Parallel Construction

in #writinglast month (edited)


The above image was made by @amberjyang with Midjourney using the prompt 'tiny gray alien with clothes on a large porch at an old farmhouse at sunset.'

Close to Home

Lee stayed around the property for the few weeks. Joseph built a set for her lewd camgirl performances in the middle of the record barn. When Lee wasn't performing, she was doing media interviews on the porch or spending time with family members. The only authority figure that visited the property was Ed Beeter, the police chief. He said the town was overrun with reporters and UFO nuts, and asked to be notified in advance of Lee's future public appearances in his jurisdiction.

Jenny began inviting friends over most nights to meet Lee and drink wine and sew. Joseph would strum on a guitar or banjo and Lee would answer questions. At first, Renee and Eliot stayed in their room during this social time. But then Eliot started spending all of his time on an old computer that Joseph gave him and Renee started to join in more. She never sewed but she asked good questions.

One morning, a black sedan pulled into the drive and two suited men got out. One was carrying a briefcase. Joseph was just heading out for work as they approached the house. "I already told you guys everything," he said, thankful that Lee wasn't nearby. "Best get the hell off my property."

"We're looking for Eliot Draver," said one of the agents. "We're with the government."

"Eliot?" asked. "What do you want with him?"

"It's a sensitive matter," said the agent. "He's not in any trouble. We're here to ask for his help with something."

"Well, I want to be there when you talk to him," said Joseph.

"Only if he permits it," said the agent. "Is he inside?"

Joseph went inside and got Eliot. They all sat on the porch.

"Mr. Draver, two days ago you sent a tip to the FBI," said the agent who was clearly taking the lead. "A tip about an alleged producer of abuse videos as well as a method for identifying illicit activities in blockchain data. Is that correct?"

"Uhh, yeah," said Eliot.

"We'd like to know everything you can tell us about your method," said the lead agent. "Walk us through your process here."

"Okay, but like, can I see your badges or whatever?" asked Eliot. "It's just, this guy Willie, he's the kind of guy who might send fake cops to check me out and make sure I'm not a rat."

"William Tray was taken into custody this morning," said the lead agent. "He's out of the picture. We're very interested in catching more people like him. Hoping you can help with that."

"So you're FBI?" asked Eliot.

"We're with another government agency," said the lead agent. "This conversation is totally off the record. We just want you to walk us through your identification method."

"We can end this right now," said Joseph. "Whoever you people are, whatever this is, Eliot's a good kid. He doesn't need this."

"No, I want to help," said Eliot. "The method is just, like, digital fingerprints. I got the idea from Lee. Basically, customers have different kinds of buying patterns at different kinds of stores. There are buying patterns for jewelry and different buying patterns for pet food. See what I mean?"

"I'm following," said the lead agent. "Please, continue."

"So porn sites have distinct purchasing patterns, too, and these are probably similar to the purchasing patterns you'd find on an abuse site," said Eliot. "The idea is to find the porn site purchasing pattern and then look for this pattern in cryptocurrency transactions. In blockchain data, which is public."

"Say more about this pattern," said the lead agent. "This signature."

"Just a vector of transaction data," said Eliot. "Like coordinates in imaginary space."

"And what do you do once you've identified suspicious wallets?" asked the lead agent.

"I don't know, investigate?" said Eliot.

"Well, that all sounds very plausible," said the lead agent, opening his briefcase and handing a sheaf of papers to Eliot and a single page to Joseph. "Between that and the demonstration code you sent, I think we can catch some bad guys. Here are binding nondisclosure agreements for both of you and an agreement for Mr. Draver licensing his intellectual property to the United States confidentially and in perpetuity."

"So that's it?" asked Joseph.

"Whatever, it's fine," said Eliot.

They signed the papers and the agents left. Lee appeared once they'd gone. Joseph was frowning, clenching his jaw, feeling like he should say something to Eliot but not knowing what to say. Eliot sat on a wicker chair, feeling let down.

"I didn't know you knew about that kind of stuff," said Joseph finally.

"Lee helped a lot," said Eliot. "You really think they'll use my method?"

"Perhaps they'll use it directly," said Lee. "Perhaps they'll use it in parallel construction. Both possibilities support your objective."

"Parallel construction?" asked Joseph.

"In your legal system, there are rules against collecting certain kinds of evidence about people," said Lee. "Your government sometimes collects this information anyway, and hides the information's illicit origin behind a false story. A parallel reality is constructed."

"I don't quite follow," said Joseph.

"Eliot's criminal identification method is now a documented investigative tool," said Lee. "Any agency can now officially claim to have used that tool in its investigations while secretly obtaining information from illegal surveillance."

"That's pretty dark," said Joseph.

"This whole thing is," said Eliot. "But now at least I did something about it. Good or bad, I did something."

"There is more," said Lee. "The quiet agent, he was gathering information ahead of an assault. They'll try to come for me tomorrow."

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I don’t know how they behave in otter countries but if I were Joseph, I would not have let them in just like that but I’m glad they were able to meet with Eliot for the questions they had for him and I hope it aolves their problem

Joseph was thrown off when he expected it to be about Lee but then they said they were there for Eliot.

Not everyone of us will be able to escape that particular scenario and situation that Joseph was actually is

For sure.

Joseph was really strong to pass through all these stuff in that country actually

Yes he's a strong guy.

Interesting turn of events... I like the whole idea of how parallel stories are created for the purpose of information control!

Sigh... if only illegal surveillance could always be about catching the real abuswers.

Thanks! Yeah illegal surveillance is sadly more often turned towards political dissidents.