Friday, September 9, 2011

Goodbye Geoffrey

I just got back from Geoffrey's funeral. For security reasons, I can't go into details about his death, but I can say that he went out in a dramatic way and he saved hundreds of lives. It all started Labor Day morning when he received an urgent call from Ryan Mayhew. I didn't want him to go, but I knew he had to. This could be the moment we finally shut this nut down. A few hours later, as I was drinking my coffee at the kitchen table, Chester Schifflet came banging on the front door. This did not make sense.

He pretended to be looking for Geof and made some lame story about needing help with a busted radiator. His jittery behavior betrayed him, but I tried to play it cool. Maybe too cool, because as soon as I turned my back, he threw a duffle bag over me and dragged me to his car. After a few hours of torture, he got zero out of me, but I eventually saw my moment and subdued him. I have a few burns and bruises, but I'm still intact. Chester is in a secure location.

Sad to say, Geoffrey wasn't so lucky. I hope to be able to tell his story one day, because his efforts were truly extraordinary, just as I always knew he would be when the moment came. I just prayed it never would. No body was found, but I was able to identify some body parts. These were cremated, as per his will.

The funeral was held in Geoffrey's home town of Richmond, Virginia. I drove his beloved Trans Am down there. I always thought the car was a gaudy, clunky joke, but on the drive down, I felt like I was letting go of an old friend. Well, maybe not a friend, but a tangible memory. A physical remainder of Geoffrey's carefree spirit.

The funeral was very nice, as was his family. They did not know exactly what he did (no relatives of any field agents do), but they knew it was potentially dangerous. Apparently, Geoffrey sought out danger his whole life, whether it was street racing as a teen or becoming a Navy SEAL, he always fed on danger and risk. His parents and sister seemed resigned to the fact that he might end up dead before his time.

His younger brother Tim was the exception. As he was driving me home to Bethesda after the funeral, he unloaded on me. It started when I chose to use the word "selfless" in describing Geoffrey's actions.

“Selfless, eh?" he barked at me. "No disrespect, but I don’t see it that way. It’s exactly what he wanted. To go down in a blaze of glory. Never mind how we felt. I know my parents put on a good show today, but this is killing them. No parents want to see their kids go before they do. It’s one thing if it’s God’s will or something, like a disease or a flood. But to throw yourself into harm’s way…damn show-off.”

I couldn't argue with him. Perhaps he is right. Maybe all of us in this business are a little selfish, seeking thrills we would never experience in ordinary, civilian life. Is it fair to our friends and family? Maybe not. Somebody has to do the dirty work, though, and thankfully there are those who crave the risk. Whatever. I'm too exhausted to think about it.

So I'm back living with my mom again. Poor woman doesn't know what to make of me, especially since she thinks I work for an investment firm setting up branch offices around the country. Surely, I could settle down by now. I have to wear long sleeved blouses for awhile until the wounds heal. That's a bitch with the heat and humidity. In fact, this endless rain we're having in Maryland reflects my whole mood this week. It's like some dark spectre has descended on the whole state.

Worst part is, I'm on administrative leave, so I can even track down the elusive Mr. Mayhew. My boss, affectionately known as The Colonel, shut me down during a debriefing on Tuesday. There I was, practically a year after my last big failure, having to answer for another botched undercover mission. Last time, I was responsible for the death of one of our targets. This time, I was responsible for the death of one of our own. Okay, I wasn't really responsible, but it felt that way nonetheless. The Colonel was surprisingly sympathetic, but he was not going to budge on the imposed R and R. He suggested I contact my old college roommate, Rebecca. She's working in New York now and he thought I should go visit her. It's unbelievably creepy how he knows more about my personal life than I do.

I told him I'd think about it. Might not be a bad idea. Connect with someone from the past. Someone who knew me before the Navy. Before Iraq. Before this cloak and dagger crap. Seems like a million miles away now.

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