Nap and the Mammoth Undertaking (part 5)
“What self-respecting criminal would have his lair in Staten Island?” asked Nap with an almost-offended look on his face.
“How do you know it’s a lair as opposed to a hideout?” asked Madonna.
“If we were on the trail of a couple bank robbers in 1880, it might be a hideout. It’s not a legitimate company so it can’t be a headquarters and anyone who is engineering super-assassins certainly isn’t hold up in a bunker” he explained.
“Lair it is. And on the topic, I hope you can appreciate in retrospect how nice it was that I disabled a few of their mercenaries prior to your throwdown with tall, dark and hairy. There is something to be said for zip ties over bullets. They were happy to give us the location of the… lair… and you wouldn’t have needed to wrestle with that thing in the first place.” She tried to offer the advice in the least patronizing tone she had in her arsenal of tones.
Seemingly oblivious to her sage advice Nap turned the conversation to next steps.
“So now we know where this Hans von Oofnik is at, how do you suggest we take him out?”
“Are you seriously going to pretend that you’re going to do anything but march right through the front door?” inquired Madonna, selecting a slighter more patronizing tone. It went from a 2 to a 4.
“I wanted to include you in the decision-making” replied Nap, his insincerity stuck where it always sat; at 10.
Madonna smiled and stretched. “I appreciate that. Well, crawling through ventilation systems or pretending to be computer repairmen are right out. How about we just march right through the front door?”
Nap felt something stir in his chest.
And his pants.
Heading into any situation that might involve conflict with Nap always filled Madonna with a potent mix of exhilaration and trepidation, and if she was being completely honest with herself, any number of other words that end in tion (shuhn).
She was convinced that he truly believed that he wasn’t going to die. It wasn’t confidence or even arrogance, it was the greatest, and perhaps only, example of true belief she’d ever come across.
Early in his career Nap had been ordered to attend psychiatric counseling due to what his superiors (the greatest example of a misnomer that she’d ever come across) considered his reckless behavior in the field.
Madonna had engineered an opportunity to casually speak to his therapist after a few sessions to get her take. After only a few drinks the woman violated any numbers psychiatrist/patient confidentiality laws, but a little Sodium Pentothal introduced into a beverage will have that effect.
“When I suggested that his behavior has led a number of his colleagues to conclude that he wasn’t all there, he said the strangest thing by way of an explanation” she began, “He said the problem was that he was the only one who was all there.” She took another sip of her drink. “The way he said it gave me an odd chill.”
Madonna knew that chill all too well.
“He started off by saying that having a hunch was fine, but to never ever have an inkling. When I asked him why he thought he’d been able to escape so many perilous situations in such a short time, he suggested I read up on Siddhartha Gautama. I had no idea who that was and he laughed and said I’d know him better as a Buddha. Of course I pressed him for details and eventually he told me about a cat that is stuck way up in a tree. At the very top. Holding on for dear life. Finally after a long struggle it lets go. Once in the air it relaxes as it falls and is able to turn its body so it can land safely on its padded paws. Paws designed for just such an impact. It walks away unscathed.”
Madonna leaned forward, feeling like some vital bit of information was about to be shared.
“I leaned forward” the therapist continued, “feeling like some vital piece of information was about to be shared. He looked at me with the most serene look on his face and said “I’m always falling.” I only have a few more sessions with him and I’m afraid I’m going to have to suggest that he be removed from the field. I believe he poses a danger to himself and the agents he works with.” She then began making a circling motion with her index finger at her ear, universally recognized as the cuckoo sign.
Madonna briefly smiled with a faraway look on her face and then, returning to the task at hand, leaned forward, feeling like she wanted to make sure that the vital information she was about to share would be fully understood. “If you do that, I will play the recording of the chat we are currently having and you will lose your license. On top of that I will arrange another meeting between us that will end with you unable to chew solid food.”
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