The Spy on my Phone

January 15, 2006

I found out that the government’s been tapping the phones in our neighborhood. Usually that gives one cause for alarm, especially for those of us in Portuguese Intelligence, but not in this case because I’ve been talking through the phone to the agent listening to my calls. His code name is Jackal.

“So what are you listening for?” I asked Jackal.

“I can’t tell you,” Jackal said.

“No, it’s okay, I’m with Portuguese intelligence,” I said.

“No, I can’t tell you because we don’t know,” Jackal said. “The orders said listen for “suspicious activity,” whatever the hell that means.”

“That probably means anything that sounds like or rhymes with Al-Qaeda or bomb or sand,” I say. “I take it you’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Paul Beta down on Tarragon Street.”

“Yes we have,” says Jackal. “He’s a very boring man.”

“So why our town?” I ask. “Why not some place like Dutchtown or Knife City?”

“Because I like your town,” Jackal said. “It’s very homey and cozy and friendly.”

“So because our town is so nice, you’re thinking it’s a place where terrorists would hide?” I ask.

“No, I’m just very lonely,” Jackal replied.

“How did you get a warrant to tap our phones then?” I ask.

“You don’t need a warrant for loneliness,” Jackal said. He then went on to tell me about how he got divorced three years ago, hasn’t seen his kids since then, and how empty his life has been since. In uncomfortable detail, like how for the month after the divorce he’d drink a bottle of whisky, sit on the futon in his studio apartment, and stare at his loaded gun. Inevitably he’d put the gun back in the drawer, cry himself to sleep, and start the whole process again the next day. It still didn’t answer why you don’t need a warrant for loneliness.

“For the first year after Mary left me, I filled the deafening void with Wild Turkey,” Jackal recounted. “Now listening in to people’s phone calls is all I have.”

“It’s good you’ve found a reason for living through wiretapping,” I say, “but could you at least get a warrant first? I don’t think your happiness should come before the Fourth Amendment.”

“I’m not sure how cruel and unusual punishment applies here” Jackal said.

“No, the fourth amendment,” I say.



“We freed the slaves already.”

“Just get a damn warrant!” I yell. “It’s not hard. Hell, I got a search warrant last week and I was drunk on Nyquil and grain alcohol. I don’t even remember filling out the form and sending it to the judge. But I got one, and you can too.”

Jackal relented and said he’d apply for a warrant later in the week. I never heard from Jackal again. I guess asking a FISA judge you want a wiretapping warrant so you won’t feel pathetically alone will raise some eyebrows at the NSA. I’m not sure if Jackal got fired, reassigned, or promoted for this.


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