05/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Marty Fleck: How Do I Recover After Being Fired By Dick Cheney?

(Marty Fleck is a self-help guru, the author of the international bestseller Where Can I Stow My Baggage? and the syndicated column "Baggage Handling." He is also the pseudonymous protagonist of Bill Scheft's new novel Everything Hurts. He has generously agreed to answer questions from readers of the Huffington Post.)

Dear Marty Fleck,

I recently lost my job as a paid assassin for Dick Cheney. How do I recover from this blow to my self-esteem without being unpatriotic?

L.D. Jones, Redding, California

Dear L.D. Jones,

Hey, I hope you have Cobra. Or a cobra....

You must not take this personally. We are in a brutal stretch economically, and no industry has been hit harder than vigilante death squads. Christmas 2007, Castro gave all his contract killers polar fleece flak vests and and an iPod shuffle. This year, they got a DVD. Okay, it was Artie Lange's hilarious cinematic romp, "Beer League," but you get the idea.

Consider yourself lucky you had the gig for as long as you did. A kid I went to summer camp with, Billy Kaiser, was in an assassination ring but hasn't worked since Reagan tried to turn Nicaragua into CentroDisney in the early 80s. To be fair, it was his fault. Just as he was sent out to scope a snuff-friendly rooftop, he made a crack to some CIA haircut: "Remind me again. Am I supposed to whack Daniel Ortega, or just anyone named Ortega?" And that was it. Guy didn't get Billy was kidding. Had no idea it was a joke. Pack up your gear and get the next banana boat out. (There might have been a subsequent remark about the CIA guy's wife involving the word contra, but Billy claims that was another button man imitating him over a walkie-talkie).

Look, you had a nice run. Eight years. You got to see Greater Fallujah, the mountainous border region of Afghanistan, and I would guess, the Pacific Palisades. And I'm sure you had more than a few laughs with Cheney. I don't think it's a low self-esteem problem. You want low self-esteem? How about a guy who goes hunting and then has to apologize for being shot in the face? Hello, Doormatville? May I speak to the Mayor?

You're a hired killer. How many people get paid for what they love to do? Your business is cyclical. This is a down time. Give it another 4-8 years. Keep your contact info fresh with Cheney in case something comes up. In the meantime, have you thought about a related field, like pest control?

Speaking of down time, reading is good. May I suggest my international best seller, Where Can I Stow My Baggage? Especially Chapter 4: Can I Make My Baggage Fit Over My Head Or Under My Seat? And speaking of over one's head, can you believe the CIA guy didn't get that Ortega joke? Jesus, loosen the tie.

Enough. Remember: Hurt people hurt people. Or the other way around.

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