Josiah Malum was irate. Three weeks had passed since the day Mischa had sent the letter, but it had yet to appear in Newsweek – and it was now doubtful that it ever would. Josiah was not a very patient man. Deep in the Pentagon, in his private chamber, he sat across from his assistant and eyed him contemptuously.
“Mischa,” began Josiah menacingly, “we have a problem.”
“W-what’s the problem, sir?” asked Mischa, whom people now frequently mistook for having a severe case of Parkinson’s.
“When I asked you three weeks ago, you informed me that you had sent the letter to Newsweek. For 21 days, I have waited; but I refuse to wait any longer. I demand answers!
There are, as I see it, two possibilities: Either you lied to me, and you never mailed the letter at all; or it was intercepted. So which is it, Mischa?” demanded Josiah.
“S-sir, I assure you, I sent the l-letter!” pleaded Mischa.
“Very well. Then it was stopped,” concluded Josiah. “Somebody is interfering with our plans. This means we have yet another obstacle to overcome.”
“W-what obstacle is that, sir?” inquired a quaking Mischa.
Josiah was silent for a moment.
“You’re an idiot.”
He stood up, lighting a cigarette as he did. Slowly he began pacing around the table, stopping every few seconds and glancing upward, as if searching for some sort of inspiration (in reality he was making a note of all the light fixtures that needed replacing). Mischa never dared to look away from his boss, and his eyes followed Josiah across the room.
Suddenly Josiah looked directly at Mischa, who fearfully leaned back in his chair and fell crashing to the floor.
“Mischa! I have a new assignment for you. Whoever intercepted this letter obviously didn’t want it to be printed. It thus stands to reason that he must be prevented from interfering any further. Before I continue with my plan, I want this man killed,” stated Josiah. “And you’re paying for that chair. That’s the third one you’ve broken this week.”
“K-killed, sir? Isn’t that a bit…extreme?” asked Mischa, pretending not to have heard Josiah’s last comment as he lay immobile on the ground.
Josiah glared at Mischa. He didn’t speak, but his message was painfully clear. Mischa began to cry, and Josiah let out a sigh of frustration.
“God dammit, not again. Mischa! Stop crying!” he commanded. “I still can’t believe I hired him over that assassin who applied. What the hell was I thinking?”
Mischa, sniffling, regained what little composure he had. Wiping his eyes on his sleeve and picking himself up, he began nodding slowly and then tried to sit down on the chair he’d just broken, which he shortly remembered was…broken.
“I-I’ll do it, sir! B-but, how do I find him?” asked Mischa, now opting to stand.
Josiah, exhaling a cloud of smoke, flashed a mirthless smile and sat down. He folded his hands and leaned forward portentously.
“By any means necessary.”
Josiah’s laughter reverberated cacophonously throughout the room. Mischa nervously joined in, but Josiah interrupted him.
“Only I may laugh, Mischa.” he said. “You're not evil enough.”