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Real Men Don't Get Published

By

John Alejandro King

 

 

*

The following is a manuscript reportedly produced by a CIA officer named John Alejandro King, a.k.a. The Covert Comic.  Little is known about King, other than that he is apparently a male intelligence official who may recently have been the subject of disciplinary action by the CIA as a result of incidents surrounding efforts by one or more literary companies to publish his written works.

The manuscript consists of entries in diary form relating King's accounts of historic events, as well as his musings on topics ranging from CIA covert operations, to the meaning of life and the universe, to the real nature of the book publishing industry.  As for how this document was obtained, that information must for the moment remain undisseminated.

Literary agents interested in inquiring about the possibility of publishing John Alejandro King’s writings are advised not to bother contacting the author via his website.

 

*

Monday

It's not the illusion of reality that need persist, only the illusion of persistence.

A book company offered to publish my writing today.  As happens frequently, I was in my cubicle attending to a national security-related item when I got a call from a major publishing firm in New York (I’m talking seriously major - if I told you, you'd have to kill me).

They made the usual promises: advances, royalties, a long-term commitment. 

… And as I always do, I politely deflected the discussion.  You know, so as to decline without making them feel rejected.

See, here’s the thing: I’m a CIA officer.  More to the point, I’m a vital, life-affirming, heterosexual male CIA officer.  I’m in good physical shape, I'm considered acceptable in appearance, I’m friendly and a fun conversationalist, I’m an honorable person … and I also happen to write.  And for whatever reason, when publishing companies see my writing on the Internet and learn about me, the simple truth is that they get interested.  Really interested.  In fact, it’s frankly amazing how forward these companies can be when conveying their interest in publishing your humble writer and spook.

But as I said, I turn them all down.  It isn't that I’m not flattered, and even to a certain extent tempted (of course).  It’s just that I can’t in good faith and conscience agree to their proposals - because the fact of the matter is … real men don't get published.

 

Tuesday

Secret 1.4.  The real question isn't whether you're cleared for top secret, it's whether you're cleared for unclassified.

A non-employee reportedly tried to sneak into CIA Headquarters this morning.  Security immediately spotted him as an impostor, because he looked like his badge photo.

 

Wednesday

It's OK to frequently quote the famous saying 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,' as long as you don't expect anything to change as a result of doing this.

 

Thursday

Every action is a covert action.

Always keep drugs out of the reach of children.  And for maximum entertainment, keep them just out of reach.

 

Friday

If you could tell God just one joke, what would it be?

 

 

I got your manuscript right here ...

 

*

Monday

Greetings from Virginia, the Sex and Violence State!  Here in the Old Dominion we boast the only U.S. state flag depicting frontal female nudity and a stabbing victim.

This morning my boss called me into her office.  As happens on occasion, she was dissatisfied with one of the characteristic modes in which my DNA expresses itself.

"What’s wrong, boss?” I asked.  “Is it the particular manner in which my cytoplasm surrounds the vacuoles of my cell walls?"

"No,” she said, “I think you’ve fixed that problem.

… For now, anyway."

"Actually,” she continued, “The only issue I wanted to raise to your attention is that you’re indenting the columns in your status reporting too far to the right."

… Oh sure.  Like I have some kind of choice in the way my genetic base pairs are ordered.

 

Tuesday

The Spook's Toast: May your intelligence estimates always surpass the estimates of your intelligence.

Typical themes in CIA operations include money, sex, personal betrayal, and lust for power.

... And those are just the things you need to requisition a good laptop.

 

Wednesday

Can a dog still have its day after it's been spayed or neutered?  Or does being spayed or neutered count as its day?

Gore Vidal said he never missed a chance to have sex or appear on television.  I find I'm pretty much the same way.

 

Thursday

Not only is extremism in the defense of liberty no vice, under certain circumstances it may be tax-deductible!

