June 2099, Temporarily-Challenged Eborakon (formerly New York), capital of the United States of Democratic West
“Strictly confidential,” the President said.
Euclyde Jehosabath Coltrane nodded several times, as if he just heard the most profound words of wisdom.
“Don’t worry, sir,” he announced happily. “Everything is gonna be a-okay. You dude ... I mean Mr. President. You just –” he spread his hands, looking for the right words. “You just hang in there, sir! We won’t disappoint you! Sir! Right, Mike? We won’t disappoint Mr. President?”
Mike Prziszczewski looked at him.
“If we do disappoint Mr. President, we’ll be really ... really –” he stopped, overwhelmed by emotions.
“Sad,” Euclyde finished for him.
Mike nodded gravely.
“Yeah,” he said. “That’s what I meant. Sad.”
“Unhappy,” Euclyde added.
“Miserable,” Mike said.
“Distressed,” Euclyde said.
Mike thought for a moment and said: “Dysphoric.”
“Hey, that was a good one,” Euclyde said.
The President opened his mouth. No words came out. He closed his mouth again. Euclyde smiled nervously. Mike gazed at the President’s shoes.
“The situation is grave,” the President finally said. “The fact that Special Agent Jean-Pierre Krishnalinga is no longer with us is deplorable.”
“He was great, man,” Mike said. “I mean sir. He was baaaaaad on the drums, man. Just as Archie Bloedtraum was baaaaad on the sax.”
“JP and Archie were both bad,” Euclyde said. “Badder than the baddest badders. Bad City. Bad-o-rama. Badissimo.”
“They were f•©king bad,” added Mike by way of explanation.
The President took off his goofy-looking glasses and wiped his eyebrows with a shivering hand.
“I ... ahem ... understand that you two and Special Agent Krishnalinga were ... erm ... performing together in –” the President pressed his fingers against his forehead.
“Shanghai, dude,” Euclyde said.
“Sir,” Mike said.
“Come on, Mike, you can call me Euclyde. We are buddies, right? Pals! Mates!”
“I mean you should address Mr. President as sir, you moron,” Mike said with disgust. He sighed and told the President: “No offense, man. I mean sir. Euclyde is a moron, you know what I mean? A moron.”
“Idiot,” Euclyde said apologetically.
“Er ... I think I understood that part,” the President interrupted. “I entrust you with information which, by all accounts, must be considered strictly confidential. I believe that there is no need to stress that this mission is of utmost importance. It may so happen that the future of USDW will depend solely on its outcome.”
He paused. Euclyde and Mike kept staring at him. The President nervously caressed his cleanly shaved face and continued:
“A person known as ‘the Vizier’ has recently taken control over the Caliphate. He is the one who pulls the strings behind the curtain. He shapes the political future of his country. Now let’s take a look at their recent activities –” The President put on the glasses, pulled a sheet of paper from a drawer and continued: “They signed a peace treaty with China, declaring their previous official statement about East Turkestan being an inseparable part of the Caliphate null and void. They removed their troops from Urumqi. For the first time in over ten years (since the Kashmir Incident in 2088), there is a good chance for a permanent peace agreement between China and the Caliphate.” The President cleared his throat. “Which leaves us, the United States of Democratic West, somewhat isolated as the only super-power which is still at war with the other two.”
“F•©king lonely,” Mike summed up.
The President raised his head and squinted at the ceiling.
“Your objective is simple. You have to find out about the Vizier’s true intentions towards the USDW. So far, no official statement has been made by the Caliphate regarding the ongoing war in the Middle East. But terrorist activities have been decreasing drastically ever since the Vizier rose to power. It is yet unknown whether it is an unprecedented step towards peace or a new war strategy.”
“Don’t worry, Mr. President,” Euclyde said. “We’ll find out. Maybe those Caliphate fellows finally understood something. I mean, you also did a lot, Mr. President. You gave them Chechnya.”
“And you tried to give Siberia to China,” Mike added. “Only they wouldn’t take it.”
“It’s too cold there,” Euclyde said encouragingly. “Nobody wants a cold place. Not your fault, Mr. President.”
The President looked at him.
“We’re on our way, sir,” Euclyde said quickly.
They bowed several times, like Japanese female receptionists in a five-star hotel, and went out.
The President sighed. He put both hands over his face and pulled hard. The mask fell down, revealing his true face. Bulbous nose. Fu Manchu mustache. Spiky rock-star hair. He sighed again, then picked up the phone and dialed.
“Lao Wang?” he said. “It’s Archie. How you doin’, man? Yeah, I’m cool, man. All cool. Yeah, loved your solo on You Don’t Know What Love Is. Taaa-doo-dee-doo, doodly-doo, doo-bee-doo, doo-da dum! dum! dum! Yeah. Hehe. So anyway. You think Mimi can do it? Really? Man, that would be like ... Haha. Yeah. Hehe. Hehehe. I know, I know ... Such a great idea. Right. Sure, man. Sure. Best regards. Best regards. See ya.”
Still smiling, he reached down and pulled an alto saxophone from under the table.
To: President of the United States of Democratic West
From: Agent Prziszczewski
(orthographically correct version)
Dear Mr. President!
We did it! Woo-hoo! Man! I mean, we hereby respectfully report the situation as situated by the aforementioned initiative regarding the following alternative above. What I mean is we did it! Yeeeeee-hawwww!!
Ok. Man ... Let me explain, sir. So me and this imbecile, I mean cerebrally-chemically challenged Euclyde, go to this place. It’s called Mauritius. You ever heard? Now it’s Caliphate, but before it was like an independent state or something. Like, before this whole Great Division f•©kup. I mean, mess. An untidy state of affairs.
Anyway. Where was I? Why am I typing this? ... Mauritius. Yeah. It’s, like, pretty hot there. Yeah. Hotter than old TCE, that’s for sure. Thing is, this Vizier dude often goes there. Visits a jazz club, of all places, can you imagine? Didn’t even know the Caliphate dudes allowed that kind of thing. So we tailed him. Just like in the movies, hehe. We went to this jazz club and there he was.
Man ... You are so not going to believe this. The Vizier is not a real Vizier! I mean, he is Vizier! But also not! You know who he really is?
Haha, I won’t tell you! No spoilers! He’ll write to you, man. I mean sir. Quest complete! Mission accomplished! Yeaaaaaahh!!
Signed: Special Agent Mike Prziszczewski
To: President of the United States of Democratic West
From: Vizier of the Caliphate
I hope you are all right. You know who I am, right? Of course I recognized you! You can hide your face, but you can’t hide your soul, bro! There is only one Archie Bloedtraum in the world, bro. And can I tell you something? You shouldn’t be ashamed that you were a jazz musician. Think about it. How did you become the President? How did I become the Vizier? Charisma, bro. We musicians got more charisma than all those boring senators in your country or the crazy sheikhs in mine. It’s like magic, right? People just listen to you. You can do what you want with them. It’s super power.
So you had this idea to use this super power. For the right cause, bro. Because what is more important than world peace? I saw what you were trying to do. You were trying to stop those stupid wars. You tried reasoning with the Caliphate. You tried reasoning with China. But they didn’t listen to you. Because they were still ruled by boring or crazy people. What a crazy world it is, bro, don’t you think?
So I understood I had to do something. I went back to Mauritius. I still had contacts there. They got me a new ID. I made my way to the top of the Caliphate, just as you did in USDW. I didn’t betray you, bro. I just wanted to make some balance, you see what I mean?