An old one from the attic...
“A ... what?”
He was staring at them incredulously. The older man smiled, repeating slowly.
“You're an agent.”
He sighed loudly, obviously aggravated. Those men were so dense.
“An agent... about what? Law? For a firm?” he shook his head in disbelief, “Am I selling cars?”
The smile turned into a chuckle. The old guy was making a fool of him.
“Not exactly this kind of agent. You're... well, er... we could say something like a special agent.”
“A special agent?”
They nodded, simultaneously. It was ridiculous. They looked like old puppets.
“How funny, really. So, you mean... I'm a spy?”
The older man pursed his lips with amusement. “Yes. We could say that.”
He banged his fist on the sheet.
“But I am not a spy! I am...”
He stopped, and one of the men urged him to go on.
“Yes? What are you doing? Who are you? Tell us!”
Who was he? He concentrated himself, closing his eyes for a few seconds. Books. Sheets of paper. Chalk. Numbers... He took a deep breath.
“I... I am a teacher!”
They looked interested, but one of them replied, shaking his head.
“No, you aren't. You're an agent. You work for the UNCLE...”
A dream. A nightmare. It was a nightmare. He would wake up soon and laugh at it. “The uncle... Whose uncle? I have no family, here!”
“Because you aren't American. Do you remember that?” The man smiled at him hopefully.
“Of course, I do! I am a British citizen.”
British. Yes, he was. He knew, he remembered. But the older man shook again his head.
“No, you aren't.” He bent towards him and pointed his finger. “You're Russian.”
Russian? Not a nightmare. A joke. A very bad, very nasty joke. He sneered.
“Oh, yes, I see! That's clear... So, I'm a spy, I'm Russian, and I'm a defector? from... the KGB, I guess? And I work for the CIA?”
How funny! As he tried to get up, the other put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Reassuring and firm.
“No, you didn't defect. You came here with your government's agreement. And... we aren't the CIA. We're U.N.C.L.E. That's an acronym. U.N.C.L.E. United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”
Freeing himself from this hand was too much for him, at the moment. He gave up, and leaned back on the pillow.
“Quite a ridiculous name...” he muttered.
“You work with us.”
Again? “A madhouse, I am in a madhouse.”
With an irritating smile, the younger man shook his head. “No, you aren't. You're in a hospital.”
The other one bent over him.
“What's your name?”
Name? Letters on a plaque. A badge. He smiled. He knew.
“My name is Harry Beldon. And I'm a teacher. I teach...”
He stopped again.
At least, they didn't deny it. “I teach science. Quantum Mechanics.”
“Yes, that's right! You have a Ph. D. in Quantum Mechanics!”
They looked so relieved! So satisfied!
“You look like the cat who ate the canary... Does it occur to you that I am not the crazy man, here?3
Another old man was coming up to them. They took some steps back, respectfully. Who was he? Another lunatic? Or, perhaps... well, was he a real doctor?
“Mr. Waverly, let me introduce you to Mr. ... Harry Beldon. Mr. Beldon is a British citizen and he teaches Quantum Mechanics.”
The man's tone was insufferable but it didn't matter. He knew, he remembered.
“Yes! At the King's College, in Cambridge. I'm in Los Angeles, to attend a congress, and I'd like...”
The old man, Waverly, frowned and cut in, flatly. “No, you aren't.” Piercing blue eyes considered him. “You're in New York, and you aren't a British citizen. American cats eat canaries.”
He wanted to run away, as far as possible, but he couldn't. He felt exhausted. Exhausted and dizzy. Who were they?
“You used an American idiom.” The old Waverly man waved a pipe. “You are not Harry Beldon. Your name is Illya Kuryakin, young man, you're Russian and you are an UNCLE agent. Precisely, a Section 2 agent.”
The old man was crazy. As crazy as the two others but he looked like to be rather nice.
“You... Old man...” he hesitated and forced himself to smile. “You're an honest guy. And a good one, with your pipe, and your funny bushy eyebrows. Even when you're frowning.” The two other men quivered but he went on. “I want you to know that you're making a mistake. I am not your ... Illya.”
Waverly raised an eyebrow. “And what about Napoleon, Mr. Kuryakin?”
Oh, no... “Beldon, my name is BELDON... Napoleon? What about Napoleon, now? We defeated him at Waterloo, in 1815. June, the eighteenth. Is that a game ? Do I win the jackpot?”
“Napoleon is your partner.”
“Of course! I'm a Russian spy... Napoleon is my partner. We work for you... and you're... Santa Claus?”
“I... didn't really tell him that, Napoleon, did I?”
Napoleon Solo was looking at him with an unbearable self-satisfied composure.
“Sure you did, partner mine!”
“Stop chuckling! And what happened, yet?”
His partner bit his lips, still savoring the moment. “The doctors were... petrified.”
“And... Mr. Waverly? Stop sneering, Napoleon. Tell me!”
“He... he just laughed, Illya. Then, you fell asleep. This morning, when you woke up, you had recovered your mind.”
Illya Kuryakin shook his head.
“He must be mad at me... Did I really tell him about his bushy eyebrows?”
Napoleon Solo nodded, almost enthusiastically. No compassion, not the slightest one. “Yes, you did, my friend. And you added 'funny bushy eyebrows' “
Oh, no... “You... you are giggling!”
“And you called him ... Santa Claus, Illya.”
Illya Kuryakin grabbed his almost choking partner's lapel.
“Did you hear about the retreat from Russia, Napoleon?”