Friday, July 30, 2010

Starting Over Personally and Professionally

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this gig, it all went to hell in a matter of hours. I was doubtful that this cover would work in the beginning. Then I thought perhaps my boss was right and that this would be a foolproof plan. Now I'm having my doubts again. Maybe not so much about the operation itself, but about my ability to fulfill my role. My only choice is to regroup and figure out a way to make this work.

The week started out interesting enough. I decided to meet with Lucky again if only to let him know that our one night of drunken abandon was just that and we could never be a real couple. We met up in the wee hours of Sunday morning after he had finished his final show and we headed to an all-night diner. I had my speech planned and everything, but somehow, I never got that far. Despite his bizarre need to mimic The King's mannerisms and speech pattern, he's not entirely in character all the time. As we ate, we talked about all the usual silly stuff people talk about on a first date. Being around the same age, we laughed about the TV shows we watched as kids and the toys we had and all those pop culture touchstones that bond everyone from a certain generation and defines them, if only in a superficial way. By the time we ordered dessert, I realized how much I missed having a real friend to talk to.

Nevertheless, I was firm that, if we were going to have any further contact, we needed to go slowly. To my surprise, Lucky was just as eager to take the same approach. He seemed perfectly willing to start over as if that strange night had never occurred. We parted before sunrise with only a chaste kiss to end the date. I agreed to see him a few days later for a matinee movie- Despicable Me if you must know. I guess it was okay. I'm not much for computer animation. Growing up with movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, this artificial, rubbery looking stuff leaves me cold. Lucky seemed to enjoy it.

My noisy neighbor and her barking dog must be away for the time being. Amazing how eerie silence can be when you become used to certain noises. I'm not complaining, though. I've been able to catch up on my sleep. Sleep is my escape from the job. I've been doing unspeakable things to myself in front of a web cam for the last couple weeks in the name of entertaining some pervert on my agency's wanted list. I've had to engage in ridiculous seduction chat as well, trying to lure him into a meeting. As it turned out, he told me he was coming to Vegas. We were supposed to meet up this past Wednesday. Perhaps I should have handled this on my own, but I wanted to do this correctly, so I made contact with Stephen again to work out a scenario where we could nab this guy. We set up a hotel room where I would meet the target and Stephen would burst in as an angry husband. Distraction in place, we would overtake the guy and spirit him away without anyone noticing. The plot sounded good. It wasn't.

I'm not sure what exactly went wrong, but the guy must've spotted Stephen lurking around or something, because the target bolted. Stephen and I searched the surrounding area but, after hours of chasing shadows, we came up with nothing. My call to The Colonel was quite tense. I was dying inside, but he told me that the operation would continue. There were more fish in the sea. Part of me was hoping he would call this whole thing off. I could live with the failure. I wasn't so sure I could continue living as Carla Fontaine.

At least that's how I was feeling for a day or so. I've recommitted myself to making this work. This mistake was a dress rehearsal. Now I'm over the nerves and I can truly become this character. I have to improve the look, the moves, the seductive banter. Carla Fontaine will be irresistible. No more thinking about the cases I want to do. This is what my country needs me to do, and I will succeed.

Hang on, another text from Lucky. He's sweet but annoying sometimes. I have to punish him by making him take me to one of the really expensive restaurants in town.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Birthday and Work Starts for Real

Last Saturday was my birthday. It was the first time I spent my birthday in a place where I had no friends or family around to celebrate with. Okay, I know that's supposed to be part of the job and I shouldn't be such a whiner about it, but it did get me down a little bit. After moping most of the day, I finally decided to put on my best dress and hit the town. I mean, I had all of Las Vegas outside and I was sitting in my dinky apartment watching Food Network.

My first stop was the Bellagio where I had a few cocktails at Caramel, but it felt too trendy for my simple tastes. Without much food in my stomach, the booze hit me pretty fast and I found myself enraptured by the Chihuly glass sculptures on the ceiling of the Bellagio's lobby. I sort of remember spinning around and staring at the art, fascinated by the changing imagery as the light hit the glass from different angles. Who knows how long this went on, but when I noticed some security guards studying me suspiciously, I walked out to the valets to pick up my car.

