Den of Spies and Bad Advice

I studied the circular ring of water on the bar in front of me. Cocktail coasters littered the bar, but were just slightly out of reach. It was difficult to bother to grab one for my old fashioned so it had rested on the bar, sweating onto the wood as I studied my fellow lost souls seated at the bar. Each of us had a story. Each had an agenda. Everyone slowly poisoned themselves as they contemplated their own mortality, and for some… their faltering morality.

 

Delany, the blonde Asian barmaid, scowled at me and moved a coaster closer to me.

 

“They are here for a reason, Steven.”

 

I looked past her as I sipped on the old fashioned.

 

“Aren’t we all, Delany?”

 

She half smiled and returned to the couple at the far end of the bar who were studying the menu.

 

It’s not that I saw him sit down next to me. It was more that I felt him, a small man with an expensive suit. Sweat beaded on his temples as he took off his fedora and placed it on the bar. He didn’t look at me. He was pensive, and after settling into his chair, he gently placed his hands on the bar in a vaguely European fashion.

 

“It is too bad the mockingbirds are not here this time of year.”

 

I turned to study him. He was waiting for a response and seemed decidedly nervous.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“It is too bad the mockingbirds are not here this time of year.”

 

“Yes, though the rainbows are delightful.”

 

His head snapped towards me and studied me intently. Nervously, slowly, he repeated his line… “It is too bad the mockingbirds are not here this time of year.”

 

“Look pal, I get it. That is your challenge phrase for a Joe you’ve never met. I’m not that Joe. I’m sure he will be here shortly. In the meantime, have a drink and curse your masters like the rest of us here.”

 

“Do you think I am a spy?”

 

“Aren’t we all?”

 

He studied me again for a few seconds, then visibly relaxed. I could see his shoulders lower and his entire demeanor change.

 

“Thank you. Seriously, thank you. This job has a lot of pressures, and sometimes… well, sometimes you just want to forget about it awhile.”

 

I casually waved my hand towards the other patrons. “Yeah… everyone here is in the same boat.”

 

“Wait,” he asked nervously looking around, “everyone here is a spy?”

 

“Well, not everyone. The busboy over there, I think, is really a busboy, but those two over there are most likely Chinese intelligence. They are really active right now, the guy who just left is Mossad, and I am fairly certain that Delany, that blonde Asian barmaid, is Swedish intelligence.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Who are you with?”

 

“Russia.”

 

“Of course you are.”

 

“What about you? What do you do?”

 

“I train people how to put holes into other people legally.”

 

“Ah! You are a firearms instructor! We have those back home too.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“There are a lot of laws here that make your job difficult, no? One must have a lawyer handy.”

 

“I’m also a lawyer.”

 

He studied me again. “Hmmm… How do you say…’how convenient’.”

 

I nodded.

 

“Perhaps you can explain something to me while I wait. I saw a video the other day by two of your colleagues on YouTube. Two lawyers were saying that too much training can be used against you if you are charged with a firearms crime. Do you agree with that?”

 

“No.”

 

“But they said…”

 

“Yeah, I saw the video too. Some of my clients sent it to me.” I put my glass down on the bar, carefully avoiding the coaster. From the distance, I could see Delany squinting at me in anger. “There is training, and then there is training. Teach someone to engage in unreasonable actions, then their behavior can trace from that training. Teach someone to engage, or better yet, avoid being in a dangerous situation, their behavior also flows from their training… You are a case officer for God’s sake, you should know this!”

 

“Oh, I am sorry I did not mean to offend you.”

 

“You didn’t. I’m sorry… touchy right now, lots of moving parts, angry blonde Asians and bad advice floating around. That, and this bar is becoming too populated with spies.”

 

“Hey, we are just doing our job.”

 

“Yeah, I get it, but shouldn’t you be a little more secretive? I mean what was up with that challenge statement.”

 

He sighed, “Yeah, we have to be gender neutral and more sensitive to our agents.”

 

“Really? It’s hit you guys too?”

 

“As you say, like a ton of bricks.”

 

“God, I’m sorry.”

 

“Well, you have to do what you have to do. So I should be training more frequently?”

 

“Well, let’s wait until after you guys pull out of Ukraine, then we can talk about it.”

 

He chuckled, “Fair enough, lawyer.”

 

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Comments (3)

  • Michael Waldron Reply

    Loved Chapter 2 in the Lieberman spy novel!

    10/26/2022 at 09:45
  • Benny Rorbert Maestas Reply

    Very amusing first steps into the genre, Let’s hope you aren’t planning any spy novels in the Selena Montgomery style.

    10/26/2022 at 18:14
  • Norm Ellis Reply

    I am staying out of this one LOL!!!

    10/29/2022 at 12:55

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