me about leaving at all. If she didn't leave, my plans would need to be adjusted.
I headed over to see Marcus. He needed to take a picture of me. I would fill him in on some of the details while I was there. I might use one of his computers to setup an offshore account, utilizing one of the new identities he would be giving me.
Marcus had a legitimate home. It was a far cry from when I first met him. The house was too damn big for one person to live in. The wrought iron fence was locked. I used the keypad and waited. Two monstrous gates slowly began to swing open.
The winding driveway was mainly to showcase the mature trees and creek, running through the grounds. Marcus had done well for himself. I wondered what his life was like as a bachelor. We were both in our early forties. I didn't expect to be starting over so late in life.
Marcus greeted me at the door wearing his sandals and robe. After a handshake and shoulder bump, he escorted me through the open spaces of the minimally decorated rooms. We made small talk along the way.
We stopped outside the double doors. I knew I was in for a treat when Marcus plastered his face with a shit eating grin and said, "Welcome to Inception."
The doors began a steady retreat. I understood the use of the term Inception for the room, but really, who names a room? I felt like I was in the villain's lair for a James Bond movie.
This was a far cry from the walls of computers he had way back. He had one giant screen with six smaller boxes inside the screen. Each of the boxes was tied into a specific function. With a tap on his handheld pad, Marcus would jump from one screen to another. He had me stand on a line and smile. A quick flash temporarily blinded me.
"That's all I need," Marcus said, sounding proud of his expertise.
"I need to use a computer, Marcus. It can't be traced back to you."
"My entire network doesn't exist. Do what you need to do. Your paperwork will be completed in less time than it would take for Dominoes to deliver a pizza. That reminds me, I'm hungry. Want to hang out for a while and tell me what the hell happened?"
"I could use some food too, Marcus. Let me set this up real quick while you get us some grub."
"Chinese it is, Jake!"
I setup two offshore accounts with the names and pertinent information. Now I needed information on Mr. Shields. I wasn't getting much in the searches I had done. Marcus yelled from somewhere in this massive mansion.
I found him sitting just off the kitchen. Four doors, about twelve foot high and six foot wide had been opened. It created the effect of bringing the outdoors inside, as a light breeze wafted through the house.
"Beef and broccoli, sweet and sour pork, cashew chicken, pork fried rice, egg rolls, and chow mien. Just what the doctor ordered!" Marcus and I have an uncanny way of always eating Chinese food when we get together. "So what's the scoop?"
"She's been living a double life, Marcus. From the looks of it, even from before we were married. She has pretty much wiped out our savings and the money she makes from her 'clients' ends up in her personal account that I never knew existed." I gave him the short version of what I had learned.
"Burn the bitch," Marcus stated emphatically.
"I was thinking along those lines myself, Marcus. I was looking for information on Doug Shields when you called me. I setup two offshore accounts under the names you gave me. I have access to her bank account. I'm going to transfer all of the money to one and then to other."
"Jake, who is Doug Shields?"
"I think he is her partner in crime," I said, with venom spitting from my voice.
"I will get what you need on this fucktard," Marcus replied.
We ate our food while we caught up with each other. Marcus has had trust issues ever since the love of his life screwed him over. She turned him into the FBI so she could steal what she could and hook up with another guy.
The FBI couldn't build the case they thought they had. Marcus was very thorough, and they couldn't connect him to any crime. By the time he was released, she was gone, but she only got about ten percent of his assets. Marcus knew the life he led was not accepted by her, but what pissed him off was throwing a guy in his face. He hasn't found anyone to love since.
After our meal, Marcus went to his lair to find what I needed on Doug Shields. I gave him the email that was on Amy's computer. I stepped outside to call Amy.
"How was your day? Really? I had a rough day too. Our biggest client has a serious security breach. The boss sent me to their headquarters to find out what happened and to get them patched. No? You didn't take the flight? The earliest I will get there is tomorrow. I can't be sure. You don't want to go? All right. Yes, I will let you know. Ok. Get some sleep. Goodnight!"
Amy takes me for a fool. It's become clear as day that I've been played like a grand piano. I know she is probably on that laptop right now.
Amy said she didn't want to go without me being there because she would get bored. I need to make sure she is there by our anniversary.
I went to see what Marcus had found out. I would see if Amy did indeed have the laptop running. If I wasn't going to be there, she would probably leave it on.
"I got his ass, Jake! He went to college with you guys. You aren't going to believe this shit. They got married!"
"She never told me she got married or divorced!"
"Well, that's just it, Jake, she never got divorced. Neither of them filed for divorce. He married ...Catherine Means...right after you married Amy. They only live twenty minutes from you."
Cat Means, I thought to myself. The way Marcus said her name gave me a strange feeling. Yes, I remembered her well. We were friendly rivals from two different hacking crews and even dated a few times. We didn't even get to first base. The vibe she gave me was that I wasn't good enough. I always liked her but she had a 'mean' streak in her, no pun intended. She wasn't really mean, more like extremely competitive.
"I need everything you have on her, Marcus, like yesterday. I need financials, email, cell phone, everything!"
"This is fucked up, Jake. What sort of people are we dealing with here?" Marcus seemed shaken, not stirred. That was so unlike his secret spy persona.
"Good question, Marcus. We are going to find out here real soon."
Marcus had her cell phone number within a matter of minutes. He was printing off all of her financials that he could find. Marcus had found an account for Doug at the same bank as Amy. I had to talk with Cat.
It was getting late. I sent a single text. "Hi Cat, how are you?" I waited for a response.
After a few minutes, and no response, I guessed she was asleep. But then her response vibrated my phone. "Jake Paxton, or do you still go by Shadowlife?"
"Fast as ever I see, Luscious-C. How is life treating you?"
"I could complain, but who really wants to hear it?" Cat fired back.
"Is your husband around, or can I call you?" I wanted to let her know we needed a private conversation.
"Call whenever you are ready. He's out of town on business."
Marcus handed me a burner phone and I dialed her number.
"Hey, Cat! It's been a long time, fourteen years or so? Yes I know, time flies when you're having fun. It hasn't been, huh? I saw you started up your own software company. Pretty ambitious venture wouldn't you say? Of course, a superior product should do well. So what happened? I see. Really? About to lose it all? What are you going to do? I have a great idea. Get in your car right now. Drive past my home address. Then come to the Waffle House, ten miles west of that. Your company depends on it, that's why!"
She agreed to do as I said. Once I mentioned that her company depended on it, she was on board. I didn't want to be the one to tell her, but someone had to.
I sat in front of a keyboard, typing the commands I needed to access Amy's laptop. The email browser was on the screen but it looked different. Oh shit, it was Doug's email. The same email from the bank I saw on Amy's computer was sitting there. I would have access to his bank account as well as Amy's. Things were looking up.