I was an Intelligence-brat, born and bred. Father was a man of a thousand faces (two thousand, actually; he was as Janis-faced as the best of his colleagues). We traveled. People to meet, places to see. And report. And document. And when necessary, “not recall.”
Learned English simultaneously with Spruch, the dominant language of Spruchtude, my “native land.” Father was American — by birth. I don’t recall what his position was regarding Spruchtude, other than it was our home base. Mother was the scion of Nobility. Daughter of Commodore Bruenk, Admiral of Spruchtude’s non-existent Navy. Why the hell would a land-based country in the thick of the Euro continent have a god-damned Navy, I wondered, around age ten. When I asked grandfather this, he punched me in the face. Right-cross to the jaw, with his Imperial rings on every finger. Knocked me flat.
“Why? Thats why! Understood?” he helped me to my feet.
“Any further questions?”
“Good boy. ‘You Must Know Everything,’ by Isaac Babel. Ever read that story?”
“Brilliant story, a Master-piece. ‘You must know everything,” Babel wrote. That’s why he was killed.”
I was educated at the usual Academies of Europe. A somewhat precocious young man, or perhaps obscenely bored, graduated from The University at eighteen. That’s when I was sent to America to further my education and become a naturalized “citizen,” though I believe I had the opportunity for instant citizen-ship anyway, through Father’s connections, if not his blood, but they wanted me to become a real American. Learn the culture, so to speak. Scrutinize it. I won’t bother to list the odd and various prestige-Universities where I simultaneously received my basic military training and Ph.D. But at 22, doctorate in hand (a hand capable of considerable damage; I received by fourth degree black-belt in the ancient, secret martial art of kik-dik at age 21), I was ready for assignment.
Para-ops Intelligence unit of Special Forces. Technically I was already a captain, but they put me through the training routine as part of my cover: Ivy-educated rough-neck from deep Brooklyn. Just one of the boys. Got alone well with my fellow cadets. Learned everything about them. And duly analyzed and reported this data for and to appropriate channels and sources.
Did a year in the Jungle (no, not the jungle you’re thinking of, though it was at that time; there are many jungles), part of “making my bones” I assumed.
Let me tell you, killing another human being is hard thing, a difficult thing — the first time. After that it gets easier. And easier. Almost fun — for a while. Then it’s just another thing. Like paperwork. In fact, killing almost always entails paperwork, more paperwork than usual. Royal pain in the ass, as far as I’m concerned. Thats why I got outta that busy-work requirement as soon as possible. I research and develop intricate, formal operations. All that heavy-lifting…leave that to the grunts and serves and S&M freaks to get their rocks off going the extra mile for Master. “Born to kill” and all that comic-book stuff.
Me, I’m by birth and natural ability, not to mention inclination, of The Elite. An artist. Bred for higher things. After my ritual initiation year, still in-country, I got into my first real work. Men, real ones, live for work. Work is structure, meaning, mastery. Work is not a “job.” Jobs are for the slaves. In fact, I work in order to ensure there is work, for ones such as myself. And plenty of so-called jobs for the suckers. They love it, practically beg for it. That’s how good I am at my work. I have ‘em all so damned confused they don’t know up from down. Asteroid from outer-space could smack the planet square in the mouth and they’ll cry, “but what about our jobs!”
Where was I? Oh yes. The jungle…