Monday, December 30, 2013
The thunderstorm in Montana where, as the winds became heavier and the small plane rocked, all joking ceased and the silence became so great it could be heard. The warrant officer making periodic reports on the Army CID agents trying to get out of the Saigon airport as South Vietnam fell. The chipped china of a dissident who'd been expelled from the Soviet Union. The undercover officers who wore leather and used chains as belts and who spoke of immediately leaving a bar if a certain motorcycle gang arrived. The cobblestones on a street in Heidelberg and the one-person, door-less, elevators at a Frankfurt headquarters. The old investigator who spoke of his time in France and the extraordinary security arrangements for President de Gaulle. The British historian who casually mentioned that he'd been detained by the Nazis while hiking in Germany before the war. My wife in the emergency ward after a serious car accident. A farmer who said he'd rather be shot than hand over his wallet to a robber. The employee who was fired for casting spells on people. More than one lawyer who has whispered, "I've lost control of my client." The retired executive who, after recounting some lessons learned in his career, laughed and said, "I'm just an old saloon singer." The department head who opened a desk drawer and showed me his collection of toy frogs. The lean and hungry aides who knew all the answers or thought they did. Reading and initialing a Pentagon cable and thinking, "That's a bit of history." Being told I was overqualified for jobs at a time when being overqualified did not pay the rent. The many "sure" things that never came through. Eating some barbecued pork while people sold heroin a few feet away on a street in Miami. Watching my son have a long conversation about writing with Richard Russo. The FBI agent who showed me a lounge at the FBI Academy and then said, "J. Edgar would roll over in his grave if he ever saw this." Looking over antiques in the basement of a Memphis drugstore and listening to the owner recall the sales slogan of "an RC cola and a moon pie." Walking through the remains of an adobe house that belonged to a pioneer named Jack Swilling. The imam's speech about the devil at a dinner with a Muslim group. Prepping a mayor for a meeting with an interest group. Watching my daughter in a school play. A call that came when I least expected it: "You've got the job." The surgeon who said, "We've got to go in." A jammed rifle. A crazy dog. A late night call about a shooting in Georgia. The Bohemia beer at The Caverns in Nogales. The prisoners at the Dade County Jail. A chat with a Hell's Angel about Christmas shopping. An interview with a former senator and governor who said less in more words than anyone I've met. Seeing the mass of stars above a boat on Lake Powell. Irrigating a farm in the middle of the night. Watching a coyote walk through a strip of desert in downtown Phoenix. Buying a used book and finding my signature inside. And lots of quickly fading stories that I should write down.
Posted by Michael Wade at 4:00 AM