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When you're a spy, the word belated gets eradicated from your vocabulary. You don't send belated birthday cards. You don't send belated Christmas cards. You don't send belated wedding, anniversary, graduation or congratulations cards. You don't even bother to send belated wishes via e-mail. You tend to miss physical events like birthdays and baptisms and Bar Mitzvahs, because it's nearly impossible to tell a Taliban assassin you'll have to halt his inquisition until Monday so you can make it to T.G.I. Friday's for your buddy's fortieth.
If birthdays, weddings and holidays meant a lot to you, you wouldn't be traveling the world under diplomatic cloak; you'd be sitting in a cubicle, rigging the Secret Santa lottery, drafting memos about the need for casual Fridays, and fantasizing about the person who services the photocopier. Being a spy means never being forced to eat potato skins in a T.G.I. Friday's surrounded by men in Dockers or expressing your emotions through the mystery of Hallmark.
When you're no longer a spy, however, you learn pretty quickly that there's no card that says, Sorry I missed the last dozen Mother's Days. I was busy doing black ops. And yet there I was, in the middle of Target in midtown Miami, staring at row after row of greeting cards, trying to find one that might justifiably say that very thing.
My ex-girlfriend/former IRA operative/current business associate/confusing-person-of-romantic- interest Fiona Glenanne handed me a card. "This one is cute," she said.
The cover read: I'm Sorry . . . The inside said: . . . For being a terrible son. Happy Mother's Day!
"Subtle," I said.
"I think it would speak to your mother." She handed me another card. This one had a photo of a line of identical puppies trailing behind their mother. On the inside it said: It could have been worse. There could have been ten just like me. Happy Mother's Day!
"A lovely sentiment," I said. "But no."
"Have you thought about composing your own card?"
"Fi," I said, "I don't even want to buy a card. Why would I want to make one?"
"I don't know, Michael," Fiona said. "Maybe to show your mother you appreciate her carrying your vile existence for nine months."
She had a point. The problem was that if I started making my mother handmade Mother's Day cards now, next year at this time expectations would be astronomical, and next year I planned on being out of Miami permanently. It may be a big city, but when you're essentially trapped in the city limits by your own government, every day it seems to shrink by an inch.
One moment, I was a covert operative in fine standing, negotiating a wire transfer with a Russian gangster over a Nigerian oil refinery. The next moment, I was an excovert operative in exceptionally poor status, running for my life. Subsequently, I've been ensnared here, in Miami, trying to figure out the truth behind who issued my burn notice, thus placing me on a blacklist the world over, my movements alternately watched by the FBI and ignored by the FBI. As long as I don't leave the surrounding area, I won't heat up. So for the last year, I've been forced to take jobs helping people while I try to gather evidence on the people who turned my dossier into a bible of lies, learning along the way that I've been moved like a pawn and how difficult it is to find the king.
That's the easy part compared to navigating my mother Madeline's emotional ballistics. I've spent nearly forty years on this planet, have dodged bullets and missiles, have killed men, have blown up buildings, have found myself disavowed by my own government. . . . And I would do all of those things again, twice even, if it meant I wouldn't need to find an appropriate Mother's Day card.
"Why don't I just take her out to dinner?" I said.
"You should make her dinner," Fi said, and handed me another card. "This one is nice."
On the front was a huge mushroom cloud erupting over a '50s-era tract home. I didn't bother to open it up. "This isn't, technically, helping,"I said.
"Suit yourself, "she said. "I'm going to the garden section. See if they might have anything I can later use to incinerate your loft when you invariably disappoint me again.
"That sounds like a great plan," I said.
I watched Fiona walk away. Both men and women followed her as she passed. She paused for a moment in front of a display of scented candles, let her fingers idle on one, leaned forward to smell it, like she was putting on a little show, letting people know she was in the building, in case anyone hadn't noticed her yet.
A Cuban kid wearing a wife beater and with a barbed-wire tattoo that climbed up the middle of his throat stopped behind her and ogled her ass. He didn't realize it, but depending upon Fiona's mood, he was potentially about five seconds away from losing a vital organ.
