When things go wrong

I spent this morning testifying in court over in New Jersey. I’ve done this before, and I don’t enjoy it. When it was over I felt several thousand pounds lighter and my mood improved enormously.

This had to do with a man who is adept at pinching other folks’ identities. Credit cards, driver’s license, the works. Strangely, he never seemed to spend much on himself; he had nice clothes for important events, but mostly he looked pretty much like the average guy. He didn’t own a car, or even his own place.

As far as I know, that is. I suppose when you’re good at stealing other people’s lives, you could have as many of your own as you wish. He is obviously intelligent, but somewhere along the line of his own life he opted to use that intelligence to harm others. I guess what he got in return was a sense of power — perhaps limitless in scope. I don’t know.

It was quite strange to be testifying for the prosecution. I knew him as a clever, funny, charming guy, and he didn’t filch anything of mine so I have no anger or resentment toward him. I understand some of the best crooks are charming indeed; but there I was, offering information that was going to help provide him a lengthy stay in the local federal prison — and there he was, smiling at me with that same impish charm as if he firmly believed every word of the lie his life has become.

He thought he was happy; I thought I might cry. What a waste of a human life. All that cleverness could so easily have been channeled in wonderful directions. I don’t know what happened to him; I doubt anyone else does, either. Perhaps he can’t explain it himself. He is so deeply immersed in his charade that no one even knows his real name.

How much sadder can a life be than to not be known for who you really are?

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