I heard the car door slam and immediately looked at the clock. Brother Lou and Brother Paul had returned earlier than I expected, and I watched as they walked the subject–a young man named Benny–up the pathway to the entrance to the monastery. I waited in my office until Brother Lou knocked at my door and a moment later ushered in Benny.
Lou gestured for Benny at the chair in front of my desk. “This is Abbot Arthur,” Lou said before leaving the room.
“I will need a few more minutes to examine your file,” I said before glancing back down at the file.
Benny looked at his wrist, forgetting that the Brothers who had been dispatched to pick him up had been instructed to ensure that Benny leave his watch and wallet behind.
Finally, I slid the file away from me and said, “I believe the situation has been explained to you”
“It has, but I don’t know why I was brought here to deal with what’s happened.”
“The monastery is particularly suited to address this issue.”
“You can deal with the erasure of my on-line data?” Benny asked.
“I’m afraid it’s more than just the loss of data. You don’t exist anymore as an on-lne entity, and if you don’t exist online, you don’t exist anywhere.”
“How did this happen?”
“A form of malware moved through the internet, seeking and destroying data related to you,” I said. “Your bank records, credit cards, twitter account, and facebook are gone, as are Government records and all legal documents. It is a complete erasure of you.”
“I have no on-line presence right now?”
“There is no ‘right now’ about this. Once you have been erased from the internet, you stay erased.”
“Why can’t I re-establish my identity by opening up new accounts, applying for credit cards, and replacing everything else that’s been lost?”
“Because there is nothing left of the online you with which to begin.”
“There is me left of me. I remember my social security number and many of my account names and–”
“I’m afraid you don’t comprehend the situation.”
“What I don’t comprehend is why I had to leave my watch and wallet behind.”
Instead of responding, I look past Benny to where a crucifix hung on the wall. What would that Galilean carpenter, two thousand years ago, have suggested in this situation? When the figure hanging on the crucifix offered no advice, I looked back at Benny.
(To be continued)