Got an e-mail from another publishing firm today.  The company is called Varon Publishers Inc., and they’re located right here in the DC area.  Apparently they specialize in publication of titles on intelligence and paramilitary-related subject matter; they think my work is "highly appealing," and that I’m "just perfect for [their] needs" (where have I heard that before …).  They also claim to have worked movie deals with influential production companies – their e-mail said they’ve turned several books by current and former CIA officers into multi-million dollar action films.  Clearly, Varon Publishers wanted to impress me with their interest in ‘macho’ literary genres.

I wrote back and told the people at Varon Publishers that I was honored by their kind words, but couldn’t meet with them any time soon owing to my work schedule.  I resisted the urge to respond to their rather machista overture by letting them in on the secret, the secret that … real men don’t get published.

 

Friday

If I don't love something, is it still OK to set it free?

 

*

Monday

Secret 0.881219.  If all the world's a stage, America is the shiny vertical pole in the middle.

Best-selling authors don’t care if you read their book, as long as you buy it.

Worst-selling authors don’t care if you buy their book, as long as you read it.

Real male authors are pretty sure they know what a book is, and they’re pretty sure their book is in their pants.

 

Tuesday

In 'The Elements of Style,' William Strunk wrote 'A sentence should contain no unnecessary words.'  There are 23 additional words in that sentence, but this is Strunk's essential idea.

Yet another offer of publication today.  This one, however, was a little different: a Gay publishing company.

Actually, you might be surprised how often this kind of thing happens to us guys who are committed to keeping it real.  I mean, on one hand you’d think a Gay or Lesbian publisher would be the last one to take an interest in my writing – you know, given that I’m most decidedly heterosexual, work at CIA, etc.  Yet take an interest they do.  I suspect it’s the ruggedly virile, yet simultaneously humorous and self-effacing (and in its own way passionate) character of my writing that attracts publishing agents of multiple genres.  Again, not saying my writing is great or even special – but there are publishers out there who do like it.  And the fact is that some of these publishers happen to be Gay.

As for the company in question, I saw no need to respond rudely to their proposal.  I simply told them I wasn’t seeking publication at this time, but that I appreciated being considered.

And I wasn’t lying, either.  True, if I was looking to get published, writing for a Gay or Lesbian readership probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s not like I have anything in particular against this or that literary market.

No, it isn’t a matter of not wanting to be published by one or another kind of company.  It’s about not wanting to be published at all.  Because being real isn’t about being published.  And for the most part, being published isn’t about being real.

 

Wednesday

Spam or not, anybody who can figure out a way to e-mail me from the future deserves my money.

Where doesn't the polygrapher go when he leaves the room?

 

Thursday

If spy novels were realistic, the spies in them would spend their free time writing totally unrealistic spy novels.

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. 

Which is why I prefer the word ‘freedom’ – it saves time and effort!

 

Friday

God does not play dice with the universe - He plays Russian roulette.

 

*

Monday

Be who, or whom, you are. 

I knew a guy who got published.

Let’s just say he won’t have to worry about his condom breaking any time soon.

Hey, I’m as willing to have my manuscript scrutinized as the next fellow.  It’s just that, by the time a writer’s work has been edited for proper style, voice, pacing, and ‘internal conflicts,’ he can hardly be surprised if there’s no manuscript left at all.

 

Tuesday

Memory isn't a painter - memory is a minimum wage department store employee with a price tag gun.

Then again, if your right hand did know what your left hand was doing, wouldn’t that be kind of creepy?

 

Wednesday

I'm not just bad to the bone – I'm bad all the way to the hematopoietic and adipose bone marrow tissues!

Never fish for compliments.  Lob dynamite in the water.

 

Thursday

If knowledge is but sorrow's spy, it proves a double agent by and by.

Every time a key breaks off inside a lock, a locksmith's wife conceives.

 

Friday

'None of us is as smart as all of us?'  Isn't that the whole problem?

 

*

Monday

Stop the war machine!  (I want to jump on!)

Secret 1118.95.  Classified research demonstrates conclusively that breakfast-time coups are the most important coup of the day.

 

Tuesday

It says right there in the U.S Constitution: E=mc².

Bohr's famous statement 'Your theory is crazy, but it isn't crazy enough to be true' was crazy, but it wasn't crazy enough to be true.

