The Spy

by Mary Clare

The fat man squirmed uncomfortably on the hard metal folding chair, squinting against the bright light shining in his eyes. The temperature in the cavernous interrogation room must be below forty degrees -- he could see his breath pluming in front of his face -- but he felt himself sweating. His olive-drab wool fatigue jacket felt hot and scratchy after months of wearing Italian silk suits. Besides, it pinched under his armpits.

"We have been going over your operations in the Pacific," Fu Yi said in his crisp, British boarding-school accent. "And we have become concerned, very concerned, about your commitment to the ideals of the Cultural Revolution."

The man felt like he had been sitting there for hours. He resisted the urge to knead his hands together, knowing that his interrogator would perceive it - correctly, as it happened - a sign of panic. Instead, he smoothed his face into an implacable mask and forced himself to breathe normally.

"Do not insult me, comrade," he hissed. "Since Chairman Mao saw fit to elevate me to this position, my every thought, my every deed has been directed toward the achievement of his Marxist-Leninist goals."

"So you would have us believe," Fu Yi said, adjusting the light so that it focused more intensely on the man's sweat-shined face. "But we have reason to think otherwise."

Damn these show trials! the man thought. Ordinarily he felt confident in his ability to get out of any jam, no matter how terrifying or hopeless it might be. Lately, these little meetings had begun to seem like the most dangerous part of his job. He couldn't shake the feeling that one day, he wouldn't walk away.

Keeping his voice calm, he said: "Do not keep me in suspense, comrade. I presume you will give me the privilege of defending myself."

"If you can," Fu Yi replied, his black horn-rimmed glasses opaque in the glare of the lamp. He reached into a folder lying on the table and came up with a fistful of wrinkled papers. "For a start, perhaps you would like to explain this bar bill for over three-hundred, capitalist, running-dog American dollars from the Tiki Tops restaurant on Oahu."

"I was conducting a sensitive undercover operation," the man said tightly. "The consumption of alcohol was a necessary tactic, in order to gain the trust of the decadent Enemy of the People then under my surveillance."

"Whose name is Miss GiGi LaBoom? I can imagine her secrets are of great interest to the Chinese government," Fu Yi said, his mouth twisted in a sarcastic sneer. "And that's only the beginning! Just last week, our operatives saw you gorging yourself all afternoon at Perry's Smorgy in Waikiki -- "

"I was merely retrieving some microfilm hidden in the prime rib," the man insisted. "I had to make several trips to the buffet to avoid suspicion."

"I see," said Fu Yi, but obviously he didn't. "Then explain this: your assignment of a highly trained intelligence expert to sabotage Steve McGarrett's dry cleaning order."

"Steve McGarrett is a relentless foe of the Revolution!" the man gasped, losing his composure. "Really, Fu Yi, I am greatly offended that you would send your bureaucrats to check up on me -- "

"It's a good thing I did," Fu Yi shot back. With a petulant gesture, he sent the papers flying in a dramatic arc over the dirty concrete floor. "For months, Chairman Mao's government has spent a fortune on your schemes to obtain America's nuclear secrets. And all you have to show are a bunch of overpriced restaurant meals and a few "gotcha's" against a broken-down cop!"

"Fu Yi, I will not tolerate -- "

"You are not in a position to say what you will or will not tolerate!" Fu Yi slammed his fist on the table so hard he knocked his glasses askew. "As of today, your expense account is closed! No more resort stays on Maui, no more yacht trips around Singapore, no more convertibles at Dollar Rent-a-Car! Who do you think you are, James Bond?"

"But I --"

"No buts! You're cut off, do you understand? You're to accomplish your mission with the resources you have left." Struggling to recover his temper, Fu Yi straightened his glasses and yanked down the front of his Mao jacket. He played his fingers over his lips and muttered: "If you succeed, Chairman Mao will consider letting you live."

Fu Yi abruptly shut out the light and marched to the door. As an afterthought, he turned and said over his shoulder: "I hope you enjoy collective farming." Then he slammed out, leaving the fat man sitting alone in the chilly darkness.

I'm too old for this shit, Wo Fat thought. Adjusting his mind to the new reality, he lifted himself heavily from his chair and walked out into the dreary Peking morning.

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