books

Ada Maria Soto

Books

Agency: His Quiet Agent (2017), Merlin in the Library (2018)


Agency


His Quiet Agent (2017)

Arthur Drams has worked hard for The Agency and is hoping to move up in the ranks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

“That’s…” Arthur didn’t want to rock the boat, complain or seem ungrateful, but it had been four years. “A bit more of a lateral move than I was expecting.”

His supervisor sighed. “Agent Drams, no one knows who you are.”

“We’re a black budget government agency. No one is supposed to know who we are.”

“To the general public yes, however, when your supervising agent and the promotion board have to ask ‘who’ at seeing your name and don’t even recognize your picture, you need to show your admittedly somewhat generic face a bit more. This is your entire file.” Agent Brown lifted three pieces of paper. “No notes against, no notes for, no citations, accolades or recommendations, no warnings, no nothing.”

So he decides he’s going to turn over a new lead and make an impression. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work quite as expected.

“Hi, could I-”

“Lesbian.” The woman didn’t even look up from her yogurt.

“What?”

“You’ve spent the last two weeks flashing a charming smile and looking over everyone here. Lesbian, you don’t stand a chance, so don’t bother.”

He ends up becoming friends with Carol once Arthur makes it clear he’s not hitting on, although it’s only lunctime work friends, it’s a start.

He then decides to branch out and try to befriend the one person who has even fewer friends he does.

He’d been on the fifth floor a little over a month when there was a lull in the conversation. “Okay, what’s up with the guy who’s always in the dark gray suit?” It had been niggling at him since day one.

Carol didn’t look over her shoulder like most people would. “You mean the Alien?”

Arthur didn’t answer. He couldn’t help but be aware of the dark suited man who sat across from him. His habits were clockwork. 8: 05 at his desk, 10: 00 a.m. cup of tea, 12: 30 lunch, 3: 00 p.m. cup of tea, 5: 30 leave.

“Our best guess is that he crashed at Roswell and, after poking and prodding, they couldn’t decide what to do with him so they gave him a human face and sent him here.

Arthur looked over at The Alien. It was a Go Away sign, but it was a very specific type of go away sign; it was the kind that said ‘Look at Me Just for A Moment. I’m Weird. If you talk to me you’re going to decide I’m weird and not like me so let’s just save both of us the public discomfort of you feeling the need to reject me.’ He’d used that same trick in high school with copies of The Prince and Art of War. There might have also been some eyeliner involved. He could also remember being desperately lonely and wanting someone else’s weirdness to match with his.

Then Martin gets sick and things… change.

“I have some library books that need to be returned by tomorrow.”

“They need to be returned to the Erikson library on Eighth Street at exactly 11: 55 tomorrow. They must be returned to the Special Collections desk. Tell the woman at the desk that they are from me. Do you understand all that?”

Martin is now complicated in unexpected ways, and Martin and Arthur begin to spend time together outside of work.

And that’s all I’ll tell you, except that we learn far more about Arthur than we do about Martin, do don’t expect to have your curiosity satisfied about him.

But that’s OK, because that’s how life is.

I really, really liked this one. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s worth reading.

Publisher: Rookery Publishing
Rating: 8.5/10

Merlin in the Library (2018)

This is a very short story that follows on the heels of His Quiet Agent. It’s not a full-blown story as much as a peek into Martin’s mind, and a reassurance that he will, eventually, be ok.

Martin wanted to reassure Arthur that he was fine and send him back to bed, except his therapist reminded him every session that there was nothing wrong in asking for help and he should do so whenever he felt the need.   This advice was anathema to the way he had lived his life. Before. But that was then. He was, if nothing else, not stupid.

We only get the barest of peeks into Merlin, but it’s enough to know that although things were serious, and although he has years of recovery ahead of him (OMG y’all, concussion is actually treated like the brain damage it is, rather than something to just shake off), he and Arthur will be okay.

But really, this is only if you read the previous story. Do NOT read this if you haven’t.

Publisher: Rookery Publishing
Rating: 7.5/10