Agent Oswald

Contributor: Eric White

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“You can’t do this,” said the wiry man across from me. He spoke in Russian. It was sloppy, and his accent was almost comical.
“Please, Mr. Oswald, let us speak in English. It is, after all, your native tongue,” I said, and poured myself a drink.
“I’ve already told you. I’m more than willing to denounce my American citizenship. I can help you,” he said in English.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Oswald. That is just not true.”
The man was taken aback, but he knew better than to raise his voice. All he did was squirm in his seat, and glance around the mahogany office.
“I’ve already proven that I could be one of your agents. I’m the perfect spy.”
I nearly choked on my drink.
“What’s so funny? I’ve taken all the tests. I’ve proven I’m more than capable.”
“Why do you want to be a spy for the Soviet Union, Mr. Oswald?”
“Answer the question, Mr. Oswald,” I said.
“I want to help the Soviet Union. I want to take down tyrannical capitalist governments. I want to — “
“You want to be a celebrity. You want undying fame and glory. It’s really quite easy to see.”
“What? That’s not true. I don’t know what you’ve heard, but—“
“I’ve heard plenty, Mr. Oswald. I’ve had plenty of reports from the town. You claim to denounce your homeland, but you use your status as an American to gain local fame. A spy that wants to be famous is no use to me.”
“That’s not what I’ve been doing. I have just been trying to—“
“Yes, I’ve heard about how the girls love the American turned Soviet spy. You have even been heard comparing yourself to the likes of Vasily Zaytsev with a rifle.”
“It was harmless fun. The locals don’t know anything.”
“You insult my people, Mr.Oswald. Everything that has happened since you’ve arrived on our base has been part of an assesment. You have been in contact with no less than twelve of my agents in the last month. You have been assessed and determined to be of no use to the Soviet Union, or anyone else.”
“Please, Mr. Chardov. I can still help. Maybe not as a spy, but I could be a translator or monitor American news or I could—“
“Mr. Oswald, you can barely read or write your native language. Do you take us for fools?” I said, taking another sip of my beverage.
He was sweating profusely as he rubbed his hands together.
“No, sir. Never.”
“Then why do you think I have any use for a dropout with no special skills whatsoever? A dropout who can barely read his own language. “
“Well, what about my citizenship? If your government approves it, I can still make a living. I can be a Russian. I could stay in the town, off base, and never bother anyone.”
“That will not be happening either,” I said. “You will be leaving the Soviet Union tonight on a flight back to the United States.”
“What? No. Please, no. Why?”
“Mr. Oswald, you are a sniveling and pitiful creature. My country has no use for incapable cowards. And that’s what you are, Mr. Oswald. A coward.”
“I can’t go back. What if they find out? I could be thrown in prison. I can’t. I can’t risk it.”
“Don’t worry about any of that. We have fabricated a story for your last year and a half in the Soviet Union and your last month on this base. You will comply with our fabrication, or you will be killed. That’s how I know you will agree to our terms.”
“Why are you just letting me go? Aren’t I a liability or something?`”
“No, Mr. Oswald. You are not,” I drank down the last of my glass. “You are of no threat whatsoever.”

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