"All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy..."

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Janiece Murphy has brought to my attention that I've been busted. Totally, completely busted. My cover is blown.

So it is time to confess. Yes, as Mr. James Tankersley writes on his blog, I am a member of the Uniformed Counter-Intelligence Force, an elite squad dedicated to debunking those who question the safety of CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

I remember my recruitment well. I was in Vienna, after the war, dissolute and wondering what to do with myself. I still had some of the money I'd been given when I was cashiered out, but to be honest I was squandering it on a French prostitute named Bette Ormond and slug after slug of greasy gin martinis at a dive called "The Bison," served by a man of indeterminate loyalties named Olaf. (I think, before the Berlin Wall fell, Olaf had been one of theirs, but then a man I knew named Dmitri who was normally a reliable sort when it came to those kinds of matters, always insisted he was one of ours. Perhaps, like so many in those crazed days, he wasn't anyone's but his own. I never had much use for that type; it's not so much that I'm a patriot, or naïve, it's just that I don't believe in sitting on fenceposts. My father, who was deeply averse to profanity of any kind, used to tell me to "Poop, or get off the pooper," and I took that to heart even if it sounded kind of retarded.)

Anyway, I was in The Bison, slugging back another one of Olaf's horrible martinis, and I was thinking about how Malcolm had died in that botched op in Kinshasa, when a man walked in who I hadn't seen before. He was clearly an intellectual, you could tell from his refined air and eyeglasses; at first I thought the moustache was some kind of crude disguise, but later I'd find out that was his thing, his trademark. He sat down at my table uninvited, and my hand subconsciously went to the .22 in my jacket pocket. It's a girly gun, but it's easy to get past customs and in my experience if you're in an interior situation up close and personal where you'd need more firepower, you're already dead. I've known too many guys who strutted around with some huge cannon under their jacket like they wanted to be Clint Eastwood, and nearly every one of them ends up getting knocked off by a guy on a rooftop six-hundred yards away or is "coincidentally" standing next to a car when it explodes; if they want you, they'll get you, I'm saying. But if you're in a little dive with lousy electronic jazz piping out of a boombox on the bar, a little pea-shooter is enough to slow somebody down while you get out and do an E.T. to find out who wants you dead this time.

Anyway, he sat down, this guy. I could tell he didn't want to kill me.

"I'm Nathan," he said. "I want you for the UCF."

I tried to run my brain through the abbreviations and acronyms, staring into his eyes the whole time. I swear, I'm straight, but this Nathan character had laser eyes, eyes that could bore a hole in diamond. If he'd told me to go get him a drink or watch his dog for the weekend, I probably would've and I'd only just met him. He had one of those accentless voices a deep ops guy has, too: I was willing to bet he could pass as a Parisian in France and as someone born in Jiangxi Province on the phone (later, I'd learn he spoke a dozen languages flawlessly, but usually pretended he was from New York even though nobody was sure he really lived there).

"Yeah, sure," I said, mostly to stall. He pinned me to the wall with that stare and told me I was lying. "Okay, you got me," I replied, "I'm lying. I've never heard of your finking UCF. What gives?"

"In a few years," he says, "CERN will initiate a project to generate captive black holes to be used as a superweapon."

"You're full of doody," I said, even though I could tell he believed every word of it.

"Think about it. The wars of the past have been fought with bigger and bigger weapons. A battleship race was one of the causes of World War I. World War II was won by the nation with the biggest bomb. But bigger and bigger weapons are expensive and impractical. The largest nuclear weapon in the former Soviet arsenal is a plutonium bomb the size of a split-level ranch house, the dumb fucks built it just so they could say they did, they had no idea how to deliver it." He noticed my slack jaw and stunned stare, "No, seriously, it's sitting in the middle of an open field outside Krasnoyarsk, nobody knows what the hell to do with the goddamn fucker."

"You said a no-no word," I managed at last. "You said a lot of no-no words."

"We can teach you how to say those. You'll be able to use them conversationally, on the phone, with your parents, to impress women. What the hell, you spend all that money on that French slut just to talk?"

"Oh no," I said, "we make humpy-hump like crazed weasels."

"Whatever," he said. "Oh, and we'll show you that, too: we send coded messages through the website of a writer of bathroom-humor jokes and music reviews who we're going to graduate to being a major science-fiction author in just a few years." He checked his watch. "So, we'll teach you to curse, give you millions of dollars in taxpayer funds, all you have to do is sell your soul to the weaponmasters at the CERN collective. And if you say 'no,' of course we'll have to kill you with extreme violence and say it was a heart attack. You in?"

"Heck, yeah," I said, "I'm tired of hanging out in this poopy bar and drinking these pee-pee martinis."

