Authors: James Whorton
“Angela Sloan is a winning fourteen-year-old heroine and way too honest to be an effective Watergate burglar. This smart, poignant, funny book almost makes me thankful for the Nixon presidency.”
âMatthew Sharpe, author of
You Were Wrong
“The teenage daughter of a former CIA agent, Sloan takes us on a wild ride as she confronts not only a crazy cast of characters but secrets of her own pastâall the while maintaining her undercover identityÂ .Â .Â . bold, edgy, and downright comic.”
âSusan Gregg Gilmore, author of
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Praise for James Whorton, Jr.
“Whorton's deadpan comic genius exploits misunderstandings for laugh-out-loud results. A joy.”
, starred review
“Fast paced, often hilarious, always readable . . . thoroughly exhilarating. To those who thought minimalism in fiction was moribund, think again; WhortonÂ .Â .Â . gives it a fresh and revitalizing shot in the arm.”
âStephen Dixon, author of
“Whorton conjures through close observation a hilariously absurd world that holds, just possibly, the keys to its own salvation. Amid the absurdity, you can feel the hope.”
“Whorton has created characters, who, amid conversations about engines and sex and amid beer-drinking bouts and efforts to dodge responsibility, seek answers to the fundamental questions about life and who often discover their better selves in the process.”
ALSO BY JAMES WHORTON, JR.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2011 by James Whorton, Jr.
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First Free Press trade paperback edition August 2011
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Manufactured in the United States of America
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
ISBN 978-1-4516-2441-0 (ebook)
Yellow Post Road
December 19, 1972
Dear Central Intelligence Agency:
Your polygraph examiner, Mr. Jerry Wicker, has just now left my house. After questioning me for two hours in the voice of a sleepy robot, he has declared me “unreliable” and “unnatural.” He calls me a “strange, dry girl.”
For two hours I sat at the dining room table, wired to his aluminum suitcase, watching a brown felt sideburn curl away from his cheek. Glue failure! Now he accuses me of lying to him. My “flat eye line” and “suspicious hand carriage” have given the game away.
Let me say this about lying. When a person is fourteen years old and traveling on her own by car, she has got to have some stories in her pocket. Every trucker with a tremor in his arm wants to know where that girl's dad is. Even the clerk at the Lee-Hi Motor Hotel feels he is owed a piece of her life story, if only so he can repeat it when someone comes asking. So yes, I got into the habit of making things up. But the truth was always real to me. I never lied to make myself feel better.
Does somebody in Langley need to feel better?
That is not a good reason to lie.
Most people's fathers aren't perfect, and Ray Sloan is no exception. I don't expect you to defend him in the papers. I admit I didn't help matters any with my activities last summer when the FBI was looking for him. I was trying to lie low, but then I got involved in that other business with the terrorist hippies.
The fiasco at the Watergate was a surprise to me. It was a thing
that Ray had really almost nothing to do with. Still, I will tell you what little I know about it, plus everything about the Chinese Communist girl known as Betty or Ding.
Please excuse my faulty typing. Having sat here these minutes beating this out, I have had the chance to remind myself that Mr. Wicker was only doing his job, perhaps to the best of his ability. I suppose he was following some important rule when he did not permit me to answer any of his questions beyond a yes or no. I thank you for your consideration in sending Mr. Wicker here, since driving to Langley for a lie detector test would have required me to miss a day of school. I have Mr. Wicker's rubber mole that he left on the edge of the sink.
Now I am going to tell you what really happened. The whole thing. No stories. In order for it all to make sense, I will have to back up first. I will keep it as short as I can.
Because of the truthful and explicit nature of what follows, please consider this a Top Secret Correspondence.
here are some things I can't explain about Ray. Why did he drink too much? I don't know. Why did he save my life at a moment when his own life had exhausted him?
He was not my father in the biological sense. Other people didn't know that, because it was our cover. Even with friends inside the Agency, there was no need to discuss such things. Why would there be? We didn't see a need, anyway. It is easier to live your cover if you live it all the time, day and night, in public and in private, and even when you're alone.
But I can remember my previous parents, of course. I was seven when they were murdered by Simbas outside Stanleyville, along with my small brother and our Congolese housekeeper, Judith. I survived the massacre by hiding myself in an orange tree, where I still was clinging like a bat when Ray arrived in a yellow beer truck and spied me among the branches. He was someone who'd visited our place once or twiceâan acquaintance of my father's. He plucked me down. “
N'ayez pas peur,
” he told me in his Okie-inflected French. Don't be scared. He walked all over the muddy yard with me shaking in his arms.
This was the summer of 1964, when the Simba rebellion was happening in the Congo. Many white people had left Stanleyville, and those who hadn't left were stuck. Simbas controlled the airport and had overrun the U.S. Consulate. The consular staff, including some Agency men, were hostages. Ray worked under nonofficial cover, though, so he had no connection to the consulate. He was a manager with the Sheffield Beer Distributing Company. He hid me in a room at the Sheffield warehouse.