Too Fly for the FBI
“Have you ever tried to build a bomb?” the petite, female FBI agent looked at me with a steely gaze. I glanced to make sure my next door neighbor wasn’t outside.
“I have to make sure one of the neighbors isn’t outside gossiping with one of her sisters in Urdu. I never know what they’re saying but, damn, it’s juicy,” I replied.
I could tell that the coast was clear.
“No, I can barely put together the planter that I pulled out of the shed. If I can’t do that, how can I put together a bomb?” I asked matter of factly. They were puzzled- they had not expected this. Yes, I looked horrible- no make-up, in a shirt pulled out of my inventory pile that belonged to a stranger. I was in no mood or state to receive guests. However, I was still sharp.
“You know, they have Google for that,” replied one male agent with a smile.
“Dude, really? We may have a terrorist!” She didn’t say it but, the look she shot him said it all.
“This damn planter seems to be the one thing mom did not save the instructions for.”
BY THE WAY, that day had not gone as planned. Expectations: wake up super early, go hiking, get cleaned up, get a ton of work done.
Reality: Accidentally oversleep (damn allergies). Wake up to mom informing me that THREE FBI agents were at the door and wanted to speak to me. My nails were not done, I was in my underwear and the shirt I pulled from my inventory that I slept in and had to yell down “Hey, let me put some pants on and I’ll be down.” Mom was in her bathrobe. I am pretty sure that I smell too since I was outside with no deodorant and looked atrocious. I usually wouldn’t even take out the TRASH looking like this.
Fast forward and BOOM. Here we are- I look like something out of a horror movie. It’s hot. I don’t really sweat but, one of the male agents certainly did. They picked the wrong day to assess their potential national security threat. I can stand the heat.
It’s funny though: I had been sort of thinking about it. The same thing happened to a friend who was feeding his little girls lunch when he was interrupted. How did he react? In his words, he held a bottle of ketchup like a dumbass.
“If the FBI does randomly show up, they are going to accidentally get mistaken for a solicitor”, I would often think.
WELL, that’s what happened. My mom initially saw them and shook her head. One flashed a badge and she opened the door, checked their credentials, and was like “hey, the FBI Is here”. I was like “Okay, let me put pants on”. So, I grabbed my laptop and one binder.
When I got downstairs, we had to go outside. Mom brought them gatorade and water. One poor guy was sweating bullets and they all got chair cushions- I did not. We talked for over an hour (pre-coffee, brushing teeth, breakfast, etc).
According to my late father, a Secret Service agent, the FBI likes to take credit for everyone else’s work. However, I wasn’t about to let them take credit for mine.
For my science fiction novel, I needed to talk to people that were out of society. Three different versions of letters made it to criminals across the country who were high profile, high security, and/or serving lengthy sentences. The first version was long and cringeworthy, the second was medium length and just descriptive enough. The third letter was short and sweet. It left JUST enough room for questions and just enough information for them to get to know me. As you can guess, the original letter piqued their interest. Apparently, you should not ask a bomber at the most secure prison in the country, ADX Florence, how he did not blow himself up since I knew that I definitely would have. I could sense the apprehensiveness, fear, and excitement. “We may have our first big break!”.
Sorry to disappoint.
“So, why did you reach out to so many?” asked the petite, female agent. I could tell they were rookies- I was raised around Feds.
“Well, I wanted it to be good,” I replied. They nodded to each other and shrugged. Not too crazy, right?
“So, how do you talk to them?” The heat was picking up.
“Just like I’m talking to you. I treat everyone more or less the same.”
Why the hell was this so surprising?
“You did ask how they didn’t blow themselves up and that you found bombers interesting. What is the fascination there?” she asked.
“Are you asking me if I am sexually aroused by fire and explosions?” I asked.
“Are you?” She replied.
“Well, no… Seriously, though. How do they not blow themselves up?” I asked. I am genuinely curious- how do bombers not blow themselves up? “Serial killers aren’t that interesting. Bombers and arsonists are much more interesting. Seriously, how do they not light themselves on fire or blow themselves up?”
“Well, most of them do,” explained one of her male counterparts in the periphery. In all honesty, I had almost forgotten that he was there.
“Could you explain the statement about how you would have definitely blown yourself up?” the female agent asked. Was I seriously being asked this? Did I look like a bomber? Despite being as boring as you can get, this was not the first time that I have been mistaken for a shady character.
“Ma’am, the only reason I’m not wearing my coffee by now is that I have not had the chance to drink it. I’m almost thirty years old and every single drink I bring upstairs has a lid for a reason,” I calmly explained. While not lanky by any means, my five-foot-eight frame includes longer than average arms that are prone to knocking things over.
“In some of your letters, you were a bit sympathetic. Would you say that there is more sympathy or empathy?” she asked, after a pause.
The line of questions was a bit much but, they have to do their jobs just like I have to do mine. No hard feelings.
“Well, I don’t believe in the death penalty. I’m a pacifist. I also don’t believe in life without parole in most situations,” I explained. “There are some I am sympathetic towards. However, I only condone violence in self-defense and don’t condone their actions. I had multiple talks about this with our mail lady and the UPS staff who handle my box.”
