e were taken
in a van with tinted windows and government insignia to a small airfield.
I expressed to Cormac my concern that he was flying us out of the country
before wed been able to meet the Clintons, who were all big fans
of The Unknown, even Chelsea, even Roger, who reportedly howled
with laughter at our comical fictional drug-fueled book tour during
his stay at the Betty
Ford Clinic. Cormac winked. The Clintons are going to be more happy
to see you now than ever, now that they know youre going to help
us out on our little project overseas. Did this mean that we
were involved in a covert operation that not only the President, but
Lady, were aware of? We didnt realize that we were going to be
reporting so high up. Maybe we were bypassing the C.I.A. altogether.
Cormac escorted us to a C-123. We climbed inside and tried to make ourselves
comfortable. Outside on the runway, soldiers were loading gigantic crates
onto our plane. It occurred to me to be apprehensive. Dirk was reading
John Ashbery and was withdrawn. Scott was smoking
and fixing martinis. He saw me looking and smiled and said, Its on
Uncle Sam. Just then, a man whom I assumed was the pilot
came back to where we were sitting. He had a white helmet and jumpsuitno
military markingsand orange goggles. He looked stern and Scott
was about to ask if it was okay to smoke inside the plane when the
stubble on the mans
cleft chin wiggled into a smile and he lifted his goggles and it was
We were surprised as hell and all smiles and backslapping but what the
fuck? Frank could pilot a C-123? He sure didnt pick up that knowledge
when we were working on our Masters degrees back
in Normal. It was a liberal arts program, we didnt learn any applicable
skills. And he couldnt have joined the armed forces in 1997 and be working
for intelligence, very high-level, in 1999.
So he must have been working for the C.I.A. or the N.S.C. or (I shuddered)
the D.E.A. the whole time when we were in grad school together. Even when
I snuck that hit of marijuana when I was studying Kristeva in his kitchen
and he smelled it. Frank the Spook. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Marquardt.
Which was undoubtedly only one of many aliases.
But why would an intelligence operative get a creative writing degree?
To spy on someone. And that someone could only be
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