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The Agency, Chapter 1


An Agent's Burial
Robert McCallum entered Madame Superior’s office and took a seat; he was looking dashing in his black suit and thin, black tie. His blonde hair was always short and precisely cut. No one had ever seen one hair out of its place nor had they ever seen one shred of stubble on his soft face. The only complaint anyone ever had of him was that he looked drunk when he was sober and sober when he was drunk. Though, truthfully, he was seldom drunk or even tipsy. He held liquor like an ox.

Women desired him and men didn’t mind him, so long as they weren’t trying to make a move. No moves could be made when McCallum was in the room. No moves could counteract the look of cool and the precision of his witty banter. He had a streak for the sarcastic. And despite that he almost always seemed drunk; he was calm and suave. It was as if Dean Martin’s drunken-calm morphed with Steve McQueen’s body and became a member of The Remo Four.

“I didn’t ask you to sit, Mr. McCallum,” Madame Superior noted, without looking up from the file in her hand, “Stand.”

“The word is you wanted to see me, Madame Superior.”

“Stand, Mr. McCallum,” she spoke, her eyes still looking through her sleek, black rimmed glasses at the file.

McCallum stood from the chair, and then she looked up from the file, “Ah, Mr. McCallum, welcome. Have a seat.”

He sat.

“I’m a blunt, frank individual, Mr. McCallum,” she started, leaning forward and placing the file on her desk, “I have a mole in my agency, I know who that mole is and I want you to take care of it.”

“Sounds serious.”

“If you complete the task, to my liking, I will give you that promotion you’ve been dying to have,” she leans back, “Agent Robert McCallum… it even has a nice ring to it, wouldn’t you say?”

“I should say,” he responded, “Chief Clerk Robert McCallum is a little bit of a mouth full. I haven’t been a big fan of it myself.”

She picked the file back up and held it to him, “Stand, Mr. McCallum.”

He stood and took a hold of the file with his left hand, but she didn’t let go; she looked him in the eyes and said, “If you botch this, Mr. McCallum, you’re dead.”

“Well, as long as I get an agent’s burial, I can live with it.”

“Chopped and scattered or tossed and forgotten, Mr. McCallum?” she asked as she let go of the file.

“I’ll have to sleep on that one,” he nodded, “Madame Superior.”

“Mr. McCallum, get out of my office.”

*******

It was the kind of motel where you take certain girls of which you would never take home to mum. It was sleazy, dirty and a flashing nuisance. Room 7 had dark wood walls and deep red carpet. The queen-sized bed was wearing a gold comforter. A radio on the table by the window quietly spoke of bookends and old friends. Jack was sitting on the edge of the bed, near the nightstand and talking on the avocado rotary phone,

“I need a ticket and safe passage, chum,” he spoke into the phone, “They’ve figured me out. Oh, come on, don’t be like that. I’ve given you plenty; you’d have nothing without me! No, I’m not getting demanding. I’m just saying. And I got more, but you can’t get it, if you don’t get me out. No, don’t talk like that—hello? Hello?”

Jack slammed the phone down and sighed. He held his head in his hands, sighing deeply to himself. The radio stopped with a click.

“Don’t get saucy Jack,” McCallum spoke from behind him.

Jack picked his head up, “Doing Madame’s business, eh? You aiming to kill me?”

“Thinking about it.”

“I’ve got a wife and boy—they’ll never understand, just… I ask you, as a gentleman, take me somewhere else before you do the deed,” Jack started to cry, “Just take me somewhere respectable, somewhere clean. For my wife, for my little boy.”

“I’d be extremely touched, if it weren’t that I read your file,” McCallum started, “You’re single, Jack. The wife and kid are a cover. If I hadn’t known that, you might have convinced me, but now I know you’re just a lying traitor.”

Jack was broiled, he burst like a volcano screaming, “Do you honestly believe—“

The bullet entered near the top of his head, exited through his mouth and lodged into the floor. Jack slumped to the floor. His blood blended in with the carpet. McCallum calmly gathered what little belongings Jack had, tossing everything into a trash bag. When he finished he started to leave, but then turned and went over to Jack’s body. He looked at the body for a moment, examining what he had just accomplished.

He spoke softly to himself, “Tossed and forgotten.”

*******

“You killed Jack?!” Madame Superior was startled and embittered, “I didn’t want you to kill him. I didn’t say anything about killing him.”

For the first time, to anyone’s knowledge, McCallum raised his voice, “Maybe you should’ve been a bit more specific, Madame!”

“No,” she started, “You should have asked.”

They both simmered in this thought while the crowd outside the office listened intently through the door for the next verbal thrashing.

Madame Superior smiled, “In the future, Agent Robert McCallum, you will ask. I do not pay you to assume things, I pay you to listen. Are we understood?”

“I think so,” McCallum answered, “Did you really want him alive?”

“No, no, no. Jack is exactly where he needs to be.”

There was a silence, and then McCallum asked, “Are we done, Madame Superior? Can I stand? Can I leave?”

“You may.”

He rose to his feet and turned for the door. The crowd outside heard his footfalls and bolted, heading back to their perspective desks. At the door, Madame Superior spoke up, “Agent McCallum, have you made your decision regarding your funeral arrangements?”

McCallum looked her dead in the eyes and lied.

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