It has been eighteen months since my last operation in the field. The pure relief felt in every inch of my body, as I listen to the director tell me my new undercover assignment details. Is a feeling indescribable to anyone else unless they relate to being as out of place in this world, the way I am. I’m especially qualified for deep cover assignments due to my lack of connection with the world. No family or significant friends, no collateral damage potential either. I don’t need to worry about the girlfriend factor thanks to a souvenir from my assignment in the middle-east seven years ago.
Explosives really do have the ability to re-arrange a person’s face especially when you’re standing right next to it. About forty percent of my face is irreparably scarred, there is even still pieces of shrapnel still embedded underneath my right eye socket. The doctors did all they could and they pulled off a miracle compared to what it looked like before. Not to mention the entire upper right side of my torso.
At the time of my injury I was engaged and all I could think about was surviving to see Annabelle again. When I saw her reaction to my face the first time after the surgery I was gutted. Annabelle tried for the sake of love to get past the superficial downfalls but she was a stunningly beautiful woman, long blonde hair, crystal coloured blue eyes, legs for days, actually she was Miss North Carolina before we met, a real southern belle. Annabelle wasn’t used to us venturing out in public and having people stare at me instead of her.
My scars have become such a part of me now that people notice me and forget me in the same instant which is very a useful trait for an undercover F.B.I agent. After Annabelle finally left me I buried myself in work and I’ve infiltrated and brought down two of the biggest crime syndicates in the country.
My new assignment sounds right up my alley as I listen to my boss explain. A Russian mafia family known as the Nolikovs have an operation set up just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. There is a bar they suspect is a front for all their real business. The bar backs directly onto the Mississippi for all deliveries, and New Orleans is one of the biggest ports in the United States and probably the least protected. Intel reports show that this family has a particularly cruel way of dealing with betrayal so gruesome that it probably explains the lack of information we have on them. Apparently they’ve been operating in Louisiana for almost ten years.
Yet we have next to no information about the organization, the last two agents that we sent in were discovered and no trace of them has been found, now the family’s security measures are evidently impenetrable. My instructions are simple surveillance only, and report back. There is another agent already in play whose task is getting in with the family operations, but mine are very strict there can be no mistakes this time.
I closed up my apartment, pack my bags and set off for the birthplace of Louis Armstrong. I’m flying incognito, coach. I spend the flight reviewing and studying everything about my new identity. I left behind Mason Harris in Washington D.C and now James Carson is on his way to New Orleans via Memphis downing as many salty mini pretzels as possible to help with the slight nausea I feel before any new assignment I under-take.
My cover is becoming a regular in the bar establishment being new to the area and coming off an explosive divorce, no-one would really question a divorcee with my face in a bar constantly. I hope I packed adequately, I’ve never had to endure a southern summer before but I hear that New Orleans, Louisiana is particularly harsh to endure.
I land at Louis Armstrong airport about to embark on yet another life with strict orders of going dark, no contact with the Bureau unless compromised, except for the scheduled reporting dates with my handler. I take a cab into downtown New Orleans towards my hotel in the French quarter where I’m staying for a few days until the contract on my new apartment is finalised and I can move in. I check into the hotel and decide to go for stroll along the cobble stone sidewalk. The bright sun beams as I wipe the beads of sweat from my forehead, and my thighs seem heavy as they push through the thickness of the humidity. I come to a street car stop and jump on the next one that comes along. Exploring the city also helps with my cover story of just moving to town to get settled, my occupation; writer.
After my alcoholism caused me to lose my job at an investment company in Philadelphia. My wife left me and I moved to a creativity inspiring town to pursue my life-long dream of writing. Stories about tragedy mostly, I’m sure not in a position to write about romance, and travel or detective stories might make the Russians suspicious.
Mine really is the face of tragedy but the good thing about today’s society is that people are either too scared, too polite or too selfish to ask about it. Just in case the back story is a car accident after a few drinks, however I’m sure it won’t actually come up. I’ll just be another want-to-be writer in a bar all day searching for inspiration in a bottle and drinking what Hemmingway called writers fuel.
All of this will be supported with some phony DUI charges and drunk in public offences for which I served sixty days in a court ordered rehabilitation facility and served five hundred hours community service. My paper trail is completely flawless, even the day trading firm of Wilson, Buxton and Niedmann Investments in Philadelphia exists as a company set-up and run by the FBI. The company is used for operative’s undercover back stories but also used as a banking company in sting operations. It is just one of the many companies actually operated by the FBI some companies aren’t even aware of the Bureaus involvement, most of the employees are oblivious.
So my paper trail in the event of being back-round checked by the Russians is impeccable. The Nolikov family will run a check once I start frequenting their establishment, security measures are tight and they’re very thorough about checking out new faces. Especially after the discovery of our last two operatives whose bodies have still never been found.
My intense concentration is broken by the sound of a loud ding, end of the line, the street car has stopped so time to make more extensive observations about the local area. It’s so hot that I think my sunglasses are actually starting to melt or maybe it’s my face that’s melting and the sunglasses are fine. Even the water of the Mississippi looks like its boiling, I look back towards the canal street, streetcar but it’s disappeared into a blend of buildings the heat waves rising from the pavement. A man on a bicycle rides past with a cooler full of ice selling bottles of water at a dollar a pop, which as I flag him down, note that today would be a very profitable day for him.