I'd Rather Have A Bottle In Front Of Me
Than A Frontal Lobotomy
Where do secret agents go when they resign?
I found out the hard way when I angrily resigned from my agency over a matter of principle without first making arrangements to disappear myself. In my flat--while I was hurriedly packing--I was gassed unconscious and woke up in a beautiful village, with an ocean in front of me and mountains blocking my rear flank. In other word, no direction to escape.
“You are Number Six,” I was told.
"Six. For official purposes. Everyone has a number. Yours is Number Six."
“I am not a number, I am a free man! I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or NUMBERED!”
“That's all well and good, Number Six, but we give people here in The Village a number because it's easier than remembering names. In YOUR case, we don’t even know your name at all. Hence, Number Six. Watt is MY name.”
“I don’t know.”
“No, I’m telling you... Watt is my name.”
“And I’m telling YOU... I don't know! Is there someone else I can speak to?”
"As far as you're concerned, I'm in charge. What can I do for you?"
"You can tell me the person you answer to."
"That would be Number One."
"And who is Number one?'
"My, aren't you a clever one. That's right, Who is Number One."
"That is what I want to know."
"And that is what you so cleverly figured out."
"Are you Number Two?"
"And you say you're in charge?"
"Six of one, a half dozen of another."
"Then you know Number One’s name?"
"Of course I do."
"Tell me, then, who's Number One?"
"I mean, Number One’s name."
"Your immediate superior."
"Who is my boss."
"I don't know. That's why I'm asking you who's your boss."
"Well, that’s his name."
"That's who's name?"
"Well, go ahead and tell me."
"Tell you what?"
I paused again to consider, and then took another direction in order to outsmart him.
"You’re Number Two?" I repeated.
"And you are in charge?"
"That is correct."
"Then you should be privy to the payroll."
"Of course I am."
"When Number One gets paid, who gets the money?"
"Every penny of it."
"I said, who gets the money?"
"He does, every penny. Although, sometimes his wife comes down and collects it."
I saw my chance, and quickly seized upon it.
"Who's wife?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
"Let me put it this way, when she asks for her husband’s paycheck, she says it’s for who?"
"What's wrong with that?"
"So whose wife gets it?"
"Yes, she does."
"And when she gets home, she gives it to who?"
"That is correct."
"Her husband who?"
Number Two laughed.
"How many husbands do you think she has?" he quipped, and I ignored.
"When Number One goes to the bank to make his deposit, he has to sign the back of his paycheck, correct?"
"So how does he sign his name?"
"I asked you first, how does he sign his name?"
"That's how he signs it."
Number Two was more clever than I at first thought. Instead of breaking him down, he was breaking me down.
"All I want to know is what is Number One’s name," I lamented.
"Watt is MY name.
"I'm not asking who's Number Two."
"Who's Number One."
"ONE NUMBER AT A TIME!"
"Well, then, don't start mixing us up."
"I'm not mixing ANYBODY up! Except MYSELF!"
"Calm down, Number Six."
"I AM calm! This is how I ACT when I’m CALM! Let me ask you again, who is Number One?"
Perhaps I was being too clever for my own good. I decided to take the direct approach.
“You are Number Two.”
"And what is Number One’s name?"
"Watt is my name."
"I'm not asking who’s Number Two..."
"Who's Number One."
"...I’m asking what is Number One’s name."
"Watt is MY name, but we're not talking about me."
"Who’s talking about you?"
"So you're confirming it?"
"You're welcome," I said, and waited for him to continue.
“Well," he said, finally, "what did he say?"
"Of course about Watt, and why am I speaking in the third person?"
"I don't know," I admitted, my psyche crumbling. "I don't even know what I'm talking about any more."
"Well, then, perhaps we can start with this: what is your name?"
My eyes pierced into his, as I cocked my head at an odd angle and considered whether I should give him even that basic piece of information. Finally, I made my decision.
“Why," I told him.
Number Two was visibly taken aback.
“Because...” he hesitated, suddenly unsure of himself, “I... want... to... know?”
“Enough of this nonsense!” thundered a voice from the room's epicenter.
With that, Number Two crumpled to the floor like a marionette with its strings suddenly cut.
There was a blue Police Box in the heart of what I had considered to be Number Two's office. Its doors were open. Why hadn't I seen it before this? Deep in the darkness of its interior stood a presence, more than a person. I couldn’t tell whether the form was young or old, male or female. The silhouette indicated to me that this human shadow was interestingly dressed.
Interestingly dressed, indeed.
As the figure walked forward out of the shadows, it seemed to change identities with each step.
That is, until it stepped into the light.
“Hello, Number Six. I am Number One.”
“Who?” I said, stammering in disbelief at finally meeting my true nemesis.
“Exactly,” the figure said, “but you can call me The Doctor.”