As the first flakes of Longmont’s snow season crept to the ground, Leroy Brown stood ready for action.
That may sound a little incongruous for Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, the ace child detective of Idaville (as opposed to Jim Croce’s ill-fated gambler). But for our new-ish brown Hyundai of the same name, its moment had clearly arrived. The heater roared. The engine hummed. And the newly-attached license plate declared its tough-guy status to the world.
Or at least, the last three digits of said license plate.
Leroy Brown was now agent 009.
As you might imagine, the prospect of our car now being part of the British Secret Service has inspired much hilarity from friends and family, especially when we all considered whether the Q Branch Option Package might be installed. (For the record, there’s no smoke screen and no oil slick, which probably wouldn’t pass emissions tests in Colorado, anyway.) But among the shared laughter, one friend introduced a note of reality – well, cinematic reality, anyway.
“As I recall, 009 suffers an unenviable fate in the Bond canon …”
For those who aren’t deeply familiar with the series, the James Bond movies do have an agent 009. A few, in fact, but the one who gets the most screen time appears in the opening minutes of “Octopussy,” fleeing an East Berlin circus in a clown suit while chased by a pair of knife-throwing twins. (You kind of had to be there.) Fighting back hard against his pursuers, he’s mortally wounded and knocked into a river … but still survives long enough to stagger to the British Embassy and deliver, with his dying breath, the Faberge’ egg that kicks off the rest of the plot.
So, OK, you could argue that it’s an ill-omened number. But I liked it better than ever.
This was a double-0 agent to identify with.
Everyone knows James Bond, agent 007, the handsome expert on a dozen plot-relevant subjects, who makes the ladies swoon and always has the right gadget to get out of a tough situation. Bond walks through life with expensive clothes, expensive cars, and a plot armor that guarantees he’ll always come out on top in the end, even if many of his lovers and associates aren’t so lucky.
That’s not most of us.
Most of us, I suspect, are a little closer to 009. Struggling against situations that we’re not really prepared for. Having to constantly keep moving to keep from being overwhelmed. Fearing that one mistake or bit of bad luck will bring everything crashing down. Maybe even feeling a little ridiculous while doing it.
And yet, still doing what we need to do, with everything we’ve got in us.
That, too, is a hero. Much more of one than Commander Bond, in fact.
And it’s a heroism we see every day.
Maybe it’s holding a life together in the face of physical or mental challenges … or a family together with finances and nerves strained to the limit … or facing the world while the heart quietly screams for someone who’s been lost. It may be any of a million other situations – the details are personal, individual, private.
But the strength shown is one that speaks to us all.
So Leroy Brown, agent 009? Absolutely. In fact, it’s an honor, one that I’m happy to carry on behalf of all the 009s out there.
It’s a bond. Universal bond.