Thanks Cassie for the lend of your Agent 35 character
Oscar was striding up and down his office floor, recalling all too vividly the last acrimonious conversation he exchanged with a peeved Steve on the subject of his overdue vacation. It ended with Steve storming out of the office with a strong warning that if by tomorrow morning his demand was not met, he would vanish off the face of the earth, not to be found until he had fully unwind. Oscar dismissed Steve’s warning as one given by a man ruled by exhaustion, not paying heed until the next day when Steve acted upon his threat.
Oscar’s mind was in the midst of a brainstorming session when Rudy entered the office.
“Oscar? My secretary told me you wanted to see me?”
“Yes. Steve’s missing.” Oscar said bluntly.
“What do you mean missing? I thought he was off assignments for the next two weeks?”
Oscar threw Rudy a crude knowing look before walking back to his desk. “Not exactly. The NSB’s in a jam.”
“Oscar, the man is at the end of his tether. He’s near collapse,” Rudy stressed to Oscar who sighed with exasperation.
“I know that Rudy. If it were up to me I’d give him two months off, but I’m not the one pulling the reins.”
“Did he know about that assignment?”
“I mentioned it to him in passing, not really certain they would require Steve’s skills to perform the operation. Then he tornadoed out of here threatening to drop off the face of the earth.”
“Can you blame him?”
Oscar sank in his chair in utter prostration. “No. But if I don’t locate him within the next three days, they are going to unleash the dogs on him.”
“I wish I could help you but Steve hasn’t breathed a word to me.”
“Where could he be?” Oscar ranted, pounding his fist on the desk.
It was nearly 11:00AM when Steve stirred in his bed. He stretched out his limbs with a loud yawn and crossing his hands behind his head, he laid, staring at the ceiling with a contented grin. He had retreated in his bunker where he intended to remain hidden for a good solid week.
He went to the kitchen to fix himself a late breakfast-early lunch and returned to the bedroom to watch some TV, his only link with the outside world.
For the next three days, Oscar’s quests to locate Steve were one mare’s nest after the other. He tried to stall the head of the NSB with inventive reasons. He managed to hold them off until the fifth day when they decided to take matters into their own hands and institute their own investigation into Steve’s disappearance.
Oscar went down to Rudy’s lab to share his concerns. He found him giving the returning Agent 35, Cassandra Miller, a complete medical checkup.
“What’s so funny?” Oscar asked a tittering Cassie.
“They’ll never find him.”
“You know where he is?”
“No, I don’t. Honest to God, I don’t. But I know enough about him to say that if he doesn’t want you to find him, you won’t,” she explained with a smirk.
“Do you realize the trouble he’s in?”
“What? They’re going to fire him?” she answered sarcastically. “Come on Oscar. Steve knows what he’s doing. I can picture him wallowing in triumph with a huge grin plastered on his face.”
“I’m sorry but I fail to see humour in this situation,” Oscar said peevishly.
“Let it go, Oscar. Steve will return to the flock when he’s ready. You haven’ t lost him.”
“Hasn’t ever occurred to you that he could be in dire straits and in need of medical assistance?”
Cassie glanced at Rudy with a concerned look. Oscar caught her worried stare and scolded her for treating the matter lightly.
“Steve’s alright, Oscar,” Cassie reassured unconvincingly. “He’ll be back. Give him time. That’s all he’s asking.”
Oscar threw Cassie a withering glare before he returned to his office.
“I think you went a little too far with Oscar.” Rudy remarked to Cassie.
“Ah, he’ll be okay. I know he’s worried about Steve and I admit, I am a bit concerned myself, but if I know 34, he’s lounging around somewhere isolated.” A sly grin crossed her face. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he were…”
“Nah! He couldn’t be. And yet…” She chuckled at the thought of Steve being right under their noses.
The next morning, Oscar was briefing Cassie on her next mission when Steve entered the office with a relaxed stance. “Hello everyone,” he greeted cheerily.
“Steve!” Cassie gushed.
“Hey 35! How you’ve been?”
“Good. How about you?”
“Never better,” he said airily with a friendly tap on her shoulder.
Oscar bolted upright from his chair and yanked his glasses off his face. “Where have you been?” he spat.
“What do mean where have I been?” Steve said innocently, raising Oscar’s hackles.
“Do you realize you have half the NSB looking for you?”
“Really? I didn’t know I was this popular,” he chaffed with a wink directed at Cassie whose shoulders were shuddering with suppressed laughter.
“You think this is funny?” Oscar admonished.
“Where were you, Steve?”
“In my bunker, Oscar.”
“And where is that?”
Steve wagged his finger in the air and tsuked Oscar. “Never. That’s a well-guarded secret that I intend to keep buried until my next escape.”
“I told you Oscar you needed not worry about him,” Cassie gloated to an irate boss.
“Escuse me,” Oscar fumed as he walked out of his office to ask his secretary to notify the NSB of Steve’s return.
Cassie threw Steve a conniving look. “You were in your basement, weren’t you?”
“Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Don’t you dare breathe a word to Oscar about this.”
“Your secret’s safe with me, 34.” She playfully nudged him in the side, “You sly devil, you.”