Perfect Stranger

Joshua Alexander looked at all the lonely women in internet chat rooms-- and saw nothing but opportunit

"I told her that I believed it because my brother and his wife had met over the Internet," Alexander says. "Which wasn't true. I told her I worked two jobs--that I owned a karaoke business and an Internet business. She said she worked at some little shop in northern Minnesota, doing secretary-type work. After about a half-hour she asked for my phone number. I gave the one for the cell phone and told her to call that evening, when I knew I could leave the house and be alone." That night they flirted for another half-hour and set up a time to talk online the next day, when Shirley could log on to a computer at the library.

Alexander began that conversation by saying he had been thinking about her. He felt like they were made for each other. Shirley quickly upped the ante, saying, "I hope this doesn't scare you, but I feel like I'm falling in love with you." How could he be scared? Alexander replied. He felt the same way. "Then I asked her if she'd ever had a full-body massage. When she said no, I segued into something sexual, told her I knew how to reach my hands into every part of her body. This was our second time online and we were already having cybersex, so intense, with language you can't use in the paper. I said, 'God, that is best I ever had. I wish you were here so we could do it for real.' 'I wish you were here,' she said. We started talking about getting together, moving pretty fast.

"I tried to put it off because I had also been chatting recently with three or four other women, but as we continued talking all the time online and on the phone, it got to the point where I felt like I needed to meet her." By then, Alexander had dropped the pseudonym and revealed his name.

When he pulled into Shirley's driveway--on a weekend that he'd told Bev he'd be visiting friends up north--Shirley dashed outside and jumped on top of him, proclaiming her love all the while. She also informed him that her daughter knew about the wedding plans they had been making over the phone. Alexander revisited her home two weeks later, and found that "it was even better than the first time. We spent a lot of time having sex, couldn't keep our hands off each other. I was very physically and psychologically attracted to her, and that was so rare."

A month later, she called him on his cell phone. "We had talked before about if she ever visited her parents down in the Twin Cities, I would take her and her daughter to the Mall of America. She called and said she was at her parents' and wanted to know if we could pick out wedding stuff."

When Alexander came by to get them for a trip to the mall, it didn't seem the right time to tell them that Bev had learned of the relationship. Meanwhile, to pacify his wife, Alexander had sworn to her that the day's meeting with Shirley was for the sole purpose of breaking off the relationship and letting her down easy.

Oh, it was a great day: "We tried on wedding rings. Shirley tried on wedding dresses. Her daughter tried on bridesmaid dresses. I tried on tuxedos. It was an exciting time." Of course the day was marked by the typical premarital jitters. "At this point I'd already been married three times. Even if this was for real it would be the fourth time, so I naturally had reservations. But I couldn't help enjoying myself. I was tickled pink seeing how happy Shirley was, and how ecstatic her daughter was that her mom was getting married and she was going to have a daddy."

On the way out of the mall, Alexander was explaining why they couldn't come along to pick up his daughter when his cell phone rang. It was Bev, wondering what was taking so long.

As Shirley's daughter went inside her grandparents' apartment complex, Alexander asked Shirley to take a walk with him on the path behind the building. "I said, 'You are probably going to hate my guts, but I hope you'll understand. I am married. The reason I never told you is because I didn't think I'd ever see you again. It's a very unhappy marriage and I want to leave her.' She was very upset at first, but then she sort of did a 180 and said, 'I understand. I'll wait for you for a month and day.'

"I told Shirley I didn't want her calling the cell phone or the house because my wife doesn't want the marriage to be over and I didn't want to hurt her. Of course I had been telling my wife that I wanted the marriage to continue. Shirley finally agreed that I would call her but she shouldn't call me. We were probably together another two hours on that walk.

"I drove home and wasn't in the house for more than ten minutes when Shirley called. She wanted to know if I could come back out and see her. And I got pissed. Because my wife was home. I said, 'I told you not to call!' She said, 'But I need you.' 'If you keep calling, you're going to make things worse,' I said and hung up on her. She kept calling and I got madder and madder because I knew I was in big trouble.

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