This is true. I wrote some of the “worst of the worst”. Surprisingly, I have been treated overwhelmingly well. No, I can’t tell you who. Don’t bother asking. They looked at each other as if to mentally come up with some sort of a game plan. Do they teach this Jedi mind reading at Quantico?
Mom walks out, trying to put the male FBI agents to work. As a widow and a single woman, it’s rare that we get any men around. She is trying to talk to him about an unrelated matter.
“Let her finish,” I explain, putting my hand up. The female agent looks at me puzzled.
“Is there a reason you don’t want your mom to know?” she asks. She thinks she’s got me.
“She will tell Miss Judy,” I explain with a shrug and a sigh. Offended, mom shoots me a dirty look.
“I MOST CERTAINLY WILL NOT,” she responds in an inflammatory manner, adjusting her bathrobe that is older than me. “Miss Judy is my best friend of over thirty years.”
I roll my eyes. We all know that this is bullshit- old women love to gossip. It’s in their DNA. They are the FBI after all- they know this.
“Some of the people who write me are very private. Some don’t care. Mom knows who a few are since she was becoming anxious and thought I was on the prison wife fast track. So, I had to ease her mind. I only give that information out on a need-to-know basis. Since your law enforcement, that qualifies as need to know,” I explained. When she left, I explained more about my research as I rested my hand on my giant black binder that contained a fair chunk of it.
“I can’t let you see the letters, but I can show you the envelopes of some,” I explained. They could tell by my vibe that they would need a warrant for that.
“However, if you know of anywhere I could donate these to after I die, I would gladly leave them in my will. I don’t want them to be sold or end up in the wrong hands. This is research, after all, and should only be used for educational purposes,” I explained.
“You know, the BAU may want that,” one of the male agents responded. They all nodded in agreement. “We still have some time though.”
“Yeah, I’m too young and stubborn to die anytime soon,” I respond with a shrug and a smile.
The interrogation continued.
“Do any of them ever hit on you?” asked the female agent sincerely.
“Well, yeah. They’re men and they have eyes,” I responded matter of factly. She looked surprised! The two men in the background giggled.
“Would you ever date any of them?” she followed up.
“If they got it together and got out, it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker. I get treated better by the convicts that I speak to than most of my Tinder matches when I was on the app,” I responded. While I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure, this is a sad truth. Either the criminal justice system works or society is screwed.
“So, how about murder?” she asked.
“It wouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker. I would judge that on a case-by-case basis,” I responded. Big surprise: I believe in second chances. “Not a serial killer or anything. But, if it was a robbery gone wrong or a one-time thing, it wouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker.” She took a deep breath.
“What if the Boston Bomber got out and got his life together? Would you date him?” she asked. I couldn’t resist.
“Well, he’s Muslim and I’m Christian. That may be more of a one-night stand deal,” I replied with a smile. The two male agents looked at each other giggling.
“Oh my gosh, shut up! We’re supposed to be serious!” conveyed the look she shot them.
“Ma’am, I’ve been celibate for five years. Anyone with a thick head of dark head looks pretty good about now,” I explained with a shrug.
“Have you ever fantasized about anyone that you wrote to?” she asked.
“Oh yeah, I have fantasized about the Unabomber. Have you seen pictures when he was younger? He was hot back in the day,” I replied. I can’t lie, right?
She was already regretting this line of questioning as the male agents were holding back laughs.
“Anyone else?” she asked.
“I mean, Eric Rudolph was hot back in the day. What he did was deplorable but, he was handsome. The manhunt thing is kind of manly and sexy too. Sadly, he’s probably old, fat, and bald now,” I explained. Here we are: I am now one of those crazy women who is aroused by two criminals.
What did they get themselves into?
All in all, it ended with a good laugh. A few follow-up emails later and after getting the dirt from my friends at the UPS store who handle my box, I think they realized that I am about the most boring person that they will ever meet.
While they were here, they noticed my garden.
“I’ve been a vegan for the better part of the past decade. I enjoy gardening- it’s calming and I’m basically growing money.” My glance shot to mom.
“She’s the real murderer,” I stated. Mom looked at me- befuddled. I had piqued their interest. It was their first big arrest since Quantico!
“She killed all but a few chickpea plants AND killed a carrot that I pulled up a few days ago. She’s not a serial killer- she’s a carrot killer. Arrest her old, ornery ass!” I responded. They could not contain their laughter.
“She isn’t vaccinated but, she’s house trained and has all of her other shots. Don’t you want to take her with you?” By this point, they were looking at me in amazement. Mom’s jaw dropped and she just looked at me. For once in her life, my chatty, Gemini mother was rendered speechless.
With promises of a free signed book, I bid them farewell. I told them that they were welcome back anytime. All that they needed to do was give me a heads up so that this old school Southern Belle was ready to receive guests.
According to one penpal, I am “too fly for the FBI”.
The Fat Babies were still curled up in their favorite chair. The damn cats slept through the whole thing.