Who’s Batman shirts were these? The frantic way I was packing for my flight, you’d think I was late. In the drawers of my bureau I found other T-shirts with camouflage prints with weird and atrocious redneck slogans and illustrations of honky-tonk bar wenches holding rifles and severed deer heads and pitchers of beer, and more Batman T-shirts, a dozen of them. I was wearing only one sock, the other was in my pocket. I dumped the contents of my desk on the floor to find my passport. The place looked ransacked. Perfect.
The graphics on the Batman shirts were fairly contemporary, the fabric nicely distressed polycotton that hugged me like a second skin. I never wear shit like that. I didn’t like the Van Dyke beard, but it looked metal enough. All the hats and gloves and scarves were hand-knit with splendid patterns of deer and mountains and smoke-penciled houses hanging from grey billows like bait on hooks from outer space anglers. Dream clothes. No time to question why. Other items I was going to wear likewise transformed. Nothing was plain, nothing nondescript.
I packed four days of undergarments,three shirts, a scarf, hat, gloves, balaclava, two pair pants, toothbrush, medicine, contact lenses. I realized i was wearing my contacts and the dream would end with me finding contact lenses laying outside the case repeatedly, as if I they were haunted. A poltergeist was removing the contacts from my fingertips while they were moving the meager inches from my face to the counter where my contact lens case sat. I would try to place a lens in the case, squint at the case to see if I was successful, find it not so, place my glasses on my face, close the eye that still had the other lens, so I was squinting with the other eye. I’d spy the lens impossibly a foot away, as if blown by some unseen microbreeze. This went on for about fourty-five minutes. I was breathing through gritted teeth, angry, my breathe heavy with rutabaga. I loaded my phone with heavy metal music. I grabbed the plastic case containing the rare Mexican luchador comic books and placed it in my shoulder tote along with the laptop, some aspirin and a pen light.
I’d been at a rutabaga festival where I’d run across a charge nurse I’d used to know, someone who still sported the same tired 1987 style feathered wing pyramid that the girls used to wear back in the day. She was selling rutabaga jello. It was the color of thick glass, icy blue. I had purchased a wax-sealed glass container full of freshly boiled and seasoned bricks of rutabaga. The glass container was shaped like a strawberry, the green cap of melted wax atop it still warm and somewhat tacky. We talked about the place we used to work at a moment, the old jokes surfacing like oil on sea water, coins of opaque useless utility. I bought a plate of icy blue jello and ate it. Disgusting. I was covering my tracks I was under deep surveillance, hence the trip to the kitschy festival, the disguises, the wrong music.
I was packing for a trip to Switzerland. After the clothes went the laptop, charger, adapter, my glasses, a small journal, some soap in a pillbox, some pills in a straw, the straw in the strap, the ends melted shut. They weren’t for me. When I went into the closet to retreive my duffel I slipped them into the strap while my upper body was obscured by the clothing and the copper-infused paint lining the room. I used my sat implant to accept a keygen, a kiteless rated red data stream that would ride the local stingray tower and deliver the deep onion I needed to mix my stew.
Walking with a face. Walking with a bag. It didn’t matter if I was late or not, I’d never make it through the TSA with this gun anyways. Part of the charade. Had someone from the State waiting for me in the two-way room. Shit was getting fluid. Never showed. My base team fabbed the documents and delivered a pay-off. I was delayed about six hours, getting hungry. I’d left the rutabaga in the strawberry glass jar at home next to a note for ma. She was coming over to check on the cat while I was gone. I wondered who had her bugged.
My mom hates rutabaga.
.I got my key in a game of solitaire on my phone, called my sister twice. She rang back, left a message. I checked the weather in a certain town in Switzerland, in Fraunfeld. Looked windy. Glatz would have to wait.
Aboard my flight I wrote home to ma about the rutabaga festival, gave her the nurse’s number. I Googled sombreros for an hour and had a couple of splits, washed down the pills of false dittany. The flight was relatively pleasant, what I could remember before dozing off. I would have to stay completely bundled up until I reached my contact at the aviary, otherwise I’d start to rash up too soon and I’d blow my cover. The false dittany, or Fraxinella, caused dermatits when exposed to sunlight after its second and subsequent exposure. I’d be able to feign radiation sickness, proving the package was real, make the transaction, passing a lead and copper lined case of brazil nut cream to the second base operative. He had a family, two daughters. He’d get to see them alive if this worked. We were all in a bit too deep, but there’s no way I’d let them just get away with it.
I didn’t look forward to the vomiting, but at least I got some champagne. Champagne in the game is always a win.
I played another game of solitaire and got my second key, called my contact at precisely 9:23 pm local time at Zurich after retrieving my bags. Security was tight and I was delayed, questioned and released. No contact with base at that checkpoint, so all pieces were in place. I checked in to my room at the hotel under my assumed identity, Dr. Henry Hotbush.