they had decided to put the xbi headquarters in santa barbara

me and hilary

no one knew why. probably the weather. probably the parking. probably the airport.

sure there were some smart kids there but werent there smart kids everywhere?

the difference was we were down for whatever. at all times.

except early in the morning.

we would drink anything. smoke anything. eat anything. and because of that everyone kissed us.

one night all the pretty girls in town rounded up all of the junior xbi trainees

and under the light show of stars, as the waves hit the beach

they tried to steal all of our secrets by kissing them out of us.

the technique worked most of the time but that night was different.

that night was magic.

and many many more nights after that.

a few mornings were magic but only accidentally.

one morning a helicopter landed at the lagoon. we were asleep. but we woke up fast

with all the sand blowing around us and the noise and all.

i stood up and before i knew it i was in it. and flying it.

this is chopper one, the pilot said. and then he jumped out.

and that, saints, was my first day in the xbi.

and how i learned to fly.