Can't really remember much more about the night. I hopped from one place to another. Yes, I was probably too drunk to be driving and I regret that. I wasn't really thinking too clearly. There was some dive way off the strip where a fuzzy image of Elvis sat next to me and talked about how pretty I was. Maybe it was the margarita goggles, but he was rather attractive also. This was not the fat, jumpsuit Elvis, but a young, dashing  Elvis in a sharkskin suit and string bean tie. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a strange bed alone and there was hair grease on the pillow next to me. Yes, I went to bed with Elvis, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.

The guy calls himself Lucky Jackson. That's not his real name, but a name he adopted from Elvis's character in Viva Las Vegas. He performs as Elvis in one of those 50s review shows on the strip, but he seems to be embodied with the spirit of Elvis 24/7. Needless to say, Sunday morning was a bit surreal. I just wanted to bolt, but I had no idea where I was. Lucky was a gentleman though, and he offered to take me to breakfast. It turns out he lives in a trailer in Henderson, and we ended up at a diner called Mustang Sally's located in a Ford dealership. Pretty awkward meal with him telling me all about his performing career and me making up some b.s. about having worked as an accountant but I had just moved to Vegas to start a new business. I was going to use my code name Carla, but he already knew my real name was Angela. Shit, I have to avoid drinking while undercover!

After our civil breakfast, I was really hoping I would never see Lucky again. Unfortunately, he was so sweet and polite that I felt compelled to give him my phone number. He's been texting me ever since. I can't bring myself to respond.

Monday, I got word that the agency I work for would no longer pay for my rental car and I had to find some permanent wheels. Their allowance for purchasing said wheels was a joke, so I had to find a used car in good shape. I settled on a silver 1998 Toyota Tercel, which was in fantastic condition considering its age. I guess they don't get the corrosive snow and road salt out here like we have back east. I took a picture of it:

I'm pretty happy with it, although it does have a few rattles like most used cars. Probably get rid of it once this job is over anyway.

Speaking of which, we hooked a fish on our line. A suspicious character who we've had our eye on for some time. The tech boys directed him to my site and we started chatting back and forth. Then there was the web cam stuff. I have to say, I was more upset by the experience than I thought I would be. Not that I'm a prude, but I was never all that demonstrative sexually. The whole seduction routine was never something I was comfortable with. Maybe if I had studied acting somewhere along the way, I would know how to disassociate my true self from the character I'm playing. Something must be going right because our target keeps coming back, and each session becomes a little easier.

I've been sleeping better, having learned to tune out my cranky old hag of a neighbor and all the noise at night. Her dog was in the hallway the other day before the crazy woman came out and dragged him back into her apartment. Cute little terrier mix. I feel sorry for him.

My general malaise must be working against me, because Lucky's messages became less annoying as the week went on. Yesterday he left a voice mail where he sang the chorus from Lady Gaga's Paparazzi in that Elvis voice of his. You know, "I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me." Crazy goof. I guess I at least owe him a date where I can tell him this can never happen. I guess...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lost in Las Vegas

Another week in Las Vegas and I'm beginning to feel like a toy boat adrift at sea. After my agency contact, Stephen, gave me a quick orientation on my new assignment and spent a few days giving me a tour of the city, he disappeared. Not literally, but he felt that it would be best for my cover if I no longer made contact with him.

I'm cultivating my new personna, known as Carla Fontaine, but things are moving slowly. A couple of Web designers back in DC are putting together a bogus porn site for me using some sexy shots I took last week. Although I'm not altogether thrilled with exploiting my body this way, I have to admit, the shots turned out far better than I expected. Maybe too good for a girl who's supposed to be running a webcam porn scheme from her apartment. I guess we'll see.

I don't understand all the technical aspects of it, but apparently our tech guys have hacked into the computers of certain targets of interest and are monitoring their "adult entertainment" preferences. Once my site is ready, they will somehow piggyback on a site that the target frequents and redirect him to my site. My job is to be entertaining enough in the virtual world to lure him to Vegas for some actual intimacy. That's when we take him in. God, I hate the idea of having to perform on a webcam for some slobbering oaf, but at least I won't have to see him while I'm doing it.

I had to buy a new laptop and a webcam for this job. Not knowing very much about computers, I had a long talk with one of the sales people at the nearest electronics megastore. He talked me into buying an ASUS, which I had never heard of before. He told me ASUS makes the hardware components for several other computer companies and only recently started making their own. It's not very pretty (sort of dark brown shiny plastic thing), but it seems to work okay for my needs. At least I could fritter away some time loading new software on it and configuring it the way I want it. Killing time has become a full-time job for me lately. I almost feel like I'm collecting a paycheck under false pretenses.

