Note our man. Take him in, regard him for who he is: no more, no less. What do you find prepossessing in his appearance, demeanor, manner of speaking? Does he strike you as notably different from other men of his general demographic and age bracket?

What do you find him doing at this moment? You see him seated at a nondescript little booth in a roadside diner, writing things down in a three-ring notebook while he finishes his meal. He is alone. He is often alone. You have surely noted this fact by now. Perhaps you have formed theories concerning our man’s seemingly perpetual solitary state. It is part of what brought him to our attention in the first place. We must be wary and watchful around the antisocial ones. The sort of men who prefer their own company, after all, tend also to be the ones least prone towards compliance. Thus we must regard our man as a potential suspect of a likely future crime.

There are two ways to handle potential suspects. One is always to keep them at a distance and monitor them incessantly. The other is to adopt a more proactive approach, which we have elected to take with our man.

Let us see, however, if he has taken the bait that we have laid for him. Then, and only then, can we act upon our intelligence. Until that time, we must merely wait patiently for our chance to strike. And strike we shall.

Right now, we wait in the shadows, as we do.


Our man, you have estimated, is surely nothing extraordinary in aspect. Other than being rather startlingly tall, he has no distinguishing characteristics that would set him apart from others or render him particularly noticeable…excepting, as already noted, his conspicuous propensity to prefer to be alone.

Let us scrutinize him closely now as he sits at his diner stall, finishing his solitary meal. His waitress approaches him. She, our girl, is someone whom we have gathered to be a possible means of distraction for our man. Pretty but unostentatious, friendly and personable, she stops for an extra moment at his table. She tells him that she sees him a lot and he’s always writing things down in his notebook. Our man nods, answers in the affirmative, but declines to reply to her implied question. The waitress is not nonplussed by this; she is an old hand at getting staid and introspective people to open up about themselves.

She asks if he is a writer. This is a solid rhetorical feint on her part. After all, few men can resist the egoic allure inherent upon being given permission to talk about what they take to be their secret genius, their gift to the world that the world has so far churlishly refused to acknowledge. But our man only answers that he tries to be a writer but can’t really call himself one right now. He doesn’t tell her that in fact he has several published works (albeit none of them exactly being bestsellers, most of them lingering in semi-obscurity). Then he asks her if she’s just begun her shift and if it’s been this slow all day (gesturing around to the mostly empty tables and booths in the area). It’s small talk, aimed at shifting the subject from himself to her; in other words, it is a counter-feint on his part.

Note this behavior in particular. What are we to make of it? Is our man just naturally modest and shy to discuss himself, or is he somehow uniquely equipped to be wary of the subtle manipulations inherent upon a stranger’s open invitation to be indulgent? The waitress answers his work-related question without evincing frustration at his disinclination to open up on cue; recall again, she is a patient sort, one of our best, in fact.

She stands there silently for a moment, biting her lip, skillfully cultivating a sense of awkwardness. Our man asks another dull query concerning waitressing duties, and she answers, albeit more tersely this time. It is becoming increasingly clear to her that our man isn’t going to take any bait, that if the intended project is to go forward, she will need to be quite a bit less circumspect in her behavior. So she abruptly sits at his table across from him, leans forward, and lowers her voice to a conspiratorial mutter.

“Okay,” she says, “Okay, whew. Boy, this is hard! So embarrassing! I don’t normally do this, but I really find you fascinating…could I give you my phone number?”

Our man says sure, and hands her his phone, and she duly punches in her digits, handing it back to him with a shy little smile, even managing a mild blush.

“Thanks,” she manages in a charmingly bashful sotto voce.​ ​Our man smiles back; finally, it seems, genuinely won over. She departs; he leaves a generous tip, then exits the diner, notebook in hand.


Later, via phone, our waitress tells us that she tried to peek at what was in his tablet, but couldn’t manage to do so, given his reluctance to discuss its contents. She is confident, however, that he will call her, and during their next meeting (i.e., their “first date”), she will be able to win his trust.

