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  • Writer's pictureThe Fake Guru

“Welcome to the Eco Barefoot Hotel. Can I offer you a fresh towel and a complementary papaya juice? You’re most welcome, sir. How was your trip?”

“Long.” The short CIA agent wipes his face. His partner, taller in stature and wearing a colourful Hawaiian shirt, takes off his sunglasses and looks around in silence.

It was 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit - a hot, sunny afternoon on Hanimaadhoo island. From the reception where they stood a beautiful beach flanked by the emerald sea could be made out just behind the dining area. White, sandy shores, lush mangroves and the sound of the waves gently breaking in the distance; after journeying half-way around the world, they had finally arrived in the Maldives - aka, paradise.

“Can I have your passports and surnames please so I can check your booking?” The dark-skinned receptionist flashes a dazzlingly white smile. Hesitantly, they exchange a look. Freely handing out personal information, let alone their passports and identities, was not common practise in their line of work.

“Smith,” the short one answers handing over their passports, “and this is Carter.” The tall agent, having donned his sunglasses again, continues to silently stare into the distance. Were it not for his height and flamboyantly colourful shirt, one might have thought he were trying to make himself invisible and fade into the background.

“A twin bedroom, correct?”

“Actually,” the tall agent steps in, “I was wondering whether you might have two separate rooms available?”

“I’m afraid we’re all booked out, sir. Please, follow me - right his way.”

The room is bright and airy, luxuriously spacious for a twin. Why the Agency would skimp on providing them with separate rooms, especially after insisting they take a vacation following the last mission, was a mystery. Something about it being “good for their partnership,” as the Chief had said. But sitting on the beds in silence waiting for their luggage to arrive felt horribly claustrophobic.

“Drink?” The short agent asks.

“Hmm.” His partner grunts in response.

They find the bar on a wooden pier overlooking the ocean. The sun has begun to set and the beachfront is cast in colours of deep red and gold. A warm breeze carries the scent of salty water in the air. The tall agent closes his eyes and breaths in deep.

“A scotch for me,” the short one says to the bartender, “and a piña colada for my partner. He likes em with the umbrella and extra pineapple - if you’ve got em.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the bartender looks at them puzzled. “We do not serve alcohol on the island. It is forbidden. Allah inshallah. I can offer you a mocktail if it would please.”

At this the tall agent sorts loudly, pulls the brim of his sun hat over his eyes and, folding his arms, sits back in his chair.

“We’ll have two of those then,” the short agent sighs. His left knee throbs dully from an old wound that had the tendency to ache on all sorts of inconvenient occasions, one of which being when he became agitated.

“Two of what, sir?”

“Two of the goddamn mocktails, shaken, not goddamn stirred, with umbrellas and pineapple in them, goddamnit!” He smacks his hand down on the counter, his cheeks flushed. Two weeks here with no alcohol! What was the Chief thinking? With one eye the tall agent peers out from under his hat. He tuts at his partner, and, whistling through his teeth, once again reclines in his chair. They sip their drinks in silence watching the last rays of sun vanish behind the horizon.

“You could say something, you know,” the short agent speaks, his gaze fixed on an irreverent point somewhere over the dimming ocean.

There is a long pause. A lone mosquito buzzes in the twilight, settling on Agent Smith’s leg. With a loud splat he kills it, squishing it under the palm of his hand. He wipes the blood off on his cargos. Finally, twirling the tiny umbrella between his thumb and forefinger, Agent Carter exhales and responds: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Few words are exchanged over the following days. From afar one might have spotted the two agents partaking in activities together as two newlyweds might on their honeymoon; one morning one could catch sight of them synchronously rowing one of the bulging canoes which were available for rent along the sandy coast; on another one could find them paddling side by side in the water, shorter Agent Smith clad in nothing but a plain blue speedo alongside taller Agent Carter, who preferred to keep his white t-shirt and large sun hat on due to an extreme sensitivity toward the sun. In the evening the two of them would join the other guests for lavish buffet dinners where they would dine opposite one another at a candle-lit table in silence; and at around six-thirty every day the agents would sit by the pier, silently watching the sunset while sipping on their mocktails, the tiny umbrella twirling idly between tall Agent Carter’s fingers, or superfluously cast aside by Agent Smith. After the first day this activity had become somewhat of an unspoken evening ritual and despite the fact that the island was easily large enough for the two middle-aged men to spend the days apart, they spent near to all hours of the days together - whether out of habit or lack for a better option one could not say. Every once in a while Agent Smith might make a passing comment, pointing out a crab scurrying across the sandy shore or a lizard hanging off the ceiling, none of which ever resulted in anything but failed attempts at conversation with Agent Carter, who on rare occasions might respond with a grunt or a hmm, but mostly seemed content with upholding a stoic silence.

