And then she vanished

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Where did she go?

And just like that, Jenny disappeared. My story meeting Jenny is a long one that I won’t trouble you with at this time. As I got to know Jenny, I realized her life was very different from my own. Jenny had an incredible life; she had a story that needed to be told. So I partnered with her to tell that story, to help her write the story of her life. As you saw, we got one page into it before she vanished without a trace. For months, I tried to contact her with no luck. As it became clearer and clearer she wasn’t going to get back to me, I gave up on telling her story. That was a shame.

There is a saying that I really like: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. For example, perhaps it is ideal to brush your teeth for a full 2 minutes. But if you were to only have 35 seconds, it would be better to brush for 35 seconds vs nothing at all. Now, I’m not saying this story will be bad without Jenny, but it won’t be the same. However, it would be a bigger shame if I did nothing.

My whole involvement with this story starts with my friend Steven. He texted me one day and told me some dude was asking about Roger on Instagram. I thought that was strange, so I asked him for some screencaps. Hilarity in one form soon ensured.

(As an aside, Manuel clearly means Roger talks to his wife, not “walks.” Also, presumably, when he says, “Look with a query,” he means something along the lines of “I have a question.”

Steven’s response, to this day, still cracks me up, “What can I possibly do for you….” Steven and Manuel couldn’t be more different in personality. Steven is very calm and collected where Manuel is stressed and erratic. Manuel was grasping at straws, trying to contact everyone that was in contact with Roger. I soon learned he contacted me as well. I was new to Instagram, so I didn’t check my message requests until then.

So soon enough, I was talking to this Manuel guy. I’m not sure what drove me. In part, I wanted to help Roger if possible, but I was also just curious. I wanted to learn more about Guatemala, and I just enjoy meeting people and talking to people. At the time I was an auditor at EY, so my social life was limited pretty much to my co-workers as the hours were quite long. This interaction was different and exciting in a way.

I started to piece together a story. Manuel was a worker at a beverage plant in Guatemala. He said Jenny was his wife, but they were separated. They had 3 kids together. He would tell me about how he missed her and them and that he still loved Jenny. He told me not to tell her I was talking to him.

Eventually Jenny started talking to me on Instagram as well. Roger had a habit of breaking off contact with people. This concerned Jenny so she reached out to me for comfort. I would ask her about her life in Guatemala. She would tell me about how much she loved and missed Roger.

My communication with Jenny was typically in English, but she wrote in Spanish and used a translator. My Spanish is not great, but I would try to write in it from time to time.

She also was apparently sick and had to go to the hospital. The outlook was grim, she was told she had 1 year to live. While in the hospital, her sister would type on her phone for her, at least supposedly.

While this was happening, Manuel would tell me she was mentally unstable. That Jenny needed to see a psychologist. Most often though, Manuel would tell me that my friend Roger should not come visit her in Guatemala. In fact, almost everyday at one point he would tell me, “tell him not to come”. And not just once either, many times, over and over again. I would try to learn more about Manuel and his life and he would tell me to tell Roger not to come to Guatemala. This went on and on. To the point I was sick of talking to him.

Manuel also told me interesting stories. That he had friends in the CA police department and he could get Roger in trouble. I told him Roger doesn’t even live in California, he is in Indiana. He told me he has police friends there too. He told me Roger would be in physical danger in Guatemala. He told us the gangs would hurt him and it was not safe.

I googled about Guatemala, and in fact, there was a lot of violence there. One of the higher murder rates in the world. I was concerned for Roger too. At the same time though, you have to follow your heart, and it was not my decision to make.

This is how I got myself in the middle of a fight between a couple in Guatemala and my friend in Indiana. It was a strange situation. As my long hours and days at work went on and on, at my lunch and dinner break I would continue to talk to the two. Sometimes my coworkers who spoke Spanish would help me translate what Manuel was saying. Sometimes the things he said didn’t even make sense to my coworkers, who were native speakers. Manuel generally spoke in Spanish, or he used a translator, but he was difficult to understand.

He would always talk about a big onda? Or a bad wave? I don’t know what he meant by that to this day.

