“You can’t seriously expect me to do that,” she stammered. “I hardly even know you.”
Smoke curled upward from the cigarette he held in his left hand. It was a Camel. He thought for a moment, and replied: “Look, I pay well, and it’s not like I’m asking you to shag my brother or something. That’s on the agenda for next week.”
Sometimes I think my life is a work of fiction. Sometimes names, characters, places and incidents are the products of my imagination and are not to be construed as real. Sometimes any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is probably, although not definitely, coincidental.
“Cake and coffee in the conference room, Jack,” that fucking little piss-ant Andy says as he sticks his head into my office.
I served my goddamn country for over forty years, risking my life for the Company nearly every fucking day, and they celebrate my retirement with cake. How quaint.
I shove a couple more framed photos into the cardboard box; a 12x12x24 testament to a life led in secret. Things used to be different here. Our work used to mean something.
I get to the conference room and already the college boy pedants are chatting it up. They all think they know so fucking much, but not one of them has ever seen real field work. You can play with computers and gizmos all day, but that’s still not playing The Great Game. Sit at a cafe table in some godforsaken Eastern Bloc city, chatting pleasantly with the man across from you, knowing that only one of you is going home alive? Now that’s playing the game.
“…and I was like, fuck, Jerry, you’ve been looking at the sat shots all afternoon and even I could spot the trucks near the… Oh, hey Jack,”
“Andy. Francis. Pete,” I greet each of the boys there, talking among themselves. And Jesus, they are boys. Did they recruit these kids right out of Cub Scouts? Fuck.
“Jack, I was just telling the guys about how we spotted those Taliban ammo trucks near Kabul on the sat photos, and…”
I laugh right at him. What a fucking punk.
“Sat photos?” I laugh again. “Andy, let me tell you what real covert work is. There was this time in Prague in sixty-three, and this KGB guy had been tailing me for…”
“Yeah, okay Jack,” Francis says, with a patronizing clap on my shoulder, “we know all about the Good Old Days.”
“Sorry fellas,” I say, “it’s just that, you know, things were different then. We didn’t have all the computers and satellites and crap. We had to go out there and–”
“Yeah, we know, Jack.”
“Yeah.. okay.. you know. You know it all,” I mumble, and excuse myself for the moment.
I head back to my office, close the door behind me. In the bottom desk drawer is my service pistol, the same one I’ve had since the 50’s, my old Colt revolver – not one of those slick black Glocks they issue to the new kids nowadays.