Cake In, Stake Out

“Really putting the ‘secret’ in secret surveillance, guys,” Julio chuckled to himself. The white van sped off the moment he waved at it for the second day in a row. This time he managed to get close enough to see a pair of black-suited men in the van. Julio decided to call the police if the van showed up again the next day. With the decision made he put the van out of his mind and opened the fridge to get started on breakfast.

An hour later, there was a heavy knock on his door. Julio was expecting a package and assumed that was it; he opened the door without checking the peephole. A pair of men in dark suits stood on his porch. The tall one held a vase filled with colorful flowers, the short one carried a chocolate cake. In the corner of his eye, Julio noticed the white van was parked in his driveway.

“Invite us in,” the short one said before Julio said anything. His tone hinted that it would be a good idea to listen, Julio nodded frantically and stood aside to let the men into his home. They walked into his tiled foyer. Two similar halls exited the foyer; the tall agent carried the flowers toward the kitchen as if he knew exactly where it was. The short one nodded at Julio to follow, then fell in step behind him.

The tall one was filling the vase with water by the time Julio entered the kitchen. He sat down at the table to wait while the short one set the cake down and went to his knife drawer.

“What’s going on? Why have you been spying on me? I’ve never even pirated a movie!” Julio said.

“We know. No one said you did anything illegal.”

“Then why-” the short agent interrupted Julio and kept talking.

“Why do you think we’ve been spying on you?” he asked.

“Because you’ve been parked outside my house for almost a week now. Just sitting there in your van for hours at a time.” Both of the agents burst into laughter at his reasoning.

“Mr. Mendoza, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re not the only house in this neighborhood. If we were spying on you, you wouldn’t know it.” The tall agent set the flowers in front of a window, then sat down at the table. The short one found plates and forks and began to cut the cake. “We wouldn’t park in front of your house like amateurs. We would find an inconspicuous spot nearby to monitor you. For example, in front of someone else’s house in your neighborhood.”

“If you’re not spying on me, why did you drive off when I waved?” Julio asked.

“We’re trying to stay hidden. The last thing we need is someone, anyone, drawing attention to us.” The short one, the only one that seemed to be doing any talking, replied. He cut three slices of cake and served them. Julio waited until they took bites then decided it was okay to try it. It was delicious.

“This is good!” he said. “What’s the occasion? Why bother to bring me cake and flowers?”

“A celebration of our new friendship,” he said. “Since you almost blew our cover, we needed to change it up.” As he explained, the tall agent stood, carried his plate to the sink and started washing it.

“We’re friends now?” Julio asked with a hint of concern.

“We’ll have to be. This is still the best vantage point for our assignment. You waved at us as if you knew us, so here we are. Brand new old friends. Parking in your driveway helps us quite a bit.” The tall agent finished with his dish then walked out of the kitchen. Seconds later, Julio heard his front door open and close.

“Parking in my driveway? How long is this assignment?”

“That’s classified, but don’t worry. You’ll barely notice us,” Julio heard the front door open and close again. “As a bonus, we’re prepared to help cover our fair share of rent and groceries.” Julio nodded

“That’s great, things are getting kind of tight right now. I could use help with the…,” he paused as the realization hit. “…rent? Wait a minute. I don’t care who you are, the government can’t just decide to move people into my house.” The short agent nodded.

“I agree, they can’t. Fortunately for us, we don’t work for the government.” the agent smiled. Julio heard shuffling and turned to see the tall agent carrying a pair of stuffed black duffel bags.

“Dibs on the guest room,” the tall agent said.

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