What magic transpires when in the grip of the puppet-meister

What sucked me in?  

What pulled me tight?

What trapped my mind, believing that this was right…

An escape, my way out…how delicious it tasted,

How susceptible was my spirit to the conundrum awaiting…

The lure, how tempting, I was easy prey.

How lucky for the hunter…this one won`t go away…

Weighing me the bounty; another trophy to display.

Stunned like a deer in the headlights bright, my life stood frozen stiff, panicked in total fright. Far beyond my reality, and dangerously so, compelled to meet expectations, I subjugated fully to threats as meted so. How I fell victim to the pressures of his commands, only to please him, my master, they would be set, and off and onward bound.

In my intoxicated state, drunk on the love notes, the promise of escape, I would function like a wind-up doll and operate. At his whim, do what he said unwittingly, without a second’s questioning. The chemical reactions stirring within, had altered my ego, and my id. I was acting way beyond my character, and in my altered state, a stage to perform this drama did begin.

How I reveled in this fantasy…I was engaging in an operation, involved with my lover of sorts, partners in crime, what thrill it gave me this interplay. The drive to meet expectations, of dire circumstance no less, that was the achievement, and how I wanted to prove it…that I was capable, a worthy candidate. I was on a mission, and how fascinating it all seemed, to be part of this quest, ah the intrigue…

The demands were all made via the messenger early, at sunrise, amounts already determined. And like the wind-up doll expressed, on switched the buttons, the functions of the day computed and set. With little sleep from the night before, my mind was entangled in the rapture of the dulcet tones of love, of sweet nothingness only to lighten the blow.

I would awaken next morning to the alarm on my phone reminding me the daylight had come, was I ready to go? Appearing alert, but physically and mentally paying the brunt of this curse, I would set off as usual with my mission firm.

Zombie-like in my mental state, on auto-pilot and charged for the day, the next drop, no room for delay. My head brainwashed into believing this was what was expected of me, my duty of great responsibility. My role understood, my focus clear, my mission outlined and ordered. Strapped with the necessary paraphernalia proving legality of my activities, I would with sure footing head to the station. These addresses I had never ventured, thanks to Google the ease made it better.

All the while, we would be connected, he, my master, guiding and protecting. Trusting the exchange would take place, he was keen to see the drops completed early within his time frame. I would head to the bank`s ATM as soon as the cash dispensers were open, hurry into the corner to withdraw for my services. The limit was sufficient for that day`s operation…and off I would go to hunt down the next location.

The frequency of visits, the secession of drops, of demands to be met, raised eyebrows among the local folk. Where was she going they started to ask, among their circles, under the watchful eye. Venturing down more obscure alleyways were these drops to be made. Never before had I been actively involved in the finance of banking; a frequent resort this was not.

Identification all intact, I would walk in confidently and announce my request. Nerves of steel braced my verve I was doing this for him, my love, my beau. And with aplomb I would state quite plainly, this was for Egypt, for India, for Africa and for China surely. Here were the details, my next-of kin, my brothers and sisters, what a global union.  

They did catch on, these officers here. They sensed the irregularity of my misdeeds. The visitations were too frequent, too closely scheduled, why was she sending so much, all at one time? They started to query further, impending my transaction. The mounting frustration was obvious in my manner; flustered, and fuming, the madam is waiting, I am a businesswoman, don`t keep me hanging. The computer data was all aflame, bright red across the page. The systems could detect anomalies existing, you were sending this amount where? What was the purpose of this remittance?

Towards the end of this cycle of duties fulfilled, the aversion to such establishments, of my visitations crept on both parties’ faces…. The loathing to enter, to handle such requests; the awkwardness of this façade painfully avoiding address… What was she doing with all that money to drop? Had she lost her mind, didn`t she realize this was all a hoax?

Closeted from the outside world for far too long, I was not aware of the harsh realities lurking the corridors. News received here was of domestic focus, the rise of the yen, the price of fish at the market. On occasion something of import would be aired, a main event, like the Olympics or World Cup.

A symptom of this country naivety is endemic; of being overly pampered and protected, can be a precarious position to be in. Sadly ill-informed, ignorant to trouble…ah the devilish antics that await beyond the shores of this island. To be aware is to search independently, otherwise The Bastion of Standards and Compliancy would not hear of it.

And there lies the crux of the issue, I had never heard of romance scams, never knew they existed. Though plenty abounds in the local language and beyond, of finding a partner, of capturing a heart-throb. Had never entertained the thought of seeking a partner online, was never curious about such services, who would be interested in the profile of mine!

