Well, the plan hasn't exactly gone to plan, and I have only myself to blame. Especially my !@#$ anatomy.
What do I mean? Well, son, you remember me telling you about the Night of the Trans-Pistol? And how it was supposed to wear off after a certain amount of time?
Well... guess what didn't happen yesterday. And guess what didn't happen again, today, either.
The good news is that everyone else is fine, and changed back more or less on cue. However, my alien love god man snake is still a woman thing, and twice as !@#$ ugly for that.
So no, we're not going on from Arusha, today. We're going to stay here, at the worst safari lodge in Tanzania, and wait for Mrs. SPYGOD to turn back into a Mister. And then we're on to the next part of the plan.
No, son, this is not a vanity thing. I can kick ten flavors of !@#$ and chew bubblegum at the same time whether I'm a man, a woman, both, or neither. I know this because I've been all four of those !@#$ things, and sometimes two or more at once.
(Don't ask. You really don't want to know.)
But if I'm going to go and do what I need to be doing, in order to bring this !@#$ nightmare to a close, and get payback for what those BUSH !@#$ did, I need to be me. I need it to be seen that The One And Only SPYGOD went to South Africa, kicked !@#$, took names, and saw certain individuals off to the great !@#$ hereafter.
Otherwise, it won't mean !@#$, and the !@#$ might think they can do this again. Because they think I deserve this !@#$, and won't stop until they learn that, whether I deserve it or not (and let's face it, I do) they are not the ones who get to deal with me.
I don't know who does, quite frankly. Maybe history. Maybe the god of delayed justice, in the case of my being a stupid little !@#$ with a gun bigger than my brain.
But not them. Not in a million !@#$ years. Even after what I did, they don't even get to spit on the shoes I threw away fifty !@#$ years ago. End of !@#$ story.
So... now that that's all good and settled, I bet you're wondering what exactly I did to deserve all of this? Murder? Mayhem? Slayed the last Green Rhino of Mozambique and wore its hide to a Pet Shop Boys concert?
Nothing so simple.
If you go to any college protest, and look at what the trustafarians are wearing, chances are good that you'll see two t-shirts that have nothing but a face on them. Those are the faces of two dead men whose names still live in the hearts and minds of young, foolish liberal kids who don't know any !@#$ better.
(Of course, it could be Ayn Rand on their shirts, too, so I should be grateful for small !@#$ favors.)
One of those faces is an oddly beatific fellow with a ridiculous beard and a beret. He's looking at you like he's expecting a tip for having brought the pizza three !@#$ hours late, and not understanding why you just shut the door in his stoned-!@#$ face.
That is, of course, the one and only Che Guevara: a ruthless, murdering, Communist scumbag !@#$ revolutionary whose many pithy and sanitized sayings underpin far too many well-meaning leftist kids' paths to error these days. If they'd actually met the real man, and hung out with the !@#$ for a bit, I think a lot of them wouldn't be wearing those !@#$ shirts.
But I guess every teenage fame-crush is just one bad, backstage visit away from falling apart. I'm told I can be a bit much, sometimes, too.
The other face is a young black man with puffy, downturned cheeks, a mustache wrapped around his lip, and a severe part in his short hair. He's looking at you like he's expecting better from you, and maybe not without just cause.
And that is, of course, the one and only Nelson Mandela: member of the African National Congress, and organizer and leader of its militant arm, the Burning Spear, who was sentenced to life in prison for terrorist acts against the apartheid state of South Africa, back in the 60's. He proved majorly influential while inside prison, in spite of great constraints on his ability to communicate with the outside.
He was shot and killed during an abortive prison break in 1966, less than a year after he'd started his life sentence. His death turned him into a martyr somewhere on the level of the Rev. Martin Luther King, helped galvanize world opinion against South Africa's policies, and may have acted to hasten the end of Apartheid.
All well and good, of course. Except that I'm the one who !@#$ shot him.
Oh, does that !@#$ surprise you? You never heard that I did that, did you? Well, no wonder, there, son. It's been covered up for decades, mostly because of how !@#$ embarrassed the American Government was at what happened. But also to keep us from getting into a really bad international situation.
It was 1966. The COMPANY had been around for a while, but while I had a good handle on Cold War politics, and was the man with the plans when the Supers threw down, there were certain nuances of the wider world that escaped yours truly. I knew how to handle high weirdness and wild cards and the occasional invasion from beyond space, time, and New !@#$ Jersey. But when it came to realpolitik, outside the Cold War backroom battlefields' "us vs. them" angle, sometimes I didn't have a !@#$ clue.
