The best thing about parrots is their preternatural memory for simple phrases.
The worst thing about parrots is their preternatural memory for simple phrases. And their weakness for showing off.
I, Ezekiel Smith, am here to tell you that there is nothing cute about being partnered with a yappy avian that tells everyone with a gentle hand about all your secret codes and assignation spots. Not when it results it forces you to jump off a gunrunning vessel into the icy Arctic waters.
This is not the bird with which I have such a dire history. There is a family resemblance, however. I will not be keeping this specimen. He would, however, make an ideal gift for a prying law-enforcement man I know of in Frankfort. Yes, when life gives one parrots, one is best off converting them into parrot-ade.
They thought they could break me in the Albanian prson camp. The solitary. The beatings on the soles of the feet. Hard labor as the harsh winds tore into our flesh.
In my fitlth-strewn cell I kept my sanity by whistling Bach's Fourth Brandenberg Concerto in G major, from beginning to end. And after I made contact with my handler, before I was airlifted out, I recorded my rendition in the commanders office. It was the one thing I left in the splinters of his desk.
The same tune I whistle now in the presence of the current sheriff. Just on the off chance that he should forget which of us is master.
There was considerable overlap between the Eastern European sojourns of Agent LVN and the woman we call "Dinah." In those days she was known as Diana of the Bloody Star.
She was the mistress of a high-placed NKVD officer. Well, this same man was eventually found, tongue missing, in a Bucharest brothel. The doctor who prepared the body (a long and grueling job) for his Soviet state funeral swore that despite the missing appendage, the kamrad had died smiling. Joyful and... excited.
Interesting tidbit: the madam of this house of ill-repute spent little time there, as she needed to keep an eye on her husband so that he would not drink away all their black market profits. Her understudy, as it were, handled the day to day business. That girl? None other than LVN.
I have gradually learned to decipher this sibilant language of theirs. There's "No, that's not the antidote to the nerve toxin." And also, "Keep your pet junkies away from my herb garden." Most exchanges, though, are recriminations over the end of their lesbian affair.
I pride myself on the maintenance and upkeep of my targets. Well, up until that final point, of course.
My innovation--shared with only a handful of others--is to fill my clay pigeons with ketchup and hot sauce packets from those sleepless eateries by the highway. Yes, viscous fluid is an essential factor. When one's shot hits home, one must be prepared to dodge the spatter. To avoid it outright, if possible. If you can wear white with confidence, you have made the grade as an assassin.
Luisa knows this. She is one of those for whom hitting the target is the easy part. Now the noise needn't bother her. She's got ear-plugs molded to her own shape. I should know, as they are of my own making. But the discharge of firearms always gets her hot and bothered, unleashing the kinds of appetites that may overwhelm even the sturdiest of husbands.
Well, "trout" is one descriptor, certainly. Perhaps not the most accurate, but it will do. Saves us the effort of saying "homeostatic fish hybrid with ultraviolet vision and the intelligence of a Tulane graduate student." That's one particular graduate student, a doctoral candidate who volunteered for the experiment for a laugh. I'm assuming he got it.
As to "the one that got away" why yes, it did. And as it escaped, it looked to be in a mood to settle scores with all our race. This should upset me, as the--ahem--trout's rebelliousness is a reminder that I lost control of the game, if only for a few minutes. But the presence of this piscine schemer complicates and fruetrates all plans, not just my own. So hesh up, boy.
Would the kindly agent of the county's law be referring to Christopher Deacon "Deke" Farnam? He of the nine toes and two faces?
Oh yes, I know Farnam well. We were both traveling with some Caucasian tribesmen, routine stuff. They needed skilled labor for alunite extraction, we needed money. Well, Deke also enhanced his income by taking part in the opium market. His choice, of course, except that someone tipped the Russian authorities off and led them to me.
I'll say nothing of my imprisonment there, except to point out that the Hootin' Holler holding cell is a relative Capella resort.
Oh yes, I will help to corner Farnam. For old times' sake, shall we say. Although if the sheriff would like to give me a pull on his whiskey whusky, I'll accept it. I could use something to cool my rage until the time comes.
Handout provided to all members of the Hootin' Holler Book Club
Titles planned for this quarter:
Advanced Microbiology and Germ Warfare Assassination Etiquette How to Change Your Identity and Your Adversary's as Well Chairman Smith's Little Tobacco Brown Book The Care and Feeding of Secret Armies (Recommended by Luisa Smith) Surgery With Half the Ethics and None of the Paperwork (Recommended by Agent LVN) How Stella Got Her Groove Back (Recommended by both)