“The End of the Life”

(Interior, government office, Washington, DC. ASSET HANDLER sits at his desk staring forlornly at his computer screen. DIRECTOR storms into the room, face red with anger.)

DIRECTOR: Asset Handler, my office, NOW!


(ASSET HANDLER rises and follows DIRECTOR into a corner office. DIRECTOR slams the door.)

DIRECTOR: What the fuck were you thinking?


DIRECTOR: Shut the fuck up and listen. You will speak when I say to speak, and at no other time. Is that clear? Do you know why you’re in here?


DIRECTOR: Speak, goddammit!

ASSET HANDLER: Sir, I imagine it’s about the Shalwar Kameez situation.

DIRECTOR: You’re goddamn right it’s about the Shalwar Kameez situation. I thought you had everything under control, Asset Handler, but apparently I made a mistake in believing that. I don’t make mistakes, Asset Handler, I make other people make mistakes, I make the enemies of the United States make mistakes, and then I ground them into fucking powder when they do! When you made contact in Lebanon in 2010, did you have any idea that this fucker was playing us? Any idea at all that he was going to go off the reservation when he had what he wanted – check that, when he had what his Palestinian asset handler wanted? Speak, you halfwit!

ASSET HANDLER: Sir, I believe that what Shalwar Kameez left behind before he went dark should explain everything….

DIRECTOR (in a condescending tone): Oh, you mean this? (DIRECTOR holds up a cassette tape with a torn orange sticker emblazoned with “Confidential”) This technological relic? Please, Asset Handler, tell me what I’m supposed to do with this goddamned beat tape. (DIRECTOR chucks cassette across the desk, hard, and ASSET HANDLER bobbles the catch, dropping the tape to the floor. He hastily retrieves it.)

ASSET HANDLER: Well, sir, it’s much more than a beat tape, I assure you. I mean, there’s some acid, some techno, even some psychedelic rock by the end. There are some cool samples…

DIRECTOR: I don’t give a shit if it’s a lost Velvet Underground bootleg, I want to know what Shalwar Kameez knows, and I want to know what he’s going to do with that information.

ASSET HANDLER: Sir, there’s evidence that Kameez has already been killed…

DIRECTOR: You know that’s horseshit, son!

ASSET HANDLER: Yes, sir, of course, that’s in my report…

DIRECTOR: Your report is incomplete and inconclusive. Who do you think you are, Fox Mulder? You’ll never be a Fox Mulder, you little puke!

ASSET HANDLER: Sir, I had an idea – what if we ran the tape through a spectrograph? Maybe Kameez has hidden the information in the music itself, like the Aphex Twin face in “[Equation].”

DIRECTOR: What the fuck is an “Aphex Twin”? Look, Asset Handler, I don’t care if you have to analyze every single nanosecond of every single tone on this cassette, I want you to fix this, and fix it immediately, or I swear to Christ I’m gonna bust you down to checking passports along the Canadian border. Now get the fuck out of my sight!

ASSET HANDLER: Yes sir, thank you sir!



--Ryan Masteller