“I had three days until I would be mundified of the title Chief of Atypical Casual Agency. In a nutshell it means the guy in charge of weird crap. I, for one, will be glad to be rid of it.”
The two officers glanced at each other, waiting for the older man sitting before them to continue. The old man, in his well worn black suit and tie and white dress shirt, regarded them sternly before continuing his explanation.
“I could tell you stories about alien invasions, or runic scrolls concealing the cure for cancer, or the true insidious purpose of Facebook. I could tell you, but if I did I would have to get the light pen and wipe your memory.” He paused only for a second, possibly hoping for a reaction, but apparently unwilling to wait for one. “I am just kidding, there’s no pen light, just a guy with a flashlight and optical forceps to slide behind your eyeball and scramble up your brains a bit. You won’t necessarily forget everything but you’ll spend long hours mussitating seemingly wild stories that no one can understand or even care enough to listen.
“About seventy-two hours is what I had left at my post and I had one final assignment to complete. Over the years I had gained quite the reputation of getting things done, so I was not leaving my final task to the next jack-a-lope assigned to fill my size eleven black Oxfords.”
“Yes, sir, but I wonder if-” the officer on the left interjected.
“That sort of procacity may fly in your department but you can shut your damn face until it is your turn to talk, son!” The old man interrupted. “Now where was I? My final assignment came down coded Jade-Ocean’s Eleven.”
The old man waved a dismissive hand in the air. “I know that means nothing to you, but trust me, it’s a pretty high priority on the color-movie assignment classification system. Earlier that year I had wrapped up a Violet-Color Purple assignment in two days.
“What I am about to divulge is never to be repeated, hell, you better not even dream about it. And if you do, you should promptly shoot yourself with your service revolver because your life won’t be worth the toilet you crap in.”
“Got it,” the officer on the left acknowledged.
“The assignment involved temporal terrorists plotting to alter the cardinal time-stream by killing the U.S. President’s beagle. You boys seem to be on the smart side of stupid, but you need to understand that time alteration is a subtle and complex deviltry. A seemingly insignificant event in time, if altered after its primary occurrence, can ripple up the time-stream making larger, more significant alterations in subsequent events.
“Let me give you an example, back in late `79, a fellow named Tumblesky Tomas was deftly manipulated into spectacularly falling during his tightrope performance at a circus in Huntsville, Alabama. The funambulist’s accident and impact point was precisely designed to strike and kill an audience member named Martin Keenly.
“Mr. Keenly’s sister, Fay Harding, grieving and distraught, returns to her home unannounced. She discovers her husband, Jorge Harding, in a romantic entanglement with their neighbor, Gladys Gordon.
“Mrs. Gordon’s husband, William Gordon, learns about the indiscretion from housewife gossip and over-the-shrubs networking and pummels Mr. Harding who misses a week and a half of work as leader of the Solid Rocket Booster Project for the Space Shuttle Program.
“During this time, three memos are placed on his desk regarding a malfunctioning, possibly catastrophic, O-ring. Upon his return, Mr. Harding’s secretary and another of his lovers, Bunny McMasters, in a fit of jealous fury, sweeps all of Harding’s desk’s contents, memos and all, to the floor and are never read. The malfunctioning O-ring is never addressed and forgotten. Seven years later the Space Shuttle Challenger explodes due to the faulty O-rings referenced in Harding’s unread memo.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that, do you think we -” muttered one of the officers. The old man interrupted him with a single commanding finger to indicate silence then continued speaking.
“It is the informed opinions of my office that in the unaltered cardinal time-stream of events, funambulist Tumblesky does not fall, thus the ensuing events never occur. There is ample, extremely classified information - Yellow-Old Yeller designation, that The Challenger would have encountered a Grost Starcruiser, and an Earth-Grost Alliance would have been formed resulting in the overthrow of the Mandricle Empire.
“Having no idea how future events would unfold if the President’s dog, Rascal, was terminated, I could not ignore the death threats. Because it was my final assignment, I decided to handle this directly. It is obvious to me, as I am sure it is to both of you, the only course of action was a covert procurement and protective custody detail.
“I ordered two ACA agents to accompany me to the White House to obtain and conceal Rascal until the threat was neutralized. And, that gentlemen, is that last thing I remember before finding myself here, on a park bench in New York’s Central Park with little time remaining to complete my assignment.
“I’d determined that betrayal from within my own ranks had occurred and my only option was the acquisition of local assets. So, you officers will accompany me to Laguardia, and make arrangements to get us to Reagan National ASAP.”
The old man thrust himself from the park bench. “Which way to your RMP?”
Officers James and Ezrell shared an unspoken agreement on their next course of action that only came from years of experience as partners. Officer Ezrell led the old man to the police car while Officer James quietly spoke into his portable radio. “Dispatch, CP19, 10-87 to Bellevue for psychiatric eval.”
The old man refused to supply his name to either officer but remained calm until he realized they were driving in the wrong direction. As he was handed off to the hospital staff, the old man chastised, cursed and threatened death to both officers. Neither officer noticed the waiting room television’s breaking news story about the sudden, mysterious death of Rascal.