Monday, November 26, 2007

Canadian Espionage: Dark Blue Matrix

Apologies—or as Canadians are prone to say, soory (rhymes with story)—for not filing a report sooner. I dared not risk a security breech while “on vacation” with the AMHL Photographer You see, a dark blue Toyota Matrix—it may have been one ubiquitous, obsessed counter-intelligence agent or a fleet of them—tracked our every move since we arrived in St. John’s on Thursday morning. INTERPOL conducted surveillance on us whether we were at Cape Spear, at the Avalon Mall, or at our safe house.

Saturday, November 24,
Local time: 7:45 p.m. (6:15 p.m. Eastern Time)

While my wife catches up on reading at our safe house on Military Road, I slink into the night. Chilly but no threat of precipitation. My mission: retrieve valuable information about the Fog Devils from the dead drop.

Ten minutes later, I find the information, which I need for a future report, in The Independent. I commit the data to memory. (I also purchased a cheese pizza—to go). Just then, sirens blare. Are the local authorities collaborating with INTERPOL? Is my wife, who knows little about my life as a spy, safe? Is my mission in jeopardy?

I walk calmly, not wanting to attract attention, back from whence I came. I pass the Benevolent Irish Society’s brick building. I continue walking...I look right, down Garrison Hill. The steep street leads to the well-lit harbor. Across “The Narrows” connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the waterfront, Signal Hill—where the first transatlantic wireless transmission is reported to have been received—rises majestically; atop it, Cabot Tower points to the generous moon. Then I look left at the illuminated Basilica of St. John the Baptist. This peaceful panorama belies the potential peril awaiting me.

Five minutes later, I reach the safe house. No sirens. No activity. Nothing out of place—except across the street, an unattended dark blue Matrix is parked. Could it be the same one—the only car, besides our rented Chrysler Sebring, in the parking lot yesterday and again today at Cape Spear? No doubt the authorities tailing me are aware that I’ve returned and are prepared to intercept my Wi-Fi signal.

Unable to file my report to my superiors, I sit with my wife, devouring St. John’s best pizza. She reads while I watch Hockey Night in Canada. Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators. Unstable goaltending on both sides, but it’s an entertaining game. 4–3 Philly after two.

Bam bam! A knock on the door! INTERPOL?

No, just the safe house’s operator wanting to know if I’d join the consortium of air cargo moguls and their wives gathered in the formal dining room for post-dinner merriment around the fireplace.

Of course (everyone envies the life of spy until they realize how dangerous the work is).

The small group, some of whom I met at breakfast this morning, is curious about my connection to Canada. I share unclassified, low-level information with them about previous visits to Newfoundland, our love for hockey, etc., all of which is documented here on this public site). And as the liquor flows into their glasses and then into their digestive systems—I abstain—so does the intelligence escape their lips.

But you know I can’t reveal that classified information. Not here. Not now. I’ve probably told you too much already. Even so, maybe after I retire, maybe I’ll make public the secrets I’ve learned on this trip—I’ve scribbled nineteen pages of notes—in a book I might title The Adventures of a Canadian Spy.

Stay tuned, however, for a piece I’ll post later this week: Sounds of St. John’s.
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