March 11, 2010

Every year, CIA handlers have a retreat. They discuss peculiarities of the trade: the way they develop distinct park-bench preferences (wood slats or stone?) and how they have come to be fond of certain ducks in certain ponds in certain Eastern European cities. They relish the way they can just tell the waiter what they want, shouting orders at a young man in a warm and crowded room while surrounded by friends instead of whispering them outdoors at midnight in the Vatican. No conversation ends with the unspoken understanding between the two parties that this may be the last time one of them will be seen alive, and this is so refreshing, so freeing, that they go back for seconds at the waffle bar, and they punish karaoke. Trivial conversations are had and the trivia is just that: trivia. Every noun means only itself, it doesn’t imply anything nuclear.

“…and that ain’t code for shit,” a red-faced good-old-boy type says to a colleague he hasn’t seen since the Curtain fell, and gestures for another round of drinks he has not poisoned, and neither has anyone else.

Tomorrow, they will be hung over. Two days from now, they will be everywhere in the world. Three days from now, they will be planted on benches in public parks and train terminals, handing secrets imprinted on various media and wrapped in innocuous foreign newspapers to the handled, those poor bastards, those traitors and killing machines, and in the midst of a cryptic exchange, the handlers’ minds will wander just when they shouldn’t, and they will think back on this weekend and smile, and the expression on their faces will for once match how they actually feel inside, and that alone will be worth having taken the time off and the price of the flight to XXXXXX.

Posted by DC at March 11, 2010 03:29 AM
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