The chilly early morning breeze hit Marlene full in the face, jarring her from her thoughts. She wrapped her thin, Section Seven issued sweater around her before continuing her morning jog. Her mind drifted like incense smoke to the events of the last two weeks. As she had been promised, Marlene had received training at Section Seven’s version of the CIA’s Farm, albeit an extremely abbreviated one. The Farm took in rookies and turned them into active duty secret agents. Her days started at 7 A.M. and ended at 8 P.M. everyday. She trained in basic self-defense, firearms, and evasion techniques. Marlene had to brush up on her languages, as Section Seven planted that planted that Gina Aquino was a traveled linguist. She was confident enough with her limited training and inherent common sense to know she was ready. She and Oliver had a meeting scheduled later that day with the three senior officers that had briefed her when she first arrived at the Grid, Section Seven’s headquarters.
“Good morning sunshine,” he said warmly. “Let’s go.”
Marlene groggily undid her seatbelt and followed him jarringly towards the exit. She blinked against the bright sunlight. Marlene looked around her, as Oliver guided her towards the only vehicle on the tarmac, a sleek black Mercedes-Benz. “Feeling a bit tipsy?” he asked, opening the door for her. Marlene slid into the backseat and stretched her arms, yawning despite her morning breath. As soon as Oliver shut the door behind him, the car pulled away. Marlene couldn’t see the driver’s face throughout the ride.
I finally finished “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton the other day. Full disclosure, I saw the film before I read the novel. I won’t go into the adaptation because I think the novel stands well on its own. The novel was published in 1920 about 1870s New York society. It’s fascinating how one look, one casual phrase could destroy a person’s entire reputation. I think that’s still true, but for the most part, we can start over somewhere else and bounce back. If someone is ruined (the Beauforts, more so Regina than Julius, highlighting the gender discrimination of the time), it’s unheard of. The specter of New York looms as its own character in the novel, and all of its citizens play their lives out so spectacularly. Wharton paints this wonderfully manipulative underbelly even while its inhabitants breed their discontent as it has been done for generations before.…
Oliver glanced at her. “What’s with the silence?” he asked casually.
“You mean I can speak?” she cried.
“Ah! So she knows the English language!” Oliver teased.
“Yeah, and four other languages, buddy!” she exclaimed. Oliver let out a hearty laugh, and Marlene joined in, releasing the steam that had been built up since their last meeting.
A few days later, Marlene chalked up her late night meeting with Oliver Masterson as a figment of her overactive imagination. ‘If they really needed me, they would’ve made contact with me already. And besides, what do I know about being a spook? And if I really wanted to, would I want to work for the bad guys? This Masterson cat made it sound as thought Section Seven (stupid name to begin with) was all shady and mysterious and shit. He came across like he was Wilson, Sydney’s own recruiter into SD-6, and we all know how that turned out,” she reassured herself for what seemed like the millionth time. All of the internal conversations Marlene had been having all began and ended the same way, with her turning down some lucrative anti-American spying deal with this black bag intelligence agency called Section Seven. Marlene had even gone as far as calling the numbers on ol’ Oliver’s card. The local land line number led to a nonexistent pet shop and the cell phone number led to a clock repair shop that had gone out of business years ago. Marlene felt like an ass. She realized that Section Seven was monitoring calls made to those voice mailboxes. She had fallen for the first rule a potential new recruit could ever violate: “if we say we’re gonna call you, we’ll call you.”