The Indefatigable Mr. Lloyd: A Short Story
The fury was undeniable. The American president Ronald Reagan stood at the iconic Berlin wall and instructed the Soviet premier Gorbachev “Tear down this wall” “For this the americans must pay dearly.”
The Indefatigable Mr. Lloyd
Meet Mr. Lloyd
Fifth period class was especially rowdy that day. There were only three precious days left in the school year before summer vacation. No one was happier about that than Mr. Lloyd.
The Teacher and His Class
Although he enjoyed teaching computer applications to Junior High students, he had more “pressing matters” to attend to. He would miss his students, some more than others. There was Rachel Morris who sat at a blank computer screen IMing her vbf Desiree, who was having a contest with Moses Taylor over who could get the most friends the fastest on their social networking webpage. Shelly, the Goth, misunderstood loner sat in the back of the computer lab clad in long black leather, chain mail, lip, nose and both eyelids pierced with enough mascara around her eyes to give Marilyn Manson the jitters. Shelly had convinced herself that she was destined for Gothic greatness…whatever that meant. Angie Bishop was, by far, the most popular girl in the school, at least according to her. She was truly a legend in her own mind. Angie was convinced she could give Cameron Diaz a run for her money and that if she could only meet Orlando Bloom in person, he would immediately fall head over heels for her and leave “what’s her name”. And then there was Nathan.
Nathan Browning moved to Maryland with his family when he was three. He has no recollection of what may or may not have occurred before then. He has seen more carnage, cruelty and man’s inhumanity to man than his young years suggest. His parents had escaped Kim Jong Il’s North Korea with the help of an active underground resistance and spending the last of the inheritance Nathan’s grandfather had left his father to bribe key officials and border guards. Once crossing into South Korea, Nathan’s father had something that the American Consulate in South Korea found compelling enough to guarantee resettlement in the U.S. for the entire Browning family. Browning of course is not their Korean name. Their traditional family name is Yu.
Nathan always knew that he didn’t quite fit in with the other students at Marshfield Junior High. To him, all the other students seemed so sure of themselves. They knew where they belonged. Nathan had no idea where he belonged or why it was that he felt like such an outsider. He only knew that there was inside him a sinking feeling that something was out of place. He also knew that his family had secrets that, if exposed, could mean eminent danger for both him and his family, even though he didn’t know what those secrets were. Though Nathan didn’t know it at the time, someone else was interested in the secrets his family had. That someone was his computer teacher, the indefatigable Mr. Lloyd.
Mr. Lloyd had not started out as a teacher. After a brief yet distinguished career with the State department as an interpreter and analyst in the U.S. Foreign Service office outside of Osan Air Base, Korea, Mr. Lloyd returned to the states contemplating his next career move. Even before the wheels of the 777 aircraft that flew Mr. Lloyd from Korea left the ground from the International airport in Seoul, he had already been targeted. He had already been chosen. He had already unwittingly sealed his fate. They were watching.
Nathan’s father had always been a big fan of American movies. Even in the oppressive years in North Korea before Nathan was born, his father defiantly watched the “contraband filth” as it was termed in North Korean Propaganda literature. Interestingly enough, it had been long rumored that the “Dear Leader” himself privately had been a huge fan of American movies, particularly westerns, while all the while publicly condemning anything from western culture. Rather than use his Korean name, Choi Chin Yu, he decided that he would become Kirk Browning, with the first name taken from one of his favorite American actors, Kirk Douglas and Browning just because he thought it sounded American. His wife, whom he had met while studying music at the North Korean Conservatory had always liked the name Audrey. Her favorite movie was My Fair Lady.
