Operative 73 Takes a Swim

by Wred Fright

1) Operative 73 wondered if the body had been found yet. He also wondered where they got it from.

2) Johnson told him to have another drink. Then the old man downed his.

3) Operative 73 worried about his son. The son was grown and didn’t need a father, but 73 still worried.

4) Operative 72 slept with only socks on. Her feet got cold, she said.

5) The diary was in the mound of cat hair in the cupboard. Operative 73 hoped that his son wouldn’t throw it out without sorting through it.

6) “Look at the tits on that one,” Johnson hissed. Then he called for another drink.

7) Operative 73 remembered how he had told the recruiter that fifty-five seemed too young to retire. The recruiter had laughed at him, “By the time you’re thirty, you’ll be counting the years to go.”

8) Operative 73 didn’t really remember 72, but he pretended he did. “I’ve been waiting thirty years to see you again,” she said.

9) All the conspiracy theories were behind him now. He wondered what his friends on the Internet would think if they saw Frank Speek now.

10) The sea was so blue it was as if a deity had scribbled it with a crayon. Operative 73 swam in it every day.

11) Operative 73 wasn’t even sure if he remembered his real name. It didn’t matter as everyone here called him 73.

12) Johnson said he’d been here for thirty-five years. 73 had asked his number, and Johnson just said it was lower than 73.

13) 73’s family was told he died during a training accident. Then he was moved across the country.

14) Johnson said the food was delicious, but they repeated the exact same cycle of menus every two months.

15) 73’s new name had been Winston Jagger. They let him pick it.

16) 73 once asked Johnson if Johnson were ever sober. Johnson cackled.

17) They didn’t have the Internet on the island, so 73 couldn’t check how Frank Speek’s books were selling. He would also have read his obituary if he could get online.

18) 73 spent a lot of time in 72’s hut. He could hear the ocean from her bed.

19) 73 had shaved his mustache and beard on his last day. He wondered now if he should grow them back.

20) 73 couldn’t sleep, so he went for a swim. It was too bad that the moon didn’t pick up hitchhikers.

21) Johnson sometimes walked around naked. 73 hoped Johnson wouldn’t get sunburned on his penis.

22) 73 didn’t know how the Campbell’s tomato soup quirk started, but by the end he had a cupboard full of the cans. He wondered if his son would ever be able to eat them all.

23) 72 woke him up one night. “You know, I never got married,” she said.

24) 73 should have never married that bitch. His handler nearly had a fit.

25) Johnson recommended the native women. “Feminism ruined ours,” he said.

26) Some years, 73 wondered if anyone ever read his reports. At least the conspiracy theorists read his books.

27) When a new operative arrived on the island, 72 dumped 73. When he told Johnson, Johnson just told him to go fuck a native girl.

28) 73 hadn’t paid federal taxes for years. When his handler asked him why, 73 told him that it was against 73’s religion to give kickbacks to 73’s employer.

29) 73 wasn’t sure how much time had passed. There was always just the sea, the sun, and an island full of retired intelligence operatives rewarded with Sodom in the South Pacific.


30) 73 had no idea now why he had signed up in the first place. It might have had something to do with nuclear war and an acid trip, but he wasn’t sure.

31) At night, 73 took to walking the beach. It was quiet, and he was alone, save for the occasional armed guard.

32) 73 wondered what they did with all his stuff. He hoped someone enjoyed the squirting pornography.

33) When the plane arrived with weekly supplies, 73 headed for the books first. Most of it, like most of American literature, was shit, but he dug his way to the good stuff.

34) When 73 shaved for the first time in years, a stranger stared back at him. He had worn a beard and mustache for so long he had almost forgotten what he looked like clean-shaven.

35) Johnson told 73 that one time he was so bored he went out and shot a native, and then waited to be arrested, but no one ever came. He was late for dinner that night.

36) It was clear from 73’s training class that the operation preferred orphans. They were less likely to leave.

37) It was impossible to escape 72, not on this small an island. They made small talk when they met.

38) Some years out in the field, fifty-five seemed very far away. From time to time, 73 wondered if his operative role was just a daydream.

39) 73 asked Johnson at dinner if they had made the world a better place. Johnson laughed and asked him to pass the hot sauce.

40) 73 had enjoyed publishing his zine, especially going to the conventions. He always smiled for the undercover agents taking photos.

41) After a few weeks (or was it months?) boredom set in, and 73 took to walking around naked. No one seemed to care as they were used to dicks drooping and tits sagging.

42) 73 really had enjoyed reading the news on the Internet. His blog had been fun also.

43) The best years are over. The coming ones are shit.

44) 73 ran into 72 on the beach one night. She asked him if he wanted to swim with her.

45) When 9/11 happened, 73 made sure to muddy the waters. He wasn’t sure that was right, but it is what the operation asked him to do, so he did it.

46) One night,a fellow operative starting firing a gun in the air, then shot himself in the leg. Intelligence operatives sometimes aren’t very intelligent.

47) The guy who pretended to be 73’s brother was brilliant. He deserves an Oscar.

48) They say there is no escape from the island, but no one has ever tried. It’s too much fun, they say.

49) Some of the conspiracy theorists 73 had liked. Some were close to being right while others were amusingly wrong.

50) 72 came into 73’s hut one evening and climbed into bed. He didn’t say anything, and in the morning she was gone.

51) The L.A. years were fun. 73 was pretty sure he had never killed anyone, but he was doing a lot of drugs then.

52) Johnson was reading a week-old newspaper at breakfast. They’ll blow up the world someday, he said.

53) The second one 73 had been smart enough not to marry. He was amazed she had stayed as long as she did.

54) 73 remembered looking up old classmates on the Internet. Sometimes, he had wished his life could be like theirs.

55) 73 started swimming out further each time. The guards didn’t seem to care.

56) The white supremacy was probably a mistake, but the budget had been cut, and 73 had to perform double duty. It had definitely cost him getting some action from non-Caucasian chicks.

57) Johnson showed up one night and sat on the bed with a gun to his own head. Give me one reason not to, Johnson said.

58) 73 had been Frank Speek longer than he had been himself. Now who was he?

59) The other conspiracy theorists would flip if they knew of the island. 73 wondered if he could get them a message.

60) 73 would have worked longer, but fifty-five was the mandatory retirement age. Apparently, there had been some problems when people had stayed longer.

61) There was no land in sight, but 73 knew if he kept swimming in a straight line long enough he would hit land. It had to be there.

62) 73 had enjoyed living in the college town. There was always some dumb coed to fuck.

63) 72 started hanging around 75, who had just arrived. Johnson said that she’d soon be fucking 76.

64) They had recruited 73 in college. He was already reading the underground press.

65) Johnson was very drunk one night. “God wouldn’t care,” he said, pointing around at the rest of the bar, “If we killed every single one of them.”

66) When 73’s handler had retired, he got a new one. He didn’t like the second one.

67) When 73 told Johnson of his plan, Johnson told him that he’d be shark food. Then Johnson ordered another drink.

68) 73 supposed they didn’t need people like him anymore anyway. They could just use the microphones and cameras in all the phones and televisions to keep tabs on everyone now.

69) 73 never met 69. The rumor was that he went native.

70) 70 was a large man. The buffet never ended here.

71) 71 seldom left her hut. The sun hurt her, she said.

72) 73 fucked 72 on the beach his last night. She complained about the sand.

73) 73 swam out as far as he could go. He kept swimming.
Wred Fright has been featured several times at New Pop Lit, including in our first print issue. Find out more about Wred and his writing at: http://www.wredfright.com

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