I hate reporters. Always have. They're either trying to crawl up my ass with a pen and give me reacharound or trying to crucify me with a typewriter.
And let me tell you, son, typewriters make damn lousy nails. You try building a garden shed with one, sometime.
So why am I letting this left wing smartmouth come down here at Taxpayers expense, to see things he maybe shouldn't, and see us in a way that might actually embolden America's enemies? Is it just because he caught me colder than the wind down here? Is it because he had the balls to stand up to me but was somewhat awkwardly polite about it?
If I'm being honest, and I really !@#$# hate being honest, it's because I remember the last time I did something like this I completely !@#$ it up. And I'd like another chance to do it right, this time.
Saigon. 1960-whatebverthe!@#$ it was. I was there on an above board mission, lending some visibility to the fact that America was taking a keen interest in Vietnam, and was not wanting the Chinese or Soviets to lend any of their strategic talents to the Vietcong. The deal was "if you don't, we won't, but if you do, you bet your ass we will, too."
Detente, in other words.
I was there with some of those Strategic Talents, making a milk run for the boys. Just USO bull!@#$, really. Watch Mr. USA pick up a helicopter. Watch Lady Liberty shake it for the cameras. Time was, I'd have preferred to see the reverse, but me and Mr. USA aren't trading Hanukkah cards anymore.
So there I am, chewing tjbang sticks like they're going out of style and wondering where I can get something silky for the night, and here comes this tall, black guy with a camera and this look in his eye like he's going to eat me for breakfast.
Ben Graines. New York Times. Special to Saigon. Not taking "that's classified" or "none of your business, son" as answers. Tries to wear me down for a half hour, outside the Happy Time Lady Drink Eat Bar, with question after question, and then follows me down the street another fifteen after that.
The real joke here is that, for once in that stinking sorry excuse of a war, I wasn't engaged in some secret operation. I really was just minding shop for the capes, and making sure neither of them got assassinated while humoring the troops. But he was convinced, rightly, that SPYGOD meant spying was going on, somewhere.
The real pisser was that this was back in The COMPANY's heyday. This was when our flying cars actually looked cool. This was when we had secret agent man tech toys out the wazoo and were engaged in epic, running battles with the Soviets on a weekly basis.
This was when SQUASH and ABWEHR were legitimate, world-threatening menaces, and GORGON was still shaking its way down the block on training wheels with its dad two steps behind the back tire.
So I could have done a whole lot of things to this uppity fellow, who I later learned was assigned to Vietnam because his bosses at the NYT thought he was too obnoxious and pro-Vietcong, even for the Washington press pool. I could have turned invisible, or had him chasing holograms down back alleys. I could have taken his voice away with a tainted drink or arranged to have him shipped to Australia in a burlap sack full of Burmese testicle-eating millipedes.
But instead I let him harangue me. I let him accuse me of being an imperialist pig, trying to interfere with another country's self-will. I even let him accuse me of war crimes, even though I hadn't really done any since Korea. And that was a whole different kettle of !@#$.
Do you know what? I actually laughed. I offered to buy him a drink, and actually acted hurt when he refused. I told him to meet me at the Happy Time Lady the next day, 8 in the AM sharp, and I'd talk to him some more.
He agreed, and by the end of the day, I'd made a few calls, and gotten him assigned to me, personally. I saw to it he could go along for the ride. See everything I did. Be there when certain shades of !@#$ hit the helicopter blade.
And you know why I did it? Because he pissed me off with his pro-commie bull!@#$, and I wanted to watch him cry.
I wanted him to see the horror. I wanted him to be up to his knees in someone's steaming pieces and trying to write copy to call home. I wanted him to see why we were going to be fighting, and what the real stakes were. Especially if the People's Protectors got involved.
I wanted him to walk into the jungle with me, like so many other men had done before, and leave so many pieces of himself in there that when he came back out again, he would not be the same person ever again.
Obviously, he didn't get a lot of copy out on a daily basis. He filed maybe three big stories a month while his colleagues were averaging one a day. His bosses must have been !@#$ kittens through their navels. And what they got often read like he'd been writing science fiction while done up on major amounts of opium.
But what he wrote was all true. Every word. And it destroyed him.
He went home after Saigon fell. I never saw him again, but I wasn't the only one who could say that. He quit his job, wandered somewhere out into America, and was never heard from again. Word has it he died in the 80's, sometime, but Ben Graines died somewhere in the jungles, watching The COMPANY work.
Every day I looked at his face and saw a little less of the man I'd met that day, years earlier, and more of a twisted reflection of myself. I knew it was over when he shucked the camera and kept the pad and paper. But one day I started talking and he started finishing my sentences, perfectly, and I knew that I had done an evil thing.
I don't regret a lot of the people I kill. I regret Ben Graines. I should have just punched him out and left him sitting outside the Saloon with a sign reading "collaborator" around his neck. It would have been kinder.
So this time, here and now, I'm going to do it right. I'm going to let this left wing !@#$ from that website follow after me and see why we've done this, here and now. I'm going to answer his questions without trying to push him down the rabbit hole without a parachute.
And I am not going to turn him into me. Not again.
(SPYGOD is listening to Watching me Fall (the Cure) and still drinking fermented penguins)