It occurs to me, readers, that I may have left y’all somewhat confused there at the end, though that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. While it’s true I haven’t used a good Sixty-Three recently, I am still known for doing confusing things to people’s ends. To be more specific, I meant to reference the statement by the President that I needed to pull off a heist. I didn’t argue with him at the time though I later wondered what he would say to the obscene amounts of money I had stolen in my escape from Empyreal City.
It may not matter, and that’s fine. I suppose y’all have gathered that the President is an interesting fellow with a low tolerance for tension and a high tolerance for alcohol. It just so happens that he’s the sort of person I understand. To say I like him would be a bit of a stretch, but then I don’t pass judgment on people that often.
Well, that sort of judgment. If you think in terms of death sentences, I pass judgment on people all the time, and isn’t that the most important judgment I can make about a person anyway? So, suffice to say my view of the man’s state of mind is neither here nor precisely there. Maybe a step to your left, readers. And lean back. Throw your hand in the air. Now shout “Ole!”
See? Look at you, acting strange like that. You’re in no position to call him crazy. I can suggest a good one for that, if you’re feeling gullible.
Hey, don’t feel bad. They’re just words. No doubt you’ve all heard the cliche: sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Quite a phrase, and one usually spoken by the same sort who believes money can’t buy happiness and guns don’t kill people. Nevertheless, the wrong words to someone rich enough to rent the services of a man with a fondness for guns that do kill people can, in fact, hurt you.
Which brings us back the President, who needed my services. I clarified that when he met me yesterday. I suppose I’d gotten his attention when he walked in and found me reclining naked on a table, bawling, with a book in my hand. He walked in, flanked by a pair of women with dark suits and light rifles.
While stereotypical female bodyguards are frowned upon in the U.S., dictators are often fond of surrounding themselves by women trained in murder and obedience. The Athena Academy makes a tidy profit providing them. Right then, they put that training to good use by pointing their guns at me.
Proper gun usage dictates that you never point a gun at anyone unless you’re going to shoot them. Also, don’t shoot someone unless you’re prepared to kill them. So, basically, they announced to me that they were going to kill me. I did what any reasonable person would do when confronted with that knowledge and threw a severed head at each of them, then jumped at them. I can’t speak to the quality of their training, but most instructors don’t teach confrontation with naked people who just threw heads at you.
They reacted poorly in that they missed me before the President grabbed their guns and yelled “Stop!”
I did too, mainly because I didn’t plan to kill anyone. I skidded to a halt as well. “Heya there, President.”
“You are fine now?” he asked, motioning to my naked body and the dead soldiers throughout the rest of the barracks.
“Yeah, yeah…just one thing led to another,” I looked back. The man who handed me the bottle had been killed by the drink when I beat his head in with a whiskey bottle.
“You are nude,” the President said.
“You need better air conditioning in these barracks. It’s hard to live in this heat.”
“Why do you cry?” He sounded genuinely concerned about that.
I pointed back to where I left the book on the table. “One of my favorite authors died recently and it didn’t really sink in until I read one of his books.”
“The tea set?” he asked, indicating the little pink and white set off to the side.
I shrugged. “Who said that was mine?”
The President walked over and picked up one of the cups, then showed it to me. “It has your name on it.”
“How rude of me. Would you care for a cup?” I smiled.
He set it down like it had something gross on it. “Now that I have dealt with more pressing matters, we will discuss the job you will do for me. I can wait until you put on clothes.”
“More pressing matters? What kept you, a trip to the dry cleaners?” I asked as I fetched up my pants.
“I received another camel from one of my trade partners and it broke loose. It ran wild for days.” He shook his head, chuckling to himself.
“You had to attend to that personally? Is anyone who works for you capable of doing things by themselves?”
The President reached inside his coat for a cigar, but one of his bodyguards took it from him. He glanced at her, indignant, but let it slide. “It ran into the rum distillery.”
“Ah, that explains many things.” I nodded knowingly, throwing open soldiers’ footlockers to check for anything nice to wear for a top.
“That is why my doctor says I shouldn’t smoke now. It was very strong rum and a lot of it is still on my breath. Where is your shirt?”
“Right…” I threw open the footlocker belonging to the big burly guy I’d killed who had a light machine gun tattooed on his arm. Reaching inside, I drew out the first thing I could see. “Here!” It was a pink shoulderless shirt with the word Princess across the front of it.
“I won’t ask,” the Pres said.
“He won’t tell,” I responded, tossing it aside and checking the next locker. Bingo! I slipped on a purple velvet jacket with tiger fur on the collar and trim. Somebody had one hell of a second job. I pulled out a cane as well and checked out the chrome skull topper with the diamond eyes. “Alright, I can give you awhile to talk, but I’m gonna need to take payment in cash.”
We took a stroll along the nearby beach. “How are the assassins doing?” I asked him, enjoying a sunset surrounded by women in bikinis and open sightlines for snipers.
“If they were good assassins, they would have shot me by now. I won’t be controlled by fear.” He stopped to admire he beautiful, artworthy sight in front of him. The drying swimmer started to cover up until one of the bodyguards twitched her gun.
The beach made an invigorating scene, with people playing volleyball. Others were getting anxious. The sun was setting. “Good philosophy. It seems money still has value to you. I actually can pay for your expenses getting that stuff for me, and the enrichment process. So if this is about money, a heist is unnecessary.”
