The FBI and me
CHAPTER 1. THE SUMMONS.
My phone at work rang at around 10 am.
“Miss Lane Reynolds?”
“This is Special Agent Stan Slovak of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have an important and urgent matter to discuss with you. Would it be convenient for me and my partner to come to your office now?”
I had a sudden mental image of a phalanx of 6’6” FBI agents, in identical blue suits and crew cuts, walking in perfect lock-step down the aisle to my cubicle, to the accompaniment of the theme music from some television “crime busters” series.
“I am due in a meeting in a few minutes,” I replied (lying). “Can this wait until noon?”
“Noon is fine.”
“Perhaps it would be better if I come to you; this is no place to conduct a private conversation.”
“That is acceptable. I am in room 1743 of the Federal Building, which is only a few blocks away from your office. I will expect you at noon sharp.”
They say that if you randomly select ten people out of the telephone book and call them around midnight, leaving the message that “all has been discovered, flee!”, at least seven of them will be out of town by daybreak. I must admit that, after putting down the phone, my first reaction was to check if there was a flight to Costa Rica in the next two hours. However, I quickly put that aside (the feds are probably watching all of the exits to this building anyway, to see if I make a run for it) and tried to calm down.
CHAPTER 2. WHY WOULD THE FBI WANT TO TALK TO ME?
I should begin with an explanation about myself. I am 35 years old. I was given the gender-neutral name Lane at birth not because of any premonitions which my parents had, but simply because it was my grandfather’s name. It turned out, however, to be very convenient. You see, I was born a genetic male, though I realized after a few years that there was something wrong with that, and that I should have been a girl. Having a gender-neutral name helped me cope with the situation, especially during my teens. It wasn’t a very happy period of my life, but since it also isn’t especially germane to this story, I will pass over that confused and unfortunate time. I managed, from time to time, to dress as a girl either for Halloween or sometimes just as a joke, but that was about it.
When I got to college, I realized that I was a “transsexual” and attended a support group on campus. I also grew my hair longer and started dressing in a unisex manner. There is no greater thrill then when you get “ma'amed” by a sales clerk, without even trying. Since the school I attended was not in my state of residence, I had to apply for a new drivers’ license. I went down to the DMV dressed in a definitely feminine manner, with makeup and nail polish. I filled out the form correctly, but did not check the “sex” box at all. When I handed the form to the woman at the counter, she noticed the oversight, glanced at me, checked “female” without saying a word, and sent it off to be processed. Thus I ended up with the dearest possession of a pre-op transsexual, a license with an “F” on it. By my senior year, I was in “girl mode” most of the time, and I think some of my professors thought I was a girl. It didn’t matter, actually. My friends accepted me for what I was — college students tend to be rather open-minded — and of course my diploma didn’t mention my sex at all.
I had been seeing a gender counselor and was able to get a letter from her recommending breast implants, which I had in the summer following my graduation. Unfortunately, sexual reassignment surgery was way beyond my financial means, and so that had to be deferred until later.
My degree was in computer science and I was lucky enough to land a job with X-nautics, a software firm near Seattle, which did work primarily for Boeing and other defense contractors. I presented myself as a woman (as I have done ever since) and nobody suspected otherwise. The system at X-nautics is for new programmers to be assigned, in groups of five, to a more senior “mentor”. My mentor was Dave Zimmer, one of the company’s more hot-shot programmers. I apparently impressed him considerably because, after eight months of the computer equivalent of coolie-labor, he asked me to participate with him in a special project, and I agreed.
The software which Dave and I were supposed to write involved one aspect of a new airborne radar system that was codenamed Green Dragon. In order to maintain security, work on Green Dragon was compartmentalized and we were told only what we needed to know. For the next six months, we would be working together, without contact with any other of the X-nautics programmers, on one particular problem. We were expected (by the customer, by our bosses, and mostly by ourselves) to put in 12-15 hour days in front of our monitors. Often we put in more. The office which was assigned to us had room for two sofas, and before long both of us were using them frequently, rather than go home to sleep.
Like me, Dave was single and very dedicated to work, but the circumstances — and the pressures under which we operated — drove us close to each other. When a block of code would fall in place, we would high-five each other. Then we started hugging each other. Then we started kissing each other. Then the kisses became deeper. There was no doubt that each of us was developing an emotional attachment towards the other.
