Last week, I announced to Stense that I had decided to foster a new image as a Man of Mystery and Adventure.
This Monday, I had to go to a conference, so I emailed Carolyn to say that I wouldn't be able to meet her as usual for coffee—adding mysteriously that I couldn't tell her why. When she asked why I couldn't tell her, I hinted—well, I suppose it was more of an announcement than a hint—that I was going DEEPLY COVERT on a TOP SECRET mission.
I don't think Carolyn believed me.
So, during one of the conference's coffee breaks, I went out into some rhododendron bushes and called Carolyn at work. I told her in a hushed voice that I was hiding in some bushes. I don't think she believed that either. I reassured her that I hadn't been spotted yet, and warned her that she might receive a strange phone call from someone using the password 'Belgium'. If and when she received the call, she was to inform the caller that Agent Eleven was silent running and was on a code 83. I asked her if she was writing all this down. She told me to stop being silly.
Carolyn then said that she would probably be able to meet me the following day for coffee, but that she might have to go to the butcher's first. I thought this was a strange thing to say, so I asked her to repeat it. There was a slight pause, then she repeated what she had just said, but this time she said bookshop instead of butcher's. I thought nothing of it at the time, putting it down to a simple mishearing, but afterwards I started thinking…
What if Carolyn had actually believed all my Man of Mystery and Adventure stuff? What if she wasn't a supemodel at all? What if she was actually a counter-agent?! What if "I might have to go to the butcher's first" was a standard counter-agent pass-phrase to test whether other people are on their side? What if she now realised that I wasn't on her side? And what if Carolyn—if, indeed, Carolyn is her real name—thought I knew too much?
So I've decided not to be a Man of Mystery and Adventure any more—just in case.
See also: Man of Mystery and Adventure part 2