!@#$, son, it's a wonder I knew how to put my pants on, some mornings.
So when the CIA, who was still on good terms with The COMPANY, back then, came to me with a story about how this Mandela fellow was coordinating terrorist attacks from inside prison, by way of a commie telepath the South African intelligence service called "Skaduwee," I listened. I listened even more intently when they told me of his links to Communists, and red Supers, and how the ANC planned to take over South Africa and turn it into a client state of the USSR.
Obviously, we couldn't have that. The Soviets had been making encroachments in Central and South America, and trying to do the same with various African nations. The last thing we needed was another Red-leaning continent with far too many people, way too many guns, and no real understanding of how to manage their Supers.
I had my people check out their story, and it all sounded legitimate. It seemed this Skaduwee fellow was the KGB's point man in several operations in the area, and had been causing problems for quite some time. But when it came to catching him, well, skaduwee is Afrikaans for "shadow." I figure you can figure how that !@#$ went.
So they had a plan. They figured that, if Mandela was busted out of jail by "sympathizers," this Skaduwee fellow would be there to take charge of him in person. They put a few of their own people into prison with him and started working on a plan, which Mandela was all for, of course. They just needed someone there to handle the telepath when he showed up, but if I didn't mind being a little more directly involved...?
Now, you ask me that question now, I'm going to back your !@#$ up to the wall with my gun in your !@#$ mouth and ask "what's your !@#$ angle, son?" But back then I was still pretty young, and very naive when it came to who to trust and who not to. So if the CIA was telling me what they said was the truth, and that they'd checked out the South Africans' story, and my people couldn't find anything wrong, well... why shouldn't I believe them? Weren't we all on the same !@#$ side?
(The big revelation about The Legion hadn't happened yet. If the jailbreak had only been just a few !@#$ months later... !@#$ it.)
So there's me, all grinning at the prospect of killing one red terrorist in order to catch a Supercommie. Of course I went for it. I was as hard as an iron bar at the thought.
To their credit, MI-6 tried to warn us, through back channels, that the intel was about as dodgy as an octogenarian hooker's !@#$hole. But we'd had some unpleasant dealings, recently, what with the Cambridge Five and all, so I told them to go !@#$ themselves, and we'd handle it. And I don't think they really appreciated how forcefully I informed them of this, so that was the end of their hand in things.
The plan went forward. The jailbreak happened. And everything you heard about that jailbreak was a lie.
He wasn't a bystander, swept into it: someone told him it was going to go down and he could either rot in a cell or make a break for it. He did.
He wasn't in the middle of the crowd, urging people to go back to their cells: he was scrambling to the front of the pack, pushing others out of the way in the hopes of reaching freedom.
And he wasn't tagged by some racist policeman who hated black folks. He had his noggin blown inside out by a bullet from yours truly, who stepped out from behind the surging crowd of would-be escapees and shot him from behind, seconds before the hidden sharpshooters and snipers opened up on the rest of them. All in the hopes that, if he was in mental contact with Skaduwee at the time, the sudden death by brain-blowout would incapacitate the shadowy mother!@#$.
If this was Hollywood, Mandela would have turned over, looked up at me, and reached out to try and tell me something, or forgive me. But here, in reality, he fell down, !@#$ himself, twitched twice, and didn't move again.
It's hard to do something noble with half your head gone.
Unfortunately, Skaduwee didn't show up. But hey, we'd done half the mission. No more telepath-sent terrorist plans for that group! They'd handle the cleanup, of course. Thanks so much for helping us, Mr. SPYGOD. You're a !@#$ gem.
Oh, we celebrated. It was a wild party that night, me and those secret intelligence boys. Drinks and ladies and !@#$, at least for them. Well, okay, I had a few drinks. A lot of drinks, in fact.
And while I was drinking, and listening, I got the idea that I wasn't seeing the whole picture. Something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it; not then, not the day after when we all said thank you and goodbye, and not for some time after that, seeing as how I had bigger fish to fry than some commie, would-be nationwrecker.
Especially after the whole thing with The Legion went down, and I started to wonder if maybe the folks at the Agency really were on the same side, after all. Especially after I learned that the CIA had a direct hand in capturing Mandela in the first place, having tipped the South Africans off to his movements. Something they neglected to tell me at the time.
Then I learned that South Africa's Bureau for State Security (incorrectly called BOSS by most non-Afrikaans speakers), which took over from military intelligence in 1969, was !@#$ corrupt and nasty. So much so that, when ABWEHR went looking for partners, they fit right in.
And then I learned something else. Something a !@#$ of a lot worse.