However, when the two of them meet for coffee two days later, she finds him to be still largely opaque in manner. Rather than acquiescing to the task of discussing himself in any way, our man instead queries the girl heavily about her interests and beliefs. She is ready for this, of course, and she rattles out a history that is generally crafted to our man’s apparent tastes, though not in a manner that seemed suspiciously “catered” (i.e, no “incredible coincidences” that mesh in some unbelievable way with the events of his life, so as to avoid suspicion that their compatibility might seem to derive in some artificiality). She tells him that she is against feminism, that she is a conservative woman generally, that she wants to start attending church again, but avers that she has been away for a while and isn’t sure where to go. She relates that she was Catholic by birth and upbringing, but that she fell away during her teenage years. (“The all-too typical scenario,” she reflects, and he nods understandingly.)

They agree to meet the following Sunday at a Tridentine Mass parish. She encounters him in the narthex, clad in an ankle-length dress and headscarf. During the service, she tears up on a couple of occasions, the better to showcase how powerfully being in the presence of the solemn Latin liturgy is affecting her emotionally after so many years spent away from the Church. Our man seems moved by this, placing a supportive hand on her back as they kneel together and the austere ceremony continues, the officiating priest whispering rapt incantations whilst facing an altar bedecked with beatific statues and melancholic icons.

Later, the couple share a bench of a tiny restaurant booth, during which time our girl relates again how amazing an experience it was to attend a traditional Mass, how she truly felt the touch of the Holy Spirit, how she hadn’t been ready for just how hard it had hit her. Our man nods and casts her a glance of infinitely tender regard, grasping her hand and holding it while sitting in silence for several minutes.


By phone, our girl reports to us again. She feels sure that soon our man will confide in her concerning the information that will be useful to us. She has had to play the “long game” more than she had expected; she reveals, which, needless to say, contains its own hazards. She assures us that she is okay and set to proceed, though she admits that having to feign religious devotion for the sake of the mission makes her feel strange and a little uncomfortable. But deceit of all kind, of course, comes with the territory.

The next time our girl meets with our man, she makes a more concerted effort to find out about him. She earnestly inquires into his life, and he seems obliged to tell her a few things about himself. Most of what he reveals, of course, are things we already know. He is a dissident thinker, socially reactionary, a believer in the rule of the transcendent over that of the mundane. He is an only child, his parents both dead. He taught English for a while, until his online reputation as a dissident, reactionary thinker caught up with him, and he found himself effectively “doxxed” and thereafter blackballed from the teaching profession. He now possesses a humble job that doesn’t pay well but suits him fine, and lives humbly (which also suits him fine). He writes for an online journal and has published several books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Our girl nods understandingly. She asks which of his books she should read first, and he tells her that he can’t really say. They hold hands for a few minutes, then she departs with a kiss, their first.

Over the next several weeks, our girl goes on several dates with our man. They continue to converse about such subjects as faith, culture, and the depressing downward trend of modern-day society: the prevalence of depravity, the absence of morality. Our girl professes that she has long held the contemporary state of things in contempt, but at the same time felt afraid to speak her mind. She has always been slightly timid, she declares, somewhat ashamedly. But she reached a breaking point lately when a girlfriend got an abortion after a one-night stand. She felt literally sick after her friend related this news to her in a casual manner. It hadn’t even been her first. Our girl found she just couldn’t tolerate this callous attitude towards the deliberate destruction of a human life.

When our man leaves their table to go to the restroom, our girl picks his notebook out of his briefcase and gives it a quick once-over. She tells us later that she saw nothing that reflected any possible plans to participate in any terrorist activity. On a subsequent occasion, she has another chance to “snoop” (her word), and is able to undertake a less cursory, considerably more thorough examination while he has left his apartment to pick up dinner for them.