 

Wednesday

There's no substitute for hard work, but there's plenty of work for a hard substitute.

For a while I thought I was bisexual, but only because I tend to get 'bi-' and 'semi-' mixed up.

 

Thursday

Kurt Vonnegut was a great writer.  He greated on everyone’s nerves.

According to government studies, alcohol is more socially damaging than heroin or crack, though not as socially damaging as government studies.

 

Friday

How about a compromise: everybody leave the toilet seat at 45 degrees.

 

 

Did someone say "film rights?"

 

*

Monday

Placo diem – appease the day.

Around a month after I first launched my web site and started getting several million hits an hour on it, a publishing agent contacted me to introduce herself and invite me to ‘query about being represented.’  She claimed to be head over heels in love with my literary concept, my writing style, my entire body of work.  No doubt about it, she said, my writing was a keeper, a once in a lifetime thing.

I resolved to go slowly.  In a polite yet friendly way I let her know that I was flattered by her positive review and wanted to get to know more about her, to see what kind of author-agent relationship we might develop. 

Her response was to turn up the heat big time; every day she sent new e-mails about wanting to ‘proof my manuscript, word for word’ and ‘scan every inch of my back matter.’  I remember her remarking that she could ‘write me a blurb I’d never forget.’

Finally, after several months of correspondence, I decided to take her up on her offer.  I dutifully wrote her a formal inquiry, referring to her original e-mail and asking what steps would be needed for her to become my literary agent.

The same day she wrote back with the following message: “Sorry, but I’m not accepting clients at this time.” 

I never heard from her again.

Had she suddenly found another writer she preferred over me?  Or did she mistakenly identify my e-mail as a solicitation from someone she didn’t know? 

Or did my submitting a formal inquiry scare her off?

… Or then again, did she simply exercise every literary agent’s prerogative to change her mind?

Whatever her motivation (and your humble writer can’t rule out the possibility that her motivation was none other than the following), this particular literary agent helped me appreciate, in about as visceral a way as possible, that … real men don’t get published.

 

Tuesday

Secret 130.48.  As long as it doesn't solve anything, violence is totally acceptable.

Most bills are killed in committee.

Socrates was killed by a committee. 

Therefore, most bills are Socrates.

 

Wednesday

Better to be asked what drug you're on, than what drug you're off.

 

Thursday

Secret 1930.  All gratification is instant.

Challenge: If we had to pay for our stupidity, many would go bankrupt.

Password: If we had to pay for our stupidity, to declare bankruptcy wouldn't be stupid.

 

Friday

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around inebriated.

 

*

Monday

Is it better never to have been published, than to have gone out of print?

At CIA we’ve been shaken by reports of on-the-job drinking by intelligence officers.

... Though fortunately we haven’t been stirred.

 

Tuesday

I've never had a problem with rejection.  On the contrary, I've always been able to reject stuff any time I want.

Some change their party for the sake of lofty principles.  Last weekend I changed my principles for the sake of a loft party.

 

Wednesday

When there's rioting in the streets, use the sidewalk.

Show me a culture with no word for 'awe,' and I'll show you a people who've never had their tonsils examined.

 

Thursday

Secret 5,101,095.5.  A stalker only does to a celebrity what the celebrity's media company did to the stalker first. 

 

Friday

The statement 'Think outside the box' does not constitute permission to leave it.

 

*

Monday

If I trip and fall in a CIA conference room while giving a top secret intelligence briefing, and everybody in the room is under State Department cover, do I make a sound?

A literary agent contacted me today to ask if I was interested in working as a ghost writer for a client of hers.

Imagine: your humble spook ghost writing.  

Talk about your unmixed metaphor.  (By the way, I politely turned her up.)

 

Tuesday

I'm all for banning the N-word from literature, assuming by 'N-word' you mean 'novel.'

I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough.

… I mean, who the hell wants to drink from a trough after some filthy kid sticks his grubby little hands in it???

 

Thursday

The Internet has made book burning impossible and redundant at the same time. 

When Thoreau wrote "Our lives are frittered away by detail,” I hope he wasn’t talking about potato fritters, because I love those things.

