An Interview with Michael Oboe
Sarah Fields: So, first of all, welcome to the studio, Michael. It’s so good to have you on Interviews. Lovely suit. Is that a silk tie?
Michael Oboe (laughs, tugs at necktie): Yes, it is. A gift from Maggie O. And thank you for having me. Trust me, this is the only break I’ll have all day, so, yeah, it’s good to be here.
SF: That’s exactly what I was going ask next. With your schedule it must be awfully hard being a celebrity at the same time. How do manage to fit everything in?
MO: Sometimes it feels like time’s pulling my eyes out, to be honest with you, Sarah. Glen Belgrade, my manager is a top bloke, and without his daily assistance I doubt I’ll even make it out of bed some days. I’m a bit of a disaster in the morning.
SF: So, time management, guts, glory … Tell us, Michael, what does it take to be the world’s best assassin? You obviously don’t have to be a morning person.
MO (smiles, tugs at goatee): I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m the best. The most efficient, perhaps, and that’s the key. That’s what’s put me at the top of the list for six years running. There are some quality guys out there. If you look at Maggie O’s record, you’ll see she’s not far off the mark. Not bad for a twenty-two-year old. I really think she’s got what it takes to be number one.
SF: You think she’ll dethrone you?
MO (slaps thigh): Ha-ha! Dethrone. I like that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m not going to make any predictions just yet, but I’d say I still have few good years left in me. These hands are as steady as they’ve ever been.
SF (dramatic pause, looks up at the ceiling): Six months ago those hands weren’t so steady. What happened, Michael?
MO (sighs heavily): What a mess that was. Am I correct in assuming you’re referring to the incident involving the president?
SF (straightens dress over her knees): The one and only.
MO: In a previous interview, about two weeks before the incident, I mentioned that stress was starting to have a negative effect on my work. I had problems at home, and I was drinking heavily at the time. Well, to make a long story short, I got absolutely smashed out of my tree on absinth the night before I was to eliminate one of the President’s body guards. I can’t for the love of my life remember his name—
SF: It was a man called Karl Podolsky.
MO (rolls eyes): No wonder.
MO: So, I’m on this balcony facing the hotel backdoor where the president and these two hookers are supposed to exit, right. My manager, Glen, is on my left. Don’t screw this one up, Michael, he says, don’t screw this one up. I say: Stop saying that, Glen. You say that for every hit, and to be honest with you, it doesn’t do my concentration any good. So, there’s Glen, quiet now with a nervous twitch in his moustache, holding a chocolate milkshake in one hand—they’re great for hangovers, chocolate milkshakes—and there’s me aiming at Karl paddle ski.
SF (laughs): Podolsky.
MO (makes a waving gesture): Whatever. And then, just as the president and his entourage exit the building, this bat comes flying out from under the roof beams and nicks Glen’s ear with its wing. Can you believe it? A bat at seven in the friggin’ morning? Anyway, so Karl shrieks like a little girl and then stumbles forward, tripping over my jacket on the floor, and spills the milkshake down the back of my neck. And then the proverbial shit hits the fan. I pop one of the hookers in the chest and the next bullet splits the president’s toupée in half.
SF (looks impressed and straight into the wrong camera): Close call, then?
MO (leans over and whispers): Very close. She was a rat. A filthy rat, she was.
MO: The hooker. Turns out I shot to pieces the recording device she used to record the previous night’s escapades. Bloody extortionists.
SF: And there were no hard feelings between you and the president?
MO (slaps knee): Of course not. As you’re awareม the story made news, and the whole toupée business was a bit embarrassing for him. He was over it in a couple of days. I did have to buy him a new toupée, though. Cost a bloody fortune, those things.
SF (laughs): So, if it wasn’t for the hangover, you might’ve actually assassinated the president.
MO (shivers): Exactly. And don’t forget the milkshake. God, I still get nightmares every time I have a cold shower.
SF: So, it worked out well in the end.
MO: You can say so. I had a strong Scotch on the rocks at the hotel bar after that episode and then quit the booze. Don’t come near the stuff anymore, and everything’s great at home. Glen still thinks he’s got rabies, though. Takes some kind of herbal medicine, even after all the shots.
SF: You’ve never been ashamed, or embarrassed by the fact that you come from humble beginnings. How did it all start? How did you get involved in the Assassination Game?
MO: Very humble beginnings, Sarah. I was the first of seven children. Mom worked nightshift in a hotel—not the one I popped the hooker one in the tits, mind you, and Dad worked fourteen-hour shifts. I’m proud of where I come from. Naturally I was the one taking care of my siblings, making breakfast, cleaning little Mary’s bum in the early hours of the morning while Dad was asleep–I was always looking out for them, you know. I guess that’s part of it. Taking care of the shit, as they say. We went through a lot as kids but it’s strange, isn’t it, only the good memories remain. Unless, of course, you’re being interviewed and asked to reminisce about the bad stuff that went on.
SF (clears throat): That’s what I mean. You sound like a very caring person. How did you get into doing what you do? And let’s be honest, it can be pretty brutal work. Mentally and physically.
MO: Well, things happen you know, Sarah. The milkshake-hooker-toupée fuckup back then is a perfect example. It’s all about the luck of a draw. Things change for better or worse and there’s fuckall we can do about it. I’m obviously not going to go into all the details about the whens and the wheres and the whos and the whys of becoming an assassin. Basically, when I left school I had a bit of luck for the first time in my life and ended up in the Assassin’s Guild. I worked hard. You reap what you sow, and the rest is history.
SF (nods in understanding): And history is what you made last year. You assassinated five-hundred-and-thirty-seven people.
MO (winks): Five-hundred-and-thirty-eight. You forgot the hooker, Sarah.
SF (winks back): I did forget about that little rascal. That’s a lot of lives lost, Michael. You’re a public figure, and would I be wrong to say you’re a little on the extravagant side? Just a few days ago you shaved your head for everyone to see where you got your first chip. How does it make you feel to walk around in public, knowing that everyone knows that you’re a killer?
MO (runs hand over shaved head): I’m afraid I don’t know how to respond to that question, Sarah. To me it’s a job, nothing more. How do you think one of the Seven Judges would respond to that question after sending someone on the Run? They make the decision, I execute. Look, it’s no secret what I do. I kill bad guys for a living and everybody watches the Assassination Game. I think people respect me for that. Pimps, dealers, smugglers, paedophiles, rapists, rat-faced hookers. I take them out. That’s my job.
SF: But does it make it right? Are you proud of what you do?
MO: As Major Briggs said, ‘Achievement is its own reward, pride obscures it.’ I will not get drawn into a discussion of this.
SF (flips over to a new page on the clip board in her lap): Right … ahem … and now for the big question, Michael, who’s next on the Run? To everybody’s astonishment, no names were made available by the Guild last night. What was the reason behind that decision? I mean, millions of viewers—billions—were staying up until midnight to hear who’s running next, and who’s hunting them down. Isn’t that part of the excitement, part of the show, to know who’s next and to watch the race against the clock?
MO: Truth is, Sarah, we don’t have anyone on the list this week. More than a decade of extermination is finally paying off. When you look at the figures you’ll see the crime rate has dropped by a staggering eighty-three percent over the last five years. All our hard work is paying off.
SF: Does this mean you’ll be out of a job soon?
MO (bites down on bottom lip, tilts head back): Hopefully, Sally.
SF: Michael, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time to come and talk to us.
MO: Thank you, Sarah. It was nice talking to you.