It didn’t take long after Mr. Lloyd landed safely at O’hare International Airport to realize that something just didn’t seem right. Even in the post 9/11 world, the customs agent took a bit too long to look at Mr. Lloyd’s passport and identification. Shortly after passing through customs, two men in dark blue Brooks Brothers suits, tastefully understated ties and stark white shirts approached him and said to him firmly yet politely, “Welcome home Mr. Lloyd. Will you follow us please?” Reluctantly he agreed and was led down a small corridor in the bowels of the airport, outside to tarmac to an awaiting twin engine Gulfwing aircraft that had no markings and was isolated from the rest of the fleet.. “So does this flight have a movie?” Lloyd asked. “No sir, we’ll be arriving in D.C. shortly so we suggest you sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.” Lloyd was a bit frustrated and yet, strangely, the hairs on the back of his neck started to stand up. “This isn’t going to be boring” he thought to himself.
One of the few memories that Nathan had of his life before he moved to Maryland, was that of his Agashi grandfather singing an ancient Korean folk tale to him which, roughly translated is “Arirang Arirang Aree ree Oh as you walk slowly by Arirang…Blue the sky with its myriad stars so sadness fills my heart oh Arirang.” His grandfather had told him to never forget this song. He never did. Nathan would sing that song to himself while walking home from school everyday. While the other students had their MP3 players and headsets, camera phones and other portable devices, Nathan had that song to keep him company. Unfortunately, it was the song that held the key to why he and his family were in such danger.
Upon arriving at D.C.’s Reagan International, Mr. Lloyd was briefed on why he had been, for lack of a more descriptive term, abducted. It was the SDOSI, the State Department Office of Special Investigations that was interested in Mr. Lloyd’s particular talents.
Very quickly, Lloyd was whisked from the airport in a black 2009 Cadillac Escalade with tinted, bullet-proof windows, self-inflatable tires, fully armored body, undercarriage and a hidden rocket launcher should the vehicle ever come under attack, all courtesy of U.S. tax payer. It turns out that SDOSI has learned through an extremely rare leak that in a Maryland suburb just northwest of D.C., there is a family that escaped North Korea that the North Koreans desperately want back not because they escaped, but because they have something the North Koreans want. SDOSI made it clear to Mr. Lloyd that they don’t know what the “something” is but it was now a matter of national security that we get it before the North Koreans do. “You were chosen because of your time in Korea and your thorough understanding of North Korean culture as evidenced by your work as an analyst.” Slowly, the picture was becoming clearer for Lloyd. He understood why he was hand picked for this particular task. (Genome encoded Armageddon Genome perfect pitch.) Lloyd
Time is a funny thing. At one point 8 short years ago, Lloyd had been married to a North Korean woman. They were in love or at least that’s what Lloyd thought until she ran off with an official of Il’s government who promised that her family would be well cared for if she married him. If she didn’t, the official promised a lifetime of suffering for her entire family. “That was an entire lifetime ago. It’s time to focus on the issue at hand.” Lloyd thought to himself. We also believe that you are uniquely qualified to be a sleeper. The family is settled in a Maryland suburb north of D.C. It just so happens that the son is who our intelligence tells us that the North Koreans really want, goes to a Junior High School in the school district. The district needs teachers and through a loophole in the law that governs qualified teachers in Maryland, you are able to get a teaching credential. Under normal circumstances, you would acquire the credential, apply for a job and hope to get placed as the boy’s teacher. We already took care of all that with cooperation from the governing board of the school district. As far as they know, we’re conducting a top level government investigation that has Delta clearance. Get some sleep Mr. Lloyd. Your class will be waiting for you tomorrow morning bright and early and MarshfieldMiddle School. “Won’t I raise suspicion by coming in at an odd time of the year? It’s already October.” “Not really, there’s such a chronic shortage of teachers that no one will raise an eyebrow.” We’ve also taken the liberty to acquire a small tastefully decorated, understated townhouse with a few “extra features” we installed ourselves. Your car is a late model Toyota Corolla. Keep in mind you are supposed to be living on a teacher’s salary. When you arrive, your handler will meet you. She will be a colleague of yours who happens to also be the school media specialist. Her name is Mrs. Beale.
It was that simple really. Before he knew it, Lloyd was a mole disguised as a teacher. Lately however, he often wondered if he was more teacher than he was mole.
Mr. Lloyd will return soon. Thank you for allowing me to introduce him to you.