Funding Opportunities (Flash Fiction)

Two representatives from the CIA, both dressed in tailored suits and wearing expensive watches, were brought into a room that overlooked the coast line from a jagged rock cliff. Below them, through the glass panels of the floor, they glanced and saw surging waves bashing against weathered rock. The woman asked if they wished for refreshments. They respectfully declined. Moments later, Bob entered the room with an escort of two of his finest henchmen and sat at the opposite end of the table. The henchmen took post behind him.

“To whom do I owe this surprising visit?” he asked, getting right down to business. “And what wonderous turn of events has brought you knocking at my door rather than trying to blown it up with explosives?”

The agent with a thick jaw and aviator glasses cleared his throat and did his best to smile an apology. “The US government has decided that feuding with a man as resourceful as yourself is no longer in the country’s interest. You’ve proven too difficult for us to capture.”

Bob knew the flattering words were only meant to disarm him, but he smiled none-the-less, proud to know that the words were true.

“We’re here to negotiate with you,” the agent continued. “We’d like you to join our cause.”

Bob’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, your cause? What cause might that be?”

The second agent chimed in. “Sir, if I may beg your pardon—”

“You certainly may,” Bob interrupted with a smile and soft nudge of the elbow to one of his henchmen. The two standing next to him snickered.

“Then please, if you’ll be kind enough to give us an understanding of your tactics, what exactly is your cause? Why is it you so often seek to take the world hostage for ransom money?”

Bob leaned back in his leather chair and laced his fingers behind his head. “Well that’s all very basic now, isn’t it? I need funds, plain and simple. Even crony-capitalists like yourself can understand such a concept.”

“And what is it that you need the money for?” asked the first agent.

Bob began to grin wider and wider. No wonder they’d been unsuccessful in making his capture. The CIA was apparently filled with idiots. “In order to fund more research and development, you poor boy.”

The two agents looked at each other briefly before the first one wearing aviators continued. “And what is it you’re researching that needs so much funding?”

Bob chuckled and looked to his henchmen. They chuckled as well. “Well I’m quite obviously researching new ways to take the world hostage, you dullard. Is this your first day on the job?”

“No, sir,” said the second agent. “Not at all. You see, we ask because we’ve come with an offer from the US government. What would you say if we offered to fund you directly in your R&D endeavors?”

Bob raised a wary eyebrow. “The United States want to pay me to take over the world?”

“No, sir. We want to hire you. We want to fund your R&D program directly.”

Bob plucked a ripe, red apple from the small fruit bowl in front of him and rolled it in his hand. “Are you in for a cut of my profits? Is that it? You fund me and in exchange I give share in the ransom money?”

The two agents glanced at each other again. “The idea is that you’d have enough funding to no longer find need in taking the world hostage every few months.”

Bob took a bite from the apple. “What’s the point of R&D if you’re not going to use it to take the world hostage?”

“Well…” ventured the first agent, “If you’re being funded directly, why would you  need to hold the world at ransom?”

Bob spat the chunk of apple out with laughter. He slapped the table and roared while his henchmen joined in. The CIA agents sat uncomfortably through the torrent. “My dear boys,” Bob said after calming down, “it’s all very simple. To take the world hostage, you need powerful weapons. To make powerful weapons, you need R&D. To fund top-notch R&D, you need oodles of cash. And what’s the best way to rake in oodles and oodles of cash?” Bob asked to his henchmen.

“Take the world hostage!” they yelled. Bob nodded with obvious pride in their answer.

“But sir, if we funded your R&D directly there’d be no need to—”

Bob waved his hand and cut the man off. “I’ll have no more of your nonsense,” he said as he stood. “You’re clearly with a complete lack of understanding toward how this business works.” He motioned his henchmen to escort the two agents out. “You should chat with the good fellows from Iran. Their ambassador came by a week ago and we had the most lovely chat. Now there’s a government that understands the financial burdens of research and development.”

With Bob erupting into laughter once more, the two agents were shown the door.

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