One evening (at about the half way point of their forcefully prescribed vacation) while sipping on their mocktails and watching the churn of the crimson waves, Agent Smith, who had quietly been squinting at the horizon, suddenly jumps up, throwing his chair over with a loud bang.


Immediately Agent Carter springs into action. In one swift motion, and at a lightning-speed one would never have expected from the tall burly agent, he summersaults off his chair and, crouching like a coiled spring, presses his back into cover by the bar. Out of nowhere a Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum Revolver has appeared, cocked in his hands.

“Move!” He hisses at Smith, who stares at him, frozen on the spot.

“No.” Smith points at the sun in the distant horizon. “Look.”

Shyly, Agent Carter peers over the rim of the bar into the sunset. Silhouetted against the fiery orb he spots what his partner of many years’ service was so innocently trying to draw his attention to: a pod of dolphins joyously jumping in and out of the water. His breathing slows. His body relaxes. From one moment to the next the tall agent with the Hawaiian shirt seems to have aged by twenty years. With a heave he pulls himself off the floor, steadying himself against the bar and for a quiet moment the two agents watch the happy scene together in blissful serenity. After a while, short Agent Smith picks up the two chairs and they reinstate themselves on their seats. Carter leans back, once again pulling the brim of his sun hat over his eyes. A moment passes in silence. Then, Smith speaks:

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Without raising his eyes, as if in a constant doze, Carter responds:


Another moment passes.

“You know we’re not meant to be carrying firearms. Chief’s orders. How did you even get it here?”

Carter shrugs his shoulders.

“Occupational habit.”

From a distance the two agents made a tranquil site: two grizzled men silently sipping on their drinks watching the purple sky gradually lose colour; a pod of dolphins splashing in the ocean, their dazzling figures imprinted on the horizon; and the stir of the waves breaking in rhythmic whispers against the white shores. It was a tender moment of rouge magic; a snapshot of two old souls lost in thought; a quiet portrait of unspoken lovers. And from that point on, though no more was said, Agent Carter’s mood slowly started to improve.

Two days before the end of their retreat, the agents decide to go scuba diving. In the late afternoon, after spending several otherworldly hours beneath the ocean’s surface, they make their way to the resorts diving center to return their wetsuits and oxygen tanks. The meridian sun beats down on them heavily and while the diving has left them feeling physically tired, the two agents walk with an air of lightness, as if the buoyancy from their underwater adventure had a continued effect of weightlessness on them even after their return to dry land. While the two men diligently rinse the sand off their gear, Carter notices a movement in the small diving center basin, a two-cubic-meter tub of water. He peers over the edge and catches his breath. Swimming in the tub, her head gently knocking against the glossy wall with each stroke of her flippers, is an old sea turtle.

“Beautiful, isn’t she?” One of the diving instructors joins Carter and peers into the tub. “We found her out there this morning. Poor thing’s sick - we’re not quite sure what’s wrong with her though. Something internal. Couldn’t orientate herself in the water, didn’t know where up or down was anymore. Probably wouldn’t have been able to come up for air if we hadn’t found her. We’ll take her to the hospital this afternoon. Can I take these?” He carries their tanks into the diving center.

For a while the two men watch the majestic beast. No one speaks. Finally, Agent Carter, transfixed by the sight, asks under his breath, almost inaudibly:

“Do you think she’ll be okay?”

Smith looks at him. A single tear has welled up in the corner of Carter’s eye. He hasn’t noticed it himself.

“I’m sure she will,” he says.

From the bay the soothing sound of the waves echoes across the distant shores.

It’s 8 a.m and the two men once again find themselves sitting in the hotel reception. Having checked out of their room, they are waiting for the taxi to take them to Hanimaadhoo airport. It’s a 40 minute inland flight to Malé International where they will part ways: short Agent Smith will be returning stateside, while tall Agent Carter made the spontaneous decision to extend his journey. The night before he booked a flight to Rajasthan, India, from where on he will be travelling north. Little is said on the inland flight. Every once in a while, Smith points to a group of islands from the airplane window. The blue ocean stretches out infinitely, lazily lapping up against their shores. His partner, sun hat tipped over his eyes, has returned to quiet brooding.

“Alright. Well, this is me then.” At Malé International, after passing through security, Smith points in the direction of his gate. “And you’re that way, I think. Take care of yourself, Carter. It’s been a good trip. I’ll make sure to thank the Chief from you.”

“Yes. Please do.”

The two men embrace awkwardly and Smith makes toward his gate.

“Wait.” Carter calls.

Smith stops and turns to look at him. “Yes?” Their eyes meet. A final moment of silence. Then, Carter:

“I love you, man.”

“I love you too.”

They embrace one more time. Then, they part ways.

The End

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