Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 8)

8 Aug

Chapter 13: The Lunch Date

Saturday morning, at around 9. I was standing in front of my mirror. Deciding on what to wear. I mean how does one even prepare for a break-up date, if there is even such a thing? I’ve cried for four days since my last conversation with Jayson. And I ran out of tears just two days ago.  I was just happy my eyes weren’t red and puffy anymore. I was okay, I told myself. I’d be fine.

But who was I kidding right?

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if meeting Jayson today was a good idea. But I would, if only to see his face in person possibly for the last time.

And so I went…

Jayson was waiting for me right outside the Starbucks in Greenbelt 3. We would always meet first at that Starbucks before going any place else. He’d been there for forty minutes or so, but this time I didn’t care much that I was wasting his time. After all, he had stolen mine.

I saw him standing right by the wall outside the said café, and the weakness that was me totally forgot that I was supposed to be mad! I smiled. I smiled just seeing him seeing me. After everything, his mere presence still was enough to make me happy.

Hey. I greeted him awkwardly, suddenly unsure of how to properly talk to him now.

Hey. Jayson touched my cheek and then he put the few strands of my curly hair dangling along my face, right behind my ear. Are you hungry?

I’m okay. Where are we settling?

Let’s find a quieter place.

While walking around looking for a restaurant, Jayson started to small talk.

You’re too quiet. I’m not used to your being too quiet.

I’ve got nothing to say.

You always have something to say. And I’ve always loved that about you.  

How about you talk? You’re the one who’s not been telling me things, you know.

Jayson stared at me with disappointment.

It’s not like I wanted to. It’s just… It was necessary. And then he abruptly looked away. He tapped the navy blue cap he was wearing to bring it a little bit more down to his forehead. It wasn’t particularly hot that day but I noticed Jayson was perspiring.

We ended up choosing Zuni, in Greenbelt 5.

Jayson knew I’d always opt for the alfresco spot in any restaurant. He surveilled that part of Zuni quickly. Two tables occupied. One of which by a couple where one was a foreign guy. Right before I could pick a table, Jayson stopped me by holding my hand.

Not, there. Too many people.

The alfresco area was basically bare, with the exception only of the said two tables with a total of four people. But I did not argue with him anymore. I’ve got no energy to try and be all cute and get my way.

The inside of Zuni was indeed emptier, more spacious, and a little bit dimmer too. We got the table at the innermost corner of the restaurant. It was only the two of us there, although another person was eating alone at the farthest end near the door.

zuni2

This’ll do. He said. But he was talking more to himself, than to me.

Jayson sat on the chair facing the glass wall. And I sat right beside him. We ordered food. Ate a little. And the real conversation began.

___________

Chapter 14: The Revelation

So what are you going to tell me? I went straight to the point.

Janica, before I say anything to you, I need you to promise me this will only be between the two of us. You cannot tell anyone about what you will hear or know. Promise me.  

Okay? I promise.

Jayson released a big sigh. He composed himself. He held my hand. Then he began to spill his secrets out. Slowly, slowly, slowly, he made that typical Saturday afternoon too wild.

So… I asked to see you personally because I realized how unfair it was to say goodbye via text. And I do owe you an explanation. I really like you. I like you too damn much for my own sake.  And if it were only up to me, I’ll take you anywhere with me. But…

…But it’s your JOB. I already know that. There’s nothing new about that.

Listen. The job that I told you about is not my real job.

What do you mean? You’re not a real engineer?

I am. I really am an engineer, by educational background. But I am not here in your country to do an engineering job.

What are you saying?! You are not really working for that water filtration company?!

No. 

 So what do you do, really?

I am here because of the EDCA…

—And I was quite flabbergasted upon hearing him say that

Jayson kept on talking: I am not sure if you’ve heard of it. But it is the….

I know what EDCA is. I said, cutting him short. I went to law school and I work in a government office, remember?

For the benefit of those who are not familiar with EDCA, this is how Wikipedia explains it:

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an agreement between the United States and the Philippines intended to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance. The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces. The U.S. is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases. It also gives Philippine personnel access to American ships and planes.

The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement. The agreement was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014.

On January 12, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the agreement’s constitutionality in a 10–4 vote. On July 26, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled with finality that the agreement is constitutional. (Author’s Note: Jayson arrived in the Philippines first day of January, and he left by July. Wala lang! Just saying! hahaha )

So you’re with the U.S. military?!

No. not exactly. I do Intelligence.

Intelligence? I asked, making sure to sound unaware.

Let’s just say I’m here to make things happen, and to help your government get the bad guys. 

How?

By being someone I‘m not.

What do you mean?

Jayson just looked at me, his eyes pleading me to draw the line on my questions.

A pause too long ensued.