The President finally dismissed his eye candy and we kept walking along the sand, kicking up sand I’ll probably still be finding next year. It’s a form of teleportation, I tell ya. Granular particulate nonlinear transportation, which functions according to convenience. When disturbed from its most convenient location on a beach, sand attempts to balance out the equation by transporting to the least convenient location on the person who did the disturbing.
“Here.” The Pres waved up one of his guards. She brought him a tablet. After tapping on it a few times, he brought up several pictures, including of a specific man. “This man is an former associate of mine. We went to school together. He visited me once and wished to start his own personal utopia. He wanted a land where no government would restrict him and his peers from enjoying the fruits of labor. He sabotaged the mines on one of my islands and incited the people, arguing that private ownership of the mines would take better care of them. This created problems for me, until my men uncovered his hand. For good measure, I had men investigate his interests in South America. As it happens, my miners did not approve of private ownership after this.”
I looked over a picture of the guy. “He got away though. Revenge time?”
“Yes, but I do not want him dead. I want him hurt.” He tapped the screen, bringing up what looked like a stock market graph. “He did not give up on his dream, so he opened a market for Fakecoins.”
Ah, Fakecoins. Some time back, some people on the internet didn’t trust money issued by governments, so they decided to make their own currency. It isn’t legal tender anywhere, has no backing, and doesn’t physically exist, but you could pay for it with other valuable legal tender and say you owned these Fakecoins.
“A Fakecoin exchange, huh? How much did he scam people out of?” Before the uninformed get to bitchin’, that wasn’t meant to be insulting. It’s just that ‘scam’ is the future tense of ‘Fakecoin exchange’.
“More than $200,000,000 American.”
“Wow, he is an overachiever, isn’t he? What’s this leading up to?”
“They can’t follow the money electronically. I believe he transferred the Fakecoins to a private server off the network and is transporting it to his new base of operations.” Here he brought up images of what looked like a hotel sitting on the ocean. Then the image changed to a cargo ship. “I have people who can research things, too. This is his personal freighter. He sends whiskey around the world to age it, and this way no one asks questions about anything else he ships. It is on the way to his new utopia and must pass close by. You will hijack the server and let him know it was me. Oh. Bring me his whiskey, too.”
“Doesn’t sound too difficult. I’m going to need a boat, though.” I stopped, watching as something light up the increasingly dark sky. Something other than all the lights of civilization. The night is very bright anywhere near human habitation.
“I have arranged for a ship to carry you.” He waved his hand toward the growing light created by a flaming sail on an old-fashioned pirate ship.
“I think I know the guy. So you got me and Captain Flamebeard for a simple cargo ship, huh? Anything else you want to tell me?” Ok, so a simple speed boat probably wouldn’t have carried back all the whiskey, but that’s why you get a bigger boat. That, and they come in handy when dealing with uncharacteristically persistent sharks that enjoy the taste of license plates.
“I do not know what the defenses will be. Some armament is needed to avoid pirates of lawless Somalia, but he is one of the men who buy tanks and cannons in case they need to fight their own countrymen. I can not narrow down what he will have, but I will not send too few men and complain later. I am sending overkill and will complain about the cost later. That is why I have also contacted these men.”
We turned toward the interior of the island and the President clapped his hands. Out of the sand and beach fauna popped a dozen men in bright yellow pajamas with Chinese lettering on their belts. They resembled ninjas, kinda. “That’s one hell of a clapper you got there,” I told the Pres.
“These ninjas will assist you in the ship raid,” he said.
The ninjas gave a cry, some in Mandarin and some in Cantonese. The President leaned in and whispered to me, “I could not afford Japanese ninjas. These Chinese knockoffs should do the job. They will not expose my secrets. I have been assured by the man I bought them from that they have suicide pills full of lead.”
So it looks like I’ll be working with cheap Chinese-produced knockoffs full of lead.
“Speaking of expendable minions, you seen Moai and Carl lately?” I asked the President.
“According to my secret police, they are enjoying the casino. You should relax as well. It will be some days before the cargo ship passes close enough to strike. Get your nose out of books. Enjoy the sunlight.” He swept his hand toward the retreating orb of hot gas as it dipped below the Earth’s horizon.
“As a supervillain, I do my best work at night, in the dark, wearing a costume.” I stepped over and put my arm around one of the bodyguards. “Sound like your kinda fun? What time do you get off tonight? Or should I ask, what time do you want to get off?”
She poked the barrel of her gun under my chin and responded. “I work the graveyard shift.”
“Really? If you ever feel like slipping out of that shift and feeling less dead, I can give you a good wake.”
She stared at me through her sunglasses.
I shrugged. “It sounds better in English,” I told her. Actually, it doesn’t.
The President threw his arm around my shoulder and guided me away from her. “Please do not rile up my guards. I do not want you to use up all my harassment hours. They have a strict contract with a fearsome lawyer. I once saw him tear the head off a man from Interpol over a cigarette butt. He freed a sex trafficking ring in the process.”
That’s pretty good. Considering all the women and boys sex traffickers deal with, it can take some effort to get them off.
He clapped me on the shoulder. “If you don’t mind a woman with a lot of forehead, I could set you up with my education adviser instead.”
It’s worth a shot. After all, who doesn’t love a woman with a lot of head to give?