 

Friday

Secret 618190.1.  As long as you're already bowing, is there any reason not to scrape?

 

*

Monday

If you die while waging jihad, you shall be rewarded with 72 virgins in the afterlife.

… That's you, plus six dozen adolescent girls, for the rest of eternity. 

Truly, the justice of Allah is great.

What is it about being published that renders an author, otherwise possessing the usual compliment of male physiology, tendencies, and outlook, something other than a real man?

Is it the inevitable chopping up of his manuscript, nay, even the complete emasculation of his central concept by an 'editor?'

Or is it the way the writer submits to having his body of work ‘reviewed’ by ‘critics’ … not unlike a fashion model sashaying down a catwalk?

One thing I can neither confirm nor deny: I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I self-post my writings on my web site; in fact, I’ll confess right here and now that I like to pretend I’m getting published in New Yorker when I’m ‘doing it.'

 

Tuesday

I want to take a course to learn how to stop juggling.

A motivational speaker was reportedly stabbed by one of his students.  This either officially qualifies him as the worst motivational speaker ever, or the best.

 

Wednesday

Inferior spies discuss ideas, mediocre spies discuss events, great spies discuss people.

Joel Siegel said “William Shakespeare wrote 39 plays and did not use the word ‘suck’ in any of them.”

… Sorry Joel: Titus Andronicus Act 4. Scene 2. Line 179

 

Thursday

To be as wise as the Zen master, be as foolish. 

Secret 0.102721.0.  Tormented authors who don’t want their picture taken spend extra time making sure the lighting is wrong.

 

Friday

The real F-word is 'future.'

 

*

Monday

It seems to me I live my life like a white phosphorous incendiary device in the wind.

Drove to rural Kentucky this weekend to witness a Civil War reenactment.

… At least I assume it was a Civil War reenactment. 

 

Tuesday

Let's be honest: only God can create jobs.

I never met a man who never met a man he didn’t like I liked.

 

Wednesday

If it ain't broke, can we please stop talking about it?

 

Thursday

How does a needle get into a haystack in the first place?  

They say the reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of a single hour. 

I say: Who the hell can do something for a whole hour?!

 

Friday

Not only can you fall off the floor, you can land face first on the ceiling.

 

*

Monday

Secret 47.81925.  Never judge a cover by its sleeve.

Oh what the hell, why not admit it: sometimes I wish to God I was published. 

Not only that, but I can both confirm and not not not deny that every now and then I feel a deep yearning to see my writing made into commercially successful feature length films.

And honestly, when you think about it, why wouldn't a real man want these things?  I mean, to be loved by like-minded readers, to leave an enduring legacy to the literary world: no doubt writers who are vain and unmanly desire these, but is to desire these necessarily to be vain and unmanly?

In my opinion, for an authentic, upright kind of guy to frankly acknowledge these sorts of inner wants, far from being unmasculine, is actually a big part of true manhood, and as such constitutes an important factor in assuring that guy has no chance of getting published whatsoever.

 

Tuesday

This morning I saw a fish without a bicycle, and you know, it did kind of remind me of a woman without a man.

Because of his meds, my bipolar brother is now basically a zombie. 

Which makes me feel guilty, because when we were kids I used to pray to have a zombie for a brother.

 

Wednesday

Secret 21.91721. In order to make zoos more like jungles, you must make jungles even more like zoos.

 

Thursday

If A loves B, and B loves C, how can it be a love triangle unless C also loves A? 

I assume the phrase 'If you can't say something nice, don't say anything' is a nice thing to say.

 

Friday

Failure to understand reality is not reality's fault?  How do you figure???

 

 

Author!  Author!

 

*

Monday

Secret 0.829178 It's a hoax because it's real.

A woman from Varon Publishers – that company in Northern Virginia – contacted me today.  Her name is Eva.  I read her bio on Varon’s web site; talk about some impressive references.  Let’s just say I wouldn’t mind writing her back story, if you get the undercurrent to my narrative here.

She invited me to dinner next week.  She said she has a unique proposal that she’s sure will meet with my approval, but she wants to present it personally.  I'm not sure why, but I decided to accept her invitation.

