1. Thursday, September 19, 2002

    my boss’s boss slapped the Lying Hat off my head. 

    the propeller stopped spinning. the monkey got stuck on his way back in.

    i thought you said you wanted me to keep the hat on.

    i knew she could read my mind, so i added,

    fucking bitch.

    she clenched her fist. i knew she didn’t like me.

    “do you know my superpower, ma’am?”

    “i know more about you than you know, la vista.”

    then you know i feel no pain

    “then explain your carpal tunnel.”

    psychosomatic

    “you want your fingers and arms to ache?”

    theres beer everywhere, drugs, tv. all we do is try to numb our senses. theres a bar at a shoe store on hollywood blvd. what’s that all about?

    “so you want to feel pain?”

    i want to feel something.

    the monkey’s gears were whining. i picked up the hat and put it back on my ‘fro. but before it could get comfortable, i put it on my boss’s boss’s head.

    why do you hate me?

    “i don’t hate you. actually i admire you. it wasn’t my idea to block you from being a superagent. i just think that sometimes you underperform.”

    strangely that stung. i wasnt expecting her to hit me there just like that. that early. i didnt even know she knew me that well.

    everyone slacks off. i’m there when you need me arent i?

    “i know, i know. but to be honest. to be a superagent, you’ve got to be on like all the time. its a different mindset than you have right now, agent. it’s commitment, fearlessness, obedience, passion, and trust. only then can there be room for magic.”

    the propeller made a slow revolution on her cap.

    “the air conditioner is on, la vista.”

    im not here not to be a superstar.

    “then quit acting like a punk.”

    she took the goofy cap off and set it back on the shelf where it belonged and walked over to a locked cage.

    please God please.

    “please get your mind out of the gutter, agent”

    “honestly, boss, i just want to see what’s in that cage.”

    “oh. okay. theres something in here i want to give you. i have an assignment that i need you to complete at noon.”

    it was 11am.

    “a bank is going to be robbed. a very crowded bank. we’re afraid that the perps will flub it, panic, and take hostages or kill people.”

    scores of agents illegally listened in on bad guys all over the city as they talked on cell phones or held meetings in apartments. the truly stupid called each other on cordless phones, easilly monitored by police radio. meaning, even the police knew. some of those calls were from us. decoys. it wasnt nice. but it had to be that way. we had to establish ourselves with each sunrise. and reinforce the underground myth that the fbi knows a bunch, but the xbi knows everything.

    “this is a pair of form-fitting earplugs. you and six other agents will be wearing them. you will all be in the bank before it gets robbed. each of you will also have one of these,” she handed me a canister that looked like what people with asthma use to clear their lungs.

    “this canister emits a tone so high-pitched that it makes it terribly painful for humans to tolerate. unless you’re wearing those earplugs, you will try to cover your ears, your stomach will turn, there will be vomiting and screams of pain.

    “your job, la vista, is to activate the tone, kick open the teller door, and spray paint the lenses of the two center cameras behind the tables.

    “your cue will be a gunshot.”

    so each agent will spray paint a pair of cameras. and one of the agents will get either the money or the perps.

    “the idea is to get the money and foil the heist. but if we have to shoot one of the perps on the way out, then so be it.”

    “i have to kick in a door, and spray paint two cameras.” i asked her.

    “and then get on the bus,” she said.

    i took the canister and thanked her for the gig.

    “from the sound of the gunshot, to the activation of the disturbance, to the spraying of the cameras you have thirty seconds. then you have fifteen seconds to exit. even a slacker like you could do this.”

    i gave her a sarcastic smile. God this was great.

    i hope it’s a wells fargo i thought.

    “it is a wells fargo,” she said. reading my mind. smiling.

    fucking hate wells fargo.