“A whole lot of nothin’,” she mutters. Just some drafts of essays and stories, as yet unpublished, and some of what look to be original song lyrics or poems. The subject matter is nothing new: laments about the state of modern culture, satirical jabs at feminism, gay activism, and anti-white extremism. Praise of masculine stoicism and mockery of liberal hypocrisy. She has also read over his published work. There is in the fiction, she finds, some possible evidence of a mind capable of violence; indeed, some of the prominent themes therein are revenge, turnabout…even violence. Of course, his protagonists are depicted as flawed men, but she wonders if there still might be some sense in which our man relates to them and vicariously enjoys their rampages of retribution.

“There’s definitely something to work with there, I think,” she tells us.

That night, our girl seduces our man and the two make love for the first time. This was determined to be a necessary step to take in our operation, though it does present certain hazards. It had to happen because we needed to solidify the bond between our man and our girl. It does make our girl seem to be a hypocrite when it comes to her morality, however, which will possibly make our man suspicious. As well, our man is now aware of having transgressed his own moral code by engaging in fornication; this may tend to militate against the sense of righteousness we hope to inject into his self-consciousness. If our man feels himself to be in the weakness of sin, then he won’t consider himself an upstanding promoter of the good against a corrupt and depraved power structure, and will thus be less inclined to be successfully led into taking the sort of decisive action that we have in mind.

On the other hand, as our girl herself advised us, taking the step towards intimacy is desirable in ways that decisive outweigh the alternative of intimacy being withheld. If the latter course of action is chosen, then she will remain little but a chaste prospect in his mind, and her presence will have less overall effect upon him. But if he could be persuaded to succumb to temptation and take her to bed, then he will feel attuned to her in ways that he could never have anticipated. His consciousness will vibrate closer to hers, and thus she will grow significantly more influential over his thought processes in a manner that will ultimately work in our interests.

One of our guys sees fit to tease her at this point. “Feeling horny, eh?” he asks insouciantly. She, however, does not take this comment in good humor, glaring at the agent who made the untoward remark. He shuts up, lowers his eyes. She declares, “Believe me, I’m definitely taking one for the team here!” We all have a laugh over that (though in retrospect, it strikes me as rather mean-spirited).

But on this night, our girl seems to be “all in,” despite how she may actually have felt about the prospect of being bedded by her would-be paramour. Our man had proved to be none too difficult to seduce, in fact. Chaste though he strove to be, the proximity of a willing and comely woman had aroused his ardor, and it took little persuasion to engage in a carnal act. Our girl sighs and groans with quite convincing enthusiasm during the duration of their entanglement; afterwards, she mutters in a soft voice, supercharged with the warmth of sheer bliss, “My God, that was wonderful.​”

Our man, for his part, lies silently next to her, seemingly deep in thought. Then he whispers that he loves her, and she whispers back that she loves him, too. Both of their voices so much savor of passionate sincerity that I find myself a bit embarrassed to be in the presence of such an intimate moment between two people, but I quickly shake off such sentiments, as they are clearly absurd under current circumstances. Human shame can be damnably difficult to eliminate, even when one has been scrupulously trained, as we all have, to slough off such distractions when required by necessity.

During the following morning, our man tells our girl that they must confess their act, as it is a mortal sin. She readily agrees, and apologizes humbly for “leading him into temptation”; he responds that obviously it was something that they both wanted, that there was no reason she should be held exclusively to account for their shared transgression.

Together, they attend Confession that evening. Our girl enters the booth after our man is done. She switches off her mini-device before speaking to the priest, a curious deviation from protocol, but our girl later justifies doing so on the grounds that recording a confession would be a gross violation of what most Catholics believe to be acceptable conduct, and if it got out that such a liberty were taken, “there would be hell to pay.”

None of us have the nerve to challenge her on this point, having been somewhat chastened by her recent rebuke, but we still find it a bit odd, and privately wonder to ourselves if she isn’t growing slightly overly attuned to the role she has been assigned…later, she freely offers this explanation: “I was raised Catholic, so just offer me this one ‘indulgence,’ please!”

