Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

An Unverified Story About My Father

by David Macpherson

When my father was about to graduate from Columbia with a master's degree in political science, he and his buddy started applying to federal agencies, so they could go out from the cozy corner of academia and into the bosom of the federal government. My dad and his buddy sent out resumes to all the agencies and they both got interviews with the CIA. My dad joked to his friend, saying, "They won't take me, cause of my diabetes and my record, but they sure as hell won't take you, I mean, look at yourself. You ain't no spy."

Of course, my father was respectfully declined by the Agency and naturally, his friend was recruited. That was the word, recruited. My dad was hired by the Atomic Regulatory Agency, but his pal was recruited into the seams of foreign policy. It goes without comment, that like all good seams, the tailor takes pains to make sure they are durable and unseen.

My parents did not know where he was at any time. They would receive post cards with no identifying post markings. They would read, "How are you?" "Miss you both." "The weather here is beautiful." And then, "Had an interesting day. My jeep blew up. I was in it at the time." The kind of sentiments the good writers of Hallmark struggle to keep up with.

Once or twice a year, this friend would reconstitute himself back to New York, making his presence known with a late night phone call. My father would go out immediately and not return until the morning. Back from classified taverns, unbalanced from top secret alcohol. My father allowed himself to get drunker than a diabetic should ever get. But that is the penance you make to obligations you feel you should never have to explain.

It was several years without postcards or late night entreaties before my father realized he would never hear from his old friend again.

David Macpherson is a writer living in Central Massachusetts with his wife Heather and son George.

Twenty-fifth Flash

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