This mission, should you choose believe it, commenced the evening of Friday, November 19th, when one James Wilby was approached by Agent Ohio outside Wilby’s office building in Midtown East. I knew Wilby from Hobart College; his 26th birthday was a few days earlier. Wilby knew Agent Ohio from last years birthday spy mission: Wilby & Ohio met in Central Park, exchanged a USB stick for a locked briefcase, and Wilby was given detailed instructions that led him to a safe house where a surprise party was thrown in his honor. This year’s mission, however, changed everything.
The mission I planned would span three boroughs, involve a David Lynchian meeting with a character known only as The French Man and would culminate with Wilby’s discovery of a girl hiding in the trunk of a car. However, the counter-mission, engineered by forces unknown, ended with I, Operation Pop the Trunk’s Mastermind, chasing numerous vehicles through the streets of industrial Greenpoint in an effort to hunt down Wilby, who disappeared into the night. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Once Agent Ohio picked Wilby up from his office, he brought Wilby to a car piloted by rogue Agent TJ. Agent TJ could be trusted with one job – driving Wilby across the Queensboro Bridge to an undisclosed location. The tension was palpable during the drive: Agent Ohio didn’t trust Agent TJ, and Agent TJ had no idea who Wilby was. Furthermore, Agent Ohio’s girlfriend had been missing for nearly 24 hours and he wanted nothing more than to skip the meeting with The French Man and find her.
Wilby was dropped off in front of Flux Factory, a sleeper cell disguised as an art collective in Long Island City. After introducing himself (in French,) The French Man proceeded to question, harangue and confuse Wilby, entirely in French. Wilby doesn’t understand a lick of French. Through gestures, Wilby grasped The French Man’s request for a piece of film. Once he handed off the film, Wilby was handed a briefcase. “Promenade du Norde. Promenade du Norde!” the French Man shouted at Wilby as he led him out of the labyrinthine basement of Flux, and, with nothing else to do, Wilby walked north.
When he made it a block north, Wilby practically stumbled into a scuffle between Agents Ohio and TJ. Upon seeing Wilby’s briefcase, TJ made a wild grab for it. Unsuccessful, he darted into a car piloted by a man known as Agent Waterbringer. Out of nowhere, a photographer with a long-range lens also jumped into the same car. After snapping some shots, the car peeled off.
Agent Ohio and James Wilby proceeded to open the briefcase to find discarded underwear. Ohio was neither surprised nor concerned; he received an anonymous text message with the location of his missing girlfriend. So they set off to another stretch of industrial LIC. Upon arrival, Ohio gave the keys to Wilby and said, “If I’m not back in ten minutes, get out of here.” Ohio took off towards an alley, when Wilby heard a knocking from inside the trunk.
Jacking the trunk, Jeanne, Ohio’s missing girlfriend popped out and called after Ohio. He returned to the car and the two of them had a passionate embrace. Her story was questionable, but she told Ohio and Wilby that she was jogging last night and suddenly hit over the head. The next thing she knew, she was in the trunk of the car. He didn’t care, as long as she was ok. The three of them drove over the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn.
This is where things get slippery. Agent Waterbringer had Ohio’s vehicle staked out as it approached the bridge and he pulls in behind Ohio. All of a sudden another car, a Jeep, swerves between Ohio & Waterbringer. Inside Ohio’s Civic, Jeanne is confused and groggy, interrogating Wilby about what exactly is going on. At some point, once in Brooklyn, Wilby decides he’s had enough and exits the car and immediately enters the Jeep. The Jeep, piloted by totally unknown agents, begins to split off route—but Waterbringer is on its tail, banking left and right, keeping a sharp eye on the mysterious vehicle.
At a stop sign, a figure smoking a Black and Mild wanders into the street, smack inbetween Waterbringer and the Jeep. Waterbringer identifies him as James’ brother, honks his horn and the man scurries off. Catching up to the parked Jeep, Waterbringer pulls up and rolls down the window to identify the driver as Ryan, Wilby’s co-worker and one of my trusted agents in last years mission. But Wilby is nowhere to be seen – he must’ve taken off down a dark alley while the Jeep was parked.
The trail was cold, so Waterbringer assumed his workaday alias, Jonah Levy, and went to the bar where the after-party was planned. There he finds a few of James’ friends, including Ryan and James’ brother. “Where’s James?” he asks. “I don’t know”, they reply, grinning from ear to ear. Suddenly a strange man comes up to the table clutching bottles in his hands “Someone order seven beers?” He says in a gruff voice. It’s Wilby, incognito in fake mustache and wig. Agent Wilby, incredibly, engineered his own stakeout, extraction and infiltration of his super secret birthday surprise spy mission. Next year, we’ll have to incorporate a few decoys…
By Jonah Levy / Agent Waterbringer.