Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Becoming Lost in Another Life

One thing I was not prepared for when I went to work for my little federal agency with no name was how lost I would become in my undercover personas. It's almost eerie how I begin to forget who I really am and start to think like the role I'm playing. For the last month or so, I've become completely consumed by the character of Carla Puckett, smart-ass waitress and party girl.

Although I never thought in a million years I would like working in a bar, that's exactly the case. My boss, Prune, is a real character, always ready with a new joke or some ridiculous story that he "swears on a stack of bibles is the God's honest truth." Most of the regulars seem to like me, and my partner in the operation, Geoffrey, stops by most nights to flirt with me along with passing on bits of information about his progress on infiltrating the anti-government group we are spying on. We've even gone on some pretend dates. Not really dates, I guess, but group outings with some of the people he's trying to impress. We've gone to the movies and some clubs. If I could just focus on Geoffrey without the others, I might actually enjoy it all.

But then there's Chester Schifflet, the guy who's supposed to lead us to the real target. Chester is a born loser and mad at the world for it. He hates everybody (except us apparently) and doesn't hold back any of his venom. Every ethnic group, every person he perceives as having more than he does, everyone who ever slighted him in some way is woven into his lengthy diatribes and given no mercy. The racial crap is what gets me the most. I feel my stomach twisting in revulsion from his hateful epithets, but I have to hold my tongue and go along with him. We are, after all, trying to present ourselves as like minded. It kills me inside, though.

I've talked to Geoffrey privately about all this, and he keeps me buoyed. With a lot more experience at undercover work than I have, he seems better able to compartmentalize the different facets of his life. I can see a perceptible difference between the real Geoffrey and the role he's playing. He turns it on and off. I get lost somehow. Intellectually, I know the difference, but emotionally...

Speaking of role playing, I think I've finally put my old Carla Fontaine character in the rear view mirror. She haunted me for some time, as did the events that happened in Las Vegas, but I see that whole period now as something that happened to another person. For example, last summer when I was living in Las Vegas, I had a pretty strange experience which got me thrown out of my apartment. Originally, I planned to write about it and post it to my Web site but, for some reason, the whole experience upset me to the point where I didn't feel comfortable putting it out there for public consumption.

Not that I haven't had some strange adventures since starting this career, but that confrontation with the old lady and her dog was different. Nothing ever added up. I became obsessed with it, even while I was absorbed in other work. For months, I combed through the office database and searched the internet for any tidbits that might bring better clarity to those events, but nothing has come together. Anyway, I figured maybe by just writing it out and letting other people read it, I might be able to move on. If you want to look at it, it's here.

Meanwhile, I'm still working in the bar, totally detached from my real life. I'm starting to miss my mom, but I don't know how to put on my Angie face and visit her. It's like when you leave a job and you promise to stay in touch with your co-workers, but time passes and they become echoes of a past you can't return to. It's almost cruel to talk about my mother that way, but that's the way I feel right now. Hopefully, it will change one day.