Though none of us say so, we all wonder the same thing: what exactly did our girl tell the priest? Still, we grant her the “indulgence” she requests and let the matter go.

From that point forward (our man declares upon their leaving the church together), they should only meet in public places, in order to avoid future “near occasions of sin.” Our girl again humbly agrees to this stipulation, though she dares to add that she feels closer to him now and indeed has come around to believing that she may just love him. She knows they haven’t known each other very long, but she has really never felt such intimacy before with another, such a degree of sympatico​ ​in overall mindset and perspective on life and faith…he has helped her to rediscover the spiritual foundations of her youth, and enabled her to rediscover the things she always knew about herself but forgot during the stupid years of her late adolescent rebellion. She becomes a bit emotional with this revelation, and he holds her hand as she begins to lightly sob. He hands her a tissue, and she delicately dabs at her nose and eyes, apologizing profusely.

Later, our girl confides in us the purpose of her behavior. Such a display was necessary, she says, to set the stage for what will follow. “It’s the way to draw him in the direction that is best for our endeavors,” she assures us. She appears to know what she is doing in any case, and we don’t dare question her methodology, given the ease with which she has managed to give herself over to the role she has chosen to play. In her presence, we frankly feel a bit like amateurs, taking lessons from a wise and knowledgeable mentor. After all, anyone could do the simple job of surveilling the target/potential asset, but she’s the one doing the real​ ​work.

As the weeks pass, our girl returns several times to the subject of her “stupid youth.” She confesses that for a time she “ran quite free,” embracing promiscuity with a fervor bordering on desperation. She had warned us that she would tell our man these things, and we (or at least some of us) furtively wondered, if only to ourselves, if such were really the optimal course of action. Would not our man, being an arch-conservative, grow disenchanted with her? Wouldn’t he come to see her as “damaged goods?” But our girl, as per usual, has the perfect answer, which assuages our concerns.

“I know lots of guys like him,” she says, referring to our man. “They love to feel like they’re saving a girl from a destructive path, that they’re helping her get on the straight and narrow…it’s actually rather sweet…”


Our lovebirds spend a few more weeks together, and eventually it seems that our man has reached a certain point of crisis. He tells her frankly that he isn’t sure if the two of them “really have a future together.” He is very fond of her, he admits, but at the same time he knows that he is not exactly “husband material.” He lives on the margins, and gets by, writes, composes blogs and takes part in right-wing podcasts, but barely scratches up enough to live in his cheap and smelly apartment; he envisages a future of permanent solitude, as he will never be a “breadwinner.”

Our girl reacts with consternation, imploring him to get their budding relationship a chance. “I will never ask more of you than that which you freely wish to give!” she impassionedly informs him.

He seems moved by this, and they kiss quite vigorously, which in turn almost leads to a second session of lovemaking, but our man scrupulously calls an end to the escalating passion, saying that it would be best for her to go. He walks her to her car, where she grasps his hand and begs, “Please​​ don’t give up on us!” He declares again that he loves her and owns that maybe there is a way to make it work.

Next time they see one another, he proposes.

Our girl had in fact predicted that just such a thing would happen. Our man does not, however, do the typical “get down on one knee” move. This, interestingly, puts her off a bit; she had expected him to make that gesture, much as she claimed to know “guys like him” and their ways. As a result, she feels slightly disappointed that he had, instead of kneeling, instead merely taken her hands in his and earnestly asked if she would marry him.

“I mean, if I asked,” he adds coyly.

She enthusiastically answers in the affirmative, and he then says, “Well, will you, then?” He remains on his feet, however. She almost feels chagrined by this, but instead of rebuking him for not following “proper” etiquette, she jumps happily into his arms. He swings her around with uncontained jubilation, her long skirts swirling around her ankles as she squeals with joy.


For all installments of “Operation Triggerman,” click here.