Got an e-mail this evening from another agent – some guy who says he thinks my work might be suitable for ‘short run’ publishing.

Hey, speak for yourself, pal.

 

Tuesday

I could swear I remember hiding a suicide pill in one of my desk drawers at work last year.  But when I looked in my desk this morning I couldn't find it.

... Now I'm thinking maybe I swallowed it last month.

At this juncture the religiously devout reader may be tempted to ask: ‘Wait, isn’t Jesus a real man?  And didn’t Jesus get published?’

… Or at least you would be tempted to ask this, if you were reading one of my books.

Jesus once posted on his web site: There's nothing unpublished that shall not be made into a bestseller.

What's that?  You don't recall reading this passage in print anywhere?

And whose point does that prove???

 

Wednesday

Remember: if everyone else gives 110% effort, and you give 120%, you're really only giving a little over 109%.

 

Thursday

Secret 3051.4121.  Never be afraid they won't get your jokes. Be afraid they will.

There’s a great love song – it’s called Love Song.  Maybe you’ve heard it.  It features a man and a woman singing words to the effect that love is what we came here for.

Toward the end of the song there’s the sound of children playing and shouting at the beach while waves roll in and out.  Have you heard this song?  It’s truly deep.

When I was maybe fifteen years old, I was listening to AM radio on the family headphones one evening, and I happened to pick up this song on some distant radio station.  I couldn’t tell if the sound of the children playing and shouting at the beach was part of the recording, or interference from another radio frequency. 

I remember telling my father that night about hearing this song on the radio; I also remember telling him that I had decided it really didn’t matter whether the effect I had heard was part of the recording, or interference from some other radio frequency, since in either case the effect was excellent.

When I told him this, my father looked at me in silence for a moment. Then he pointed his finger at me, and slowly nodded his head in approval.

Was my father not truly deep?

But as for whether this was really part of my father, or interference from some other radio frequency, I’ve decided it really doesn’t matter, since in either case the effect was excellent.

 

Friday

Suck My Book

 

Suck my book

Does it taste salty?

I wash my book

And shave it frequently

Because I've seen it written

That this makes people

More willing to read

 

Suck my book

You don't have to swallow

And yes, I know you know this

… But if you did swallow

What if the writing tasted like

A Pulitzer Prize?

 

Suck my book

After all, haven't I already

Got a serious tongue cramp

From gently and caringly licking

Your deep, and very sensitive

Article?

 

* 

Monday “You published me.”

“We had every right under the Freedom of Information Act,” he said.  “Your writing is the property of the US Government, and it’s not classified.”

“My writing is my own.  You didn’t read the disclaimer on the web site.”

“Our lawyers believe they can make a judge see differently; if nothing else, we can keep this thing tied up in litigation for years.  Meanwhile, your books will all be bestsellers, Mr. King.” 

I stepped forward a couple of paces, re-cocked and pointed a riot gun six inches from the CEO’s face.

“Look, Mr. King,” he said, “Let’s be realistic about this.  Varon Publishers will pay you top dollar for your work.  This stuff is brilliant.  Maybe we pushed the envelope a little by taking the steps we did, but we had to publish your writing before someone else got to it.”

Inwardly I had to admire the guy’s guts.  Even if it did ultimately prove necessary for me to splatter them all over that $50,000 hardwood desk of his.

Actually, even if something killed me, I bet it would make me at least a little bit stronger.

      

Thursday

You start off your career as an intelligence officer assuming every claim is either true or false. As the years go by, you begin to suspect it's more complicated than that.  When at long last you obtain your full clearances, you realize it's not even that complicated. 

Had dinner with Eva, the literary agent from Varon Publishers.  Talk about attractive – and she was definitely letting her ‘front matter’ show, if you get my publishing industry reference here. 

I don’t mind telling you, the above factors (plus more than a little red wine) had your humble intelligence officer seriously questioning my policy of not seeking publication of my writings. 

