As much as I hate Havana (and boy, do I ever !@#$ing hate Havana) I have to be honest: it does have a marvelous !@#$ing sunrise.
I slipped into the Gulf just after dawn, this morning, and came back out again just before Noon. I must have swam halfway to Miami and back, ignoring the warning buoys and evading the sorry coastal patrol that Comrade Fidel uses to keep people from leaving his island paradise.
(It helps when you don't have to breathe all that often.)
What was I doing? Well, son, you remember what I'm here for, and just make some educated guesses. It's enough to know I made it there and back, isn't it?
The beachside hotel we're staying at is cheap, blissfully anonymous, and has a decent chunk of sand and surf associated with it. The food's not great, but it's close to a few decent, cheap places that'll take care of that little problem. And, best of all, the owner's a scumbag I have !@#$ing afraid for his life, which means nothing we do will be reported to anyone.
The bad news? Well, you'll note I just referred to the manager as a scumbag. Part of that scumbagginess is his willing to cater to certain types of Continental scum, most notably the sort who are interested in Havana's sleazier side attractions.
You know the kind I'm talking about. The lobby is peppered with young girls dressed much older than they should be, all hanging out close to the hotel's disaster of a restaurant. And there's no question what they're doing there.
When I say young, son, I'm not being generous. One of them was 13 if she was a day. And if you point this out to the fat greasy stain of a front desk manager, he waves a hand and gives you that look.
You know that look. The one that says "I can't be bothered to care."
Ah, Havana. I could spend years here, exploring every single !@#$ing crack and corner, and never ever fully list all the things I !@#$ing hate about this place.
No, really, son. This place is a !@#$hole. It was a !@#$hole before the revolution, when the mob was running it. It was a lethal !@#$hole during and after the revolution. And it's a !@#$hole now, too, only a little less deadly.
I can see why the Eurotrash like it, though. There's a sense of timelessness brought on by invisible poverty and a lack of civic pride. If you're European and you got money, and you want to get on a plane for vacation, you go to Monaco or Dubai. If you don't, there's places like Cuba, where nice decor, Spanish charm, and the sort of well-policed streets that only a fascist state can provide meets travel on the cheap.
Other than the food and beer, which can be pretty !@#$ good, I'd really rather be somewhere else. But then we're not here for the tourism, are we? No we are not. We are here to hide the !@#$ out while the plan comes together.
A plan that's hit some bumps... at least so the others think.
No, son. Things are not quite what they seem, right now. And, no, I'm not going to !@#$ing give it all away. Just be patient and all will eventually make itself clear.
I'm having a beer on my room's veranda, right now, watching the Sun come down. The doc's up in his room, reading his Bible and freaking the !@#$ out after yesterday. Chinmoku and Whisper are in her room, down the hall, talking about certain things while communicating other things in what is most likely sign language.
(We had a separate discussion, the three of us, about certain things when I got back from my swim. To say it changes some things is a !@#$ing understatement. So they have lots to talk about.)
Ernest? He's in my bathtub, full of Pabst and tied up. Every so often I go in there, yank the gag out of his mouth, and make him explain the plan to me. If he forgets something I put a match out between his toes. He's doing a super job of remembering, I have to say.
That leaves Gilligan. Otherwise known as Crazyface.
He's sitting in his room, looking at the mask. Listening to it whisper to him. Show him things.
Terrible, beautiful things.
He's been sick about three times today, thinking about all the horrible things he did back at my place in Key West. And every time he throws up he thinks about how badly he wants to put the !@#$ing thing back on and do it again.
It's like a drug, really. Just like !@#$ing heroin. You know it's going to make you jumpy, sweaty, sick, unable to eat, limp as a dead fish, and likely to blow a half ton of liquid !@#$ out your ass. But once you've got that nasty, slimy monkey wormed into you like a bot fly, you'll suffer all !@#$ and more just to get the bliss that the rush brings you.
That's where he's at, right now: staring at his fix and counting the seconds until he can be allowed to have it.
He's strong enough to wait until tomorrow. I know that, or I wouldn't have picked him for the mission. Or at least that's what I keep !@#$ing telling myself, and hoping it's true.
For all our sakes, he has to hold on.
And while I listen in on him, down there, whispering to his mask and remembering all the good, bloody times they've had together, I think about how much of what I do is all about keeping people like him from happening.
You know about the water, by now, but I'm talking about something different. I'm talking about what happens when ordinary humans get their hands on something horrifically !@#$ing powerful that has no business being seen by us, let alone used.
I mean, look at The Chamber. !@#$ing supernazis get their hands on that thing, and next thing you know they're stripmining it for alien tech. Then we wind up with sick regimes of cloning and a mommy shoggoth.
There's the Object, too. I have the bad feeling that's about to blow up in our faces, soon, if it hasn't already.
As for me, well, there's The Chandra Eye. I had no real !@#$ing idea what it would do to me when I put it in, except that I'd be using it to save the world. And I did, but good !@#$ing Jesus what has it done to me? Every time I turn around I find out I have some new !@#$ing superpower that I don't know what to do with, yet.
And immortality. Wrap your head around that for a minute, son. I'm going to live forever, unless some !@#$ing schmuck finds a way to actually kill me. Never grow any older. Lose all my friends and lovers, and family if I ever have any.
And yeah, I can keep making more friends and family, but once you've seen your children grow old and die, and then your !@#$ing grandchildren do the same thing, it puts you off the whole !@#$ing idea.
(Not that I know from personal experience. But I have a few long-lived friends, and got to hold their hands and cry with them when it happened. You have no idea how bad that was.)
But what happens if I take it out? What will they do with it? And by "they" I mean scientists and politicians, not to mention any crazy !@#$hole who wants to break into whatever vault they throw it into and take it for themselves.
This is the problem, you see. It's like with nukes or biological weapons. Once you make them, you can't unmake them. You're stuck with them. You have to learn to live with them.
And that means you have to do a whole lot of !@#$ work making sure that people who don't deserve them don't get their hands on them. That's a lot of the COMPANY's remit, right there. Making sure that objects that can turn an ordinary person into a strategic talent don't get handed out like candy to any freak who happens to find them lying around.
Our friend in the room down the way being a case in point. Poor guy was normal, near as anyone could tell. Just another schlub who did his job, loved his wife, brought home the bacon. Might have had 1.5 kids and a dog with a suitably onomotopoeic name for all we know.
(Maybe a lazily evil cat with a deceptively childish handle, not unlike yours truly.)
But then he was in the wrong place at the right time, and the mask found him. Now... well, it's a good day when we can keep him from putting it on. And it's also a good day when we can get him to put it on just long enough to do what we need him to do, and then get him to take it back off again before he kills the wrong people by accident on purpose.
Containment, pure and simple. We try and give a purpose to people we can reason with, and either put controls on the people that aren't inclined to play along, or lock them down until they'll play, or we find a way to control them. Sometimes that never happens, and we've got the prisons to back it up.
That's what this mission is really all about, son. Finding something that couldn't play along, and getting it into the hands of the people who need it. That and a few other, strategic issues... but we'll deal with them when they happen, day after tomorrow.
That leaves me just eight days to deal with this Ides of March !@#$. Cutting it pretty tight, really. But I can do it. I'm positive I can do this.
As long as everyone else plays their part, and knows their cues.
Speaking of which, I think the person I hired to deal with the little problem downstairs just pulled up out front. Let's see if he leaves a few of the Johns living or gets cute. I can never tell with this guy.
(SPYGOD is listening to Single-Bilingual (Pet Shop Boys) and having a Bucanero Max)