King of Spades

I stare at my tattoo in the mirror. King of Spades. In the art of cartomancy, practiced widely in the alleys of my home country, spades are associated with sickness and death. The US government couldn’t have chosen a better suit for me.

Until 2003, I woke up early to bronze my skin and dye black any roots that had sprouted during the night, careful to keep up the facade of my middle eastern ancestry. The truth of my origin was known only to Saddam and Ali Hassan, a cousin of Saddam’s who was paid to take my role in public meetings while I hung in the shadows, playing the part of lowly adviser. In truth, I was the real Chemical Ali and my offenses against the Kurds merely proof of concept. And a bit of fun.

When the Americans invaded Iraq, it was easy to cleanse myself of the artificial olive tone and shave away my sable hair. I waited a few short months for my eyebrows and beard to grow in their natural blond and posed, using flawless American English, as a contractor who had been attacked by insurgents on his way to work. I was “rescued” and entered US soil a hero.

Now that I have had time to rebuild my laboratory, I can carry out the mission I was given twenty-five years ago by masters in the Kremlin: Attack the Americans. Let nothing stand in the way of Russian ascendancy.

The world will soon see that the taking of Crimea was not an event unto itself, but a signal to play the hand of the King of Spades.

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