As we drove from the restaurant back to my townhouse in Eva’s car, I felt distinctly light-headed.  At one point I remember her talking about helping me write my final draft.  The next thing I knew we were parked in my driveway; I recall her softly whispering literary terms in my ear, like ‘hardcopy’ and ‘trim.'  That was my last memory before stumbling into bed and losing consciousness.

 

It happens to the best of us ...

 

*

Friday

Secret 829172.7.  Always wait 'till they're looking before making your escape.

Woke up this morning feeling hung over, which was strange because it usually takes a lot more than some red wine to get me smashed.  With my head pounding and my eyes swiveling around like a pair of rusty turrets, I swung myself out of bed, straggled into the bathroom, looked down and …

Oh my God.

Immediately I knew what had happened.

After enduring the humiliation of having to urinate sitting down, I carefully and thoroughly wiped, then in a single, enraged motion leapt from the toilet and grabbed my handheld voice and data unit resting by the headstand of my bed.  I quickly looked up the street address of Varon Publishers, then heaved the handset against the wall, scarcely noticing as it exploded into several dozen pieces.

Storming over to my closet, I proceeded to outfit myself in camo and sunglasses.  Then I stomped down to my basement to get guns.  Lots of guns.  Scooping up handfuls of nine-millimeter rounds and stuffing shotgun shells into various pockets, I strode silently but deliberately out the back door of my townhouse (to avoid detection by neighbors), bounded into my jeep, and burst out of my driveway in a grey-white cloud of vaporized rubber.

In twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds I was in the parking lot of Varon Publishers, Inc.  I made a beeline for the main lobby.  As my jeep neared the front of the building I jumped the small speed bump and floored it, plowing straight across the well manicured lawn.  A couple of stunned onlookers scattered as I slammed my vehicle headlong into the lobby, broken glass cascading down around me like a Niagara Falls honeymoon.

A pudgy little security guard (I couldn’t tell if he/she was male or female) stared at me for a split second, then dove for cover underneath the reception desk.  I had no quarrel with security.  The sound of muffled shouts and gasps wafted from unseen rooms as I climbed out of my jeep, sauntered over to the elevator, pointed my silver riot gun at the elevator door, and blew it open.  Then I stepped in and pressed the double star signifying the executive penthouse floor.

Emerging from the elevator and pausing outside the large glass doors of the CEO’s office, I grabbed the stock of a second riot gun from its holster behind my back, and in the same motion swung it over and cocked it.  The pretty admin took one look at me and immediately bolted for destinations unseen; I obliterated the two glass doors with a shell from each semi-legal sawed-off, walked into the CEO’s lobby, made a deliberate right turn toward his office, and started taking large wood chips from of his $90,000 oak doors with alternating blasts from each hand.

I have to give that CEO credit – he saw me coming and went straight for his canister of pepper spray.  I casually pointed one shotgun and blew it out of his hands, a couple of his fingers going with it.

The CEO sat upright in his chair, holding his bleeding hand and panting slightly; maybe he was in shock, or maybe he had been waiting his whole life for this moment.  Whatever the case, he wasn’t talking.  But I was.

“You published me.”

“We had every right under the Freedom of Information Act,” he said.  “Your writing is the property of the US Government, and it’s not classified.”

“My writing is my own.  You didn’t read the disclaimer on the web site.”

“Our lawyers believe they can make a judge see differently; if nothing else, we can keep this thing tied up in litigation for years.  Meanwhile, your books will all be bestsellers, Mr. King.” 

I stepped forward a couple of paces, re-cocked and pointed a riot gun six inches from the CEO’s face.

“Look, Mr. King,” he said, “Let’s be realistic about this.  Varon Publishers will pay you top dollar for your work.  This stuff is brilliant.  Maybe we pushed the envelope a little by taking the steps we did, but we had to publish your writing before someone else got to it.”

Inwardly I had to admire the guy’s guts.  Even if it did ultimately prove necessary for me to splatter them all over that $50,000 hardwood desk of his.

“Where are the books?”

“Film rights, Mr. King – the film rights alone are worth millions.  As CEO of Varon Publishers, I’m in a position to personally guarantee you at least 20%. 

I stuck the barrel of my riot gun in his mouth.

“Where are the books?”

