The Spies Among Us

There were a half a dozen of us in the room. A small gathering hosted by the owner of this typical three-bedroom home in Phoenix. I had been a graduate student at Arizona State University, and I rented a room from a young entrepreneur who was trying to get a business off the ground. He had gathered a couple of investors and advisors. One was a millionaire business man. One was a young executive, on the rise at Ford Motor Company. And one, it turned, worked for the CIA.

In the turbulent sixties, spies were in demand. There was that war going on over in ‘Nam, anti-war protests across the U.S., and the civil rights movement in the south. My new, young spy friend had been deployed to Eastern Europe, keeping an eye on Soviet activity. I was a bit in awe.

Much later, I was working for a global software development company that sent consultants around the world. The project that I was working on was domestic. But one of my close associates and friends there had come out of military intelligence. He was gathering and analyzing data electronically, from strategic hot spots around the world. My cousin Les was doing the same thing on the ground in South Korea.

A few years later, working for the same company, I encountered two more CIA agents. They were an odd pair. He was short, overweight, balding, and bespectacled. She was a tough one, a real piece of work. She had a manly manner, and rode her Harley to work. They had been working together for years. An unmarried married couple, deployed by the CIA to do interrogations of vietcong, in Vietnam. The company I worked for was headquartered near the Pentagon, and provided cover for CIA operatives. I can tell you this, if you ever encounter a short, overweight, balding, and bespectacled man, tell him what he wants to know. If you don’t, he will cut off your tongue!

It seems they’re everywhere. And they just can’t be trusted!  I thought I could trust Paul. We had been friends in our youth. We went to church youth activities. But, wouldn’t you know it, he married my girlfriend! I guess you can do that if you work for the NSA.