Last weekend, I thought I'd check out some of the big hotels on the strip. Went to the Venetian and Paris since they seemed pretty gimmicky. It was kind of like the way Europe would've been rendered in one of those old movie musicals with Gene Kelly or that old guy who looked like a grasshopper. There's something depressing about the phoniness of it. I guess it's for people who want to see Europe but are afraid of Europeans. I visited Epcot when I was doing my EOD training for the Navy down in Florida and got the same sort of vibe. I haven't done a huge amount of traveling, and much of that was work related, but when I can I like to immerse myself in the culture rather than try to tailor it to my American tastes.

Speaking of tastes, I found a place here that serves terrific Thai food. It's called Lotus of Siam, and they have a wonderful lunch buffet. The only drawback was I had to sit next to some pretentious idiot talking loudly on his cellphone the whole time. Then he asked the waitress for chopsticks even though Thai people do not use them. Goof!

So those are the highlights for this week. Oh, there is the neighbor upstairs who's been keeping me awake at night with all kinds of banging and rumbling noises, not to mention the dog barking and growling. It's a cute little terrier mix, but boy can it make noise. I wonder what the hell they're up to at night. And my mom keeps calling way too early because she doesn't understand the time different between east and west. She needs help sorting out my Dad's estate and, since she thinks I work for an investment firm, she wants my advice. If she only knew....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Starting a New Life

This is probably a stupid thing to do, but I decided to start a blog because I feel like I'm at loose ends and need to unload to whoever's out there. For the first time since I started working for this secret federal agency with no name, I'm stuck on long-term undercover duty with no specific strategy or end game. Over the last year or so, my previous cases involved rather narrow operations with a clear protocol and short-term results. I guess the boss, whom we all refer to as The Colonel, feels that I'm finally ready to take on a serious deep cover job. While I appreciate his confidence, I'm not so sure how crazy I am for this particular assignment.

Shortly after returning from my vacation in England, The Colonel informed me that I was moving to Las Vegas to pose as some online hooker to lure nasty terrorists who happen to frequent Vegas for some illicit thrills. He was not terribly specific about how the operation would work (probably out of some embarrassment since he is a fairly formal gentleman), so I was simply shipped off after the July 4th weekend where I was supposed to meet my contact. His code name is Stephen - his real name is not important.

I arrived at McCarran airport to the clang and jingle of slot machines in the terminal. After picking up my rental car, I drove to the Luxor where I had booked a room for one night. Having never been to Vegas before, I wanted to have one night at one of those flashy hotels. The place was just noisy and stank of cigarette smoke. After a couple drinks and several hours on the slot machines, I wasn't feeling the excitement, so I went to bed.

I met up with Stephen the next day and he filled me in on my new life. I was to become Carla Fontaine, an online sex kitten who runs her sleazy Web site out of a one-bedroom apartment in North Las Vegas. Not a bad place, actually. Clean and neatly decorated with DIY furniture from one of those Scandavanian warehouse stores. After having a day to get my bearings, I was sent to a photo shoot to take some semi-nude shots for the Web site being developed by the boys in DC. I'm not a prude, but this sort of exhibitionism is not really my thing. I spent five years trying to earn respect in the Navy as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and in this new job as a competent field agent. Now I'm being used as a sex object. After the shoot, I hit the liquor store and spent the evening in my tiny place having a rare (but perfectly justifiable in my mind) pity party.

My royal hangover was kicked off bright and early the next morning when my mom called at 5:30 a.m. She still can't get used to the time difference between Maryland and Nevada. I think she's lost a step or two since Dad died. I've told her I'm setting up a branch office for this non-existent investment firm I'm supposed to work for. The worst part of this job is the lying, especially to my family, but it can't be helped. I'm beginning to see myself as multiple people existing at once.

Anyway, yesterday I roamed around Las Vegas some more to get acquainted. It's boiling hot here, but I think it's just as bad back home right now. And I thought I was used to crazy traffic coming from DC, but this is a new kind of crazy. By evening, I was feeling fairly miserable when a curious courier arrived at my door with a package. I was suspicious, but it turned out to be my Smith & Wesson Model 3913LS "Lady Smith" 9 mm. It's nice to have a least one old friend nearby.