Welcome to Wednesday’s next little portion of The man who had an affair with his wife. If you’re struggling to keep up with all the various avatar characters in play in this story, think of this tale as some sort of daily mental workout. If you manage to emerge in one piece from the other end of this (and this is by no means a given), it will be with a toned and pin-sharp mind. Just think of the crosswords you’ll be able to arm wrestle.
By the way, I love reading all your comments here and on Flickr and Twitter, especially now that they’re unsolicited. Do feel free to vent below if you feel the need to judge our poor, tortured protagonist. He probably deserves it.
“Baby, how could you think that’s me?!” Swellen cried in indignant protest the following evening, when Len (in so many words) threw the incriminating evidence at her feet. “It’s just some naked avatar in a Maitreya body – there must be thousands of us like that in SL.”
“He said it was you,” said Len, still defiant.
“Who said it was me?”
“Who the hell is Kyle?”
“Kyle’s the guy who took the photos.”
Swellen spent a moment checking out the pictures’ creator. “Jesus Christ, Len: some day old avatar who can’t even write sends you pictures of some random avatars fucking and tells you it’s me – and you believe him?”
“Why would I disbelieve him?” asked Len, feeling the ground beneath his feet start to subside.
“He’s a day old! How do I know this isn’t some ex of mine trying to split us up? God alive, are you seriously that much of an idiot?”
“So it’s not you, then?”
“Of course it’s not me!”
Seizing at some last straws, he said, “Well you must be pretty mad at me I guess for doubting you.”
“Oh baby, it’s really sweet that you’re jealous; it shows me how much you care.”
Chris was furious. Another plan failed. If he’d thought to take pictures from the moment that Swellen had arrived at the club – in the exact outfit she’d been in before he’d logged off – then she’d be in a much less secure position. What a fool he’d been. And there was no way he could possibly carry off a modified version of the same tactic without it appearing hopelessly suspicious. There were argumentative threads he could have pulled on, such as the coincidence of the avatar in the picture having Swellen’s exact same hair style, but he knew her answer to that would involve it being a popular hair, currently in fashion, on special offer at a recent hair fair and featured in a thousand different SL fashion blogs. Or whatever. It simply wasn’t conclusive proof.
But, after a moment’s thought, Chris knew exactly what he had to do. Len might not have solid enough evidence for ending things with Swellen, but it was surely a good enough basis for suspicion that she was up to no good. What would any normal suspicious, jealous husband in SL do, he asked himself. Obviously he would create a new avatar and use it to spy on his wife.
Back to the sign-up web page he went. But this time he was creating an avatar which would be revealed to Swellen as an alt of his once he caught her in the act; the profile no longer had to be convincingly different from Len’s (although it did need to be convincingly different from that of Carbon and Kyle). In the end, he decided a completely empty profile would be very much in keeping with an avatar created solely for the purpose of uncovering a betrayal: any other text in there, any other picks or pictures or information might give the impression that the account had some sort of potential secondary function. The last thing he wanted was to be accused of having an affair himself. That would make him look bad.
And so it was that ‘Hawk Frankham’ came into being. I hope you’re keeping up with this.
The problem that now presented itself was how to fix it so that Hawk just happened to be wherever it was that Swellen and Carbon happened to be. Although he would of course know exactly where she was as Carbon, he had to have a believable story as to how he came to know that information as Len.
He wondered at first about giving her a bugged item to wear which would report back its location to him, such as a ring or a watch or a pair of shoes – these trinkets had been around for years as the toys of various Second Life ‘detectives.’ But the truth was this would be very out of character for Len, even if offered as part of a humble apology for believing Kyle’s photos. Additionally, Swellen’s tastes were such that he very much doubted anything fashioned originally by a security firm was likely to be worn for more than five seconds after he’d logged off.
He thought about the problem for a good hour or so, before finally coming up with a solution.
He decided in the end to use Swellen’s own narrative against her and develop the very story she’d cooked up to explain the photographs (and which maybe she even believed), that Kyle (the guy who had taken the photographs) was an ex lover of hers specifically out to spot her. Supposing that were true: why would any ex prepared to go to the lengths of creating an alt just to spot her only make one alt and leave him at one club on the off chance that she happened to appear there? The odds of that strategy being successful were surely extremely low. Wouldn’t it be more likely that any guy going to all this trouble would in fact create several alts and position them across a number of different clubs, thereby increasing his chance of success?
All he needed to do, then, was to create another account to pose as another of Swellen’s ex’s alts and then send this avatar to whichever venue Carbon and Swellen ended up in. On the basis that Len would (obviously) have messaged back Kyle telling him that Swellen had said his photos were fake, the aggrieved ex would then message Len to tell him to “come and see for yourself.” Len, of course, would be logged off at that moment, but he could say that he picked the message up as an offline email. And then he would log on – but as Hawk, not as Len, so he could observe without being seen – and send him to the co-ordinates communicated to him, thereby catching Carbon and Swellen in the act.
What could be simpler?
He created the new account in just a few minutes, making it a slight variation on Kyle’s. For the real life tab Chris went outside and took a picture of his shadow on the sidewalk. Underneath it he wrote, “YEP THATS ME RL CERTIFIED MALE LOL WANT TO KNOW MORE YOU CAN ASK BUT I MIGHT NOT TELL” He called this creation Roger981. We don’t need to shorten this to just Roger, because the avatar never ended up being used.
“Baby,” Swellen told Carbon as soon as he logged on, “some prick took pictures of us last night at Harlequin’s and sent them to Len. Don’t worry, I sorted it. The photos didn’t include name tags so I told him it was someone else using the same body and hair as me. I’m willing to bet it was an ex of mine using an alt that took the snapshots. If that’s the case he’s probably got loads of other avatars all over the place on the lookout for me. I’m going to have to start using an old alt of mine for our liaisons. It’s just too risky to meet up with you as Swellen right now.”
So that put paid to that plan.