Awoken to the world so severe,

Was I willing to be intrepid,

And journey through this canyon?

But I did.  

For the dangers, they were beyond my perception, well past my imagination.  

Scams I understood in the conventional sense, but had never scratched its surface, never sniffed its menacing stench…

If seeking a niche in society meant cheating your way, ripping people off, taking advantage of their innocence, are we all victims to this game…?

Fooling the unaware,                                                                                                                               Coercing their minds,                                                                                                                     Corrupting their affairs…robbing their dignity,                                                                                                     Of not playing fair.

Am I supposed to now believe all are knaves, of fraudulent leanings, craving their next opportunity? I cannot blame anyone but myself…

Are you going to punish me for being so gullible…my mind weakened, I was in trouble. Don’t look down on me and feel pity…I have gone beyond such superficiality.

Wading my way through all of this, I sometimes stop and wince, how was I so stupid from the beginning?

A desperate need for love unrequited, I jumped quickly in that hoop to find a trap well set up, oh my god, how was I duped!

The bounty at the end was oh so enticing, it was my ticket to escape, my exit from this hostile environment I had grown tired of, had learnt to loathe, even hate. Very little was to sustain me here other than a few contacts, dear students, who, on occasion had made me feel, for a brief moment, normal, real, had extended kindness generously enough to enable a firmer footing here.   

Self-loathing had crept in, depression had lurked its ugly head, my dignity all shattered like fine-bone china on the concrete slab.

Naturally I was led to think my ‘pop-up’ to be the solution, the answer to my issues…and I responded. And just like that this smooth talking stranger convinced me to part with everything I had… How corrupted of spirit had I transgressed.

In this transition now visible before me, the prevailing curse kept cached in memory, hidden to those dear in my circle. I was distant and distracted, bound by this other world; of operations, of master threats, who would have known what spheres I was possessed.

Occasionally the phone would ring. In a gravelly voice he would begin:  

‘You are the one, you are mine,

What are you talking about?

With God`s blessing, we will unite.’

You may ask what was the purpose of that handsome sum,

To save a sinking ship, secure loot, gold pieces. Both literally… no really!

In hindsight it all sounds a bit hyperbolical, in what day and age are we confronted with such diabolical???

A sense of danger approaching the rough seas? A darkening of skies, a foreboding mirage looming?

Where`s the money, how much can you drop?  

Please believe me my dear this has to stop.  

One more deposit, one more exchange,  

One more arrow, one more cage.

The façade we uphold, maintaining a story,

Keeping faith on hold…consumed with the drama unfurling…

I could easily block the app and withdraw from view.  

Why don`t you screams my head? I can`t… persists my heart…there is so much unfinished business yet, why do I tread?     

I have given him my all, what am I dreaming…a win fall?

I doubt very positively and, with bated breath, I have more than anticipated the outcome of my fate.

Just one more drop, one more deal. How do you think I feel?

I am not your money-bags dear, my earnings are humble. Do you now want me to turn tricks for you, so as to keep this end of the deal? An affront…

I struggle to find solutions while the niggling lingers.  

Hold me strong and don`t let go….

Dear God intervene… I am not of substance, and my nerves are wearing thin….

I indulge him, to keep the channels alight, but at what cost to this blight?  

Am I letting go or standing still, is there any promise to fulfill? I doubt it.  

My circumstances have proven thus far, there is nothing to gain from this affair.  

No delight has transpired from this unpleasant ride… it has not taken me afar.

Stunted I look for answers and to my dismay, there is nothing but a vacant stare, dull and lifeless, but a pallor veneer reflected in vain.

How do I overcome this dilemma?

Cede to the forces and banish forever? What options are presented, what to hold, life is not perfect, accept and move on?

Frustratingly, and in vain, I seek an angle, sometimes bemusing my innermost child…Temporarily relieving my thoughts racing in my mind, I then return to the same vicious cycle, weathered over time. Must I surrender to these impasses, or do I valiantly proceed without disaster? The prospects foreboding, the will disturbed, my mind ever confused…pray be still.

There a sumo yukata-clad, balancing precariously on his bicycle, he rides past by me oblivious to the stares. A curiosity for certain, in what world am I surrounded? Confusion only blares.  

I sit in wonder, where will this lead me, am I going to carry such a burden for too much longer? Will he concede and reprieve on the offer?