I remember, years ago, back when they were getting ready to drop me and the other Camp Rogers folks into Europe, that I wasn't entirely sure about the plan. I think I might have actually been ballsy enough to raise my hand during the debriefing when we were asked if there were any questions, and ask who the !@#$ thought this one up, Donald !@#$ Duck?
(And, no, son, I didn't actually put it that way. It's what I was thinking, but it wasn't what I said. Yours truly did not have the bones nor the moxie to dare question a superior officer in that manner in those days. That only came later, after Korea.)
You know what my superior told me? He said "The plan's the plan, soldier. They wrote it, we've got it, and you're doing it. I expect you all to follow all orders within that plan to the letter, up until the moment they don't work, anymore. And then I expect each and every one of you to amaze me by making the mission work, anyway. Because you are the best, and I expect nothing but the best from you."
One of my many regrets from the War is that the superior officer in question didn't live to see that mission work. He took a bullet to the head somewhere outside of Paris, and, not having been remade into the same, sterner stuff as his soldiers, did not survive the experience. But we soldiered on, and, in spite of the many twists and turns the plan took between imagination and implementation (like what to do if you actually !@#$ kill Adolph Hitler on the way) we won through to Berlin, as ordered.
I always try to remember that little humbling moment at sea when I stride down the airway and give everyone their marching orders. I try to set fire to hearts and minds, and make anyone who isn't sure about what we're doing, and when, and how, sure enough about the overall mission, and their role in it. I may have the path to the finish line marked out, but I sell them on the !@#$ finish line over all other things.
That way, if something goes totally pooch!@#$ wrong, and we have to improvise under fire, they'll feel empowered to change the !@#$ dance steps in such a way that they can not only survive the floor with their dates, but go on to get the dreamed-of handjob in the backseat, and still have him or her home before dad comes looking for them both with a shotgun in one hand, a chainsaw in the other, and murder on his mind.
(No, son, I didn't date in High School. Why do you ask?)
So there I was, a couple hours ago, giving that same speech I've given hundreds of times, for ops big and small. I told them that we had to do this. We had to do this for America, for the world. We had to do this for the President and the people. We had to do this for the victims -- past, present, and future.
And we had to do this because it was only right and good to live in a world were crazy mother!@#$ who think they can rule it, whether through fear or love, and didn't want to take "no" for an answer, were denied the opportunity to stomp on our rights to say "no."
I gave that speech. I !@#$ aced that speech. If I'd nailed it any harder, I'd have hit the ball into !@#$ orbit and given someone a full magazine of home runs at the World !@#$ Series.
And they looked at me like I was on drugs.
Now, to be fair, I am on drugs. But no more or less than usual. Drunk, too, but, again, this is nothing new or shocking. I've given that !@#$ speech ten sheets to the wind with tissues shoved up my nose to keep the Martian Cocaine from leaping out of it and going airborne, for !@#$ sake. Why would this be any different?
Why should it?
But there they all were, saying "yes, sir!" and "no, sir" and "!@#$ GORGON in the !@#$ with a big rubber !@#$ full of plastic explosive, sir!" with their mouths, when they weren't drinking the Chateau Adolph with them, while giving me that look with their eyes.
You know that look, son. It's the same look you give the crazy guy standing outside the subway, wearing a tin foil hat, new sneakers, soiled underwear, and !@#$ nothing else as he tries to tell you about how women from Venus stole his penis and turned it into a coin purse for Buddha.
(Of course he's !@#$ nuts. There are no women on Venus, and the near-immortal crab people who live there have no space travel capabilities or understanding of the superfine nuances of Buddhism. I think they think they're Jewish, somehow, but no one's been able to !@#$ explain that to me.)
So yeah, son. We're standing there just before the big op, my people think I'm nuts, and when I said dismissed I got no whoops, no applause, and no great big "America, !@#$ yeah!" I got the quietest march off deck I've had since the last funeral we had up here, leaving me cold, alone, and no longer enthusiastic drunk but very disappointed and worried drunk.
Also pretty !@#$ cold. Chinese Silk is not meant for Pacific winds.
What went wrong? That's a good !@#$ question, son. I wish I knew the answer.
Maybe it was the way the lights kept flickering on and off on the flight deck as I strode up and down it, preaching the word. Or how the stabilizers on the left side kept !@#$ faltering in strong winds, and giving everyone the sense of vertigo in the split second before the right side kicked into overdrive to compensate. Or the way the main guns kept clicking on and off, like a cartoon skull clacking its bony teeth on someone's !@#$ butt.
(No, we still don't know what's causing these random !@#$ malfunctions, and it's starting to really !@#$. Me. Off.)
Maybe it's the plan, itself. Like NAZISMASH, it's a series of feints that eventually come together at the end to form a single, big !@#$ kick to the jimmy. Unlike NAZISMASH, we have no idea where we're going, or exactly what we'll find when we get down there, except that, courtesy of Atlantean intelligence, there is something big going on at a secondary juncture of those huge, submerged tunnels.
Hopefully it's not a breeding ground for those Deros that Underman keeps going on about, or this is gonna be a short !@#$ trip. But I have confidence that we are going in the right direction, here. Confidence backed up by more firepower than I have ever brought to bear on anything, including the last time we got !@#$ invaded by something smart enough to get past Deep-Ten.
