Small World

Rudol­fo!”

I turned, star­tled into betray­ing myself by the sheer unthink­a­bil­i­ty of this even­tu­al­i­ty. I had been in this ridicu­lous lit­tle city in the mid­dle of Amer­i­ca less that twelve hours, hav­ing nev­er been across the Atlantic before in my life. I had spent con­sid­er­able care on my dis­guise at every stage, and Com­mand had made it clear that this was a mis­sion of the utmost inter­na­tion­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty, and there­fore secre­cy. So who on earth (lit­er­al­ly) could be shout­ing my name (a name I had not used in near­ly a decade) in the mid­dle of the after­noon on what undoubt­ed­ly was pass­ing for a crowd­ed street in these parts?

She was wav­ing ener­get­i­cal­ly about thir­ty meters behind me, stand­ing next to a parked mini­van I had pre­sum­ably just walked by a few moments before. It took me a long moment before I rec­og­nized her: the Amer­i­can stu­dent, in Ibiza on her Spring Break, what had it been: fif­teen years ago now? I knew the pro­to­col: I should ignore her, lose her in the crowd, report the poten­tial breach on my next code-in. But I felt so stu­pid, star­ing at a woman (for she was cer­tain­ly that now) I had known for three days half a life­time ago; three days in which there had not been a lot of chit-chat. And real­ly, there wasn’t near­ly enough of a crowd to even attempt to lose any­one here.

So this is what it feels like to see your career evap­o­rate in an instant. I final­ly get a top-lev­el mis­sion like this, and now I’ll be lucky to sal­vage a desk job. Assum­ing I even make it out of here alive.

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