Spy After Five

May 17, 2013
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The spy was stuck in traffic. He tapped the wheel, impatient, but this was simply not a situation that could be resolved by hopping the guardrail or ordering the local transportation officials to clear the roads. He did his best to resist temptation and concentrated on what he would do in the instance that the white van driving next to him was, as he suspected, full of dynamite.

But no, the driver was busy swaying as gracefully as an overweight, middle-aged plumber could to Beethoven’s ninth and was completely unaware of the struggle playing out in the little Jetta beside him. Impatience wasn’t the spy’s only problem, however. He fidgeted, uncomfortable. Driving anywhere under the speed of thirty miles per hour meant that any angry Middle-Easterns who felt that his actions of the past week had been less than satisfactory could be getting the jump on him. Perhaps his suspicions were groundless, but a sigh of relief escaped his lips as the vehicles suddenly began rolling towards their respective destinations. All the spy really wanted was to get home and relieve his strained nerves was a little of the oh-so-satisfying Asian food right around the corner from his apartment.

Having made his weary way through the clogged Langley streets, the spy parked his faithful Jetta in the shadow of the small apartment building. He pulled his bag of take-out out of the passenger seat and hefted his backpack over his arm. An alarming clank rang in the twilight silence. The spy made a mental note to wrap the components of his Steyr rifle tighter.


The spy groaned.

“Beautiful night, isn’t it?” The man who lived across the street, Something Fitzpatrick, stood at the end of his driveway. The garbage can he carried went clunk as he set it down.

The spy closed his eyes and began to pray for all the angels in heaven to come to his assistance. The prayer went unheeded. Fitzpatrick walked across the street, a pleasant grin spreading his features wider than they already were. He belonged to the set of insufferable optimists who always approach at the wrong time. It seemed to be a certain mannerism they studied for the purpose of driving the rest of the human race insane. And that was exactly what the spy didn’t need at that moment. Saving America at least once a week was a tiring job. His mind wandered longingly towards his sesame chicken and fried rice. But he couldn’t afford to be rude.

Fitzpatrick advanced, and the spy turned to meet him, forcing a slightly more inviting look onto his face. It was then that the spy saw the dried blood on the fender of this car. All thoughts froze in his fatigued brain as he felt internal panic. Then he realized that his neighbor had said something and was waiting for an answer.

“What? Oh—no, I don’t play golf.”

Fitzpatrick slapped his shoulder. Right where the last assassin had decided to throw him against a railing in Manila. The spy did his best not to hit back.

“Never too late to learn, Henry!” The smile on the annoying neighbor’s face grew.

Sidling around to the front of his car, the spy did his best to block Fitzpatrick’s line of vision. The problem was, he couldn’t remember if the brown stain plastered all over the lower front of his car was from road kill, or the enemy agent that had gotten in his way on Thursday. Whatever the case, the spy could have sworn that Fitzpatrick’s eyes had wandered down where they shouldn’t have. If the spy was discovered, his job would be compromised. That was an impossibility that he couldn’t risk. The spy prepared himself, and then draped an arm around Fitzpatrick’s shoulders and began to guide him away from the danger zone. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll go golfing with you…someday, but I just got home from a long, long day at work. I can’t give you an answer right now.” The spy prayed that Fitzpatrick would take the hint.

He didn’t.

At this point, the scene which might have ensued had the spy’s backpack of Steyr components not mysteriously plunked onto his neighbor’s toe, would have been unpleasant. By the time Fitzpatrick had finished hopping around on one foot, he found that the goodbyes had been said and his prey was vanishing into the apartment building. There was nothing left for him to do but limp home.

The spy leaned against the door of his apartment and heaved a sigh of relief. Then he reached over and flipped the light switch. The spy thought his heart would sink to his very toes. Why, of all the days when he came home, it was this night when his house had to be a disaster area? Resigning himself to his fate, the spy plopped his bags on the counter and took a deep breath before diving into the mess. The only thing that pierced his cloud of gloom was the feel of the thin body of Tom the cat wrapping itself around his legs.

Tom was the spy’s best friend. Through thick and thin, the cat had been there for him, traveling from state to state with his master with nary a complaint. The spy could always be sure of a haughty but loving purr when he returned from his missions. And now it was Tom who brought a smile to his craggy, care-worn face.

The thought that one creature cared about him bolstered his spirits as the spy checked his messages. None of the calls were from Jenny, and thus none were worth listening to. The spy sighed. He must have called his daughter three times before he boarded the plane last week. But Jenny wasn’t too pleased with her father at the moment. The spy had always worried about her, but now that she wasn’t returning his calls, unsettling images of kidnapping and blackmail began to spin in his mind. He sat on the edge of the counter and picked at his fried rice, appetite suddenly gone.

Being an international super-spy wasn’t the most routine job, and to be one required discipline, dedication, and a familiarity with hard decisions in tight places. But the spy was still a man (even though sometimes he felt like a squashed blob of goo after completing most missions) and he felt the same emotions any human feels. The difference was, he could do nothing about it. Jenny would always be apart from him. He could never go golfing with his neighbors. But, it was the price the spy had agreed to pay; had deemed worthy enough to pay. This night was just another evening in the life of the spy after five.

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Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 21, 2013 at 9:12 pm
It's the little details that really make this piece- like wondering if the van is full of dynamite or the need to wrap the rifle parts tighter. Also, I loved the humor. Good job!
Finch.B replied...
May 22, 2013 at 10:34 am
Thanks, I really appreciate that. This is the first thing I've ever posted so I wasn't sure what kind of reception I'd get :P Now I just need to think up another idea...
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