And that was how it began.

We've been active publicly for about a year now, engaging in a propaganda operation to discredit those who would keep us from selling the black holes CERN has been producing since the LHC went online (the "quenched magnet" story was just that--a cover that Janiece Murphy and I came up with after one of the black holes breached containment and almost turned the planet inside-out until three physicists bravely sacrificed their lives getting it into a magnetic bottle; production of black holes has been nine times what we expected in the meantime). We produce microscopic black holes and we sell them to the highest bidder, and every now and again somebody will ask what will happen if another one gets out and isn't contained, and I tell them to fuck the fuck off because I really loved those fucking profanity fucking lessons fucking. (Jim Wright was a phenomenal instructor, even if he did have to garrote that one guy who kept trying to use "cock" as an adjective.)

But sometimes I have second thoughts. What if one of the black holes does escape? I have dreams, nightmares, really, that the world is being pulled out from under my feet, and I look back as I'm trying to run against the wind and there, behind me, are the men whose executions I've planned, the men whose deaths I caused with those aforementioned well-placed snipers and car bombs, and some of the ones whose deaths I didn't plan but knew would happen--women and children and old people who were acceptable collateral damage for the greater good--and behind them is a black hole, growing and glowing and spitting off tendrils of high-energy X-rays that I can somehow see in the dream, and I wonder if we're doing the right thing.

And then I think, enh, I'm getting rich.

But now I've made this confession. Mr. James Tankersley has outed me: yes, there is a conspiracy. Yes, we're paid by tax dollars. And yes, they'll probably kill me for saying this. Sometimes I wonder what really would have happened if I'd said "no" to Nathan in Vienna. Sometimes.


Janiece Murphy Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 11:36:00 AM EST  

You never should of become Ronin.

That's how it begins...

Eric Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 11:41:00 AM EST  

Can you tell I love that movie, by the way? An overlooked classic, if you ask me.

vince Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:03:00 PM EST  

Did you get your year-end bonus check yet? You know, the one they snuck in for us in the $150 billion earmarks portion of the $700 billion bailout bill?

Random Michelle K Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:11:00 PM EST  

Damnit! Nathan never told me about the money! He told me this was a volunteer organization!

I'm gonna get that rat bastard.

And his toaster too.

Eric Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:13:00 PM EST  

Hell yeah, Vince! Hey, anyone want to go "halfsies" with me on buying a developing nation?

kimby Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:31:00 PM EST  

Stay away from the toaster.
I touched it.

Just saying.

Eric, did you ever get Blink out of "The Bison". He was cleverly disguised as the "table in the back"

kimby Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:32:00 PM EST  

And Vince...was that in American dollars? Cause, you know Momma needs a new pair of shoes, and the banks here are touchy about anything that comes from the states.

Jim Wright Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 2:44:00 PM EST  

Well, the "cock" guy was just asking for it. uh, wait, that didn't come out right. uh, wait, neither did that.

//Jim Wright//UCF Master Vulgarist//

Nathan Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 2:56:00 PM EST  

Hey Eric,

Do you remember Morton Floorburger? Do you? There's a reason. He's the guy I went to see right before you.

He said "No".

Pity how ole Mort just seemed to disappear off the face of the earth right after that.

You chose well my friend.

Random Michelle K Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 3:19:00 PM EST  

BTW Eric, now *I* have a crush on you. That was awesome.

vince Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 3:31:00 PM EST  

Kimby, the money can be converted. After all, we're super secret spy thingies.

Eric, I'll go "halfsies" with you on buying a developing nation. I think running a developing nation as co-despots would be fun.

Random Michelle K Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 4:14:00 PM EST  

To hell with all that, I'm spending *my* money on a stove like Nathan's!

Eric Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 4:40:00 PM EST  

Sorry, Michelle, we're not getting paid that much....


Janiece Murphy Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 12:05:00 AM EST  

Eric, now that the cat's out of the bag, we can identify Nathan's stove for what it really is - the Operations Center for the UCIFEIEIO.

Jeri Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 4:35:00 PM EST  

I think Nathan's stove is actually an ark, a storage and escape vehicle for after the earth is destroyed by a stray black hole. That would explain the power requirements.

And Eric, as always, fucking brilliant.

Why are your books not yet on the shelves of my local independent bookstore?


mattw Monday, January 5, 2009 at 3:43:00 PM EST  

"Oh no," I said, "we make humpy-hump like crazed weasels."

I just read this post and my god is that funny. Had Pepsi been in my mouth, it would have ended up everywhere. Eric, you are my hero.

Eric Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 9:21:00 AM EST  

This entry is nearly a year old and unlikely to provoke any new or worthwhile commentary--and meanwhile has started regularly attracting comment spam. So, I'm closing the thread.

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