Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wish You Were Here (1.9)

briefing room

The place was a small, hot, dimly lit back room of a nondescript dry cleaner's in Manama with clean white walls; the only adornment was a white clock, ticking, displaying the wrong time.  There were no windows, but there was a simple door with white-frosted glass filling the top half.  I could barely make out the shadows of some backward lettering: CUSTODIAL.

I was bored.

“You sure you wanna do this?” Agent Conrad asked at last, with practised bravado, arching a dark manicured eyebrow.

I smirked.  “As sure as I've ever been, boss.”

At a small table in the middle of the concrete floor, the agent and I sat across from one another, a flowery lamp drooping impotently between us, and an empty tin ashtray sitting unused, new, off to the side.  Agent Conrad, a hotshot up-and-comer: his suit was too new, his tie likely making its first outing.  His obvious greenness aside, I knew it could only be a lack of seniority which would see a man heading up such a remote branch office.  My eyes flitted from this manboy to the corner of the room where a stylized fan's blades rotated lazily.

I had already briefed Agent Conrad about my impromptu visit to Bahrain, and had nothing left to say.  I took a sip of lukewarm coffee, and we traded a few idle remarks about the heat.

“Love to be a fly on the wall back at headquarters right about now,” Agent Conrad clucked, shaking his head.  “So close to breaking this case, and we've got one agent hellbent on going maverick.”

I folded my arms across my chest, leant back in my chair, and measured the man before me.

“You happy here, boss, doing everything by the book, playing by their rules?”  I surveyed the tiny, stiff room.  My eyes met his.  “You've one life,” I continued, “and if you're not doing exactly what you want, then what's it all for anyway?”  I stood up, readying to leave, returning my hat to my head.  “If you found out today that your time was up, would you be happy with the life you lived on this tiny ball of mud?  I know I would be.”

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