I was sat at the bar in the Chocolate Starfish drinking a Dragonball whisky when the suit came in. He looked like the kind of guy who used to give my boss his orders, which meant that he wasn’t the kind of person you’d expect in a bar like this.
I didn’t think anything of it until he sat down next to me. “Hello, Gene.”
I started taking the cellophane off a cheap cigar. “You got the wrong guy, pal. The name’s Frank.”
He smiled and offered me a light. “Yes, I know. Frank Sausage. Interesting choice.” He signalled the bartender for a drink. “Personally I would have gone for something less conspicuous.”
“Why don’t we skip the smalltalk and get to the pitch.”
“Alright. The new face suits you, Frank. How’d you like a new job to go with it?”
“Undercover work. We want you to go back into the department.”
That surprised me. I finished my drink and ordered another.
“Why me? After what happened before I would think I’d be the last person you’d ask.”
“Normally you’d be right, but this time you’re in a unique situation. Do you know how hard it is to convince someone to go deep cover? Getting them to agree to give up everything about their old life? Their name, their family, even their physical appearance?” He paused as if waiting for an answer. When he didn’t get one he continued. “You, however, have already done all that. And we know from experience that you can do the job.”
The cigar had gone out. I re-lit it, using bar matches this time. “So what’s the situation?”
“Someone in Head Office is passing on secret files.”
“Passing on to who? Another country?”
“Worse. Another time period.”
“Forwards or backwards?”
“We don’t know yet.”
“Sounds like some serious shit. It’s gonna be tough finding the guy, especially if you don’t know the chronology.”
“We’re prepared to offer you a sizable compensation for your efforts.” He picked up the matchbook, wrote something inside, then passed it along to me. “Half upfront, and half when the job is completed.”
I didn’t bother looking at the matchbook. “Double it and we’ve got a deal.”
Five hours later the money was in my account and I was on a plane to Zurich. Of course it would have been nice to have gotten the other half, but that would have meant actually doing the job, and these days, who needs the hassle?