The Second Story

“I started my training with the psych exam. That looked like it was going to be like a psychologist’s appointment, with the old man in an easy chair, the goodwill-quality couch, and a clipboard on it holding all of my hopes and fears.

            “Are your parents still alive?” the guy asked.

            “Yeah, but I don’t ever talk to them. I’m afraid they’ll find out I never went to Oxford.” I said. The shrink wrote something down on the clipboard.

            “Would you kill me for a million dollars?” he asked. Or something like that, anyway. Well, I said:

            “Right now, I’d kill you for a beer.” Apparently this was the wrong answer, because a red light flashed and a fire alarm sounded. I ran out into the hall. I saw some men with guns,and I thought they were friendly until they shouted something in Italian and shot at me. I ducked back into the room and shouted some colorful language in German.  I never liked killing people. I used to be a pacifist, you know. I took a breath and threw a flash-bang grenade at the Italians. I shot a couple with my revolver and then started to beat the rest senseless, and then the lights came back on.

            “Well done, Mr. Bagely. You seem to have overcome your fear of death as well as your inner pacifist.

            “What? You had men killed for a psych exam?” I asked, and then he said that:

            “Nobody died here,” and then one of the ‘Italians’ got up and said that he wasn’t counting on the hand to hand here.” Tom said.

The woman got up, left, told somebody something, and came back.

            “Alright, the doggy did a trick, now he gets a biscuit.” She said. A man came in with a plate of biscuits, gravy and country-fried steak, put it on my table, and left.

            “Aw, shucks. That’s both the nicest and meanest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” Tom said.     

            “How was it mean?” the woman asked.

            “You called me a dog, and you never gave me a fork,” Tom said. He ate the breakfast and started to lean back on his chair, but the bruises and scars jolted him back forward. “But I do like it, anyway.”

The End

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