Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I feel like James Bond. I'm a damn spy over here. Okay, technically I'm more like Tom Arnold in True Lies, but I bet Tom Arnold's character felt like James Bond too.

I never knew this before, but we have a limo. It's kept in one of the other JPH buildings. This afternoon I went over, gassed it up and made sure it was ready to go for tonight. Here's the sked:

7:45. Wearing my best suit and driving the limo, I pick up Victor Scigrave in front of an art gallery on Third Street. It's my first time seeing Greyghost in his tuxedofied secret identity and it's totally weird. I recognize him from pictures I've seen but I can't match the guy in the back seat to the hooded apparition who pays my salary. He says nothing to me. I assume this is part of our little act. I'm wearing sunglasses partly as a disguise and partly because I'm a damn spy over here.

8:00. Pick up Ingrid at her apartment. She's wearing some kind of long red thing that's doing its job extremely well. Ingrid says hi to me, forgetting that as far as the outside world is concerned, I'm Invisible Chauffeur Guy tonight. I nod politely.

8:25. Pull up to a mansion on The Ridge in time for the big benefit dinner, drop Ingrid and . . . I'm not sure whether to call him Scigrave or Greyghost. I guess it'll depend on what he's wearing. Drop Ingrid and Scigrave off at the front door, and cruise around to the limo waiting area around back.

8:30-10:23. Shoot the breeze with the other drivers. (But clandestinely, because I'm undercover.) Eat a couple of sandwiches I brought. Read a couple more chapters of Mask Wars.

10:24. Drive away from the mansion. This isn't conspicuous; there were limos coming and going all night, with and without passengers. Turn left at the end of the driveway, and go a quarter mile down the road to the little service lane. Headlights off. Drive halfway up the service lane and pull behind a clump of trees.

10:28. Take a black costume case out from under the seat and, leaving the car there, start off into the dark. I know pretty much where I'm going and where security isn't going to be, and the house is bright enough that I don't get lost. Still, I get a couple of branches in the ear.

10:33. West side of the mansion. At least, I assume it's 10:33; that's what time Greyghost's schedule assumed I'd be here. I sidle up to the third window and peek in. Clear. Slide the window open and climb in. This is the tricky part; if I get caught I have basically no cover story. But it's fine. I'm in the pottery room: kiln, sinks, potter's wheel. Etc. The door's closed. I lock the costume case to the pipe under the sink and push it out of sight.

10:45. The door opens and it's Ingrid. She's got a scared blonde woman in a white evening gown with her. "Okay?" Ingrid whispers.

"Yeah," I answer. This is our elaborate password system.

"Okay. I'm not going with you on this trip. He doesn't know. Leave me behind if you have to."

"Like hell!" I whispershout. The blonde cranes her neck to look back down the hall.

"No time. Go!" Ingrid says, and heads back to the party.

I smile at the blonde woman. "Put this over you," I say, handing her a black gauzy pullover thing that Greyghost had provided me with. Once she's camouflaged, I help her out the window and we're away.

10:59. With the woman in the back seat, drive to the coffee place by the highway, where Cruickshank's waiting in the company car. With the two of them are safely away I head back to the mansion.

11:20. Back in the limo area outside the mansion. It's a bit emptier now, but there's more excitement because all the drivers are pointing up at the roof, where something seems to be happening. A crowd of partygoers is gathering outside the French doors at the side of the house, also rubbernecking.

What's happening is a fight between a bright yellow figure and a black figure. The house is high enough that it's hard to see details, but it sure looks like they're beating the snot out of each other.

I try to think of some way I can help Greyghost out up there. There really doesn't seem to be anything. Then Ingrid grabs my arm. "Come on," she says.

I follow, saying, "Huh?"

"I know where they're going to go."

We get in the limo and she points me to a lane that goes down around a tennis court. At her direction, I park behind a little shed. A guy in a tux pokes his head out of the shed and takes off, running into the woods. "Who's that?" I ask her.

"Not important," Ingrid says. "Wait. And pop the trunk."

I pop the trunk.

Within a minute, the yellow guy comes flying over the fence of the tennis court, bounces off the hood of the limo and lies still. Greyghost follows him, landing like a cat. He pulls some fasteners out of the trunk, ties up the yellow guy, and packs him into the trunk.

As he gets into the back, I peer out the windshield. A curious crowd is coming this way. "Go," he says.

I lurch around the curves of this stupid quaint little lane faster than it can occur to anyone that our car may be of interest, and we reach the open road uncontested. "We have an extra stop to make, I guess?" I say.

"I'll show you where," Greyghost says, and turns to Ingrid. "Never do that again."

"It worked, didn't it? Come on. Admit it was a good idea."

"I didn't have to bring you here at all."

"And if you hadn't, you and the yellow spud would still be punching it out on the roof."

I may eventually be able to get the full story out of Ingrid. At the moment, I'm not even really sure who the blonde woman is. But still: spy!
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