Shooting the Works with Franklin Dixon

Part 3 of 3

I turned the sound stream back on.  The hot Iranian Computer Science student from FIT who stole my phone and was actually a sleeper agent for the Iranian government, and also a double agent for the FBI was now following Khosrow “the Iron Sheik” Al Vaziri through a backstage area at a WWE fan convention before Monday Night Raw in Atlanta.  And the Sheik was following Vince McMahon.

“Come on,” the Sheik was saying.  “He’s right through here.  He hasn’t seen me.”

“What the?”

“Vince.”

“I don’t have a job for you Khosrow.”  Vince Mc Mahon affected a Persian accent: “Even if you are AAUU three times national champuwen.”

“That’s not why I’m here.  You hear me doing my jabroni accent?”

“Then why are you here?  I thought I told you not to come around anymore.”

“Call your superiors Vince.  Either John Kerry throws the match with Iran, or I initiate Shoot the Works protocol.”

“Oh, you’re here on government business, huh?  Tell the raghead holding your leash to go get fucked by a camel.”

“I will initiate Shoot the Works protocol.”

“Really?  That’s you’re big threat?  You’re going break the news that wrestling is fake?  Khosrow, you and I both know that you already did that.  Remember?  In ’87?  When you set up Hacksaw Jim?  Nobody but little kids believe wrestling is real anymore.  That’s why I call it Sports Entertainment now.  You shot already.  And in return, I leaked that you and Volkoff were foreign agents.  But guess what?  Nobody cares.  Is wrestling fake?  They don’t care.  That just makes it easier for mommies to let their babies watch.  They can tell themselves that nobody is really getting hurt.  Are you an Iranian agent provocateur?  They don’t care.  It’s easier to believe you’re not, that Uncle Sam would never let that happen.  It’s not that they believe the lies.  It’s not that they believe the truth.  They just believe whatever feels comfortable.”

“Vince, I’m not talking about the mommies and the babies.  I’m talking about the Congress for Cultural Freedom.”

“How do you know about that?”

“Vince, everybody knows about that.  My rookie here knows about that.  Right rookie?”

“What?”

“Don’t be a jabroni.  It’s an elitist rogue faction in the CIA.  In the 1950’s the CIA was giving money to avant garde artists to show America was more artistically free than Soviets.”

“I did hear that once,” said the girl who stole my phone.

“So what do you think these guys did when Soviets fall?  They don’t have this Red bogeyman anymore.  They got paranoid.  They started to think what will happen if Americans don’t have to spend all their time worrying about the Russians.  Maybe America would start to think it doesn’t need CIA anymore.  They think they have to promote things that keep people dumb, and keep them afraid.  Promote stereotypes.  So they took the money away from Modern Art.  In the 90’s they give it to monster trucks instead.  Garth Brooks.  And pro wrestling.  This is how Vince takes a travelling sideshow and makes it into superstars.  So the CIA guys, they think this is what makes Americans lazy.  They don’t know Americans are just lazy by nature.  They think it is all their doing.  They think that people still believe in this show.  They think that is why they are still in control of America.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” Said McMahon.  I can hear dejection in his voice.  It isn’t kayfabe.  “That’s pretty much it.  I’ll admit it.  You think I like this situation?  These faked live events?  Don’t you think it would be easier on me, on all my wrestlers and their families if we released whole seasons at once and let people binge watch them on Netflix?  You think I like making these poor bastards travel all over the goddamn country to put on live shows?  Away from their wives and girlfriends and kids?  Developing drug addictions left and right?  You think I wouldn’t rather just do it all on a sound stage in Toronto?  Use CGI to depict the really gruesome injuries? The fans would still eat it up.  We could still make them love the storylines.  Heroes and heels and sudden bloody downfalls.  We’d be like Game of Thrones on steroids in tight pants.  But no.  The CIA thinks that if we did that, little redneck kids wouldn’t believe, and the center wouldn’t hold.  That the average wrestling fan would get disillusioned and start read books or something instead.  That they’d become more informed and less easy to control.  Total bullshit.  But that’s really what those bluenose Yankee White bastards believe.  So we gotta keep doing this.  We gotta stick with the Work.  We gotta at least pretend to maintain their precious goddamn Kayfabe.  Or we never see another dime of Federal funds.  And if I make this call that the Sheik wants me to make, these same guys, they’ll totally cave.  They’ll force the State Department to give up the ship to keep wrestling what it is.  They’re that deluded.”

