It’s 1977 and I’ve been an FBI agent for 8 years. I’ve beaten the odds after manipulating the Bureau’s Office of Preference system, being lifted from FBI Denver to FBI Birmingham in the fall, 1970, after a glorious year in Colorado, a lowly First Office Agent subject to being flung anywhere into the American Republic at the whim of The Transfer Monkey at FBIHQ, who, blindfolded, throws darts at a map to cast agents’ fates to the winds.
I pay no mind to the righteous wisdom that if you want to transfer West in the FBI universe, you list an Office of Preference in the East. If the North is your desire, you write South under your name and take your chances because The Transfer Monkey magically lands darts in the very opposite direction from where you list you want to serve.
I consider this approach with reproach and list NOTHING, nada, no preference at all for any of the FBI’s 59 Field Offices. I’m a vacant lot on the Bureau landscape, surely a surreal experience for The Monkey, creating uncertainty, angst, incomprehension, and migraines when he lets fly the dart with my name on it.
Birmingham, sweet Alabama, is my next assignment, exactly where I want to go, 48 miles from the University of Alabama School of Law that anchors the southeast corner of the Quad on campus in Tuscaloosa, where 3 years of toil and terror earn a JD in 1969 and the juice to enter on duty in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I am the aurora borealis, a bright guy and vigorously assume my place in the agents’ bullpen where we spring forth to hunt down federal bad people in The Magic City in the Heart of Dixie.
It is in this highfalutin state of mind that, in the spring, 1975, I’m at an apartment complex on Hanover Circle on the south side of town and come upon a citizen who is locked out of his apartment. Do you FBI guys know how to make an entry into an apartment? He points to a sliding glass window at the bottom of the picture window in front of his apartment living room. Surely easier to conquer than the heavy, bolted front door.
I puff up and direct him to stand back while I defeat the sliding glass window and make everything hunky-dory. I do not reveal that I have never forced open a sliding window in my entire career or in my life. Nor been taught to do so by the Bureau wizards.
I kneel and bend to the task, full of vigor and spit, fiddle and diddle the sliding glass, lost in my own omnipotence, the very agent who bamboozled The Transfer Monkey at HQ.
The sliding window suddenly yields in my hands, permitting the citizen to reclaim his apartment.
It takes 14 stitches to sew up my left palm in the Emergency Room at St. Vincent’s Hospital. I yield O Negative blood all over the place.
I was blinded by the dazzle of my own self.