“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
Nile Franks had always wanted to be a G-man. He read stories of the FBI when he was a kid and dreamed of the badge, the gun, and the mysterious respect. Nile was a handsome, athletic and smart kid and was able to work relentlessly toward his goal.
After college he worked at a crime lab in his home state for a few years, until he was able to apply as a special agent. He was not able to make it into the FBI, but the Federal Marshals were hiring, so he decided to go that route.
He spent a few years in routine warrant execution and drug property seizure work. He kept to the straight and narrow, despite the temptations of corruption and received his notice of promotion to the Federal Witness Protection Program.
Nile received training in document production (since this was a Federal Program, they could issue new Social Security numbers and cards, even state driver’s licenses), witness relocation, and protection. After he finished his training and passed his exams, he was transferred to the department, where he met his supervisor.
“Well, Franks, welcome aboard,” Elmer Wynn said to him.
“Thank you sir,” Nile replied, “I am sure I’ll be able to do the job as required.”
“How was your training?” Wynn asked. “Do you have a pretty good idea about what we do?”
“Very clear sir, it was quite comprehensive.”
“Well, forget about it. The training we give is a bunch of shit. We don’t do anything like that at all.”
“Really?” Nile was shocked, what could possibly be different?
“Really. You realize that all the people in the program are actually criminals? The worst of the worst. And they are all snitches. That makes them the worst of the worst of the worst.”
“Well, yes, I know that. But… Well, sometimes… We have to deal with… for the better good.”
Wynn snorted. “For the better good? Exactly.”
There was a long pause while Wynn looked Nile up and down.
“You know Franks, if you don’t want to do this job you need to leave, leave now, before I go any further.”
Nile was stunned. What the hell was Wynn talking about? But he had come too far already.
“No, sir, I do want to do this job.”
“Alright then. Now, Franks, do you think it’s strange that in this day and age, with everything connected together, with cameras everywhere, with privacy a thing of the distant past… Don’t you think it’s strange that we are able to make one person disappear without a trace and another brand new one appear out of thin air?”
“Well, I know the job is difficult….”
“Difficult my ass… it’s impossible. And our budget. It’s cut every year. Year after year.”
“Well, OK, but….”
“But what? Shit, things were getting so much out of control, a few years ago, we were losing our clients, we couldn’t hold it together. We had to do something. For example, in the next room, a very secure soundproof room is a New Jersey developer. He made a fortune building projects all over the state. His biggest expense, more than concrete or steel or labor, was bribing every official from the zoning board to the governor. He said, ‘that’s just how things work.’ Every mobster on the east coast is looking for him. They know we have him. What do you think the odds are that we can get him anywhere safely?”
“He can go out west.”
“Out west? You gotta be kidding me. There is no ‘out west.’ Time has sped up and space has disappeared. We will work our asses off and spend our whole budget and he won’t last a year. And he doesn’t deserve a year.”
“What can we do?”
“Do? We figured it out. It’s simple, really. Cheap, foolproof.”
Wynn reached into a desk drawer and removed a service Glock, checked the chamber, and set the gun down on the desk between them.
“He’s in the next room, take care of it.”
“What? That’s insane!”
“No it isn’t. He’ll disappear – just like he’s supposed to. We have it all arranged. Nobody will know, nobody will suspect, everybody will think we did our jobs perfectly. We can spend the travel budget on ourselves. You every want to go to Seattle? It’s nice this time of year.”
“That’s impossible. I would never do such a thing.”
“That’s what they all say. I’ve heard it before. About a third of the agents they send us really can’t do it. But of course, we can’t have that. We can’t have anyone knowing the truth.” Wynn picked the Glock back up.
“What do you mean? You’d kill me?”
“I told you to think hard before we had this conversation. We’re the Federal Government. We know how to make people disappear. Anyone. It’s your choice. Right now. Him or you.”
Wynn placed the Glock back down on the desk. Nile picked it up and turned it around in his hand.
He knew what he had to do. He had no choice.