“I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA
I got off, I got troublesome heart inside my DNA” — DNA by Kendrick Lamar
I sat with a frazzled FBI agent in a dark well-upholstered wood-paneled room with plumes of cigar smoke completing the noir-inspired atmosphere. He was tall, sinewy with close-cut blonde hair. His pale blue eyes darted around the room, performing multiple threat assessments on everyone who ventured into this enclave. His skin was reminiscent of a frozen turkey. He was so white one might believe he glowed in the ashen environment. His voice was full of gravel, and he spoke softly. I had to strain to understand the tragic words he punched out of his parsed lips—the first syllable a jab, the second a cross, and the third an uppercut.
We were not talking. He was talking.
Moreover, he was not talking to me; I just happened to be within earshot. He was finally admitting to himself what his wife and family had realized: the FBI had broken him.
He was assigned to sit in a windowless office and monitor various chatrooms frequented by children, pedophiles, and sex traffickers. This was 2004, before social media as we know it came on the scene. We were somewhere after Friendster's wreckage and right before Myspace's eventual carnage.
Each day he reported to a dank, windowless room with poor air circulation. The multiple CPUs heated the room up to the point he started to perspire after sitting in the room for forty-five minutes. As he thought of his prison, the funk of the room seemed to sting his nostrils.
He was condemned like a tragic figure from Greek mythology; instead of rolling a boulder up a mountain or an eagle eating his liver, he sat in this dungeon and was forced to ingest all of the filth he was presented with. He was a mushroom obliged to feast on shit.
He never confessed what he had done to be tasked with such an important but miserable assignment. Had he cheated death more than once or stolen fire? He did not elaborate on why the FBI had confined him to witness some of the most deplorable acts of humanity for up to 10 hours each day.