Scoping Out the Competition


Uncategorized / Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Recently, I decided it was about time I did a little exploring . . . a little field research about my fellow secret agents, if you will. It’s been some time since I did a little exploration on my own, without the backing of the secret society I, of course, won’t be naming here. 

Now, that meant a little traveling for myself. I decided eventually to start in Illinois—it seemed unassuming enough, and I would be a little closer to Chicago, if I wanted to take a little drive for fun. 

But at the moment, fun wasn’t on my mind. Currently, all I could think about was the potential for trouble, especially as more spies, agents, and international rogues find their way into my purview. 

Spies Among Us 

When I arrived in Illinois, I made a few rounds to look a little less conspicuous to anyone who may be looking for me. I started with a short discussion about a lawsuit with a Rockford personal injury lawyer, who would have been very helpful if I’d been telling the truth. Then, I grabbed an ice cream cone, meandered through the park, and paused to try on shoes in a strip mall. 

Of course, all these things were just a way to take a look at the people around the city. It’s easier to catch a spy, say, talking into a microphone hidden on their lapel or a store clerk who’s perhaps a little too quick on their feet. 

And in the process, of course, I found exactly what I was looking for. 

Finding Enemies and Allies 

I stopped by the ice cream shop right at closing time, while the clerk from that afternoon was wiping down the counter. Once the last customer left, I stepped up to the counter to speak. She beat me to it. 

“Look, man, if you break my cover now, we’re going to have problems.” The Illinois accent melted into a clipped British one, short-tempered and not pleased at my boldness. 

“Ah. Well, that answers that, doesn’t it?” I flashed my own ID, which looked like a normal license to the untrained eye. She nodded. 

“Well, convenient. We’re on the same side, then.” 

“To my surprise. I’ve had quite the trouble getting answers—especially when it comes to newer agents. I’m starting to wonder if they’re trying to let me go easy.” 

That won me a smile and a conversation, leaving the ice cream shop open perhaps a bit later. Eventually, of course, she kicked me out and locked up behind herself, lingering on the evening streets of Rockford. She shook my hand, looking me over as though deciding my usefulness. 

“I imagine we’ll be seeing one another again, Mr. Conklin. Best of luck with your little thief—I have a feeling you’ll get the answers you’re seeking soon enough.” 

For my own sake, and for the sake of my job, I hope so, too.