I made a promise long ago that I wouldn’t return to this life. But I can tell by the look in your eyes that you boys are out of options. You need the best covert op that this department’s ever seen. If I’m gonna wade into this shitstorm of a mission, you have to look me in the eye and tell me one thing: how will taking on part-time contract work affect the taxation of my Social Security benefits?

Yes, Director, with only 72 hours remaining until detonation, it makes sense to focus on the mission. We’ll use satellite recon to locate the terrorist cell and enter the country undercover to avoid detection. Tell me, though, will my alias be at full retirement age? I bring it up because I’m still two years away, so any income I generate over $18,000 means I’m deducted half of my payments that are—

Yeah, yeah, we can circle back to that. I’ll add it as a notecard to the corkboard here. I’ll get rid of this one that says NUCLEAR AND BIOLOGICAL?!?! Probably not important.

Alright, based on the radiation signatures obtained by Intelligence, we’ll need to move fast. That means we’re gonna have to bend some rules. The Geneva Conventions. The Torture Ban. The tax code regarding disbursement of Roth IRA funds for those working in retirement. We cool with all that? Maybe when you reinstate my license to kill, you can throw in a license to match investments?

I’m seeing a lot of confused looks in the room. Admiral, I’d be happy to connect you with Jen, my financial advisor at Principal. She’s been great. I have a very particular set of skills, but using the Medicare Plan B website is not one of them.

You know, it’s been nine long years since I turned over my weapon. Nine years of peaceful days and memories that come barging into my brain at night. My point is, will you be adjusting my old salary for recent inflation? It seems like a cost of living increase would be appropriate. Honestly, this would have been great information to get upfront. You gave me the whole “the world needs you” speech but really skimped on the details of employment.

Oh, and I want dental insurance covered too. I still have that cyanide implant in my back left molar, and I definitely don’t trust my in-network provider around that thing. He only got two stars on Healthgrades.

Respectfully, Mr. President, I don’t think this is the time for shouting. Sir, as you wish, we will assemble the team and be wheels up by dawn. I will have gotten up to pee at least six times by then anyway.

One potential complication, though, is that I have a pickleball match at the Y tomorrow. I’m not saying I can’t miss it, I’m just saying I’ll need to email to find an alternate. Unless we push the flight to the afternoon? No? It’s the spring league playoffs, but that’s fine. I think you underestimate how much gloating Morty and Geraldine Neiderhoff will do if they win two years in a row, but for my country, I can endure it.

So once we locate the outpost, we’ll need to be prepared to wipe out the key members with extreme prejudice. Side note: I’m still deadly in hand-to-hand combat, but do you think this mission will require me to lift my left shoulder above my head for more than a few seconds at a time? No, it’s not sore from the Arab Spring shrapnel; I tried to lift a landscaping stone the other day.

It’s getting hard to hear in here through all the praying and weeping, but is that Craig over there on the switchboard? Hi, buddy! You still taking your pontoon out to—

Yes, we can certainly finish our debrief while we still have the UN Council on the secure line. It just feels good to be chatting with work friends again. I tried to set up a Facebook group for the old Ghost Ops team, but everyone technically never existed. And I couldn’t find a phone number for Facebook to get a group set up anyway.

Welp, I think we’re ready to wrap here anyway. I just need to run this by Jen, but don’t worry: I’ve had her on speakerphone this whole time so she’s up to speed.

Oh, the enemy tapped my phone? And those sirens are probably not a drill then? Gotcha. Hey, Jen, let’s shift my brokerage account focus to medical supply companies. Also, do you have a pickleball racket? I can’t let the Neiderhoffs enter the nuclear winter thinking they are two-time champs.