By Mary Lynn Bruny

I don’t even know what month we’re now on in this pandemic and quarantining. Eleven? Twenty-seven? All I do know is it’s dragging on and wearing us down. It’s odd to think that just about everybody who can work from home is doing so. You can imagine engineers and accountants and architects, but what about spies? I’m wondering how spies are doing. Here’s what I imagine:

Our fearless international spy, agent 0019 started out ignoring the pandemic because of course he is better than your average Joe on every level: fitness, mental acuity and ability to strut a tux. Russian operatives can’t take him down so why would he worry about a flu virus? He did join the mask-wearing trend early though, as it helped with his disguises. (Glue-on beards, so itchy.) And he did like that there were less pesky civilians around to thwart his normal bat-out-of-hell driving through ancient narrow streets whilst in pursuit of his targets (and saying words like “whilst.”). But then things took a turn for the worse.

First, his targets disappeared: one in China, then one in Italy. They simply went into safe houses and never, ever came out. How could he have a mission, indeed how could he spy if there was no one on whom to spy? After wandering around empty cobblestone streets for weeks seeing no one but dog walkers and delivery people, he finally gave up. He pulled out his fake passport and stinky travel-size hand sanitizer, and headed back to the home office.

But at HQ he encountered something truly shocking: No one was there. Everything but the furniture was gone. On his desk was one item, a standard-issue recording device. He unlocked it and hit play: “Welcome back, agent 0019. Here is your latest mission. This recording will outline the protocol for all covert personal working hereafter from their private residences. Do not burn this recoding. Repeat: Do not destroy this. It has detailed information on new office procedures including how to participate in Zoom calls. Your relentless, unending, soul-sucking Zoom call itinerary with classified codes will follow.”

The rest is a sad story of woe: Agent 0019 settled into the unyielding humdrum of pandemic quarantine life performing mind-numbing analysis work from so-called home, a sterile and gloomy condo by the airport in le décor de cheap hotel. Since our international man of mystery was not accustomed to routine like the rest of us lesser mortals, his profound boredom led to a deep malaise made worse by the fact he has no love interest, no friends, no family. (His parents of course were killed in a suspicious car accident that has fueled his rage for decades.)

He started drinking earlier and earlier: He didn’t care if it was shaken or stirred. He quickly gained 30 pounds turning him from dashing undercover spy to frumpy doughboy. His sleek evening wear hangs mockingly in his closet while he wears the same stained sweats each day. Fruit flies swirl annoyingly around his dirty hair that looks to be styled in a blender.

To make matter worse, he heard his two archenemies he sparred wits with for decades both took early retirement options. Now a hallowed-out (though also plumped out) version of his former glory, poor 0019 spends countless hours watching old spy movies whilst yelling critiques at the television – “What bollocks!” – when he isn’t sobbing.

But there is some good news for our downtrodden agent. He is considered a semi-essential worker and is 1,456,987th in line for the vaccine. Until then his mission, like ours, is to just get by.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to