I was falling in love. Little by little, Dave became much more than a mentor and coworker. I began taking notice of his little mannerisms and quirks, and tried as best I could, to accomodate myself to them. Making him happy became very important to me, in little things as well as big. I tried to anticipate his moods and emotions, and be ready to ameliorate them. He was obviously doing the same. Programming is an emotional rollercoaster which took us from highs to lows to highs again (and not necessarily at the same time), and the support we received from each other played a crucial part in our ability to function together and overcome the obstacles in our way.
Finally, one day, he looked up from his monitor directly at me and said, "Lane, I love you."
"I love you too, Dave," I replied, and went over and hugged him, and I felt in seventh heaven.
As we neared the end of the project, Dave suggested (in his rather nerdy way) that we "carry things to their ultimate conclusion." I hugged him tightly but told him that there was something that I had to explain ... and I did. Poor Dave just sat there as I told him that I was a pre-op transsexual, and tried -- as best I could -- to explain what that was and what that meant to me and, more importantly, to us. By the time I finished, I was on the verge of tears. Dave was on the verge of catatonic shock.
"You mean that you have a cock under your skirt?" he asked.
I told him that, yes, I did, but hopefully not for long. The company's health plan, unfortunately, would not cover SRS surgery, but I was saving money and hoped to be able to afford a trip to Bangkok by next year. He just sat there and stared. Finally, after about 10 minutes of silence, he got up and said that I had given him a lot to think about, and that he needed to clear his head. He walked to the door and said he would be back later. I just sat there, emotionally drained, and burst into tears.
CHAPTER 3. TREASON.
Dave didn't return for two days, and I was frantic with worry. Later, I found out from friends that he had gone on a drinking spree (which is unusual for him -- I rarely saw him drink anything except a glass of wine at dinner) in a bar down the street, and had to be taken home by some other programmers from the firm. He kept on muttering about getting so soused that he couldn't tell the boys from the girls any more. However, by the time he returned, he had sobered up, showered and changed his clothes, and behaved as though nothing had happened. He said hello politely, sat down at his console, and began working.
There were no hugs, no kisses. Not then nor ever again.
Two weeks later, we finished our project, ahead of schedule and to the delight of our bosses. We were both rewarded. I was promoted to Senior Programmer and given a hefty pay raise. I was then assigned to another part of Green Dragon.
Dave, surprisingly, opted to go to a three-month management training course. When he returned, he did not return to programming but was assigned to a job in the Human Resources Division. Since the management offices were in another building, about two miles away from where the programmers worked, I didn't see very much of him. I tried contacting him by phone, but his secretary kept on coming up with excuses until I realized that he must have given her orders not to put me through to him. Then, in December, all of the workers received a letter from the HRD saying that, effective January 1, our health care program would be switched to a new provider (see enclosed booklet for details). The letter I received had a yellow post-in note attached, unsigned but in Dave's handwriting, saying "This provider will cover your operation; I made sure of that during the negotiations." It was his final peace offering.
By February, I took a month's sick leave to have my SRS. I was now a complete woman, or rather as complete as I could be. I was doing fairly well at work, though not as great as they had anticipated. I worked with several other partners on various parts of Green Dragon, but never clicked and never did the "brilliant" work I did with Dave. I was not promoted any further.
After my operation, I was anxious to put my new vagina to use and had a succession of fairly superficial relationships with men, some of whom worked for X-nautics and some of whom I met at various bars or other gathering places for lonely singles. None of them evoked the feelings that I had had for Dave. Still, a lay is a lay is a lay. I finally settled down to a more-or-less steady relationship with Antonio Russo, a salesman for a company down the street from our building who frequented the same watering-hole that the programmers at X-nautics preferred. He was short and dark and had a somewhat odd accent, which I couldn't place. He claimed that it had to do with all of the New-Jersey-Sicilian blood in his veins and even, once, admitted to having some cousins who were connected with the Mafia in some unspecified way. But he was a nice guy and a fairly good lover. After a while, we had a fixed a routine of twice-a-week trysts, mostly at my place.
Orgasms can be overrated, but sometimes they do transport me, and after one very good one, I looked up at Antonio with what I suppose was an "I am willing to do anything for you in return for another one" look. At least he thought so, because he suddenly sat up in bed and looked at me, lying there naked. "You know, Lane, I ran into someone who knew you, years ago." "Who is that?" I muttered. "Abulfasi Mussawi, do you remember him?" Vaguely. Abulfasi Mussawi was an Iranian graduate student in computer science at the time I was an undergraduate, and he was a TA in two courses I took, one in data structures and one in automata theory. I did well in his sections. "Dr. Mussawi is now a professor of computer science in Isfahan. He remembers you well, as being a very capable and intelligent boy."