“Mmff frml grp lubbub.”

I pulled out my gun without firing, turned around and walked out.

He called behind me, “I advise you to put down your guns and go home, Mr. King.  There’s still time to resolve this matter without involving the authorities.”

“You can’t stop us from publishing your work and making you a universally famous author!”

… "You can't hold back history and your own success as a writer!"

By the time I reached the downstairs lobby, I could hear sirens – I knew Special Weapons and Tactics units would be taking up positions outside the building at any moment, if they hadn’t already.

I ignored the sirens and took the stairs down to the basement warehouse.  I reached the thick metal doors of the warehouse, slung my riot guns back in their holsters, and took out my 9mm.  One bullet in the lock and I strutted through the door.  There was a man standing ten feet inside the doorway, spilled coffee all over his shirt, holding a section of a pallet like he was batting cleanup for the Washington Nationals.  For a split second the thought entered my mind: was he really willing to die to protect a bunch of cat books and memoirs by adult survivors of adult survivors?  A split second later I had my answer.

As he turned and sprinted toward the rear exit I called after him in a calm, friendly voice: “Where are the Covert Comic books?”

“… Comic books?”  He called back, still running, “We don’t make comic books at this facility.”

“The new spy book,” I called out louder, as he continued running.  Then I played a hunch as to what the cover might look like, and yelled toward his rapidly receding form: “The one with the guy wearing sunglasses, who has no mouth.”

He reached a door at the far end of the warehouse and flung it open.  But for a split second, instead of running outside, he paused and gazed back at me – a look of recognition on his face.  “Back corner to the right,” he said; then he stepped through the doorway, almost nonchalantly, and disappeared.

“Thanks,” I whispered.  “… Sorry about the hassle, fellow non-publishee.”

I could hear the pounding of many running boots on a floor somewhere above me; then I heard muffled shouts.  I casually walked over to the corner and saw several huge pallets reaching all the way up to the ceiling like a veritable Tower of Babel.  The pallets had white labels on them.  The labels said “Varon Publishers: King: Real Men.”

I stuck my 9mm back in its holster and stepped back several meters.  From a vest pocket I carefully removed a WP (White Phosphorous) incendiary grenade.  I had acquired it during a covert op in Central America many years previously; I kept it at home in case America ever found herself under attack by a hostile foreign government or a terrorist organization (or possibly a book publisher).

I checked to ascertain that the interior warehouse door was still accessible.  Then I pulled the pin on the grenade, tossed it into the pallets, and, as they say, ‘started booking.'

Before I had even made the stairs, the room shook violently.  By the time I hit the lobby on a dead sprint, the SWAT boys were dealing with fire exploding from windows all around the basement of Varon Publishers.  They didn’t even notice me at first.  I leapt into my jeep, slammed on the gas and hurdled the three guys who had been left behind to secure the lobby area.  Coming down in several rows of tulips, I bounced hard, hit the accelerator one more time, and shot out of the parking lot with not a soul behind me.

 

 

Masculinely not getting published recently.

  

*

Monday

After I'm dead, I'd rather have no one ask why my writing wasn't published, than less than that many.

Boy, am I ever in trouble at work.

Not because of my little episode at Varon Publishers last Friday.  On the contrary, it now appears that particular incident will soon officially never have happened. 

Here's the situation as of this morning: the Agency’s Office of General Counsel, on learning that Varon Publishers Inc. was planning to send out advance copies of my writing without CIA review, has obtained a court order to prevent unauthorized publication of classified US Government information.

Meanwhile, it has become necessary to make Eva, the breathtakingly, life-changingly beautiful publishing agent from Varon, stop levitating in public (having read my works deeply and at length over the past several weeks, Eva has undergone a dramatic transformation and will now have to be ‘rewritten’; but hey, that doesn’t mean she and your humble author can’t compose wonderful new chapters together ... if you get my completely non-literary reference here). 

It feels good to be a man, a real man, again. 

Sorry, can’t write any more at the moment.  Gotta get up and go take a leak.

... Standing up, of course. 

 

 

The Covert Comic.

Publish him ... if you can.