Saturday, August 1, 2009

From The Lion and the Sun

The taxi pulled up to the entrance of the Marriott where I was waiting. The weather was overcast and cold in that bone chilling way that seems to be unique to the concrete jungles that form the core of our major cities. The Christmas decorations around Crystal City looked sad and neglected and did nothing to brighten my mood. For Christ sake, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.
My taxi driver was a burly, dark complexioned guy wearing a turban. He had a full beard partially hidden by a heavy winter scarf. The name on his chauffeur’s license was Jagtar Singh. As he slipped out into traffic a book fell from the top of his dash into my lap. I turned it over and read the title. “The Puzzle Palace,” by James Bamford.
“You reading this?” I asked.
The driver spoke to me while he watched his side mirror. “Sure I read it. You know this book?” Without waiting for me to answer he went on, “All about America spy agency, NSA.” He glanced at me. We were on the way to CIA headquarters. What was I supposed to say? I just smiled and raised my eyebrows.
“Where did you get it?”
“My son gave me this book. He is in US Air Force,” the driver said, abruptly changing lanes and gunning the cab.
“What’s he do?” I asked.
The driver made another abrupt lane change and charged on to Jefferson Davis Highway. “He’s a good boy,” he said, glancing at me.

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