The last word jerked me back to reality. "So you know," I said. "Yes," he replied, "I know, and in fact I have known from the beginning. It is unfortunate for you that you have decided to keep the matter secret from your bosses, though I doubt if they would let you work on supersecret projects had they known. Still, what is unfortunate for you is fortunate for me. You see, Dr. Mussawi and I are -- how shall I put it -- colleagues in a certain enterprise, and that enterprise is now going to involve you."
I just lay there stunned. Something told me that "Antonio" was not really Sicilian after all.
"You have access to the Green Dragon software," continued Antonio. "I want a copy of it. Mind you, you will be compensated for your effort. An account has been created in a bank in Geneva into which we have deposited ten million dollars. When you deliver the software to me, I will give you the access codes to the account. We will meet again, here, tomorrow evening. I trust that, by then, you will have all I need. Oh, and please don't try contacting to the FBI or to your company's internal security offce, we will know if you do."
Without another word, he got dressed and left. I sat there stunned. Then I cried. Then I raised the phone. Then I put it down without dialing. Then I cried again.
I fell asleep. In the morning, my first reaction was that it was all a bad dream. However, I soon realized that it was not. The Iranians (and I had no doubt that "Antonio" was really Iranian) wanted Green Dragon. They knew they could blackmail me by threatening to reveal my background, but were willing also to pay me a large sum of money, knowing that if I took it, they would have another hold on me to blackmail me further.
They wanted Green Dragon's software. Let them have it! One thing which they obviously didn't know, but which I had found out a few days ago, was that Green Dragon was a dud. We at X-nautics had done our job well, and our software was working. However, the engineers at Boeing could not get the hardware to work. The radical concept on which the whole design was based turned out to be flawed. A decision had been arrived at to mothball the project -- not formally kill it (that would mean a black eye for the various people at the Pentagon who had approved it) but put it on a back burner awaiting further technological developments (maybe in the next 20 years?). So I decided to go ahead. It would not really hurt national security, and maybe even help if it sent the Iranians in the wrong direction.
The next day, I met with Antonio and brought him what he wanted. He was honest enough to give me the necessary access codes to the Swiss bank account he promised, and I verified that the money was indeed there. In fact, I removed it immediately and laundered it through a series of internet "pipes" until I was sure that even the Iranians couldn't find the offshore tax haven where it finally lay. Two weeks later, I handed in my resignation to X-nautics. citing a better offer from another company.
The offer was in fact real. When I was transitioning, I met another computer science student in one of the support groups. She was a crossdresser, not a transsexual, but we became good friends and used to go shopping together. I later heard that she had managed to set up a software firm specializing in computer action games. With her, I could be as open as I wanted about my past. She was very happy to hear that I had taken the final step and had SRS and, yes, she would be glad to offer me a job if I were interested. I was.
CHAPTER 4. ENDGAME.
So here I am, writing code for fake weapons rather than real ones, sitting in a cubicle rather than a spacious office. I have been here for seven years now. The younger programmers consider me a "burnt out case", and it is clear that I am not going to advance very much. The boss won't fire me, because we are good friends and she still likes to dress and go out with me as a lesbian pair, but she too knows that my value to the company is very negligable. After my affair with Antonio, I stopped seeing guys altogether. Somehow I don't trust them. He hasn't tried to contact me either. Apparently action games don't really interest the Iranians. My money is earning a nice interest where it is invested, and will take care of my retirement needs.
I felt safe and secure -- until now. But now the FBI is, apparently, on to me. There is not much I can do, I suppose. I will go to the meeting with them, and give myself up. There is no point fighting them. That is why I am writing all of this out. I will leave this file, unencrypted, on my computer. In case I am arrested, I imagine that somebody will find it, and know the true story. I must hurry now, I don't want to be late for my appointment.
EPILOGUE: THE INTERVIEW.
"Thank you for coming, Miss Reynolds, and I am sorry to put you through this trouble. We are conducting a background investigation into David Zimmer, who is being considered for an executive position with DARPA. You worked with him closely, and we thought that you could shed some light ... "
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