There was no other question left to ask next aside from the one I had in mind, but I hesitated because I did not want to be my own unhealthy enabler.

But then again, I told myself, why not ask now, and then just evaluate later on the veracity of whatever it is that would transpire.

So I went for it. And I probed while carefully acting like I wasn’t stunned enough yet by what I’ve so far heard.

Wait, so what are you? Some kind of a spy?? And I laughed, not at the idea, but at myself. I could not believe I would ever ask that question to a real person, but there I was playing with my imagination, and yieldingly waiting for Jayson to make fun of me.

But he did not. Instead he said in a serious tone:

Well, that’s not really how we call ourselves, but yeah, something like that.

And there I was. Utterly confused and amused at the same time. I thought I needed to re-assess right away my extremely under-calculated gullibility… because why was I so willing, if not even enthusiastic, to hear more?

I continued to play along.

From what agency? the CIA?

No, but something like that.

So what is it? The NRO? The NSA?

No, but something like that. I cannot tell you what it is. Why do you even know these agencies anyway?!

I read?

That is the one mistake I made, you see – I dated a girl who knew how to read. He joked about.

Jayson, do you honestly expect me to believe what you’re saying?

I have no expectations whatsoever.

Well, okay… then why were you on Tinder? Aren’t spies forbidden from doing things that would easily expose their identities?

We are discouraged by our handlers, but it is not against the rules. We do have control over our free time. 

Handlers? I asked, once again pretending not to know what it means.

Bosses. Supervisors. He explained.

A part of me wants to call “bullshit” on all of this. After all, this kind of things only happens in the movies. But then, another part of me would get so convinced every time Jayson would use military jargons and intelligence terminologies rather naturally, and would often assume I didn’t understand him. It just feels so authentic when he does it.

Anyway below is the definition of  a ‘handler’, which i’ve known even before meeting Jayson, because, as unknown to him, I actually read lots of spy books and I love watching and re-watching lots of spy movies:

Handler: a manager or controller of a spy. Agent handler is a generic term common to many intelligence organizations; A primary purpose of intelligence organizations is to penetrate a target with a human agent, or a network of human agents. Such agents can either infiltrate the target, or be recruited “in place”. Agent handlers (or case officers) are professionally trained employees of intelligence organizations that manage human agents and human agent networks.

The skeptic voice inside my head kept on probing. Trying. Wanting to catch him on his seeming lies. Waiting to spot inconsistencies in his revelations. Praying I would not succumb to that bigger, stronger part of me that has always believed in fantastic things, and magic, and surreal adventures.

But why are you confessing you’re a spy?

I also don’t know. Maybe I just want to have at least one person in my life who knows the real deal with me. I mean my family doesn’t know what I do. Not my mom, not my sister, nobody. 

I appreciate that you chose me to be your secret-bearer and all, but it just sounds counter-intuitive to me. Spies are supposed to protect their cover, and yet here you are telling me all about it?

Am I? …I’m not giving you any classified information. Besides, if you talk about this, no one will believe you. All words, no proof. From my end, this is very easy to deny.  And as I’ve said, I am not a spy… Just something like that.

So… if you really are some sort of a spy or an agent, then… is Jayson your real name?

Yes. Believe it or not, it is my real name. It is not the name I’m called at work though. And definitely not the name I’m known to the big people that I deal with here.

So what do they call you at work?

Roy.

AND I DIED. Jayson just told me that his other name was Roy. Roy starts with a letter ‘R”.

Suddenly, the Viber Anomaly which I’d long forgotten by now came rushing back to me! And it has just resolved itself as well! (click here for that Chapter) As I’ve said before, I never mentioned to Jayson the curious case of his Viber Thumbnail Letter R. Now here he was volunteering an information about him that would turn it all into a self-solving equation.

So that’s why your Viber shows a letter R instead of a J! I blurted out.

It does?

Yes! And I pulled my phone out my bag to show him what I meant.

Hmmm, he said, looking a little troubled.

_______

The night right after our meeting, Jayson’s Viber got fixed. While we were texting, I noticed that the letter R disappeared, and the thumbnail right next to his name now bore the correct letter – “J”.

_______

At the beginning of this story, I gave you, readers, the option to decide for yourself on what Jayson might really be: (1) He could be a total jerk of a guy who was having way too much fun inventing tales and making a fool out of me, or (2) he could really be the spy or the secret agent or the “something like that” that he was claiming to be.  I really could not impose upon you guys, which one to believe, because even until now, I have absolutely no way of verifying his stories.

However, that he told me his other name was Roy totally weighs in favor of the latter option. And it also gave me a little bit of faith about his genuineness and sincerity towards me.

At least I knew he wasn’t lying about one thing: his use of different names.

And maybe, just maybe, the rest of the things he was about to tell me, were worth listening to as well?

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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