The way things were done, nothing ever changed. Once begun a procedure or plan was never discontinued. Just merely filed away under an upgraded security designation that kept the year’s allocation of the black budget going. No matter how absurd or how heinous, the former war mentality of the last century eventually needed something revived or doubled down upon. Anyone resident over the long haul merely needed to revise it to the proper designation to access a warehouse stationed somewhere way out of the public view to renew almost anything that an demented military or political mind could dream.
If there was something inherently flawed with the makeup of mankind in terms of the type of behavior that too often came out of that dark dank cave of the human unconsciousness, then it surely had a Pentagon high security classification. The fact that the national government was busily swallowing up wealth like a cancer which over time would eventually kill the patient was of no concern. The black budget mentality allowed for so much aberrant decision that it would boggle the conventional consciousness if these facts ever hit the light of day. Perhaps that was why so many at the top remained so vulnerable? Always ready to happily fall prey to eat, ‘drink, act out, and be merry’, and still well aware that tape machines somewhere were running. What did anyone really have to lose at the end of the day but their early childhood inhibitions about right and wrong? Humanity might survive it all, that was true! But so many had to disappear in the meantime to keep the whole rotten shit show running! Each year demanding that so many more disappear than in the last. That was Maxwell’s job. He kept tabs on these things.
His branch kept the whole thing going. No one could find a placard on the door or an office number. No office equipment, typewriters, file cabinets or computers anywhere to be found. It was all in Maxwell’s head. All the its bitty terrible details about the necessary price that had to be paid. Children, women, and usually in a more overt sense, especially men! Those that did not go properly along were, as a matter of routine, vetted along. After all, there were so many ways! Maxwell was so well-versed as the the in’s and out’s of the system that his personal mental facilities rivaled the latest Kray super computer. An old timer with amazing sticking power that had come into service as a sprout and had had gathered much moss since. Put in charge of situations that simultaneously calcified into state secrets. Barnacles really! He went by the book. The one that he wrote done mentally each day. Now in his mid-eighties. and unlike so many others, he had become that book. So much that so many others his junior in their fifties from top levels of the government were bound to visit him sooner or later as a matter of long standing protocol. If nothing else, but to see if they could tell if he had anything on them. No questions could be touched upon that he hadn’t at some point in time been made aware of. A very scary proposition that kept the happy party go’s generally in line.
There could not be a conscience in his line of work. Not a family or a friend, nor anyone to hang out with. Lest they be turned to a form of leverage to wrest him under control. His sentiment for the human species was automatically theoretical. Too many lives had expired under his hands. It was just a job that one never questioned but made sure that one did not somehow slip up. After this number of years it was automatic. He could slit a throat or break a neck as effortlessly as cracking a walnut. One might say that the common walnut had a better chance of survival. The real nasty jobs of setting up a faked crime scene was peanuts compared to infiltrating an entire advanced guard of a national revolutionary front beyond a properly secured border. He’d seen it. He’d done it. He was doing it still. How he managed to ever get any sleep was anything but a wonder. If anyone dared to think it they might have thought that he was the original Count Dracula who had found a way to operate unhindered during the day. Certainly no one knew where he lived or where he had come from, nor never bothered to ask. You might end up an article in the morning newspaper floating face down back by page three. Another taboo was to make a connection with the TV clown of modern espionage who most famously talked to his shoe. Not a wise thing to mention. Had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had the presence of mind to cook up such a character his arch villain Moriarity would have come off like a bellhop in comparison. But so much for omniscience! Maxwell was indeed possessed of human qualities, even flaws. He was a cat lover. One that was always out chasing pussy.
Felines excepted his vice had him regularly rubbing up against long post adolescent females of all kinds. Sometimes males! He considered the world his wine cellar in that regard. Though his appreciation never ranged into anything direct and physically emotional. Almost all of his conquests never knew that he had ever been alive. He just came and went as an invisible voyeur, occasionally using the tools of his trade to provide an extended viewing. They never knew. He might have worn a cape and monogrammed red and blue long johns for all they knew. But, he knew them, anatomically in great detail and otherwise. He evidenced a fascination for the human species as a special category of life. Had not his chosen profession held the incredible degree of perversity that it did one might have considered this creepy. Certainly the young maidens that were pruned from the group to be made available for some covert operation’s innocent victims to be displayed upon a local police blotter. Nothing personal of course, just business enacted for the greater good of the security of the state. Some inmates to replenish the human circus of a emirate shah? A victim to be found carved up near the premises of a troublesome world leader? Maybe the remnants of the otherwise inexplicable landing of some rapacious alien life forms collecting bipeds to experiment upon to keep the public consciousness about the universe reeling? No problem. It was all taken care of.
Maxwell, supposed that there might be others secreted away in other parts of the globe tasked as he. Fellow colleagues that for the necessity of security he might have liked to mingle with from time to time. Perhaps some within their number might be equal in some degree to his own talents? He certainly was aware of some that for the fact of his being aware of him would have quickly laid claim to the distinction. But the awareness of their presence alone disqualified them from ever being a threat. He had more threat of slipping and falling without warning in his own bathtub. Of course, no one knew IF he had a bathtub, or shower, or wading pool. There were those that given his age were busily calculating the amount of time he had left and counting on having a free field of fire when he would no long be heard of or respond to fulfilling his tasks. But then, one could never be sure? One hundred years? One hundred and twenty? Maybe as much as one-hundred and fifty? Who could tell with the advances in medical technology today? There was never any guarantee that he might be transferred somehow into a newly cloned younger body? Then what would happened to those who to freely felt safe to usurp? The ultimate fear being one of some mad genius in a research lab somewhere tasking his great access to so many hidden data banks of near to infinite capacity and transposing Maxwell into a quaternian form of digitized existence fully reliant on untraceable access throughout the planetary cloud of interlinked super computers and storage banks! What sort of monster possessing unlimited stealth and reach could be checked if for some reason he went rogue? Mankind would be forced at some point to have to completely disassembled all their toys to ever hope to find him.
The irony that no one could no was that life as it had with all that have come before had completely drained him of future expectations. Having essentially done everything, been everywhere, and seen it all, there was very little left to covet. Dawn every morning was the beginning of life and dusk through bewitching its final end. Whatever memories that existed before in childhood were but a fable belonging to a storybook character penned by another hand. He had become the job, nothing more, nothing less. A simple order taker serving as a more contentious style of organic machine. If he as an independent personality had ever existed it might have been a shock. But then, since no one really did know if he was for real at this point then this knowledge could never reach him. Safe and insulated from all ideologies, under no constraints by persuasion. And ever mindful of his task in life. All he knew at this point that made any sense was to simply go on.