First of all, I probably won't be writing up a report of the Operation Wintergreen events. People are dead, there's a perfectly good blog there that explains it all fine. You don't need me to basically tell you what they've already told you, and if you do, then...I dunno, you've got weird dependency issues or something that you should maybe talk to a shrink about. I've been busy. Sue me. We've had to work on rearranging the entire apartment, since it wasn't set up for two people before, and my job description isn't "tell people what they should already know."
But anyway, this isn't about that. This is about Jacob. Our benefactor. The guy responsible for our paychecks. And at the same time, the person I know next to nothing about. Well, "knew" I guess. Past tense. Because I've actually met him now.
We met at a Starbucks, as we had arranged. As I entered, a man turned around and smiled, waving me over to the booth he was sitting at. Jacob. I sat down across from him to get my first good look at him.
He was...well, he was not what I expected. He looked young, at least physically. I don't swing that way, and even I could tell that he was pretty handsome as well. Around as old as me, maybe a bit older. He had this...how do I describe it? It was a gentle (serene? calm?) sort of face. Eyes were an unusually pale blue, neat blonde hair, clean-shaven...like I said, young-looking. Wore a tan long-sleeved dress shirt with jeans. Looked pretty sharp and well-groomed overall, which made me feel a bit bad for showing up in just jeans and a t-shirt, unshaved, with hair in need of a trim.
He started talking, and he seemed...cheerful. Pleasant. And not in the creepy way, either, just...a happy guy. Quiet, unassuming...wise, maybe? I don't know. He couldn't have been much older than me, but he felt like a father in some ways.
Jacob: Ah, The Messenger, is it? Can I just call you Messenger for short?
Messenger: You can probably call me Alan if it's easier. That's the name you'd know me better by.
J: No, no, it's better that I call you Messenger. It's the name you've chosen, so it's the name I'm calling you. After all, Jacob isn't exactly my real name, either.
[A thought occurred to me at this point, so I figured it was worth asking.]
M: Incidentally, what was Caper's name? You'd probably know, wouldn't you?
J: Theodor VonSterninheimer. But he told me that that was just an alias.
J: So, you wanted to talk to me? You need some coffee before we start? I'll wait.
M: Yeah...and I'm fine, thanks. I guess I'll just start by asking to clarify what exactly it is you do in regards to all of...you know, us.
J: Well, it's pretty self-explanatory. I make monthly deposits to everyone's accounts for food and other expenses. I also pay rent and do some other organizational things. That reminds me, how are you getting along with that Nee-chan girl?
M: Um...it's okay, I guess. She's a bit annoying, but I guess I'll live with it.
J: Good, good...I'm thinking I may have made a mistake with Poe. I was looking for someone dedicated to help her out, but I was hoping that they'd...get along better than they have been. If it becomes a problem, you wouldn't mind rooming with Screwtape or Poe, would you?
M: I suppose not, no. Anyway, what exactly is your job. You know, the one that you actually get paid for.
J: Well, I'm a stockbroker and investment adviser. Not to boast, but a pretty good one, too. I can actually afford to live fairly comfortably, even after you've all gotten your paychecks.
M: Mmhmm...and how exactly did you get involved in all of this?
J: In stockbroking?
M: No, in...you know, this stuff with The Boss.
J: [He laughed here.] So you believe in him too, huh?
J: I'm sorry, it's just...I've never actually seen him. I'm really not sure whether or not to believe he actually exists. All I know is that, one day, some guys showed up at my doorstep. Ask that I fund that cult you're involved in...no offense, I hope. I see it as a cult, and I really don't know what else to call it.
M: None taken. It's a pretty accurate term.
J: Okay, then. Some of the cultists showed up at my door and asked me to fund some people here. Said that I'd been chosen for that purpose, and that I'd either have to fund them or "Father and his loyal servants" would come after me. To be honest, I'm still much more frightened of those "servants" than of any sort of "Father." I'm almost convinced that there are some higher-ups in the cult spreading their propaganda for their own purposes, and that the whole thing is just a made-up excuse for them to gain some sort of power over something or other.
M: So why not run? I'm sure that they wouldn't be able to find you if you covered your tracks well enough.
J: Why bother? From what I've hear, there are quite a few of you cultists who are...well, as forced into it as I am. I've kept and eye on your blog, so I know that you're doing this for your brother. And most of the people can't even think for themselves. They've been forcibly brainwashed somehow. And you're telling me that I should let people like you try to maintain a regular job in addition to everything else the cult makes you do?
M: I guess you have a point. And, um...yeah, the term "cult" is starting to make me feel a bit uncomfortable now.
J: Oh, I'm so sorry. You should have said something sooner. The last thing I want to do is offend the people I'm funding.
M: So you're funding us because you want to?
J: Yes and no. While I didn't exactly volunteer, I'm more than happy to help out. You guys do need the help, after all. No sensible person is going to pay anyone to sit around and read blogs, which some of you are required to do. And to be honest, most of you involved in...all of this seem like decent, reasonable people. If I don't help out, who will? [He grinned.] I guess I get to play philanthropist, don't I?
M: [I smiled in acknowledgement.] We all really appreciate it. But this doesn't worry you at all?
J: Not too much. I feel a bit removed from the whole thing. I don't like to see it as me funding some crazy cult because my life depends on it, just like I know you don't like to see it as me funding some crazy cult. I like to see myself as a benefactor, helping out some people who really do need the help. You're a good man, Messenger. I'm really sorry that you have to be so deeply involved in all of this.
M: [I stood.] Well, Jacob, thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.
J: [Standing, shaking my hand.] Anytime, Messenger. I'm just happy I can help.
And that's where I stopped recording. But yeah, Jacob. Not what I really expected. I had no idea that he hadn't even seen The Boss, or didn't even believe in him. Doesn't seem possible in some ways. But I guess...good on him. He seems like a decent enough guy. He seems like he deserves the ignorance he has about this whole situation.
-Don't Shoot The Messenger-