1. Thursday, October 17, 2002

    is it true you haven’t been wearing your vest in the field? 

    these people knew the answers. i didn’t say anything. they didn’t say anything. coffee was poured. there was a knock at the door, a limp nervous knock. someone found a black magic marker, dug a used envelope out of the small waste basket and scribbled DO NOT FUCKING DISTURB, opened the door and when the young man who had been knocking began explaining what he wanted, the older man said hold this and handed him the envelope and said stand right there, and slammed the door.

    la vista, we like your work, we like your work ethic but you’re losing a step on pursuits, and you’ve become more reckless than we feel comfortable. the gray haired man said.

    your vest, agent, is part of your uniform. we have invested in you and we like to protect our investments, another gray haired man said.

    i respected both of these men. they were mans men. they fought in war. hand to hand. joined the agency before it was trendy. fought crime for the right reasons. did it all by the book. they were the conscious and the backbone of the renegade xbi. they didn’t take shit from wildcard young agents like me. but i could see that they really did like me, so i wasn’t afraid i would be fired, which was good because i had my eye on a dispatcher i had never noticed before.

    we’re going to re-assign you to chopper one. you’re going to learn how to fly a black copter. you will be our eye in the sky. you will be an important part of our work.

    it also meant i would have to turn over my gun.

    most agents considered this demasculinzation. i didn’t. chop lil sonny off and i’d feel demasculinized, but a gun? you can have it.

    chopper one was the best flying vehicle in the agency. it was fast, stealth and completely silent. it was a marvel of engineering and tax dollars. the navy had originally designed it but scrapped it. the xbi tweaked it and made it theres.

    we’re counting on you to make this a smooth transition, they said.

    i handed them my gun.

    they handed me a bag of money and the keys to chopper one.