Jenny’s health continued to deteriorate. Then, something changed. She was never really sick. It was all a lie. Roger revealed to me he actually gave her hundreds of dollars. I was shocked. Why would she lie? Just for money?

My co-workers all thought this was some plan to get a US visa. And in fact, she asked me for help getting a visa so she could visit Roger. She wanted an employment visa. Now, I didn’t really have the means to do any of that. I played a voice message of her crying and saying she missed Roger and wanted to see him. My co-worker listened and thought it was all a lie. I listened to the message and thought she was sincere. The crying, the tone of her voice. She was either sincere or a great actor. I like to think I see the good in people, and Jenny had some great qualities to her.

Roger and she eventually broke up. Roger was convinced she had done this before. That she wasn’t who she said she was. That he was catfished and had his money stolen from him.

Jenny and I spoke via camera on Instagram, so I knew she wasn’t a total fabrication. She at least looked like herself. At the same time, all her social media accounts seemed pretty new. Almost like they were made just for Roger. I wasn’t sure what to make of all this.

Maybe it was a scam. Jenny still professed to love Roger. I asked her about the money, about the lies, and the cancer. She confessed to me, she had lied. She had taken money from my friend. She told the cancer story so Roger would feel better about himself. But she really loved him still. I asked what happened to the money. She told me she spent it. Just on living expenses and what not. Now, I’m not a master at persuasion by any means, but by the end of the conversation, I convinced her that if she repaid Roger, that might convince him to love her again.

She got to work in her home bakery.

Was this the right thing to do? I think so. I have an interesting personal philosophy of money. That it cannot be given, it must only be earned. Some people think that Bill Gates has the power to just give anyone money, but perhaps not. That isn’t really how money works. It doesn’t just appear. You have to work for it, you have to provide value. Maybe Jenny’s story provided some value to Roger, I don’t know. But I didn’t think it was right that she got his hard earned money.

So I did what I did.

Roger was still elusive, even to me. We talked once or twice. He gave me details of Jenny. He wasn’t 100% on board with my idea. He just wanted to cut his losses and move on. I wanted to see how it would play out. Did Jenny really love him? Could she make this money on her own?

All the while, even broken up, Manuel would still message me tell me to tell Roger not to come. I told him it wouldn’t happen. That still wasn’t good enough for him. Eventually, I mentioned Manuel to Jenny. I told her he still loved her. Why wouldn’t she be with him? She told me he was abusive. Almost instantly, Manuel messaged me with a screencap of my conversation with Jenny, asking why I said that, and that I wasn’t supposed to tell her I was talking to him.

Their relationship was strange, to say the least. How often did Manuel see Jenny? Just to pass off the kids? Jenny and Manuel told me different stories. I wasn’t sure what to believe. However, I did start to believe Manuel about one thing, Jenny did need to see a psychologist. Roger told me that Jenny’s family put her up to this. That her dad and brothers essentially whored her out to the internet, looking for “wealthy” Americans to take advantage of. Manuel said something to similar effect too, that Jenny just wanted Roger’s money. I laughed at Manuel, I told him Roger was poor and didn’t have any money (which was very true). Manuel asked how could this be? Manuel had some idea of America as a land of opportunity, a place where everyone was well off. He also often told me just to go to Roger’s work to tell him things. I think he also didn’t understand where San Jose, CA was in relation to Indiana.

Roger told me Jenny’s father was sexually abusive to Jenny. That he raped her. It was a terrible thing to hear.

I wanted to get to the bottom of all this. Who was Jenny really? I approached her with the idea of writing her story. She was terribly distraught with Roger not talking to her. I thought maybe telling her story would help her achieve some sort of catharsis. My English was pretty good, and I had written books before. I was excited to help her in the little ways I could. So we got started. She wrote a half page, then I asked her questions and gave here ideas for more these to say. She wrote a little more. Then she disappeared completely. Manuel finally stopped talking to me. And there the story ended.

And that is where the story ends today.

Did Jenny find another American man to date and take money from? Did her father really force all that and himself upon her?

Is Manuel still alone and missing his children?

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