"I fell in love, it's as simple as that.
"You get that, I'm in love?
"Though I'm also at my wit's end. You see I'm in love with a woman I've never seen. And though she hasn't said it in so many words, I know she loves me too.
"How we met is a curious story. Very relevant to this discussion, especially with all the questions you've been asking. The story goes back to about three months ago when I started noticing this soft little 'click!' at the end of my phone calls, as if a third party was also hanging up.
"I'm not a brave person, but one day I just decided to break the ice, and speak to whomever was listening. I was just coming out of a long telephone strategy session with my tax accountant.
""Hey, you! You who's listening in?" I called out in my most friendly voice. "Do you think I'll get caught? You guys must work with the IRS, you're both in the goverment. Tell me what you think."
"I listened; heard only an electronic silence.
""C'mon, tell me. Should I, or should I not, declare last year's Caribbean vacation as a business expense? And my wife's funeral expenses, too? Roger, my accountant, thinks no. What do you think?"
"After a long pause, a soft voice answered back, "Please don't talk to me, sir. I'm not supposed to have contact with my subjects."
""Is that what I am?" I cried in mock hurt and outrage. "Only a subject? Have I not eyes to cry? Have I not blood to bleed? Have I not a heart to break? I only want the benefit of your opinion, dear lady; you, who overhear the deepest thoughts shared with my closest friends."
""With friends like that, sir, a person doesn't need enemies," she said drily.
""What's that supposed to mean?"
""Take that accountant of yours--Roger? He's a friend of yours, right?"
""One of the best. He sponsored me for the Masons."
""If I remember clearly, you used go to your Mason meetings on Thursday nights? Up until your wife died?"
""The same night of the week, I believe, that Roger the accountant repeatedly bumped into your wife, so to speak, on a weekly basis at the Low Life Motel on Rte. 13, sir!"
""She never mentioned that to me," I murmured in mild dissent.
""I'm sure she meant to," my eavesdropper drily replied."
""Do you ever go out on dates?" I suddenly asked.
""Sir, I refer you to Article 14 of the Patriot Act. Not only can I not date you, but I'm almost certain this conversation is being monitored and recorded. Maybe by two people, if they have the budget."
""Anyone ever point out you have a lovely voice?" I asked with a smile so bright she must have seen it through the phone. Then I carelessly added, "Reminds me of my dead wife." A line so powerful I knew it would break down her resistance.
""Are you there?" I asked into the silence.
"Finally she answered, her voice still a bit uncertain, "Your dead wife had a hacker's cough and a gravelly voice. I know because, as you might have guessed from earlier remarks, I eavesdropped on her for the last two years of her life. Her voice was nothing like mine, sir" my eavesdropper insisted. "Speaking of that, though--your voice does sound a lot like my dead husband's."
"I replied, "Hmm, is that so?" and somehow felt magnetically drawn to her.
"Well, that was our first 'meeting', if you can call it that. We took to conversing on a regular basis at the end of most of my phone calls. Never violating the letter of Article 14, but perhaps the spirit. We were in love, it's as simple as that.
"I asked if she was also following me through my emails, but apparently you folks break the work up amongst four or five agents. She said I only got her because...
""What? I told you I'm not allowed to say her name. Thought you'd catch me out and add that to my list of crimes, didn't you? She said she was exclusively assigned to eavesdrop my phone because she had traded off her other eavesdropping assignments to work exclusively on my phone tap; that's how much she loved me.
"Tell you about my terrorism cell? You mean the men's group? Are you serious?
"Jeez, that's not real. Is that was this is all about? She only reported me and the men's group because she needed one more score to make her quota. Honestly, that's what she said, then asked if I'd mind helping her reach quota. It sounded like a simple request. So I told her she could list my Temple Beth Shalom Men's Group as a hotbed of Muslim extremist activity. She said I had nothing to worry about. That the idea was so wacky the U.S. government would never believe it.
"But you're here to tell me the U.S. government does believe it, is that right?
"And that's why I'm tied to this chair?""