I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I’m a former assassin for various agencies of our government. I was cut from the program in my mid 40’s when I developed diabetes and bursitis in my right shoulder. Ever try to throw a knife or fire a high powered rifle with bursitis? It’s no fun, let me tell you. Being an aging assassin is worse than being an aging football player. And we don’t get paid to do any endorsements. Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan would really take on a different meaning for us.

Many of you have seen Kill Bill and the Bourne movies where they show assassins trying to get out of the business being hunted down by other assassins. Not accurate at all. Think about it. If that got around, who’d want to be an assassin? “What’s your retirement program like?” “Um. We kill you.” Here’s what really happens. You’ve heard of the witness protection program? Where criminals who agree to testify against other criminals are given a new identity and relocated? It’s a similar program. The Former Assassins Reintegration Program (FARP). We get some plastic surgery, maybe get some vocational training, get relocated and set up in a business, etc. And then we live a normal life. The agencies we used to work for are behind the misinformation you get from the previously mentioned movies and spy novels. It’s easier to let you think they’re all killed than to think they might be your neighbor or coworker. Or the cook fixing your dinner. That kind of thing makes people nervous.

One guy I used to work with got set up in an exterminating business. We all got a good laugh over that one. The motto on his truck said: “I’ll kill ’em for you.” He figured it had been a good motto for the last 23 years, why not keep it?

Occasionally things go wrong. Like the guy in a southwestern suburb who got tired of his neighbor’s loud music and assassinated him–three bullets to the head, point blank. Very effective. After that they added a psychological dimension to FARP–Conflict Management Without Elimination. It’s always a very interesting class, especially the role playing portion.

As former assassins get older they sometimes have some special needs beyond those of normal senior citizens. To help, there are special nursing homes for them, although to be honest, they don’t live very long there. A lot of them are crotchety, set in their ways, suffering from various levels of senile dementia, and they keep killing each other.

You’re probably thinking I could get in trouble for telling you all this. Well, that’s true–if they caught me. But with all the cut-backs there’s currently only one guy monitoring the media for any leaks on this program, and he spends most of his time reading movie reviews and examining Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. He’s pretty sure some day there’ll be a security leak there and he wants to be ready. So I’m relatively safe. Plus I owe him money, so he’s not going to take me out of the picture any time soon. Besides, most of the people who could make trouble for us are afraid of us–who wants to anger a professional killer? I don’t mind angering my accountant or the receptionist at my doctor’s office, but I think twice before I get a former coworker mad. I don’t need one more reason to be looking over my shoulder (which is getting more difficult, thanks to the bursitis).

Speaking of my doctor, that’s always a touchy area for us old assassins. I mean, I’ve got a jagged knife scar on my left shoulder, a bullet scar on my ribcage, and a long, white scar on my right calf that came from a pen (Bic, I think, but that’s a long story). Those things make a doctor curious, and we’ve got to come up with reasonable explanations for all them. This French assassin I knew was bitten by a guy on his forearm years ago and had a very noticeable scar. His doctor asked him about it and he said a dog bit him. The doctor said, but those are human teeth marks. Oh-oh. Trapped. He finally just said, “Oh. I could’ve sworn that was a dog.” And left it at that.

I thought that was a pretty good answer.



Wolf wondered why his parents named him Wolf. 

“Mom, why did you name me Wolf?” he asked his mom.

Mom sighed.  “Go ask your dad, it was his idea,” she said.

Wolf found his dad sitting in front of the TV.

“Dad, why did you name me Wolf?” Wolf asked.

Dad glanced up.  “Huh?” he said.  Then his eyes returned to the TV.

“Why did you name me Wolf?” Wolf repeated.

“It’s a cool name, isn’t it!” Dad said with enthusiasm.  “Tough!  Masculine!”

“It’s kinda different,” Wolf said.

“You bet!  That’s what I like about it!  If  your mom had her way you’d just be another Jerry.”

Wolf nodded and went back to his mom.

“Dad said it’s a cool, tough name,” Wolf told her. 

Mom sighed again.  “It was between Wolf and Butch, and Wolf won.”  She stopped her veggie chopping and looked up at him.  “If you don’t like it you can always go by your middle name, you know.”

Wolf’s lip curled slightly.  “Leland?” he said.

Mom nodded.

“No, I think I’ll stick with Wolf.”

Just then his little sister came in.  Mom’s face lit up.

“Hi Chiffon, honey!  How’s my little sweetheart?” 

Wolf rolled his eyes.  “I’m going to Rock’s room,” he said.

     I got a call from a former president the other night.  I think he’d been drinking a little bit and he was in a reflective mood.  He wanted to reminisce about a mission he’d sent me on X amount of years ago.  Well, ex-government hitmen like myself who are protected through the Former Assassin Protection and Relocation Program can’t afford to antagonize old employers, so I put down my book and chatted with him for awhile. 

     It was regarding a mission to Colombia (not Columbia—that’s a city in Missouri) and it had to do with the drug trade.  There were a number of people there who could be of great benefit to the US if they no longer existed, and the president asked me to, um, arrange the cessation of their existence.  Back then my Spanish wasn’t anywhere near as good as my Arabic, Russian, or French, so I needed an assistant to do some translating (you’re probably thinking she looked like a cross between Catherine Zeta Jones and Penelope Cruz, which means you probably watch too many spy movies).

     We went in the guise of two political science graduate students, and stayed in a quaint little inn on a river (hey Cristian, are you reading this?  Does that sound familiar?  Yep, it’s me—your favorite guest!  I really am sorry about the car, man).  Somehow our cover was blown—I suspect a double agent in Panama known as The Rodent had something to do with that, but we may never know since he ran into a large piece of D-Con two years later.  Anyway, we had to shoot our way out of a rather sticky situation.  It turned out that Catherine Zeta Cruz shoots pretty well for an interpreter, lucky for me. 

     With no more cover my mission was pretty messed up.  It left me with two hours to talk two drug kingpins into early retirement.  There was no time for pinpoint, surgical precision; this was a job for—Demolition Man!  Explosives don’t really do much for me (I used to have this colleague who just LIVED for bombs), but I had to do something big fast, so explosives it was.  It’s really just a matter of putting them in the right place at the right time; do that and you’re all set.  I can’t say too much about it because some angry Colombian officials protested most strenuously to our embassy and they had to play dumb (I’d hate to have a job where, when things go wrong, the most you can do is “protest most strenuously”).  Fortunately the aforementioned president was very good at playing dumb and we got away with it (you’re dying to find out which one, aren’t you!  Sorry, can’t say). 

     Me and the translator were just able to make it to the makeshift airfield where a former Navy pilot (from the Viet Nam era) swooped down and picked us up.  He was a little crazy and I had to talk him out of strafing some cars that were coming after us (I can be pretty persuasive with a gun in one hand and a 7” Navy SEAL blade in the other), but he finally saw the wisdom in my suggestion.  Fortunately the little guy who jumped out of one of the cars with a shoulder-fired rocket launcher was a pretty rotten aim.  If there’s one thing that freaks me out, it’s being in a plane that gets hit by something that explodes.  I know, I’m a wuss. 

     We made it home and the president declared the whole mission a “messy success” (I’m pretty sure those were his words).  I even got a medal, but I’m not allowed to display or wear it.  It’s in the safe deposit box, with the other ones.