Fi must have been in a good mood, since when she turned around and saw the kid she just smiled and whisked away.
She had that thing. There wasn't anything physically imposing about hershe was small, really, barely over 5'3", maybe weighed a hundred pounds with a gun strapped to her anklebut she walked like a panther, carried herself with a confidence that said she could sleep with you or kill you and it really made no difference to her which outcome won. In a different world, I suppose it would be a lot easier to just be with Fiona, but there's nothing easy about being in a relationship with someone recognized as an international criminal, particularly when you're a spy. Or used to be a spy. My own identity crises probably didn't help the situation.
I spent the next ten minutes thumbing through cards. None of them appealed to me. I kept looking for one that said something along the lines of I love you, despite it all, but Hallmark didn't seem to have that one available this season.
Things were getting dire. I called my younger brother, Nate, to see what he was planning on doing. He answered on the fifteenth ring.
"Bro, if someone doesn't answer after five rings, that means they aren't home," Nate said. He sounded like he'd been sleeping. For days.
"What are you getting Ma for Mother's Day?" I said.
"You don't say hello?"
"I thought you weren't home," I said. "I was leaving a message."
"What time is it?"
"Crap," he said. "I'm late."
"Where do you ever have to be?"
"I've got appointments," he said. "People depend on me."
Nate has never had a real job. Doesn't have a real job. Will never have a real job. He periodically drives a limo, which isn't a real job. Driving all day and getting nowhere does not qualify as actual work. Even a hamster would agree. I suspect one day the IRS will want to have a long, involved chat with him.
"You driving to jai alai or the track?"
"If you must know, jai alai," Nate said. "And then I have a few drops at Indian casinos."
"You running people or bets?"
"I have a vested interest in the success of the sport and in the gambling industry as a way of helping the Native Americans."
"It's Mother's Day, Nate," I said.
"When has that ever mattered to you?"
"I'm just saying," I said. "Listen. I'm going blind staring at cards. Tell me what you got Ma and I'll let you go."
"The same thing I get her every year."
Dealing with Nate is often a delicate exercise. He doesn't react well to authority. He also doesn't think of me as authority, which compounds things.
"Right," I said. I picked up another card. This one featured a picture of a morbidly obese woman in a bikini. The inside said: I might be responsible for your stretch marks, but at least you're not this fat. Happy Mother's Day! "When did greeting cards get so mean?"
"Where are you?" Nate said.
"Aren't you all domesticated now?"
"I even eat with silverware. You were about to tell me what you got Ma."
"If you had a yard, you could get one of those blow-up pools. Get Sam to play lifeguard to the neighborhood kids. He was a SEAL, right?"
Nate was talking about Sam Axe, my de facto watchdog and partner, who was indeed a SEAL, but was now essentially Jimmy Buffett with a license to kill.
"Not likely. Listen. I need you to focus. What did you get Ma?"
"Maybe Fiona could take up baking," Nate said.
"Are you done yet?"
"Oh, I could go all day."
"Just tell me what I need to know and I'll let you back to your life of leisure and won't even tell Fi about that baking remark. Save us all a lot of problems."
Nate said, "You're the spy. Figure it out." And then he ...
If you like burn notice you will love this. It was eye catching and riveting. Highly recommend to fellow fansPublished 11 months ago by Jennifer Hoelle
I love the show burn notice and at first i thought this was going to be the same as the show but it was not, it had a different plot and scenarios.Published 11 months ago by Wei Lin He
Great police series with all sorts of twists & turns that really keep you on your toes. I would recommend it to all that like police shows.Published 13 months ago by Listlady
I enjoyed this story, was way better then the television show ---- got much more info on being a spy, more jokes was quite entertaining and amusing, GREAT READ!!Published 17 months ago by Lynn Demsky
This book was great and it was a quick read. If you like or even love the show Burn Notice, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Amazon Customer