You see, every time we caught some Supercommie, we always tried to get as much intel out of them, even if it meant asking them questions about things we had no reason to think they'd know about. They could talk freely, or under "extraordinary interrogation techniques," or we'd just say !@#$ it and pull the N-Machine out.
But wouldn't you know that none of them had ever heard of this Skaduwee fellow? Not a one of them, except for one guy who laughed and told us that he had heard of him, but didn't know him, and never would.
"Why is that, you Supercommie !@#$?" We asked, shaking the N-machine leads in his bloodied face.
"Because he doesn't exist, you dumb capitalist !@#$," he replied: "Skaduwee is South African Military Intelligence's 'Herr Niemand.' Mr. Nobody, as you say. Your boogeyman. They bring him out when they need to blame something on someone, or engage in strongman tactics that are disguised as legal retaliation for crimes that never happened.
"Do you see? He was not born, has never died. He has been made from the air and a rumor. You believe in him because it makes sense for there to be such a man, but he exists only in your mind, in the absence of truth. A shadow!"
You could have picked me up off the !@#$ floor, son.
A little more digging and cross-checking and I knew what had happened. The CIA had fed me dog!@#$%, right from the start. They'd been right that Mandela been a commie sympathizer, and a would-be saboteur, but he wasn't about to hand the keys to the state over to the USSR and blow up schoolbuses for Khrushchev. He had a lot more respect for his own country than that, certainly more humanity.
And he was no fool, either. Which is more than you could have said about yours truly. I mean, I don't like commies, either. But there's degrees of commiedom. There's the edges where you could come back from, and maybe he could have, given time.
But the CIA didn't want to give him time. They didn't want to take the risk. What's one more dead, black Commie in Africa?
So they'd gotten Mandela sent to jail in the first place, and then helped Military Intelligence set The COMPANY up to be the executioners. That way, if word ever got out that they'd performed an extrajudicial execution on Mandela, they could blame it on the Americans. And since the CIA didn't want the mess on their hands, they decided they'd let The COMPANY take the rap.
In other words, I'd been played like a !@#$ fiddle, and the only people who'd been decent enough to tell me the !@#$ truth, MI-6, had their envoys sent back to London full of bullets, spittle, and !@#$. There was no way we could take that back.
And how do you unshoot someone? How do you reverse your assassination? How do you give a life back after you've taken it for no good reason?
Yes, son, that's all !@#$ rhetorical. You don't. You can't unpull the trigger and bring your victims back to life. The best you can do is make amends, best as you can, and make a vow not to be used like a puppet again.
That and get a little revenge. Hence the fall of Apartheid in the early 80's, which could have been a lot bloodier and nastier except that certain, unknown elements kept some things from happening as they could have, and possibly should have. Except where certain members of BOSS were concerned, of course.
But no one knows about that but me and a few COMPANY Agents, many of whom are either dead or retired by now. And then me, of course, but I'm not telling.
And then there's BUSH, of course. They knew what happened. They've always known. There's always been that little chip on the shoulder when they deal with America, and a massive block of Douglas Fir on both shoulders when they deal with The COMPANY.
They've wanted to find a way to pay us back for it since they declared victory over South Africa, and put their headquarters there. Obviously they could go after the CIA, but that'd be a bad thing, after all the help America's given them over the years since Apartheid went down in flames.
But me? Oh, sure. Caution be !@#$ in the !@#$ like a circus geek on speed. I killed one of their greatest martyrs, and while they can't broadcast it to the world, they can try to make me pay for it.
Which means the death of those two kids is all because they wanted to lure me into a trap. And they were actually willing to risk angering Israel to do it, too, which means they're around the !@#$ bend, now. If they're bold enough, and !@#$ dumb enough, to do that, then who knows what they'll do next? Or where?
Which is why I have to deal with them. Here and now, harshly and finally. I have to show them they don't get to do !@#$ like that to me or mine.
And I have to be me when I do it, too, so we're in a holding pattern until then. But there's Tusker to drink and bad television to watch, and hopefully better plans to make. And hopefully this downtime will give me the chance to make a good apology to poor Randolph, who's been bearing the brunt of my misplaced blame and anger for far too !@#$ long, now.
I can't unshoot a bullet, but I can take back ugly words, spoken before I knew all the facts. I just hope he's in the mood to listen.
(I also hope the man snake's not going to be a woman snake for too much longer. These !@#$ hormones are making me weepy, and there's nothing more pathetic than crying your non-existent eyes out while apologizing.)
(SPYGOD is listening to King of Rome (The Pet Shop Boys) and having yet more Tusker)