“Is it really so bad, though?” asked the Sleeper.  “If they do cave and your State Department doesn’t take a hard line with my government?  I mean, I think many people would say that the whole weapons inspection aspect is only a sidebar – that lifting the sanctions is actually more of a threat to the Shia regime than tightening them would be.  There will be more opportunity for interchange with the West.”

“You don’t sound very much like the Faithful,” growled the Sheik.

McMahon ignored him:  “You just don’t know though.  Will lifting the embargoes really bring the Iranian people closer to the western world?  Or will the regime just siphon all the funds into more weapons development and counteract the increased exposure by increasing the repressive measures against their own people?  Will the Iranian people rally to freedom like the East Germans in the 90’s?  Or cleave to the only repressed life they know, like the Iraqis after Gulf War One?  Who can say?  Me, I’m worried about it.  Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.  That’s why I let Hogan be champ for so long.  So I’m not gonna do it.  I’m not going to call the CIA and tell them about your little threat.  But you can go ahead and make a couple more documentaries if you like.  They’ll never even hear about it, not the faction that’s funding me.  They’re all in their eighties now.”

“No Vince.  They’ll hear, and they will care,” the Sheik growled. “They will hear it from you.  You will call them and tell them that you are going to bring back the Iron Sheik for another show.  You will tell them that two weeks from now, on Monday Night Raw in Oklahoma City, you are going to bring back the Sheik, a fat old man with bad knees, and give him a match against John Cena.  And during this match with John Cena, the Sheik is going to pants him!” 

“Pants him?”

“Yes, pull his pants down.  Live in Oklahoma City, John Cena’s cock and balls!  Wrestling will be finished.  Unless the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program increases he inspection warning time and reduces sanctions. You will tell them that if Kerry doesn’t agree to all the concessions, wrestling is history.”

“What?  How are you going to make me tell them?  You gonna put me in the Camel Clutch?”

“No Vince.  I brought a gun.  Call, or I blow you away.”

“Why Khosrow?  Why are you doing this?  Forget what I said before.  I’ll take you back.  We’ll get your knee fixed.  We’ll make you a star again.”

“Make me a star?  America didn’t make me a star.  Made me a clown.  Murdered my daughter.  I want to go back to Iran.  If I do this, it will get me back in with the new generation of bosses there.  They will take me back off the longest field assignment any Iranian agent has ever done.”

“Jesus, okay.”

Fifteen silent minutes passed.

She got a text from the FBI.

Agent Kagan: Did something happen there?  The American delegation just folded.  Totally.  Didn’t even get any prisoners released.

Sleeper:  He had Vince McMahon at gunpoint.  Made him tell the CIA that he was going to expose wrestling as fake.

Agent Kagan:  You’re not making any sense.  How does the CIA not already know that wrestling is fake?

Sleeper:  It’s not that they know.  It’s that they don’t know that everybody else knows.  Or something.  It’s complicated.  You have to get me out.  You have to get me out now.  I’m pretty sure the Sheik is suspects I’m a double agent.  He’s everything Tehran said he was.  Snakes and lions.  And my mother.  You have to get her out.

Agent Kagan:  Are you in immediate danger?  Do you think he may try to kill you right there?

Sleeper:  Not right here.  He’s onto something else already.  With this Hulk Hogan sex tape he bought.  He seems to think I know how to edit video just because I’m in my twenties.  He wants me to alter the audio to make it sound like Hulk Hogan is saying racist things.

Agent Kagan:  WTF?

Sleeper:  Wish I was making this up.

Agent Kagan:  Whatever.  Just drive him back toward Fayettville.  Stop at the Waffle House in Fairburn, at 915 Evander Holyfield Hwy.  Get out of the car, but leave him in the car with the keys.  You will be shot in the chest with a red paintball by a uniformed police officer.  We want Al Vaziri to flee in your car so we can tail him to any contacts he might have.  It is not possible for us to extract your mother from Iran, but if you appear to die in the line of duty it is unlikely they will punish her.

A minute later.

Agent Kagan:  Also.  Burn that phone you have as soon as possible.  We’ve been checking the cell tower bandwidth you’re using.  It’s way too high for texting and talking.  Someone is monitoring you through that phone.

An idea popped into my head, for the first time and also the last possible moment.  I messaged her from my new Facebook account.  We have a date next Monday, if the Iron Sheik doesn’t kill her first.