Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ode to Miss Texas: Pt. VII

An unadorned, unexaggerated account of real-life intrigue

My ex-spy friend filed a missing persons report on Miss Texas, and that backfired somewhat. One day, after stepping out of the shower, I heard this thunderous knock, followed by “Open up! Police!” By the time I opened the door, the neighbors had emerged from their apartments, and were staring at me as if I had just gotten caught selling heroin-laced crack to a fifth-grader.

“We’re investigating the disappearance of the occupant of this address,” asked one officer. “Are you him?”

I explained that the missing person wasn’t me, but my former houseguest. The other cop, examining his paperwork, realized he’d gotten his facts mixed up. He and his partner then made an embarrassing retreat to the elevator. A few weeks later, the missing persons report turned up zilch in New York, New Jersey and Texas.

That April, I set about to do some spring-cleaning, vowing to get the apartment so spic and span that I could eat from the bathroom tile. Lifting up the mattress, I found that Miss Texas had left something else besides the coat and disc: a ziplock bag full of papers. Among the articles were a number of photo IDs: a press pass, a badge identifying her as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector, and a few other employee identification cards, issued by companies I had never heard of. There were also loose, notepad-sized papers with individual messages and telephone numbers on them, including mine. She had business cards sporting area codes from all over the US. The most intriguing item was a reminder for an upcoming interview with an Albuquerque, NM journalist concerning nuclear testing in Nevada.

I sat on the bed for at least an hour, poring over the mini-documents she left behind. I had previously dismissed the inconsistencies as delusions, or other things pathological, never stopping to consider that her subterfuge might have been for professional reasons. While I always knew that she had money coming from somewhere, I thought it came from her parents. But now, it seems, it came from her job--whatever that was.

When I first saw her, that New Year’s Eve, she’d already been looking at me. There’s nothing special about me, at least to a stranger. Could she have known about me beforehand? She and my ex-spy friend had business together. He could have shown her my picture, and described me as a “safe” person to know. Perhaps he suggested that she meet me in case I could be of use later on. Granted, there’s nothing to prove this. I’m simply imagining a scenario based on my own intuition and knowledge of both parties.

I would also guess that her job included some kind of field research, perhaps as a private investigator, or journalist. After all, how many other professionals use multiple IDs? I can rule out that she did that much traveling on public assistance. I can also rule out that she was the uneducated rube she claimed to be.

This “Jimmy” guy might not have been CIA, but he could still be a federal employee of some sort. If she too were a federal employee, and if she were trying to get information from him, then this might have been a case where one faction of the government was snooping on another. In The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, former CIA Executive Officer Victor Marchetti, and ex-State Department intelligence officer John Marks stated that such was quite common, due to the “tribalistic” mentality among US spy networks. As far as she was concerned, I didn’t really need to know the actual agency that Jimmy represented. She only had to impress me, hoping that I would take some action--and the term ‘CIA’ usually arouses some type of visceral response.

I think it is safe to say that this Jimmy guy was trying to follow her, and he had the wherewithal to do it. She correctly predicted that he would. When she departed for Queens, she might have left the ziplock bag on purpose, hoping to impress upon me that her dangers were not imaginary, but all too real. She might have been trying to warn me.

Despite the contradictions and the grandiosity of her commentary, I wonder if she had given me a glimpse into real-life cloak-and-dagger.

Maybe Miss Texas is alive, somewhere. Meanwhile, her beige winter coat still hangs in my closet, in the dwindling hope that she might need it again.


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