(Well, okay. Confidence and some insider intel from The Dragon, who's been kind enough to inform me about what the Chinese know. I guess GORGON made some inroads there, recently. Who would have guessed?)
Speaking of Deep-Ten, maybe it was the fact that, some time prior to having that speech, I finally got through to Director Straffer to talk strategy and a little personal business. As anticipated, he was happy to help if needed, though he didn't think it would be, given that GORGON tends to keep its nose on the ground. And, as anticipated, I got the brushoff.
It was something of a !@#$ relief. I was not looking forward to telling him that The Dragon and I were an item, now, and I didn't know I was going to explain what had happened.
In reality, this has been a long time coming. But it could also be perceived as me being a !@#$ stereotypical gay man and going from !@#$hole to !@#$hole like a frog leaping from lily pad to lily pad. If you didn't know any better, it would look like, since he hadn't gotten back to me, my feelings had been hurt, and I went with what made me feel better.
Straffer? He just smiles like a choirboy, tells me he already knew, and says that he'd realized it wouldn't work. We're too far apart physically and too close to each other in position for this to have been a good idea.
"But it was nice while it lasted?" I asked.
He paused for a second, as if thinking of the right !@#$ thing to say, and then smiled and said "It was, yes. It was the best dinner date I've ever had, and one of the best desserts."
"I felt the same way," I said: "I'm sorry it couldn't have been more."
"So am I. So why don't we just leave it at that?" He offered, smiling at me again. That smile. The one I can't say no to.
And I said sure, let's. And he said goodbye and good luck. And I said thanks, we'll take all the luck we can get. And that was that. Static, carrier signal, my reflection in a dark screen.
I'm not ashamed to say I went back to my quarters and !@#$ Dragon non-stop for a full hour after that. I pounded his hips into the !@#$ wall until we left a dent in there, and then I let him return the favor with interest. I broke most of my new furniture and left holes in the walls. I kissed him so hard it's a wonder I didn't pull his lungs out of his mouth.
And you know what I felt when I was sitting on the edge of the bed, afterwards, one hand on that nice, tight !@#$ of his and one holding the cigarette I was smoking?
Not a !@#$ thing.
I loved this man when we were fighting tooth and claw across the world. I wanted him when he was on the other side, and then the same side but not quite within reach. I wanted him when he was locked down like a pro-democracy activist and unable to get normal letters like normal people.
Now I have the man I loved and I wanted, here with me. And all I feel is that I want to !@#$ him, again. Just that and nothing more.
This isn't love. This was never love. I chased a devil for so long I mistook the hunt for the trophy. And now all I've got is a strategically useful man in my bed.
Meanwhile, the man I actually, really was falling in love with is literally millions of miles away, having decided that distance and political realities were more important than the fact that, when I was with him, I felt more alive than I had in decades. And I thought he felt that way, too, but he didn't, and now I know.
And it hurts worse than fire.
"SPYGOD knows all." Bull!@#$, son. SPYGOD knows nothing.
Nothing at all.
Faced with that snapshot of an empty and broken soul, I went out and tried to rally the troops. So maybe it's no wonder I fell flat on my face. Maybe they saw past the silk and the eyepatch and the fake !@#$ eye and bravado and implicit threats.
Maybe they knew what I'm just now admitting to myself, here, in a rare moment of total, gray sobriety. I got nothing.
Never !@#$ have.
Dr. Yesterday's on the horn, now. He's got something to tell me about the nanotech swarm we put The Flier back together with. I bet he's going to try and blow sunshine up my !@#$ about how the process (his process, since it's his nanotech) is a little erratic at first, but will eventually settle down. It's just like new regenerations on Doctor Who, he'll say.
You don't want to !@#$ know what I'm going to tell him in return. It won't be pleasant, to say the least. But hopefully the sting will get him to get his !@#$ in gear and get this tub fixed in time for the operation.
Saying I've stuck my neck out for this one is putting it mildly. Nothing can !@#$ go wrong with this. There's too much riding on it. America. The World. The Presidency. The COMPANY.
My fine, gay !@#$, however caught in stupid gay love drama bull!@#$ that it is.
Do I dare pray, here? Who do I !@#$ pray to? This world has more !@#$ gods than it knows what to do with, sometimes.
World, you owe me a favor.
Gods I don't care to worship because I know what you !@#$ look like, you need to come down and make yourselves !@#$ evident.
God I do know exists, if only because I've been led along by your !@#$ workers and chatted up by your disgruntled former employees, this is one of those times we're both on the same !@#$ side. Have some pity for this wayward son and his sloppy attempts to keep the world safe and sane. I won't promise anything because they'll turn to dust before I'm even done celebrating the victory, but let's at least come to a !@#$ gentleman's agreement that it would be really !@#$ bad if we lost, tomorrow.
Past that, I got nothing. And maybe you've known it, all along, but now I do, too.
So let's get through this fight for truth, justice, and the American !@#$ way, and maybe then I'll have something, again.
(SPYGOD is listening to Seven Nation Army (White Stripes, Glitch Mob remix) and having a stale, flat Tsingtao)