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May 27, 2024

The Cleaner

By Jerry Guarino

Crystal was one of those secret government agents you never hear about. Ostensibly, she was a dental hygienist, but in reality, she was a highly skilled linguistic interrogator for the CIA. Her special skill was in deciphering speech and secrets from foreign agents.

Whenever the company suspected a foreign agent, they would send them to Crystal for a dental appointment. She would get out the tools of her trade; cotton, scrapers and an ultrasonic scaler. First, she would swab the tongue with a truth serum anesthetic, disorienting the patient and making them highly suggestible. The serum also left the patient completely unaware of what was discussed.

"This won't hurt a bit. It's just to numb any discomfort during the cleaning."

The patient was already under the influence of the fluid; his speech was slurred and unintelligible to most people. But Crystal understood what he was saying.

"Yes, I had a good summer. What have you been doing? Any travel?"

The foreign agent mumbled something for a bit. She could tell that he just returned from Washington, D.C., where he was meeting with officials at the embassy.

"Interesting. What did you talk about?"

The agent blathered on, even popping out some of the cotton.

"So, you managed to turn an FBI agent to assist you. What were they going to do?"

More mumbling. Some spit drooled out of his mouth.

"I see. The FBI agent was going to give you investigative information about a politician in high office."


"In the white house, I see. The vice president, you say. Hmm? And what were you planning to do with him?"

High pitched exclamation.

"Assassinate the president? When was this going to happen?"

Matter of fact mumbling.

"On September 11th? Why?"

Explanatory babble.

"Oh, to make it look like middle eastern terrorists did it. Clever. So, let me get this straight. The FBI agent was telling you about a plot conceived by the vice president to assassinate the president on September 11th, am I right?"


Crystal put a code into a phone like device.

This one is an urgent threat to the president. Please have him see the dentist immediately.

"Your cleaning is done, but I want the dentist to check out some inflammation around your molars. Won't take long."

They wheeled the foreign agent to the dentist's cubicle where he was given a poison injection, delayed to work in 48 hours and untraceable.

Crystal cleaned up her station and went out to the waiting room.

"Who's next?"

A middle-aged man stood up.

"Hi, I'm Crystal. What's your name?"

"Tommy, I was referred to you by my doctor."

"Well, we will be sure to thank them."

Tommy followed Crystal to her cubicle and sat down in the chair.

"Just relax while I prepare your mouth for cleaning."

"I heard you do painless cleaning. I'm kind of sensitive to this sort of thing."

"Oh, yes Tommy, we can put you to sleep. Would you like that?"

"I think so."

Crystal put a gas mask over Tommy's mouth and nose and he was under in a few seconds. Tommy wasn't actually asleep; it was Propofol gas. Tommy would be able to have a conversation but he wouldn't remember anything afterwards.

But Tommy was no spy. He was just a writer with a vivid imagination. His latest work was a political thriller with Russian assets working to destabilize the United States government. Needless to say, Tommy's conversation sounded like an actual plot, but Crystal didn't know that.

Crystal took out a miniature listening device and called in to her handler.

"He's ready. Come take him."

Tommy was whisked away in a black, windowless van bearing the license plate:


Crystal left the office and made a call to the Russian embassy.

"I'm ready for my next assignment, Comrade."

* * *

Secluded with an assortment of Russian politicos, Tommy was able to complete his novel in short order. It became a best seller.

Article © Jerry Guarino. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-09-16
Image(s) are public domain.
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