CIA Headquarters, Somewhere in Northern Virginia
“Have a seat,” said Director Kramer.
“Is this a test, Sir?”
“Test? What kind of foolishness is that? There is no testing done at this office.”
“But Sir,” said Agent Newsome Newsome, “you just offered me a seat, yet…”
“Spit it out,” said Kramer.
“There’s no chairs.”
“You display a firm grasp of the obvious, Agent Newsome. That’s why you’re the perfect agent for this assignment.”
“Yes, about that. I was just told to report to your office. Actually, a little drone bird told me. It also told me that I would have to deny everything that may or may not have occurred in your office and to swallow all evidence. The bird was very insistent on that last point.”
“Have you been smoking the funny tobacco, son?”
“No Sir. I self-tested myself this morning before I reported to your office and I am clear of all stimulants, tranquilizers, antidepressants or the funny ‘baccy. I am so clean you could eat off me. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”
“Now listen,” said Kramer. “Are you comfortable? Cozy? How’s that floor working out for you?”
“It’s hard and um, slippery at the same time, Sir.”
“Good.” Kramer settled down on the floor next to Newsome. They both looked up at Kramer’s desk.
“Kind of gives you a different perspective, doesn’t it?”
Kramer sighed with irritation. “Obviously I am talking about the burden of leadership. Talking down to people all the time gives a man a false sense of security. Yet–are you taking this all in?”
“Because you look very distracted.”
“The little bird told me there would be a test as well, Sir.”
“Dammit to Christ Peanut, how many times do I need to emphasize, that little bird was probably out of his mind on bath salts! What I need from you now is total concentration on the task at hand. Together, you and I will meditate on the burdens of leadership in a postmodern age, when the very notion of ‘security’ itself has been thoroughly deconstructed.”
“I’m not sure I follow, Sir.”
Kramer swatted Newsome like a little bitch.
“I am talking about leadership, son, not following. You’ve followed enough. I’m grooming you to be my successor. To achieve summits of secrecy you probably didn’t realize existed. You will have to become—like him.” Kramer pointed to a large, framed picture of Billy Cosby that hung over his desk.
“Bill Cosby? The pudding guy?”
“I will have you know that Dr. Cosby is one of our finest assets. When we first subjected him to extreme interrogation techniques back in ’94, he just laughed and started singing an old negro spiritual. He said it tickled. Newsome, we were employing state-of-the-art mindfuck mechanics to his testicles and he actually giggled!”
“You tortured Bill Cosby? But why?”
“We had to. We suspected at the time that he had turned and become a quadruple agent, spending half his time in a quantum state of indeterminacy, and the other half subdivided into several roles in reality shows never meant for television. And then…you’ve heard of Zeno’s paradox?”
“Of course, Sir. That’s where all time is subdivided into tiny, tiny increments. Anything approaching a target will have half that time remaining at all times, so that, at least in theory, nothing ever quite gets there.”
“Ineptly put, but pretty much on the money. Newsome, we had to interrogate Cosby’s entire TV family. Lord, you should have heard them screeching and moaning that they were just actors and they knew nothing about politics—except that Lisa Bonet. She’s still in custody, but for other reasons. I just think she’s a hottie.”
“Wait…are you saying…”
“The implications are ominous, but you’ll need to articulate them, son. Spit it out.”
“Are you saying that Dr. Cosby is the arch-criminal mastermind who turned Operation Pudding Spooks into an infinitely recursive psych war?”
“You, Agent Newsome, have hit the jackpot. Which is why before we proceed any further, you’ll need some hard, Bizarro interrogation. Samantha?”
“Oh shit,” said Newsome. “Please don’t set Samantha The Wolverine Bitch of Dachau on me.”
And so it goes.