Flushing, New York
Thursday, June 14, 1979
He felt out of place among the racially diverse working class straphangers, a conservative looking white guy in a navy blue summer suit. The subway car was standing room only. With a firm grip on the pivoted metallic overhead grab handle, he was standing amidst what looked to be a Filipino family, a young mother and four children. The air conditioning was not on and none of the car’s windows were open. Thankfully, the day was off to an unseasonably cool start.
It was a clear, sunny day, allowing him to enjoy the expansive view of Queens available on the elevated excursion through Queens on the #7 train before it went underground near the end of the line. He hadn’t taken this trip in almost ten years, when a fellow CIA section head had gifted him tickets to Shea Stadium for Game 3 of the 1969 World Series. He smiled thinking of Tommie Agee’s heroics (the Mets’ centerfielder had led off the game with a home run and made two amazing defensive plays in the field) and the combined shutout pitched by Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan.
Now he was climbing the stairs from the mezzanine of the Main Street station, trying to get his bearings. The agreed upon location for the meeting was a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop just east of Main Street on Roosevelt Avenue.
His watch read 10:56 when he entered the establishment. He grabbed two menus from the counter and sat down at a small booth. The Professor, dressed in a plaid work shirt and tan khakis, showed up four minutes later, precisely on time. Pancho silently extended his right hand toward the seat across from him. His former Army buddy groaned as he scrunched his 6’ 4” frame into the seat. The waitress came over, coffee pot in hand. They nodded and she poured them each a cup. She asked them if they wanted milk. They declined with a smile and then pretended to read their menus for a minute. The Professor was the first to speak.
“Been a while, Pancho.”
He didn’t respond immediately, finally saying “Yeah, a long while. I’m glad you could make time for me.”
“This is the closest thing I get to free time. Dog days of summer. The spring term ended about a month ago. Fall semester doesn’t start ‘til mid-August.” The Professor sipped his coffee. “So what you been up to, Pancho? Last I saw you, you were shipped to Japan with the OSS brass, after Berlin fell.”
“There’s not much to tell.”
He explained that, after closing out the Pacific theatre operations, the OSS was disbanded, its functions distributed between the State Department and the War Department. He went with War in the split and, after much bureaucratic haggling, landed with the newly-formed CIA.
“So you’re a vintage Cold Warrior working for the permanent government. Figures.”
“And you’re a commie professor at a state university. Positively teleological, no?”
“Yeah, I suppose. Everyone finds their true resting place.” The Professor chuckled. “So why don’t we get any sleep?”
Pancho laughed. “Well, I work all the time. And you just got divorced.”
“Right. So you know about that too. You no doubt have a complete dossier on me.”
The Professor crossed his arms. “OK, let’s cut to the chase. You didn’t come here to drink coffee and engage in sarcastic banter. What you got cookin’?”
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